The Dream Theater World Echo's Hill

Hidden by Design

Dream Theater arranged, in collaboration with the fan clubs and fan communities online, a treasure hunt culminating in the reveal of the album title and artwork for the new Dream Theater album “Distance Over Time”, for release in February 2019. See this link for the reveal! This is a series of several articles covering the entire process of solving the treasure hunt as released by Dream Theater and “Team Jacobi”. This is the fourth article, covering the next couple of puzzles. Stay tuned for more!

Puzzle #11

On Friday, August 14, Freddy tweeted:

The image labelled ‘1)’ is a photograph of a computer screen, with some sort of ‘labyrinth’ drawn in a text editor; ordered according to the direction of the arrow, the symbols in the ‘labyrinth’ are:


These symbols are characters in the Webdings font; when the symbols are written in a text editor and the font is changed, the result is:

+ OR – X H F B H O

The picture labelled ‘3)’ shows drummer Mike Mangini in the studio where the band had been recording their new album since Tuesday, July 17.

A paper is attached to the highest horizontal pipe on Mike’s drumkit:

The paper reads ‘+2731/-65’. This –as the image labelled ‘2)’ suggests– is a ‘shift key’ to apply to ‘XHFBHO’: each letter shifted a certain number of positions in the basic, 26-letter Latin alphabet, either to the right or left. (‘+ OR -’.) In other words: this is text encrypted through the Gronsfeld cipher in both directions. (See Gronsfeld cipher.)

Decrypted, ‘XHFBHO’ results in ‘VACANT’ – the title of a song from Train of thought, Dream Theater’s seventh studio album.

That same morning, Freddy published on his WordPress page a password-protected entry whose URL ends ‘how-did-we-get-to-it-add-four-digits’, and its title is:

This suggests that the password ends with the result of 2731 – 65 + 2000 (or, simply, 731 – 65), which is 666.

By inputting Vacant666 as password, the puzzle is solved.

Puzzle #12

On Saturday, September 22, Freddy published on his WordPress page an entry:

Too long to be conveniently posted here, the content of the entry is a string of over 14 thousand characters, exclusively made up of dots, plus and minus signs, brackets, and greater-than and less-than signs; as an example, its first line is:


The type of characters in the entry, as well as its URL (which ends with ‘/brain’), suggests that the string is a sequence of commands written in the esoteric Brainfuck programming language. When ran through a Brainfuck interpreter, the output of the program is a line of over 14 hundred characters – this time letters, digits, and two equal signs at the end; as an example, its last 50 characters are:


The final ‘==’ suggests that the string is text written in Base64 code. Indeed – when decoded, the result is:


2 Californian city where the building the name was inspired by

5 Mike Portnoy’s middle name

10 DT live album recorded at Radio City Music Hall

12 First name of person that came up with the name

13 The only non-band writing credit in DT’s catalogue

17 Band connected by marriage

18 This side-project song title came from an event that occurred in real life during the writing of the song


1 John Myung’s middle name

2 Queen that drew a symbol that Dominici liked

3 This “side-project” saw the Dream Theater members switch roles

4 Jordan Rudess’s middle name

6 NO thanks

7 This guy was the first to sing on a Dream Theater album

8 This side-project saw three Dream Theater members work with the people from Magellan

9 Album obsessed with five and eight

11 This side-project saw “king’s x” join forces with “dream theater” and “dixie dregs”

14 College Mike Mangini taught at

15 James LaBrie’s middle name

16 John Petrucci’s middle name

These are clues about nineteen words in a Dream Theater-related crossword:

# Word Note
Across 2 MONTEREY The band’s name is that of a theater in Monterey, CA
10 SCORE Recorded April 1, 2006 – the Octavarium tour finale
12 HOWARD Name of the father of former drummer Mike Portnoy
13 DESMONDCHILD Co-writer of “You not me”, from Falling into infinity
17 MEANSTREAK Three members married Dream Theater members
18 WHENTHEWATERBREAKS Written as guitarist John Petrucci became a father




1 RO
2 MARY Queen of Scotland in the 16th century; see Puzzle #10
3 NIGHTMARECINEMA Parody name by the band, used live in 1997 and 1998
6 TERRYBROWN Un-thanked in the Metropolis 2000 live video credits
7 CHARLIEDOMINICI Dream Theater singer from 1987 to 1989
8 EXPLORERSCLUB Supergroup active in the late 1990s and early 2000s
9 OCTAVARIUM Concept album about the musical octave
11 PLATYPUS Supergroup active in the late 1990s
14 BERKLEE Drummer Mike Mangini was a professor in the 2000s
15 JAMES The singer’s first name is Kevin

One minute later, Freddy added an image as a comment in the public, fan-made Google Doc ‘DREAM THEATER’S ARG / TREASURE HUNT’ –created by fan ‘Hyrul’ on Thursday, July 12– under ‘Puzzle 12: “Black Clouds And Silver Linings”’:

Precisely, the image consists of a crosswords grid in which the nineteen words can be filled in.

