Den 18. marts var Symphony X forbi Danmark, hvor de leverede et brag af en koncert i Pumpehuset. Jeg havde i den forbindelse fået en aftale i stand med Nuclear Blast om et interview med prog legenden Michael Romeo.
Jeg har en aftale klokken 18:00, og jeg står pænt og venter ude i det gode vejr uden foran døren til Pumpehusets back stage. Jeg hilser på trommeslager James Russo og sanger Russell Allen, som lige skal ud og tjekke København i området omkring Pumpehuset.
Romeo er i gang med et andet interview, og meget præcist bliver jeg lukket ind kl. 18:00. Jeg fortæller kort om RockZeit, og spørger hvor land tid jeg har. Jeg har ca. et kvarter, så jeg begynder interviewet med det samme;
I think about all those years that Symphony X has existed. Are just you inspired by “Symphony X”, or do you get inspired by other bands. …”like here is a band…listen to this band…let´s go a little in that direction”…do you think about that, or do you just compose?
“Just write man…but you know, you gotta be inspired by something, I mean…we have fun when we play…yeah man, just listening to music…could be movies…could be anything. Just try to find some kind of inspiration…what ever the hell it is…and usually I get shit going.
Do you guys think about if something sounds a little like some known music…do you discuss that in the composition process?
I mean, everything sounds like something…and like subconsciously too, we might be dealing with something; hey, that´s kind of familiar. And then you realize what it is…and then just..ohh shit! I mean depends if it is blatantly stolen…but yeah, we´re all influenced by “everything”, so it´s always going to come out …what is that saying;…amateurs borrow… masters steal! ..(laughing)…so you get away with it anyway.
Som navnet antyder, er Symphony X helt bogstaveligt et symfonisk metalband. I sit hjemmestudie ”The Dungeon” har Romeo højteknologisk lydudstyr som kan levere klange som kommer tæt på et symfoniorkester med kor og det hele. Nogle af arrangementerne som høres på deres plader, er så vellykket, at jeg tænker at Romeo må have masser af tanker om orkestermusik i form af symfonier, suiter og andet.
Have you ever thought of making a hole orchestra work, like an orchestral suite or something…bigger and longer than the orchestral intros an stuff on the Symphony X albums?
Yeah…maybe on a solo record…yeah. I have actually been kind of throwing ideas around for myself, and…it´s tough…you, know…I would love to just write a big symphonic piece, but who the fuck is gonna want to hear that, you know..(laughing).
When you compose, do you write things down, or do you work a lot on computer?
It depends. If it is really like a symphonic thing and I´m just writing for myself, scoring practice, or doing things, I just had some jobs doing some different orchestrations and arrangements for some people. Then I´ll pencil it out. I sit and write.
With the band I am coming up with some riffs, that´s is on the guitar or the computer, or maybe a drum machine..and I´m always recording. I can never freaking remember all that shit. It´s too much.
Romeo har tidligere nævnt filmusik og klassisk musik som stor inspirationskilde, og blandt andet er Stravinsky´s mesterværk La Sacre du Printemps (fra 1913) ét af hans favoritter i den neoklassiske musik.
You have talked about movie score music, and classical works, especially Stravinskys “The Rite of Spring”.
Ohh yeah, that´s the stuff I like to listen to; Stravinsky, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Bartok…so many different things…yeah that would be cool, just like I said; maybe on a solo record, incorporating orchestra, and not just as background. But as!
As an opus? A score opus
Yeah. That would be bad ass man.
Det computergenerede orkestermusik i Symphony X, er teatralsk og til tider voldsomt i udtryk, men i tonemateriale er det forholdsvis simpelt. Med Romeos overskud som både musiker og komponist, er jeg interesseret i om han har prøvet at gå til yderligheder ved at gå væk fra dur, mol-tonalitet (som dog har mange modulationer og kromatiske skalaer ind i mellem).
In connection with the ”study” of complex score music, have you ever considered making atonal or even 12 tone music? Have you been experimented with that kind of music?
Ohh yeah, off course. I mean, to make it sound interesting to normal people, it´s tough. They are so used to the tonal order of things you know. So if I start getting into like…atonal…like or even more avant-garde that, like noisy, Penderecki and things like that, people will go…ahh..(too much).
De fleste numre på Symphony X´s nye album ”Underworld” er meget iørefaldende og logisk opbygget med hensyn til vers, omkvæd og diverse formled og soloafsnit. Jeg har tænkt om Romeo hører popmusik, og får inspiration til få sådan en perlerække af catchy heavy-numre på det nye album. Romeo forklarer, at han tit støder på popmusik i sin hverdag, men det er ikke noget han dyrker. Men der kommer lidt inspiration fra de simple og gode melodier som der kræses om i den type musik…
So you kind of admire the simplicity of pop music?
Yeah…sometimes it´s catchy man…and just it´s like; why am I singing this stupid song?
Also the new album, there are very catchy melodies in every track I think. It´s both heavy and technical…but it is very logical.
It was all on purpose. It was all about…I mean, on all the past records, it has been the same. We´ll talk about it…kind of what we wanna do…and then the guys will let me write for a couple of month to get all the basic songs, and then we kind of regroup, make some changes and stuff.
But this one (“Underworld”), right from the beginning, we talked about everything that we have done, you know, a little bit of the prog stuff, still keeping it heavy, very melodic, you know the melody and the choruses, and my big thing was about making it a complete record that made sense and had a flow to it. Because I´ve seen some documentaries where they talk to people in the music business, and it´s all negative you know. Some artists just have one single, and the rest of the record is shit!
..and they were saying; that is the way stuff is with the internet; people don´t wanna be bothered to listen..the just wanna hear one quick thing, and bla bla bla…and that there will never be more great records as a hole. There will never be another “Dark Side of the Moon” or “Sgt. Pepper´s..” or “Moving Pictures” by Rush and so on…I was just thinking; that´s fucked up!
So in my mind; let´s just try to keep a true thing to a great record, and do the best we can to it keep it strong, and keep the flow right.
Speaking of flow. Do you think about the music on vinyl, that, for example, the last track on side 1 has to be something special, and when you turn it around, the first track on side 2 has to be like a “new beginning”, just as we heard on many records in the old days. Do think about that anymore?
No. To be honest. I don´t think about that. I mean, I really don´t listen to vinyl…I think I´m gonna start…because there are so many of my friends that do, and they say “Hey dude. You don´t know what you are missing”…and so on. Normally I just think linear, like beginning of the record…and the end of the record. The majority of people are still with the CD´s, or they have some kind of a media player. I never really thought about it (the vinyl thing).
Som tidligere interviews her på RockZeit, er der blevet spurgt ind til hvad de interviewede musikere egentlig har af yndlingsalbum. Den er svær for Romeo, og han kommer da også til at nævne 4 albums;
Do you have…if you should mention what you think right here, right now…3 favorite metal albums?
…Black Sabbath: “Heaven and Hell”
….I gotta go to the stuff I grew up with man….I gotta say “Blizzard of Ozz”…
It could be any Priest or Maiden record….it could be “Painkiller”
also it could be… Rush; “Moving Pictures”…..
Jeg takker for interviewet og pakker mine ting sammen, men har lige en sidste ting:
For a short while I was a little worried about this interview. There was a hoax story about you being killed in a car wreck.
Ohh that stuff, yeah…every couple of years…then it´s me or Dave Mustaine or somebody…some generated thing…yeah…but I´m still around…(laughing)….