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Michael Romeo (Symphony X)

Interview with Michael Romeo from Symphony X
by Fede "Federock" Taich at 14 May 2011, 7:18 AM

Federock talked to Michael Romeo, a guitar legend and the main man behind SYMPHONY X, in order to catch up and see what’s going on with the band these days and talk a little about the new album "Iconoclast" which was reviewed here on Metal Temple.  

Hello Michael how are you guys doing and what's going on with SYMPHONY X?

Hello Fede, I’m doing fine here on our way to Seattle for a show on the pre-release tour for "Iconoclast", our new album.

Can you tell us a little about the writing process of the album? While listening to it I felt that it’s kind of a mix between your last album "Paradise Lost" and your previous albums like "The Odyssey".

Our writing processes, for the last 4 albums, have been kind of the same. I spend a couple of month writing the basic riffs and melodies and then we try to find together that special something to make each album unique. Like with "The Odyssey" it was a more guitar riff oriented album, a more Metal album that was more influenced by Metal stuff we listen to and like but also having this big orchestral epics like on the song "The Odyssey". "Paradise Lost" was a more darker album because of its topic and because of that all the orchestration on it is more dark. With this album, when I started writing the music, it was very similar to "Paradise Lost" but then I started thinking of adding that special something. I listen to a lot of music from Metal to classical and one day while listening to a soundtrack I think It was "Matrix" or "300", this two soundtracks have a very mechanical sound with percussion and guitars bearing a very modern sound , I thought it will be cool to make something a like this time. So I got back to some of the riffs and tried to add some keyboards and make the guitars sound a little edgier and maybe add some metallic textures and that is kind of how it’s started.

What about lyrics? How did the main theme for the album come out?

After I finished some of the main riffs we started talking with the guys about making this one a concept album about man vs. machines and Russ and me started writing the lyrics, and that’s pretty much how it all came out. We tried to make each album unique and different , not too different, but we wanted to make each album interesting, special and fresh.

While listening to the album I was really happy to hear some long epic songs again, is that something you planed or is it something that just came naturally while writing the album?

No. I mean, we don’t plan those things it’s just something that comes from the music. Like "Iconoclast", the song, that is a big epic and it came around while we had already like 5 songs done. The thing is that once this all theme with the machines came out, I really got inspired and maybe that’s why we have some long songs on this one because I came back to some written songs and they became longer while trying to add them this special thing and make them sound as a big piece. "Iconoclast" was actually written in a day or a day in a half. Once the theme of the machines was on mind I got really inspired and the album just wrote itself you know, not worrying too much about the length of the songs but instead keeping in mind to pass the message, sometimes you can do it in a five minutes song and sometimes it’s a ten minutes song.
But if something is taking too long or we fill we’re dragging it, we will change it, sometimes while the recording itself, and that is what's cool about recording the albums at my studio.

So you recorded the whole album in your studio “The Dungeon”?

Yeah, that is a good thing from the financial view and all the free time and all, but on the other hand, if you felt too free you can take a longer time to make it (laugh), we actually got to have like 15 songs and that’s why we decided to make a double record.

I see the album is coming out also as a Special Edition CD with some bonus tracks?

We didn’t write it thinking about bonus stuff and all that. To us the special edition is the full CD. It’s everything that we wrote and then the Label though it may be cool to have a shorter version of the record and that what came out. We’re really happy with the result of both versions even though it was really hard to decide which songs will be left out for the main edition of the album.

Let’s talk about your gear. What did you setup for recording and touring for “Iconoclast”?

I have basically the same setup for the last couple of years now. As for guitars, I use mostly my signature Caparison guitar live and in the studio. My main amp is the ENGL POWERBALL but I also use the FIREBALL and that’s my live and recording rig. As for recording, the chain is very simple just the guitar straight into the amp no effects or anything man!. For live I have been using the TC Electronics G system for delays and stuff and it’s really cool!

What about the tour? Any plans for a European tour?

We’re touring the US now and then we have some shows in South America, then the album comes out in June so we’ll spend some time in July and August rehearsing and making a set list that combines the new stuff with some of the old stuff. Then in the fall (September) we’re trying to get a European tour.

Do you have plans putting out a live DVD?

Yeah, the thing is finding the right venue for that, the right set-list, the right stage performance, the right stage production and all that. But I think that with this album it will be the right time to do that. The other thing is that every night is different sometime we improvise and goof around and stuff like that so I think the best way will be is to capture some different nights to confine all those moments. Just trying to get the live feel and excitement to a DVD.

Any special plans for the tour?

Like I said, this summer we’ll try to get something cool not only in the set-list but also production wise, some good artwork with the main theme, a cool light show and all that. We’ll need to think about it in this next couple of months (laughs).

Is there something else that we haven't talk about that you’ll like to add?

Just thank you again for all your support and for been patience but it really takes a lot of time just to put out the record with all the mixing and mastering at all and I just want to thank you all again for been there, we put a lot on this record and I hope you like it!  We are really waiting to come to Europe and play for you all!!!

I’ll like to thank you again Mike for your time and hope to see you live soon!

Thanks man! hope to be there as soon as we can!


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Edited 26 November 2022

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