The solved crossword is:

Two minutes later, Freddy tweeted another image:

The result of superimposing the image on the empty crosswords is:

In a similar fashion to the previous crossword (see Puzzle #7), the marks indicate what to do with the letters in those cells; what’s more, their colors give away the order in which the resulting letters are to be arranged:

Mark Original letter Indication Resulting letter
‘B’ in ‘TERRYBROWN’ Shift 3 to the right ‘E’
‘M’ in ‘CHARLIEDOMINICI’ Shift 1 to the right ‘N’
‘D’ in ‘DESMONDCHILD’ Don’t shift ‘D’
‘L’ in ‘PLATYPUS’ Don’t shift ‘L’
‘A’ in ‘JAMES’ Shift 4 to the right ‘E’
‘P’ in ‘EXPLORERSCLUB’ Shift 3 to the right; write thrice ‘SSS’
‘A’ in ‘MARY’ Don’t shift ‘A’
‘A’ in ‘CHARLES’ Shift 2 to the right ‘C’
‘S’ in ‘SCORE’ Shift 1 to the left ‘R’
‘I’ in ‘OCTAVARIUM’ Don’t shift ‘I’
‘E’ in ‘WHENTHEWATERBREAKS’ Shift 1 to the left ‘D’
‘ECI’ in ‘NIGHTMARECINEMA’ Don’t shift; from bottom to top ‘ICE’

The resulting letters form ‘ENDLESSSACRIDICE’ – except for one letter, the title of a song from Train of thought, Dream Theater’s seventh studio album.

Finally, ten minutes later, Freddy posted an entry on his Reddit page:

The last line of the post is a reference to the fact that the title of “Endless sacrifice” ‘overlaps’ with the one of “Sacrificed sons” – a song from Dream Theater’s eighth studio album. (This is: ‘the next one’.)

The entry also suggests that the ‘12 solution page’ can be found at – the URL of a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site.

By inputting EndlessSacrificedSons as password, the puzzle is solved.

Puzzle #13

On Friday, September 28, Freddy published on his WordPress page an entry:

(Freddy didn’t post or share a link/URL to the entry; nonetheless, the latter can be found by browsing the archive of entries at Vail Renovations’ site.)

When removing every ‘8g’ and ‘9g’ in the entry (as suggested by the end of the series), the result is:

4c 4f 41 4e 45 52 20 45 4e 54 45 52 45 44 0d 0a 41 20 4c 45 41 4e 20 45 4e 44 20 4d 45 54 20 43 45 4e 54 20 43 4f 50 0d 0a 4e 55 4c 4c 20 53 50 41 43 45 20 42 4c 4f 4f 4d 49 4e 47 0d 0a 57 49 54 20 57 48 49 50 54 41 49 4c 20 41 51 55 49 4e 41 53 0d 0a 4d 41 53 53 20 53 55 47 41 52 20 44 45 53 54 52 4f 59 20 46 45 57

The above are 106 pairs of either two digits, or a digit and a letter from ‘a’ to ‘f’. This, and the many occurrences of ‘0d 0a’ and ‘20’, suggests that the pairs are ASCII code characters written in the hexadecimal numeral system. Indeed – the entry translates as:






This meaningless, four-line text is an anagram of:





Except for two words, the above are part of the lyrics to “The Count of Tuscany” – a song from Black clouds and silver linings, Dream Theater’s tenth studio album; the correct anagram can be determined through a number of methods, such as making educated guesses on the letters, or re-arranging these according to their colors. (The hexadecimal color code for each letter can be found in the source code of the page.)

Color Color code – number Letter
990000 – 41 A
aa0000 – 4e N
bb0000 – 44 D
cc0000 – 4c L
dd0000 – 41 A
ee0000 – 53 S
ff0000 – 54 T
ff1100 – 57 W
ff2200 – 45 E
ff3300 – 43 C
ff4400 – 41 A
ff6600 – 4d M
ff7700 – 45 E
ff8800 – 55 U
ff9900 – 50 P
ffaa00 – 4f O
ffbb00 – 4e N
ffcc00 – 41 A
ffdd00 – 50 P
ffee00 – 49 I
ffff00 – 43 C
eeff00 – 54 T
ddff00 – 55 U
ccff00 – 52 R
bbff00 – 45 E
aaff00 – 53 S
99ff00 – 51 Q
88ff00 – 55 U
77ff00 – 45 E
66ff00 – 45 E
55ff00 – 53 S
44ff00 – 54 T
33ff00 – 41 A
22ff00 – 54 T
11ff00 – 45 E
00ff00 – 4f O
00ff00 – 4e N
00ff11 – 53 S
00ff22 – 50 P
00ff33 – 52 R
00ff44 – 41 A
00ff55 – 57 W
00ff66 – 4c L
00ff77 – 49 I
00ff88 – 4e N
00ff99 – 47 G
00ffaa – 45 E
00ffbb – 4d M
00ffcc – 45 E
00ffdd – 52 R
00ffee – 41 A
00ffff – 4c L
00eeff – 44 D
00ddff – 48 H
00ccff – 49 I
00bbff – 4c L
00aaff – 4c L
0099ff – 53 S
0088ff – 41 A
0077ff – 4e N
0066ff – 41 A
0055ff – 4e N
0044ff – 43 C
0033ff – 49 I
0022ff – 45 E
0011ff – 4e N
0000ff – 54 T
1100ff – 57 W
2200ff – 4f O
3300ff – 52 R
4400ff – 4c L
5500ff – 44 D
6600ff – 4f O
7700ff – 46 F
8800ff – 54 T
9900ff – 49 I
aa00ff – 4d M
bb00ff – 45 E
cc00ff – 53 S
dd00ff – 47 G
ee00ff – 4f O
ff00ff – 4e N
ff11ff – 45 E
ff22ff – 42 B
ff33ff – 59 Y

That same afternoon, Freddy tweeted:

Seven hours later, he followed the tweet with an image:

The image –a photograph taken in September 2014 by Jimmy Earson– shows a plaque to the side of Route 66, near Texola, OK. The monument replaces a previous insignia installed in 1952, through which several organizations from Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Oklahoma renamed the historic North American road as ‘Will Rogers Highway’ – a posthumous tribute to the early 20th century actor/performer.

