Symphony X came along with Blind Guardian and a local Metal band (Crystal Castle) to kick off this North American tour.
I spoke to the guys, frontman Russell Allen, bassist Mike LePond, drummer Jason Rullo and keyboardist Michael Pinnella, before the show and found them to be extremely friendly and certainly out for a good time.
A-J: This is your first North American tour, tonight’s the first show. How are you feeling?
Russell: We feel great! It’s good to be playing at home.
A-J: How does a band from New Jersey end up doing most of their tours in Europe?
Mike: I think America hasn’t gotten behind this kind of music that we’re playing yet. But I think over the next year or two this kind of music is going to come over to America and we’ll be able to play more often.
Russell: We started in Japan. We worked our way all the way back to this side of the planet.
A-J: It’s a different perspective, but as long as it works…
Russell: We’re not the first ones to do that. Other bands have done it also. But it’s exciting, you know; we’re finally at home. There’s a special night that’s coming up and that we’re really looking forward to (Note: the New York City show). We’ll be playing for families and friends.
Here we were talking about the way information does not always get circulated correctly. Even to us media people…
Russell: Never trust anything that’s not on our website. If it’s not on our website, it’s not official.
Rick Rolland was supposed to be singing in my place tonight. That was the big rumour going on about four months ago. (turning to Mike:) Rick Rolland, wasn’t that the name?
Mike: Yeah. And Humpty Dumpty.
Then they did a bit of a song and dance number. I think they were looking forward to going onstage…We all had a big laugh.
A-J: What’s the next step?
Russell: We’re going to South America. Then there’ll be Japan.
A-J: Very busy.
Russell: Yeah. Busiest we’ve ever been. Which is cool.
Mike: We’re not complaining.
Russell: We’re not complaining. We’re very happy to be performing so much.
A-J: I heard that the new album (The Odyssey) is doing well.
Russell: Yeah. From every market, we’re getting great numbers. In Quebec, our distributor here has just told us that the album is really kicking ass.
Mike: That’s a good sign. That’s what we need to hear so we can get back out here. We just want to get out there and tread some water and show that we’re serious.
A-J: There are a few technical problems downstairs…
Jason: comments unprintable. Everyone laughing. We haven’t even had a sound check!
A-J: Are you going to get one?
Jason: No, we’re not.
A-J (sarcastically): That’s good…
Mike: Yeah. There’s been a few problems, but they’re going to be ironed out.
Russell: We’ll make it work out.
A-J: I think the crowd’s going to be understanding.
Russell: I remember one night in Germany. We were playing at this club and there was this pole right in the middle of the stage.
Michael (Pinnella): It held the stage together.
Mike: It kept the roof from falling.
Russell: Yeah. So I had to sing around it. I felt like a go-go dancer.
I’ll skip the next few details…
Russell: You know what? I remember that that night was great.
Mike: It was. It was a good night. There was a lot of energy, the place was packed.
Russell: We’ve been in all sorts of environments. Tonight, we’re just going to treat it like a festival: go up there and give it all you’ve got.
Mike: That’s what we do all the time.
A-J: Anything in particular you wish to promote?
All: The album!
Jason: And the fact that we’re out here playing.
Mike: We’ll be touring across North America and we’re going to have a good time.
Russell: Yeah, we’ll have a great time!
First, as anyone who was there will tell you; there were technical difficulties. However, as I was there during the sound check, I can assure you that these difficulties had absolutely nothing at all to do with Symphony X. In the end, they never even got to do a sound check.
So, in light of this, the technical difficulties were easily forgivable. And they were forgiven as the crowd just went wild during the band’s performance. Starting a tour with a sold-out show will certainly help, but this band certainly knows how to take care of an audience. I’ve rarely seen a band perform with such enthusiasm and work so hard to win an audience: mission accomplished!
The part that everybody disliked was that they could only stay on for 40 minutes. After every song, the crowd would raise their arms and yell: Sym-pho-ny until the next song got underway.
It was a great evening overall.
And because the band would have liked to play longer in Montreal, and because of the technical difficulties, they’ve rescheduled a show for February 23rd, 2003. This time they will be headlining. Unfortunately, as it’s still unofficial, I can’t tell you who the opening act will be. All I can say is that they’re on the same label as Symphony X and that I’ve reviewed two of their albums. It will be a great evening and I, for one, shall certainly be there.