Mike LePond of Symphony X has been busy during Symphony X’s layoff for the past couple of years, but I wouldn’t have guessed it as he set up our “phoner” interview for 10 am last Sunday morning. Even on holidays, I don’t get up
before noon on a Sunday, let alone 10.
Anyway, I noticed through social media that the night before he was rocking out live on stage in New Jersey opening for Dokken. When I originally read the post on his FB site and saw a particular picture, it looked like he was either filling in on stage with Dokken or had just come up for a couple of tunes.
Anyway, Mike “the early bird” pointed out that he sometimes will get a call from his buddy Mike Chlasciak, who is best known for playing in the band Halford, and thus will fill in on bass with Mike’s band Metal Mike. The singer in question was Marc Lopes and not Don Dokken.
“you know it was really nice getting up there with those guys, the crowd was cool and having fun and I got to see some old friends”
I asked Mike if there was anything in the works regarding Symphony X, as, during their hiatus, Mike has been busy with his own band Silent Assassins and have just released their second album Pawn And Prophecy.
“as far as Sx goes, we have a European tour planned for all of May and I believe the beginning of June also….and this will be the first time Sx has been together since October of 2016. We are looking forward to getting back together and playing again, and If that all goes good and we are happy, we’ll put out another album and we’ll go from there; I’ll keep you guys posted for sure”
As far as Silent Assassins goes, Mike is almost finished writing and recording the third album, which he hopes he can release near the end of the year.
“Yeah, just after Christmas I started to write and record. The drum tracks are done, the rhythm tracks are done, the keyboard stuff is done, and I hope to lay down the bass tracks next week, and that way I can hand over all the music to our singer Alan Tecchio to practice with while I’m on tour with Symphony X. Hopefully this fall we can lay down the vocals and get it done and release.”
Mike confirmed that with this project, he writes all the music, all the lyrics, lays down all the tracks, and even though it is time-consuming, he does it because…
“I love classic Heavy Metal…….you know I’m not really known for that style because Symphony X is a progressive metal band, but I grew up loving Sabbath, Priest, and Maiden, all that stuff and I kind of want to show the fans what era I grew up in, and…………..to be honest with you, it doesn’t really sell a lot of records but I do it because I enjoy it”
Who are your favourite bass players and/or influences?
“Well, Rudy Sarzo is one of the best and solid bass players in metal, if not the actual best….he’s just great, ..and actually when I was 13 and started out on bass, I was a big KISS fan and I guess Gene Simmons was my very first influence. I loved to learn his bass tracks and my goal was to learn every KISS song.
Of course, from there I started to get into some heavier stuff with Geezer Butler of Sabbath and then Steve Harris, and I can’t leave out Joey DeMaio (Manowar) as he was a huge influence. Now,….on the progressive side, Geddy Lee of Rush was one of the players I also learned from growing up”
This was a perfectly timed segue, as my next question was who was his favourite Canadian bands……. coincidental? ….or was Mike reading my mind.
“Well (laughter), yeah Rush is one of my favourite Canadian bands, I think they’re everyone’s favourite right ?,…. and you can’t forget Triumph; I mean Rik Emmett was the total package….. as a singer, guitar player, a performer and songwriter. Those two bands were just great.
Now on the heavier side, one of my all-time favourite bands was Exciter……..they were like the Motorhead of the day……..just a super great band………….and you can’t forget Anvil.”
I then politely, interrupted him and asked if he’d seen the documentary of Anvil (The Story of Anvil) and how they influenced so many and then for some reason (Canadian music industry in my opinion) got left behind.
“Yea, I did…I mean I feel bad for those guys because they were so awesome when I was in high school and all those bands, like Metallica and Anthrax, were getting big and moving up the ladder……and Anvil was right up there with them. It always bothered me that Anvil didn’t go on to get the credit they deserved and Anthrax/Metallica did. I mean, I was always rooting for them… and…………..yeah, I just watched that documentary about them and it’s tough man”
I then spoke to Mike about how it is really difficult for Canadian music talent to break through internationally unless you were Shania Twain, Bryan Adams, Rush etc, even though there is a tremendous amount of Canadian music talent. Mike then thanked me for educating him (LOL) on the fact that he was unaware that Timmins pride and joy Shania Twain is Canadian. “really ?, I thought because she was country, she was from down South somewhere”
Don’t you worry my Canadian readers, I explained to the whole cruise ship, meeting Mutt Lange scenario that made Canada proud and put Timmins on the international map. Well, our time was up, and Mike was a cool chat. Check out Silent Assassins Pawm and Prophecy..it’s really good !!!!
In the coming weeks, be sure to check out my interviews with The Flying Dutchman, Adrian Vandenberg and another guitar phenom and Night Ranger mainstay Brad Gillis.
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Ernest Skinner was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie. After attending Humber College, Ernest worked in industry, management and front line customer service before realizing that writing was his real passion. RoKk & RoLL uP NoRtH and Rock Talk, has been a staple of Mr. Skinner's abilities and since it's inception he has interviewed, members of Judas Priest, Kingdom Come, The Guess Who, Loverboy, Helix, etc. Adrian Vandenberg, Carlos Cavazo, John Corabi, Rudy Sarzo, Sass Jordan, Lee Aaron, Darby Mills, Bill Hudson II, are just a few others that round out his impressive resume. Currently, Ernest is a freelance writer who submits to various establishments. Ernest has had his work published in MUEN Magazine. Saultonline.com, and many other news sites. Please welcome him and share his pieces.