This suggests that is the URL to follow. So, on the will rogers we will go, to enter that which we know.

First, it’s necessary to take the deciphered song-title and ‘add the number to the end’, so that they know we understand.

By inputting TheCountOfTuscany66 as password, the puzzle is solved.

Hidden by Design

Dream Theater arranged, in collaboration with the fan clubs and fan communities online, a treasure hunt culminating in the reveal of the album title and artwork for the new Dream Theater album “Distance Over Time”, for release in February 2019. See this link for the reveal! This is a series of several articles covering the entire process of solving the treasure hunt as released by Dream Theater and “Team Jacobi”. This is the third article, covering the next couple of puzzles. Stay tuned for more!

Puzzle #8

On Friday, August 24, Freddy tweeted:

Freddy then proceeded to reply with either ‘door’ or ‘key’ to each of six messages he had tweeted from the small hours of Thursday 23, to the morning of that day.

‘Door’ puzzle

The first and second tweets to which Freddy replied ‘door’ were:

The tweets are part of the lyrics to “The mirror” and “Strange déjà vu” – songs from Awake and Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a memory, Dream Theater’s thirth and fifth studio albums, respectively.

The third tweet to be replied to with ‘door’ was:

The link in the tweet redirects to a video posted by the band on their official Facebook page half an hour before:

The video shows guitarist John Petrucci and bassist John Myung in the studio where the band had been recording their new album since Tuesday, July 17; throughout the video, both Johns give updates on the process up to that point, and mention what they were about to begin working on.

On the table to the left of John Myung, there’s a white paper with a grid on it.

The fourth and last tweet to which Freddy replied with ‘door’ was:

This suggests that the grid in the paper in the video –which is ‘hard to read’– indicates the URL –the ‘location’– where to solve the puzzle.

That day, John Petrucci published a picture on his Instagram page:

Guitar tracking is done!!
@dtimages @dreamtheaterworld @music_man

The picture shows John Petrucci recording a guitar line in the studio.

The computer on the table displays the same grid as the one found in the paper in the band’s Facebook video:

The grid is:

m m i
p n
b T g
u G N

When ‘mirrored’ horizontally, the result is:

i m m
n p
g T b
N G u

If we ‘look in the mirror’, the letters from left to right and top to bottom form:


Of course, this string doesn’t make much sense, which suggests that the string is actually text encrypted through the bifid cipher – ‘bifid’ being an acrostic of ‘backwardation information figuration is desperation’, a phrase which Freddy had tweeted. (See Bifid cipher.)

Indeed – ‘immnpgTbNGu’ decrypts as:


Add a dot here, a slash there, and you get – a short-link created with Google’s soon to be discontinued URL shortening service.

The shortened URL is, the URL of a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site.

This is the ‘door’.

‘Key’ puzzle

The first tweet to which Freddy replied with ‘key’ was:

The clue for ‘the password puzzle for which you wait in anticipation’ –as Freddy put it in one of his other tweets– was eventually posted the following day as the second tweet replied to with ‘key’:

A few minutes before, Freddy had posted two entries on his WordPress page, titled ‘!’ and ‘?’, and respectively consisting of the following images:

The grid on the left is a ‘square’ arrangement of the first 81 characters in the tweeted string, and the one on the right contains the following 81 characters; the final five characters in the string –‘35647’– appear below the ‘?’ grid.

The first thing to do to solve this puzzle is to ‘divide in style’ the letters from the numbers in the tweeted 167-character string:



Then, arrange them in ‘nine by nine’ fashion; this is, forming ‘squares’ of nine rows with nine characters each:

f C U j F n h l a 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0

i B G d e W D k m 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

x r a D C t q o M 7 0 0 9 0 0 0 6 0

x X r v M N y S P 0 6 0 0 0 0 7 2 0

Z i w l E X Q r y 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0

U b X q H S w k i 0 9 0 0 0 8 0 0 0

k f u c s g g l o 0 1 0 6 0 0 0 0 0

A h t V k J t e V 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5

t v z P q b j p Y 0 0 8 0 0 0 4 0 3

3 5 6 4 7

After that, there’s the need to ‘solve one’: the numbers’ square, which –after removing every ‘0’– is an actual Sudoku, made up of ‘symbols hidden by design’.

7 9 6
6 7 2
9 8
1 6
8 4 3

The most common form of Sudoku is a square grid made up of nine rows and columns, and nine sub-squares of 3 by 3 cells. The goal is to fill the cells so that every row, column and sub-square in the grid contains the digits from 1 to 9. Though French precedents for the game are dated as early as the 19th century, Sudoku as it’s known today first appeared in the 1980s in Japanese newspapers, introduced by publisher Nikoli, Co.; in the Western world, Sudokus became popular in 2004, after Judge Wayne Gould promoted them in British and American media.

For instance, one can start by determining that the only cell available for ‘6’ in the lower-right sub-square is the one above ‘4’, because all the others are part of a row or column which already has ‘6’. By applying the same reasoning, the positions of ‘6’ in the lower-left and upper-left sub-squares can be easily found as well, and so on.

Of course, there’s a variety of techniques and strategies available for the solving of Sudokus. In any event, the solution to Freddy’s Sudoku is:

9 2 3 1 5 6 8 4 7
4 8 6 3 7 2 9 5 1
7 5 1 9 8 4 3 6 2
3 6 5 4 1 9 7 2 8
8 4 7 5 2 3 1 9 6
1 9 2 7 6 8 5 3 4
5 1 4 6 3 7 2 8 9
2 3 9 8 4 1 6 7 5
6 7 8 2 9 5 4 1 3

The idea now is to ‘subtract the extra ponies’ –the last five digits from the string, which didn’t make it into the Sudoku– from the grid:

9 2 1 8
8 2 9 1
1 9 8 2
1 9 2 8
8 2 1 9
1 9 2 8
1 2 8 9
2 9 8 1
8 2 9 1

In the resulting grid, we ‘identify the phonies’: the positions in the letters’ square to be removed.

