Prior to SYMPHONY X's May 24 performance in Helsinki, Finland, guitarist Michael Romeo spoke with Metalliluola. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On why the group hasn't released a follow-up to 2015's "Underworld":
Michael: "After we did the last album, we did a lot of touring and we just kind of took a little break. Russ [singer Russell Allen] was working on some things; I was doing a solo thing; [bassist Mike] LePond was doing some stuff. Then Russ was involved in an accident [Editor's note: Allen was on tour with ADRENALINE MOB in 2017 when a tractor-trailer truck struck the band's tour RV, killing bassist David Zablidowsky and fatally injuring tour manager Janet Rains]. It just seemed like we just needed a little time for everybody to regroup and do their own things. That's why we decided to do this [current tour]. It's like, 'Okay, I did my solo thing, and Russ had a little time to... you know. I mean, after something like a tragic accident, you need a little bit of time to spend with your family, kind of gather your thoughts. I think there was enough time — everybody had the time to do what they wanted to do — and we just said, 'Instead of working on a record, let's just go out and tour a little bit. Let's get everybody back together, back on the [same] page and have some fun.' That's what we're doing here. As far as a record, after we get back, we have another run in South America in July and August, but once we get back to the States in the fall, we're going to talk about a record and what we're going to do. Usually, we'll just sit around and come up with some ideas — what's it going to be about — but once that happens, it's pretty quick... We didn't really talk much about the music. I think it's just going to naturally go where it goes. It definitely will be heavy and a little bit of progressive, a little bit of the symphonic element, maybe pay more attention to the melodies and things like that. But who knows — it won't happen until we're down there working. It's not going to be a rap record. [Laughs] You can count on that."
On whether it was difficult for the band to scrape off the rust:
Michael: "It took a little bit. Since it's not the 'Underworld' tour, we just said, 'Let's just do a little bit of everything from every record. Let's just play different stuff.' It took a couple rehearsals to kind of get the rust off, but it was good. It was like riding a bike — just come down to the rehearsal place, hang out and just jam. That's what's kind of cool about this [tour] — we can play whatever. Obviously, we're playing some songs from that album, but we're doing some other things too. It's actually cool not to have to worry about playing all the new stuff. It's good in a lot of ways, and it's good that everybody went through some things and were doing different things, and now it's like, 'All right, here we go.'"
On the aftermath of the ADRENALINE MOB crash:
Michael: "I remember talking to [Allen]... After going through some kind of a tragic experience like that, it probably fucks with you a little bit. He said he was apprehensive a little bit [about] traveling — but here we are, and it's all good."
On whether he's planning a follow-up to his 2017 solo album "War Of The Worlds, Pt. 1":
Michael: "When I did the first one, I wrote a ton of stuff, and I had the guys that played on it and I just said, 'Hey, let's do as much as we can.' We ended up recording most of two albums. The second one [has] a couple vocals [and] some guitar stuff to finish up, but after this, we're going to see what [SYMPHONY X is] doing, and maybe when I get back, maybe in the fall, maybe start writing some stuff for the band and finishing up this solo thing. There's plenty of time – there's no rush for anything — so just day by day, whatever happens. But with the solo thing, a lot of it's done, so it really wouldn't take too much [time]."
On whether he has a favorite SYMPHONY X album:
Michael: "It's tough. [2015's] 'Iconoclast' was my favorite because it was just heavy, and there's riffs everywhere, but I think 'Underworld' is good. It's a toss-up between those two. ['Iconoclast'] definitely has the riffs, and it's definitely a little heavier, a little more aggressive, but I think on 'Underworld', there's a little bit more of the melodic thing. There's still a lot of riffs and there's still a lot of good playing, and there's a little bit of a progressive element. The choruses, the melodic structure of some of the stuff, I think that's really cool."
On the fact that the group has existed for 25 years:
Michael: "I wouldn't have believed it. We'll do it as long as we can do it – as long as people show up. All of us still love music. I still love to write; I still love to play; so as long as that's there..."
On how the music industry has changed during the band's career:
Michael: "Shit's all fucked up now. It's just different — everything from royalties, where we used to all be able to get by, now it's really difficult with the streaming. Every band I talk to is just fucking struggling. Obviously, every scene changes over time, but it's different. It's definitely different, and it's definitely harder... Ten years ago, whatever our royalty thing was — we'd do a record and you'd start to see a little money. Now, you don't really see that, but at least coming here and everybody's happy and they want to see the band play, then we'll do this as long as we can do it."
On the dangers of relying on live income to offset lost album royalties:
Michael: "Everybody's on the road. The whole market is just saturated. There's so many bands... Even where I live on the East Coast, every night, there's a different band coming through. Everybody can't go to every show or buy every shirt. Everybody's taking a little bit of a hit. It's tough."
SYMPHONY X's recently completed European tour marked the group's first live performances since late 2016. The group will kick off a week's worth of dates in Latin America on July 27 in Mexico City, Mexico.