SYMPHONY X frontman Russell Allen recently spoke to Classic Rock Revisted about his solo album, "Russell Allen’s Atomic Soul", and SYMPHONY X's participation in this summer's Gigantour, a six-week North American tour co-headlined by MEGADETH and DREAM THEATER. An excerpt from the interview follows:
Classic Rock Revisted: Last month SYMPHONY X was confirmed as being one of the acts on MEGADETH's Gigantour and you guys will be performing on the second stage. I know this probably delays the next album but it was too good of a deal to pass up, wasn't it? Not to mention the added exposure it will give you?
Russell Allen: "Pretty much. I know the fans are going to probably be a little disappointed about the album, but I know they understand this opportunity. If they're really a fan of ours, they'll hope that we do well. We can continue to make music and support our families and everything else [laughing] so regardless of what some of the diehards might feel that maybe we're turning our back on the record, we're not. We're writing now, we're going to write on the bus and we'll get it done by the end of the year. It might not come out at Christmas but it should be out in the first quarter of next year. In our minds, we thought, 'Let's take this opportunity.' I hope it succeeds not just for the band but for (Dave) Mustaine in general, because then everybody wins. It's kind of weird for us on the second stage because there's a lot of death metal, I know the kids are gonna look at me and wonder what I'm going to do, I'm gonna sing for you everybody, an ancient art form."
Classic Rock Revisted: Mike Portnoy from DREAM THEATER was really in your corner to get you guys on board wasn’t he?
Russell Allen: "Yeah, Mike was really cool about it and I hope that sort of diffuses some of the bullshit that we've been going through over the years. I first met Mike at a James LaBrie show and then the next day I heard in the press release that Mike was pushing for us. I met him, we hung out and it was cool. He's just a normal guy. The fans make these guys and us, too, out to be monsters. He's just a dud,e man, like me. They weren't snobby or anything, their fans make them out to be whatever and then they pit us against them a lot and all these comparisons over the years. I sound nothing like James LaBrie, man. I don't think (Jason) Rullo plays like Portnoy at all. Romeo and Petrucci might have some similarities with the hammer stuff, but I don't see the similarity in the drumming, nothing in the singing and not too much in the bass playing either and the keyboards are completely different. We're more of a power progressive metal band and they're more a of a prog rock heavy band, you know what I'm saying? Maybe in the arrangements there are some similarities, whatever. The point is they're the kings of prog and we've been coming up in the ranks so quickly over the years so I guess that's why they started squaring us off against each other. We never had anything against them and they never had anything against us."
Classic Rock Revisted: Maybe once you do a song over 10 minutes, you inevitably get compared to them.
Russell Allen: "Yeah, I mean, it's great if people want to compare us to them, they're like the top of the heap and we're getting compared to them then that's pretty good, most bands would be happy. It was great, Mike came through and it was totally unexpected. That opens the door for us for the future and the real reason we're doing this I think in my gut is, it adds exposure and all that but Mike stuck his neck out for us and got us on this thing and I'm hoping we pick up some new fans like everybody else but I think in the future the DREAM THEATER / SYMPHONY X thing is going to be more of a reality than it ever was and I think that's what a lot of their fans and our fans want to see. It would be awesome, we'd have a blast. I think once you'd see them and us on the same night, you'd see that there’s completely different pictures going on here."
Classic Rock Revisted: How challenging is it going to be choosing which songs to play in just a 30 minute set?
Russell Allen: "That's always been a problem but we do the festivals in Europe and stuff but it's never been a big issue. A festival set is kinda easy because you just want to kick the crap out of everybody. You can't go too artsy and you can't get into really the meat and potatoes of what we do, unfortunately. We can only try to suck them in with some of the heavier stuff, like 'Wicked', 'Inferno' or 'King of Terrors' — that would be it. Since that's the album that we still have out in America ('The Odyssey'),we'll probably do at least three songs off that record. Then we'll probably do 'Of Sins and Shadows', 'The Eyes of Medusa' or 'Sea of Lies' off 'The Divine Wings of Tragedy'. It’s basically a 30-minute blitz."
Read Russell Allen's entire interview with Classic Rock Revisted at this location.