After doing so, what’s left in the square is:

U F n l a
i G d e k
x r t q o
x X r v y
i w l X y
q H w k i
k u c s g
h k t e V
t v b j Y


On Saturday 25, Freddy tweeted:

After removing ‘those two as well’, and adding ‘akmii’ –the five extra letters below the ‘!’ square– at the end, the remaining letters form:


Freddy’s message also confirms that the text is encrypted through a cipher. Indeed – the Vigenère cipher, hinted in a tweet on Sunday 25. (See Vigenère cipher.)

Using ‘master’ as key (which Freddy’s first tweet had hinted at), the string decrypts as ‘InthePresenceofEnemiesTheHereticandtheDarkMaster’ – the full title of a song from Systematic chaos, Dream Theater’s ninth studio album.

This is the ‘key’.

By opening the ‘door’ with the ‘key’ InthePresenceofEnemiesTheHereticandtheDarkMaster, the puzzle is solved.

Puzzle #9

On Friday, August 31, Freddy tweeted a video:

The video, recorded by guitar tech Matthew Schieferstein, shows a couple of Aurora 16s (audio converters developed by the Lynx company), one of them running.

Throughout the video, five pairs of lights on the screen of the converter twinkle with the same pattern, but starting –and therefore finishing– at different moments. (In other words: the display is similar to a canon.) There are two different lengths of time during which lights are ‘on’, as well as two different ones when they are ‘off’.

The following day, Freddy would reply to his video:

As exposed earlier (see Background), ‘Bogie’ is the nick-name and screen-name of Nick Bogovich – longtime Dream Theater fan who gained legendary status within the band’s fan communities after solving a previous challenge involving Morse code in January 2005. This suggests that the lights on the screen represent Morse code.

Indeed – when writing down each short and long ‘on’ status as a dot and hyphen respectively, and each long ‘off’ status as a space, the pattern by the lights is:

— -.-. – .- …- .- .-. .. ..- —

This is Morse code for ‘OCTAVARIUM’ – the name of the title track of Dream Theater’s eighth studio album.

Also, on Friday 31, Freddy posted on his Reddit page:

The following day, Freddy quoted on his own thread in Dream Theater Forums a previous reply (by yours truly 😊):

This suggests that ‘the one that was before’ is the URL to ‘Freddy Jacobi’s Great Quiz #1’ (see Puzzle #5), but that ‘it’s time to repeat’ it replacing the ‘fifth’ letter in the quiz’s name.

Indeed:, the URL of Freddy’s ‘Great Quiz #2’, which –like ‘#1’– consists of 14 fields to be filled in.

Each field from #1 to 13 is preceded by a line in the lyrics to a Dream Theater song; therefore, its correct answer is the title of the song in which those lyrics are found. Field #14 is preceded by an edited version of an early promotional photograph of the band. (Taken by Brad Hitz circa 1992/1993.); the correct answer there is ‘Majesty’.

Answer Album
The ones who help to set the sun When dream and day unite
Under a glass moon Images and words
Scarred Awake
A change of seasons A change of seasons
Anna Lee Falling into infinity
Cover my eyes Cleaning out the closet (fan club exclusive)
Through my words Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a memory
Disappear Six degrees of inner turbulence
Endless sacrifice Train of thought
Panic attack Octavarium
Far from heaven A dramatic turn of events
Surrender to reason Dream Theater
Begin again The Astonishing

After submitting the correct answers, a clickable message by Freddy appears below the marks (once again, red, upper-case letters):

The message redirects to a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site, with the URL

By inputting Octavarium11 –formed by the Morse code message, and ‘the last two digits’ in the URL– as password, the puzzle is solved.

Puzzle #10

On Sunday, September 9, Freddy tweeted:

Two hours later, Freddy replied to someone who had asked him what the image meant:

This is a reference to former singer Charles Dominici, who designed Dream Theater’s logo –known as ‘the Majesty symbol’, after the original name of the band– based on one of the marks with which Mary Stuart –Queen of Scotland in the 16th century– signed her embroidery work, produced while imprisoned in England in the 1570s and ‘80s.

Mary’s death in 1587 was a consequence of the decryption of letters she exchanged with conspirator Anthony Babington, about a plot against then Queen of England Elizabeth I. Therefore, Freddy’s tweet suggests that his image is text encrypted through the cipher Mary and Anthony used in their correspondence.

Indeed – the symbols in Freddy’s image decrypt as ‘playlist’. (In fact, the image is a screenshot of the encrypted word using the ‘Mary Stuart Code’ tool at

That day, Freddy added a string of letters and numbers at the end of his biography on his Twitter account description:

He also changed the color of his Twitter page links and background from purple to green:

Finally, he tweeted another image:

Naturally, all of this suggests the existence of a Dream Theater-related playlist on the streaming service Spotify –whose logo is a green circle– as the next clue.

Indeed:, the URL of a private playlist created by The Century Media Family – an umbrella of record companies which includes InsideOutMusic. (Dream Theater’s current label.)

The playlist consists of thirteen Dream Theater songs.

The initials of the titles of the songs form the acrostic ‘ENIGMAMACHINE’ – the title of an instrumental piece on Dream Theater’s twelfth and self-titled studio album.

