You may know Michael Romeo as the extremely talented mastermind behind one of the best progressive metal bands in the world; Symphony X. While we wait for more Symphony X, Michael has crafted a new solo album called ‘War Of The Worlds Pt. 1’ which will be released on July 27th on Music Theories Recordings / Mascot Label Group. We had a chance to talk recently with Michael about the new album and plans for more Symphony X.
We wanted to know what was the driver for putting out a solo album now as opposed to a new Symphony X album. Michael said “Russ was putting a lot of time, said he wanted to put into his other project. Some of the guys were just doing other things. So its like ok man, gotta a little time here. Its something that I’ve thought about doing for a while. So now is the time, just do it.”
When you listen to the new ‘War Of The Worlds Pt. 1’ album, it has a very cinematic feel. This is especially true on songs such as “Introduction”, “War Machine” and “Fuckin Robots”. You feel like you are watching a high-speed action or sci-fi flick. We asked Michael if he has a visual in mind that then shapes the music thematically. Michael mentioned “Before I start writing, I try to find a title, or a theme, or some kind of direction. With this one I wanted to do something that was maybe a little sci-fi. That epic space thing. You know, that kind of music with that orchestral stuff in there.”
One of the most unusual and weirdly heavy and fun songs on the new album is “Fucking Robots”. We needed to know what inspired this song. Michael answered “Oh man, that wasn’t even supposed to be the title. It was a working title; a goof you know. Somebody saying something about that electronic dub-step sounding like Transformers having sex. That was the title and then we just said fuck it, leave it.” Michael continued “Years back I remember, when my kids were a little younger and they were listening to some of that stuff (dub-step). I’d hear it and I’d be like what the hell. What are you listening to? Ah, its dub-step. At first, I was like I don’t know man, there’s no guitars. But then it has the big drop and it gets all heavy. Some of that stuff is pretty slick. Some of these guys, they obviously have some skill. I can totally respect that”
Knowing that Michael is a big fan of composers such as John Williams who has scored just about every awesome movie that has been made, we asked if he has considered scoring music for film. Michael mentioned “Yeah, I just finished up working on a film last week and a couple months back I did a horror flick. So yeah, a little bit here and there. Obviously, I love that stuff. You get to do something totally different. As time goes on, if more work comes my way, that is cool.”
On ‘War Of The Worlds Pt. 1’, Michael enlisted Rick Castellano on vocals, John DeServio on bass, and John Macaluso on drums. Each of their performances on the new album is stellar. We wanted to know how he came to work with them. “They are all guys I knew” answered Michael. “The first guy I called was Macaluso. He was excited, he was in. He did a fantastic job.” Michael continued “I went to high school with JD (DeServio). We knew each other since we were young. I started Symphony X, and we got that going and he was playing with Zack and Black Label for a long time. We’d run into each other and say we should do something. So when I decided to do this I said let me give Servio a call and see what he has going on”. Speaking of Rick Castellano, Michael added “I met him years back. Every once in a while I would get together with some of my old buddies and we’ll just get together and jam for fun. You know, just kind of chill out. Have a couple of drinks, just chillin. One of the guys knew Rick and said we’ll have Rick come down and he’ll sing some stuff. We’ll do some Sabbath and Priest. So I remembered, he was pretty good and we got along well and kept in touch. So yeah, when I decided to do this solo album, let me call Rick.”
We asked Michael if he will be taking ‘War Of The Worlds Pt. 1’ on tour. He indicated that he is not sure right now. Initially the thought was no given that on this album he wasn’t thinking of how to reproduce it in a live setting. Given all the orchestral elements, taking this album on tour could involve a good deal of coordination and resources to take it on the road.
Knowing that Michael has nearly completed ‘War Of The Worlds Pt. 2’, we were curious if he has plans for a new Symphony X album. Michael responded “Yeah, I mean at some point. Now, I just finished up this thing and kinda just concentrating on this and waiting to hear where Russ (Russell Allen – vocalist for Symphony X and Adrenaline Mob) is at too. I mean, I spoke to him 2 weeks ago. He’s been through a lot with the accident, it puts everything into perspective a little different, you know. So, I’m not really sure what he wants to do. So we are sort of playing that by ear. But I mean at some point, we’ll figure out what we are going to do and just move ahead.”
Michael Romeo can be considered one of the greatest guitarists in metal music. We wrapped up our chat by asking what he does to challenge himself as an artist. Michael said “I think I’m just wired that way. If you are going to do something, just do it the best you can. I listen to so many different things, there is always something new. So you are always listening to new things and getting inspired.”