Interview with Xavier Paladian (Snake Eye)

Xavier Paladian is guitarist of the French band Snake Eye. The band recently released their second album (Ritual Instinct) that has quite literally taken the world a storm. Metal Express Radio was fortunate enough to catch up with Xavier (whose playing has caught the attention of several Metal Express Radio “Crewbies” in 2006) as the band is amidst working on their third album.

How about telling us a little about Xavier Paladian. When and how did you get into music? Who were your influences? Is Snake Eye your first big gig?
I began quite late actually. I was 15 when I first picked up my Dad’s nylon guitar, it was hanging on the wall right above my bed; I guess one night it talked to me in my sleep, and whispered something like “pick me up you lousy teenager, and don’t ever hang me back up!”, and that’s what I did!! At that time, Jimmy Page was the trigger. I was gasping in admiration! I wore flower shirts and big hair like Robert Plant (I still do too!! (Laughs)). Yngwie Malmsteen was the next step in my evolution, as well as all the demonic shredders on Mike Varney’s Shrapnel label. This guy should be rewarded for his contribution to the rock guitar world! Really should! Along with all of this, I listened to classical and Jazz-Fusion music, and a bit of “world music”. Al Di Meola, Alexandre Lagoya, Flamenco guitar players. Though I was never able to really sound like them! Snake Eye is my first band with a “professional” approach. Now I am 31, Ritual Instinct is my first release and I am not afraid to say I am proud of what I achieved on it!!

How did the name “Snake Eye” get chosen for the band?
When I joined the band, the name was already established, and I liked it, so…that’s about it. I know Boban is a big “Whitesnake” fan, which might have some reason behind it! (Laughs). Rockers love dangerous creatures I guess, like snakes, tigers or …women!!

Snake Eye’s debut Wild Senses was released in 2003. What has transpired since then and why 3 years before the release of the new album Ritual Instinct?
So many things changed between the two albums. It took about a year or so to compose the new material, then several months to record, mix and master it. We went through a couple of different mixes before the final one. I think the vocals and guitars seem to support each other on the album. This brings a much more modern approach to our songs, while keeping it “Rock”. It took some time though! So three years of work, but absolutely nothing to regret.

Wild Senses contained a slightly different band line-up, most notably there were two guitarists. What was behind the decision to become a one guitar band?
For me there was not a “slight” change; there’s a world of difference between the two line ups and the two albums. First, all the guitars on Wild Senses had been recorded before Michael (Zurita) and I entered the band. Then it is true that we both supported the album on stage. Michael left the band during the early days of composing the new material, and I decided I was fully able to “drive” the guitar work all by myself. I was convinced that we could get a cleaner sound on stage with just one guitar; besides, you save time when sound checking. And last but not least, I had been raised listening to one guitar-bands, I needed that sort of freedom to fully express myself.

Snake Eye have been compared to some of the biggest 80’s Hard Rock/Hair Metal bands. How does the band feel about such comparisons?
That’s great!! If these bands embody what has been done best in the genre, and your music is compared to theirs, then I would say that’s pretty cool!! As I said before, I guess we brought some difference to the production, with huge/loud as hell guitars. Something you don’t hear a lot of on a Melodic Rock record. Francis Caste (the sound engineer for the album) would always say in the studio: “these guitars, that’s the “wall of sound”!”

Anything on Ritual Instinct that, given the opportunity to redo, you would do differently?
I would put more notes in the solos… Just kidding!!! No, I fully support the music we laid down on the album, because if you are not able to say: “ok, I’m keeping this, and I’m not going to touch anymore!” If you don’t say that, you will end up spending a lifetime in a studio! My playing keeps evolving gently you know, rhythm, harmonies, songwriting; and I guess there will be the new approach I am aiming at in the next album, that’s all.

The writing on Ritual Instinct (other than two tracks) appears to be a group effort? How does that work? Is it difficult for four individuals to agree on eleven tracks?
Four individuals, eleven tracks, so many combinations! Ritual Instinct is definitely a group effort as you put it. There hasn’t been just one way of composing, ideas would come and go, and everybody could give their opinion, as long as it brought some creation. And it is even truer for the arrangements. “Memories” and “Never Say Never” are different because I had done the whole job before they could say something!!!

Is Snake Eye planning to promote Ritual Instinct by touring? Any confirmed tour dates and/or Countries?
Nothing really confirmed yet other then a beautiful festival on June the 24th in Caen (Normandy) with Jaded Heart.

You guested on Ted Poley’s new release Collateral Damage. How did that relationship come about? How was that experience?
It was a great time! John (Kivel) asked me to record a solo for a new artist of his. In the beginning, that was all I knew. A guest solo on a label mate’s CD. So I said OK, let’s do it. Then I found out that the artist was Ted Poley! I got CRAZY! My friend…. Danger Danger!!!! Can you believe it!?! That is what I kept telling myself!! (Laughs). The feedback I’ve heard is that the album is GREAT. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album. I’m sure it wont disappoint. I know that the song I played on was fantastic!! I’ve also been told that my solo went over well with the reviewers of the album. So to hear that the solo I’ve done has reached interest in some very influential columnists’ ears is absolutely GREAT! That combined with playing on Ted Poley’s CD is amazing to me!!

What CD does Xavier Paladian currently have in his CD player?
I need a joke now… I don’t have a whole lot of CDs, but they cover so many different styles at their best. Yesterday I was listening to The Damnation Game by Symphony X (Romeo is a gorgeous shredder!), and the day before it was Paulinho Nogueira playing early Chico Buarque compositions, in a pure Brazilian “nylon” vibe; I am a true guitar lover, regardless of musical styles. I love piano as well, Bach’s “English suites”, or Maurizio Pollini playing the “Etudes” from Chopin.

What’s next for Xavier Paladian? Any projects you can speak about that are in the works?
Would you really want to know what was next for you? I don’t know actually, I just “let the music play”! More concretely, I am working on the new materiel for the next Snake Eye album. I love it!!

Thank you Xavier for taking the time to chat with Metal Express Radio!
Thank YOU Scott for having me, thank you all for your support. Let the Snake bite and enjoy the venom!!!!


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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