Freddy’s last tweet of the morning was:

Two days later, InsideOut’s official Facebook page –which was linked to in the ‘Listen to Dream Theater now!’ line below the ‘play’ button in the playlist– published:

The second question in the post is related to the story of Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a memory, Dream Theater’s first concept album. In the story, the main character goes through past life regression therapy, and witnesses a series of events through the eyes of a young woman named Victoria Page; ‘the year Victoria died’ was 1928.

The short-link in the Facebook post redirects to a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site.

By inputting EnigmaMachine1928 as password, the puzzle is solved.

Two-time Grammy-nominated and millions-selling progressive music titans Dream Theater announce the forthcoming worldwide release of their 14th studio album, ‘Distance Over Time’ on 22nd February 2019. ‘Distance Over Time’ showcases a newfound creativity for Dream Theater while maintaining the elements that have garnered them devoted fans around the globe. The album also marks the first for the band’s new label InsideOutMusic / Sony Music. The artwork was created by long-time cover collaborator Hugh Syme (Rush, Iron Maiden, Stone Sour). ‘Distance Over Time’ was produced by John Petrucci, mixed by Ben Grosse and mastered by Tom Baker.

When I listen back to the album, I can distinctly recall every moment of the writing process; where I was standing in the room, what inspired us in that instant and the meaning behind each song. As a producer, my goal was to try and create the best-sounding Dream Theater record we’ve ever made so that listeners can just be enveloped in the music. I really wanted this recording to truly reflect the spirit, joy and passion that went into making the album and for people to walk away feeling some of the organic nature, personality and raw energy that the band captured while together in the studio. For me, I think it accomplishes that and I hope that other people will feel the same way,” explains John Petrucci.

In June 2018, Dream Theater secluded themselves in a private location in upstate New York to begin writing for the new record. While spending the summer living together in the property’s adjacent residence, the band spent their days and nights crafting the music that would make up the new album in the ‘Yonderbarn’; a beautiful and spacious barn that had been meticulously transformed into a state-of-the art film and recording studio. Following an intense & extremely productive period of group writing sessions and wanting to retain the magic that was captured in this scenic and inspiring location, they decided to record the album in the very room they had all convened to write together in. Living together during the writing and recording for ‘Distance Over Time’ marked another first for the band’s 33-year career. The result is a heavier collection of songs that showcases the early roots of the band while exploring new territory as musicians and as friends.

It was like going back to summer camp,” adds James LaBrie. “Being around each other the whole time made it that much more of a profound experience. I think the songs reflect the energy. It was a lot of fun to have a situation so powerful at this point in our career.

It has been 3 years since Dream Theater released new music. To announce the details of the brand new album, Dream Theater enlisted the help of one lucky contest winner to break the news of the record to the loyal fans of the band. An Alternate Reality Game was launched that encompassed a “treasure hunt” whereby fans were able to search for clues hidden in various photos, videos, social media posts, and more. Ultimately, one lucky winner was given access to content before everyone else including the release date and cover artwork, and the winner would be the one to share the first taste of never before heard music. Listen to that first teaser here:

Dream Theater is also planning to hit the road in support of the new album. The ‘Distance Over Time’ Tour of North America was recently announced and kicks off on March 20, 2019 in San Diego, CA. The tour will run for seven weeks before wrapping up in Mexico City on May 4, 2019.
Information on tickets for all upcoming shows as well as VIP packages can be found at More tour dates for the worldwide tour will be announced in the near future.

(Pic Credit: Mark Maryanovich)

Progressive metal pioneers Dream Theater  James LaBrie (Vocals), John Petrucci (Guitars), Jordan Rudess (Keyboards), John Myung (Bass), and Mike Mangini (Drums) — share a unique bond with one of the most passionate fan bases around the globe as evidenced by their two GRAMMY® Award nominations and 15 million records sold worldwide. The 1992 opus Images & Words received a gold certification and landed on Rolling Stone’s coveted “100 Greatest Metal Albums of All-Time.” Guitar World placed the follow-up Awake at #1 on “Superunknown: 50 Iconic Albums That Defined 1994.” 1996’s A Change of Seasons notably soundtracked NBC’s coverage of Downhill Skiing at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Fans voted the 1999 Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory the “Number One All-Time Progressive Rock Album” in a 2012 Rolling Stone poll. Not to mention, it ranked as the “15th Greatest Concept Album” by Classic Rock.  2009 saw Black Clouds & Silver Linings crash the Billboard Top 200 at #6 as A Dramatic Turn of Events [2011] and Dream Theater [2013] maintained a three-peat in the chart’s Top 10. Consequence of Sound dubbed 2016’s The Astonishing, “An absolutely unique experience.”  Beyond three platinum and two gold videos, the group was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2010. On its 14th full-length and first release for InsideOutMusic / Sony Music, Distance Over Time, the band recharge the brotherhood that has kept them creating music together for over 30 years. It’s Dream Theater at their most dynamic, direct, and definitive.

In 2018, InsideOutMusic have been celebrating 25 years as one of the leading labels worldwide for progressive music and is part of the Century Media Label Group, a division of Sony Music.

Dream Theater is:
James LaBrie – Lead Vocals
John Petrucci – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Jordan Rudess – Keyboards
John Myung – Bass Guitars
Mike Mangini – Drums, Percussion

Find Dream Theater online:


Hidden by Design

Dream Theater arranged, in collaboration with the fan clubs and fan communities online, a treasure hunt culminating in the reveal of the album title and artwork for the new Dream Theater album “Distance Over Time”, for release in February 2019. See this link for the reveal! This is a series of several articles covering the entire process of solving the treasure hunt as released by Dream Theater and “Team Jacobi”. This is the second article, covering the next couple of puzzles. Stay tuned for more!

