For fans of of progressive metal and phenomenal bass playing Mike LePond needs no introduction, for the uninitiated he’s the virtuosic bass player of Symphony X, Silent Assassins, and Heathens Rage. We met up at the Tampa stop of Symphony X’s co-headlining tour with fellow New Jersey natives Overkill to discuss Symphony X and his other musical endeavors.
What was the inspiration for the story of Underworld?
The inspiration for the story of Underworld, well we took two concepts and put it together and made it our own. One was the Greek myth Orpheus and the other was Dante’s Inferno. So we put them all together and we came up with something. It was kind of like the Odyssey but instead of water, we were in hell.
Will you continue incorporating some of the older Symphony X sound on newer albums?
When we write songs, we really don’t think too much. We just start writing and whatever comes out, comes out.Usually that just works for us.
Do you have any plans for 70,000 Tons of Metal?
At this point we don’t have any information on that, but we’re hoping that we do get asked to play. We can play it if we’re asked to do it, but we’re still waiting.
What about any other festivals? What are your plans for touring Europe?
We are working on a bunch of European festivals, we’re not confirmed for any but we should know what we’re going to do in the next few months. We’re going to start a European tour in February of 2016, it’s going to be five weeks long, start in the UK for a week and then move to mainland Europe for the next four weeks. We’re really excited.
It’s a pretty extensive tour then, it’ll hit most the cities?
Yeah, we should hit all the major cities.
Do you plan to do a Divine Wings of Tragedy anniversary tour?
Well, that’s a great idea but there’s two trains of thought. There’s a group of people who want us to do a Divine Wings thing but then there’s a bunch of people that want us to do an anniversary of our album V, and they want us to play the whole album. So, I don’t know which one we’re going to do, but I think it would be a great idea to do at least one album all the way through.
Why aren’t there many older songs in this set list?
The way the tour was thought out, each band was only given 75 minutes. So we wanted to do a big chunk of Underworld, which is half of it right there, and then we were just messing around with different songs to see what would fit, maybe with an Overkill crowd watching.
How did you end up recording with MindMaze?
I’ve known MindMaze for a few years now and we became good friends. There was a period of time where their bass player had left the group and they didn’t want to wait, they wanted to record an album.
So, they just asked me and I think they’re a great band so I told them I would do it. I think it’s a great album and I was happy to do it.
How do you approach that type of playing? Is it different than how you would approach playing for Symphony X or Heathen’s Rage?
Their songs are not that complicated really, so actually it was cool to play with a little more feeling. Because it’s a little simple, there’s much more room for bass.
Do you have any more plans with Heathen’s Rage? Any future albums?
I know they want to do it. We went to Europe, we had a great show, and I know they would love to do another one. If they ever do, I’d be happy to do it. It just depends on what their schedules are because they do have families and kids and all that?
What about Silent Assassins? Do you have anything else coming up?
Well, I’m assembling a live band for them, and after this tour with Overkill is over I’ll start recording a second album.
Do you have a release date?
I won’t really know a release date until I start recording but I can tell you the title. Nobody else knows! It’s going to be called Pawn and Prophecy.
Pawn and Prophecy, is it a concept album?
There is going to be one really long conceptual song on there.
Well, I demoed it at 21 minutes and it’s bass all over the place.
How did you end up touring with Overkill?
Well, Symphony X and Overkill both come from New Jersey and we’ve been friends for many years. We always talked about touring together, so we finally got the opportunity and it’s been a great time. Just laughing every show, having a great time. It sucks that there’s only one more week to go.
How does the crowd like it? Is it any different than a normal Symphony X crowd?
Well, you have Symphony X people and Overkill people. I think a lot of the Overkill fans are appreciating what we’re doing. They’re discovering us.
Because a lot of our songs are heavy, so I think they like what we’re doing. We haven’t gotten any boos yet. Nobody’s been screaming Overkill while we’re playing.