Symphony X and Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins Mike LePond interview
Written by Kevin Tanza on July 1, 2020
Mike LePond has achieved a milestone for our website: he is the first interviewer we have here twice. We interviewed him back in 2018 when he was promoting the second album of Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins, Pawn and Prophecy. Now, he is back with the band’s third release, Whore of Babylon, where he is once again offering quality Heavy Metal.
Mike is mostly known for his work with Progressive Metal titans Symphony X, but he has proven with his multiple projects, especially Silent Assassins, that he is an extremely versatile musician and one that is capable of writing some truly amazing tracks. I hope you enjoy this interview we did with him!
If you’re interested in buying Whore of Babylon, you can find it here.
Welcome once again to MusikHolics, Mike. You’re actually our first interviewee to come here for a second time!
I am honored. Thank you so much!
How are things going with you and your loved ones during this chaotic year?
We are all fine and in good health. I live in New Jersey, USA. This area was hit really hard by the virus in March. As of now, things are slowly getting better. Stores are opening again, and I can feel the happiness in people. Better days are coming J
How much of a toll did this took for your plans this year?
I had a European tour scheduled with Ross the Boss for April. I also had scheduled North American, South American and European tours with Symphony X. All had to be postponed. This happened just after I just moved into a new house. I was crippled financially.
You just released a new album that you made with your own band, Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins, Whore of Babylon. For those readers not familiar with this group, what can you tell them about it?
Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins is my solo band. We play classic heavy and power metal with some folky stuff mixed in. Whore of Babylon is our third album released by Silver Lining Music. Lyrically, I cover all the epic tales I can find in history, mythology and literature. And of course, the bass is super loud!
Last time we talked, you released the band’s second effort, 2018’s Pawn and Prophecy. What do you is different about this album compared to this one?
There are not many differences between these albums. I have the same players with the same style of heavy metal. I think Whore of Babylon has a better production to it. The guitar sounds great and the bass has the best tone I have ever gotten on any album in my career.
Lyrically, all the Silent Assassins albums deal with history. What are the different topics you talked about in these songs?
With my new album we cover Vlad the Impaler, Julius Caesar, Elizabeth Bathory and King Arthur. I also write about the Tell-Tale Heart from Edgar Allen Poe, and the Ironborn from Game of Thrones. Last but not least, I cover the Whore of Babylon from the book of Revelation.
As someone who is heavily into history, is there are a specific period of human history that you are particularly drawn to?
No there is not. Since I am not a good reader, I like to watch documentaries on television. Some people, subjects or events just speak to me and inspire me to write down lyrics. The topics are endless and it’s always fun to discover something new from our past.
You are working once again with vocalist Alan Tecchio. Do you think the chemistry between you two has evolved compared to the previous album?
Yes, I think that is true. With every album, Alan pushes himself to do better and more interesting things in the songs. I believe that with Whore of Babylon, he has done the best vocal performance of his career. Anytime I challenge him, he rises to the occasion.
How was the writing and recording process for Whore of Babylon?
The whole process took about 2 years. I started writing as soon as Pawn and Prophecy was released, and it feels so good to finally have these songs out of my head and on a CD. I have a good formula now for writing and recording, and I have done all three solo albums the same way.
Any particular song that you found enjoyable to write and record?
Yes, the title track was so much fun. It has no guitar and it’s not even a heavy metal song. It has 4 string and 8 string bass, drums, keys and vocals. A real middle-eastern, belly dancer kind of feel. I hope you will enjoy it.
Any particular song that you found hard to write and record?
The long songs are always the hardest to write because you need to keep the listener’s attention for the entire length of the track. Track 10 (Avalon), was this song. It took a lot of time effort, but I was so proud after I finished it.
As a bassist, do you think that you have a different perspective when writing a song compared to other musicians?
Yes, I think I do. One of the main reasons is because I have learned so much about songwriting from being in Symphony X. Michael Romeo and Michael Pinnella are so talented, and have taught me many techniques. Another reason is that I am a bass player, and I can write from a more rhythmic perspective.
Do you play bass differently in Silent Assassins compared to your other bands, like obviously Symphony X?
Yes, I play very differently than Symphony X with my solo stuff. Symphony X’s music is very busy, so the bass can’t really go too crazy or it will sound too chaotic. Silent Assassins music is simpler, so the bass can do whatever it wants within reason.
Any ideas for future albums?
During these months of staying home, I was able to write a complete 4th Silent Assassins record. Also, after the virus goes away, Symphony X will start writing songs again. The future looks bright.
Do you view Silent Assassins like your musical shelter? The band where you have total freedom and the one that truly reflects your vision as a musician?
Yes, that is very true. With the Silent Assassins, I can show people my most personal bass styles and influences. Fans can also see that I am more than just a bass player. I am a songwriter with good ideas.
Thank you for taking the time to do this, Mike. You know it’s a pleasure to have you here. Any last words for our readers? Where can we follow you on social media and buy the Silent Assassins albums?
To your readers, thank you for all your support in my 20 years of playing with Symphony X. Please also check out my solo band, Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and my website: mikelepondssilentassassins.com