Puzzle #4

On Thursday, July 26, Freddy tweeted a video:

The video shows drummer Mike Mangini in the studio where the band had been recording their new album since Tuesday 17; throughout the video, Mike plays several phrases in odd-time signatures – one of his domains.

At the end of the video, a smiling Mike explains what was just heard:

That was some 3, and 7, and 3, and 11, and 3, and 19.

Indeed, the numerators of the time signatures played by Mike form a ‘domain’:, the URL of a challenge posed by Freddy:

Thanks to ‘Hyrul’ for sharing the screen-shot.

By means of trial and error, educated guesses, and studying the HTML classes of the characters in the source code of the page (see Puzzle #4 cipher), it’s possible to find the password to be ‘OAWTGSAL’:

The decrypted text is part of the lyrics to “Six degrees of inner turbulence” – the title track of Dream Theater’s sixth studio album. The password, in turn, is an acrostic made up of the initials of the names of the song’s movements.

Two days later, Freddy modified the link on his profile at Dream Theater Forums:

Freddy’s link redirects to one of 71 password-protected entries at Vail Renovations’ site named ‘1’, their URLs ending with the format ‘/1-(number)’.

By inputting OAWTGSAL as password, the puzzle is solved.

Puzzle #5

On Friday, August 3, Dream Theater tweeted:

The image shows a Digital Audio Workstation of drummer Mike Mangini.

Some of the labels throughout the image are fragments of a URL:






The fragments form, a short-link of the URL of a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site:

By inputting the short-link as password, the content of the entry –a message by Freddy– is unlocked:

At the bottom of the message, there’s a hidden clickable white dot, which can be seen through a variety of methods, such as studying the source code of the page, or simply highlighting the entry’s content:

The dot redirects to ‘Freddy Jacobi’s Great Quiz #1’:

The quiz consists of 14 lists of up to five Dream Theater-related terms. The task is to determine and input the correct ‘answer to each’ list in its corresponding field.

For instance, the first list is:

The terms are the titles of songs from Dream Theater’s first demo, a cassette tape recorded in 1986 while the band still used its original name Majesty. (The demo was officially re-issued on CD in 2003 as part of The Majesty demos 1985-1986, the first release of YtseJam Records.) Amongst other things, the demo is notable for featuring the only recordings by the band with first singer Chris Collings. Therefore, ‘Chris Collins’ is the correct answer.

As a consequence, this determines that the correct answer to every other list labelled ‘(a)’ is a name.

Through similar reasonings regarding lists labelled ‘(b)’ and ‘(c)’, it’s possible to arrive at the 14 correct answers:

Answer Relation to the list’s terms
Chris Collins Name of singer of the songs
James LaBrie Name of author of the songs’ lyrics
John Petrucci Name of author of the songs’ lyrics
Kevin Moore Name of author of the songs’ lyrics
Schmedley Wilcox Title of medley of the songs
Parents Theme of the songs’ lyrics
Long Island Place of birth of the musicians
A rite of passage Title of the only song to include that element
Theresa Thomason Name of guest vocalist on the songs
Jay Beckenstein Name of guest saxophonist on the songs
Alcoholism Theme of the songs’ lyrics
John Myung Name of author of the songs’ lyrics
Prix-mo Name of guest vocalist on the song
Doug Pinnick Name of guest vocalist on the song

After inputting answers and submitting the quiz, a mark in the form of an upper-case red letter is given for each answer. The marks for the correct answers are:

Re-ordered, these letters spell ‘THEGREATDEBATE’ – the title of a song from Six degrees of inner turbulence, the band’s sixth studio album.

Furthermore: below the last mark, there’s a clickable ‘Well done’ message:

The message redirects to a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site.

By inputting TheGreatDebate as password, the puzzle is solved.

Puzzle #6

On Friday, August 10, Freddy retweeted the video of drummer Mike Mangini that he had tweeted on Thursday, July 26. (See Puzzle #4.)

Furthermore, Freddy tweeted:

Each tweet is the title of a Dream Theater song. Every ‘p’ in the tweets is upper-case where it should be lower-case, and vice versa. This suggests the relevance of the letter ‘p’ as a next clue.

Indeed, by adding ‘p’ at the end of Mike’s ‘domain’, the URL obtained is that of a new game by Freddy: a 400-cell, square nonogram named ‘Caught in a Web’ – the title of a song from Awake, Dream Theater’s third studio album.

Nonograms were invented at the end of the 1980s by Japanese artist Non Ishida, and first became popular in the Western world at the beginning of the following decade, after British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph started publishing them weekly.

When being left-clicked on, each cell turns either red or black; red cells are ‘incorrect’ and black ones ‘correct’. (Right-clicking allows the player to mark potentially incorrect cells.) The game ends when all correct cells are clicked on, and a ‘game over’ message appears on screen after clicking a fifth incorrect one. (The timer at the end is irrelevant – it’s possible to continue clicking cells after it reaches ‘00:00’.)

For each row and column, the series of bracketed numbers above it or to its left indicates quantities of consecutive correct cells in that field; therefore, rows #6, 11 and 16 and column #10 consist exclusively of incorrect cells.

Of course, many strategies can be applied to the solving of nonograms. For instance, one can start by marking the correct cells from column #5 corresponding to the ‘[5]’ in the first five cells from the top, since that’s the only possibility. (Remember: every cell in rows #6, 11 and 16 are incorrect.)

In any event, the grid with all the correct cells clicked on is:

Like in all nonograms, the grid displays a message formed by the correct cells:


101 123

103 015

117 012

‘ZIP’ suggests the existence of a ZIP folder to be found, and ‘↓’ the direction in which to order the numbers. As for the latter: the fact that they are not letters –as is usually the case with nonograms– suggests that the numbers are ASCII code characters written in a numeral system. Indeed – the numbers spell the following in octal:


‘ACOS’ is an acronym of “A Change Of Seasons” – the title track of Dream Theater’s first EP.

As for ‘\r’ and ‘\n’: they are the characters that represent the commands ‘carriage return’ and ‘newline’ for starting a new line when writing on computers. (In other words: the ‘Enter’ key.) Some operating systems –like Linux– employ one of these characters/commands, but others –like Microsoft Windows– use both, in that order.

When adding ‘’ to the nonogram’s URL, a file with the same name begins downloading.

The content of the folder is a password-protected file named ‘soundfile.mp3’; the password is ‘101 103 117 123 015 012’. (The numbers displayed in the nonogram.)

The file is too ‘small’ to contain any music. This suggests that ‘soundfile’ is actually a text with its extension changed to ‘.mp3’. Indeed – when opening the file in a text editor, the following can be read:

The first URL is that of an ‘unlisted’ video posted by Freddy on YouTube:

The video shows keyboardist Jordan Rudess in the studio where the band had been recording their new album since Tuesday, July 17; throughout the video, Jordan plays a four-note melody in the keys of C major and E♭ major.

Jordan’s computer in the background has a software called ‘WordBuilder’ –developed by music company EastWest– open. The software allows the user to assign text to a keyboard – the text’s syllables are then ‘pronounced’ with a choir-like sound; this is why, for instance, different sounds are heard when Jordan presses the same G key four consecutive times at one point in the video. (Jordan had already shared videos of him using the software, on his Facebook page in June, on Friday 22, Saturday 23, and Sunday 24.)

The keyboard’s male choir timbre is reminiscent of that in the beginning of “Brother, can you hear me?” – a song from The Astonishing, Dream Theater’s thirteenth and latest album. What’s more: the vowels are those of the question ‘can you hear me?’:

/a/ /u/ /e/ /e/

can you hear me?

This suggests that ‘can you hear me?’ is a clue to the puzzle.

The second URL in the ‘soundfile’ text is that of a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site.

By inputting CanYouHearMe as password, the puzzle is solved.

Puzzle #7

On Friday, August 17, Freddy posted an entry on his WordPress page:

One minute later, Freddy created a post with the same name on his Reddit page:

One minute later, Freddy tweeted:

One minute later, Freddy changed his signature on his Dream Theater Forums profile:

Finally, one minute later, Freddy uploaded a picture to his Imgur page:

The picture consists of a crossword superimposed on a photograph of Dream Theater, publicly seen for the first time on Monday, December 11, 2017, as part of a press-release posted by the band on their official website and social media pages. (Announcing their new contract with InsideOutMusic/Sony Music.)

Photograph by and courtesy of Dream Theater management and Mark Maryanovich –

(@markmaryanovich on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.)

Put together chronologically, the sixteen lines of digits posted by Freddy on his various sites form the following ‘square’:


The square is made up of 16 rows and columns of two-digit numbers; the crossword on the Imgur image consists of 16 rows and columns as well, which suggests that there’s a relation between it and the square. Indeed: when removing all ‘00’ pairs in the square, the resulting numbers are arranged in the same fashion as the cells to be filled in the crossword.

There’s a total of 22 different two-digit numbers in the crossword, which suggests that the words comprise 22 different letters, each of them represented by a unique number. Since there are no clues about the words to be filled in, educated guesses help solve the game.

For instance: the longest word in the crossword is the 13-letter long horizontal one in the first row. Judging by the numbers, the word’s 3rd and 9th letters are the same, as are the 11th and 12th, and the 6th and 13th. The only Dream Theater-related word with that format is ‘MISUNDERSTOOD’ – the title of a song from Six degrees of inner turbulence, the band’s sixth studio album.

By replacing every ‘77’ with an ‘M’, every ‘47’ with an ‘I’ and so on, ten other words are automatically filled in – all of them being part of Dream Theater song titles. By assuming this fact for all words in the crossword, and applying the same reasoning as many times as necessary, the crosswords can be completed:

Fourteen of the fifteen blue cells are filled with the letters that comprise ‘I Walk Beside You’ – the title of a song from Octavarium, Dream Theater’s eighth studio album. The extra blue cell contains an extra ‘B’.

Each of the two blue cells filled with a ‘B’ has a small ‘mark’ found in its upper left corner; as an example, the one in the first row –in the word ‘BE’– has the mark ‘1’.

In total, there are eleven such marked cells:

Mark ‘1’ ‘2’ ‘3’ ‘4’ ‘5’
















Mark ‘7 (small)’ ‘8’ ‘9’ ‘x’ ‘x1 – (1)’ ‘x2 (small)’





(The only one there is.)













Naturally, this suggests the existence of a missing 6-related mark. Indeed: ‘6=2’, which can be found to the right of the word ‘SIX’ by overlaying the crosswords image and the original photograph and studying their differences.

The letters in the cells of marks ‘1’ to ‘5’ spell ‘BITLY’ – the name of a popular URL shortening service. This suggests that the other seven marks indicate the characters with which to form a short-link. Indeed:

Mark Original letter Indication Short-link character
‘6=2’ Sixth character is ‘2’ ‘2’
‘7 (small)’ ‘V’ Same letter lower-case ‘v’
‘8’ ‘U’ ‘U’
‘9’ ‘B’ ‘B’
‘x’ ‘F’ ‘F’
‘x1 – (1)’ ‘D’ Previous letter ‘C’
‘x2 (small)’ ‘S’ Same letter lower-case ‘s’

The above is the short-link of, the URL of a ZIP folder download.

The content of the folder is a password-protected file named ‘thatsoundfile.mp3’; the password is ‘I Walk Beside You’. (The letters in the blue cells.)

The mp3 features a fragment of “Fatal tragedy” – a song from Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a memory, Dream Theater’s fifth studio album; more precisely: the first 23 seconds of an alternate mix –issued officially in 2003 on The making of Scenes from a Memory, the third release by YtseJam Records– with white noise in the background. (The second half of the file consists of silence.)

From seconds #13 to 18 in the audio, interferences can be heard in the white noise. This suggests that a clue is hidden between these timestamps. Indeed – the Majesty symbol, as well as ‘X_THESILENTMAN’, can be discovered by zooming out the spectrogram during that section. (‘THE SILENT MAN’ is the title of a song on Awake, Dream Theater’s third studio album.)

Image by and courtesy of ‘el_deadache’.

What’s more, a URL can be found when opening ‘thatsoundfile’ in a text editor:

The URL is that of a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site.

By inputting X_THESILENTMAN as password, the puzzle is solved.

Stay tuned for part 3!

Dream Theater arranged, in collaboration with the fan clubs and fan communities online, a treasure hunt culminating in the reveal of the album title and artwork for the new Dream Theater album “Distance Over Time”, for release in February 2019. See this link for the reveal! This is a series of several articles covering the entire process of solving the treasure hunt as released by Dream Theater and “Team Jacobi”. This is the first article, covering the first couple of puzzles. Stay tuned for more!

Hidden by Design

Image and words published by the official Dream Theater Facebook page on Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

As solved by the people from the #dt Discord channel

Bonus tracks proofread by Ana Polari

Compiled by Sebastián Pratesi

November 2018


On Friday, June 29, Dream Theater World –Dream Theater’s world-wide fan-club since 2016– posted on its Facebook page:

The photograph would be re-posted the following day in the ‘Dream Theater going into the studio in 2 weeks’ thread in Dream Theater Forums –the band’s largest on-line forum-type community– by member ‘Freddy Jacobi’, and two weeks later by the official Dream Theater Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Taken the day prior, the photograph shows singer James LaBrie near the kitchen in the studio where the band had been writing the music for their forthcoming fourteenth studio album since Monday, June 11; on the wall, a memo/call-sheet gives directives to the band members about activities scheduled for that day, including a live video Q&A session broadcasted through the band’s official Facebook page.

The memo ends with the following:

Of course, ‘the link’ doesn’t redirect to ‘the live Q&A’, or anywhere at all: ‘uggcf://vf.tq/jbfrur’ is not a valid URL, but encrypted through the ROT13 cipher instead.

In turn, the decrypted URL is a short-link of – the URL of the Twitter account of Freddy, who had tweeted the day before:

And so, began a ‘treasure hunt’ that lasted until the first days of November. Freddy himself started a thread about it –aptly titled ‘Treasure Hunt’– on Dream Theater Forums on Wednesday, July 11. A day later, another thread on the topic was opened in the Dream Theater fan community at Reddit, a Discord channel was created specifically destined for discussions related to the hunt, and fan ‘Hyrul’ made a public Google Doc consisting of descriptions of everything to do with Freddy’s challenge. (A similar document in French by ‘the keyboard wizard’ was posted on Tuesday, July 17, in the website of French fan-club Your Majesty, and one in Spanish is in the works.)

Although no official confirmation was shared at the beginning of the hunt, some clues needed to progress on its solving came from the band’s official social media pages, and Kim Arthur ‘noxon’ Sakariassen –founder of Dream Theater World as well as one of the key people involved in the band’s Norwegian fan-club– replied on Freddy’s thread:

Throughout the hunt, or ARG (acronym for ‘Alternate Reality Game’), nothing was known about what the prize would be, nor who Freddy really was. Soon, speculation spread in fan communities, with the main suspects being:

  • Drummer Mike Mangini. (Because of his experience with Computer Science.)
  • Bassist John Myung. (Because of his enigmatic persona.)
  • A company hired by the band to design and run the hunt.

In any event, as Freddy put it in one of his messages:

This puzzle will rely on logical skills, computer skills, and social skills.

But I know this; you can’t solve this alone. You have to get help from friends. And even more importantly; you have to make new friends.

All of the above turned out to be true, as hunters developed a strong bond by collaborating with –and learning from– each other. Furthermore, people dedicated much of their time to helping ‘Hyrul’ expand his ‘DREAM THEATER’S ARG / TREASURE HUNT’ Google Doc, which would prove to be popular enough for Freddy to turn it into a clue itself on two occasions.

The band looking at the fan-made Google Doc in early September.


Picture tweeted by Freddy on Friday, October 12.

The next Background section in this document deals with examples of the incisive ‘detective work’ that Dream Theater’s followers are known for, as well as precedents of the band posing challenges to –and interacting with– their fans.

The section after is a Walkthrough of the treasure hunt, not unlike those written for RPGs and other videogames. The majority of the hunt appears to still be playable even though the treasure has already been found so, if you want to give it a go by yourself, skip that section. Keep in mind that, just like many RPGs, the hunt is not linear: most puzzles are unrelated to each other, so you can read about –and attempt to solve– them in different orders.

For the ease of the reading, this walkthrough does not include all posts by Freddy, but those which prove to be necessary clues in order to progress, in addition to others which help make the text simpler and clearer. More messages and hints by Freddy can be found in the Easter Eggs section, and by browsing through his social media and Dream Theater Forums thread. (All of which are linked throughout the text.)

Similarly, within the puzzles’ descriptions, comments about the cryptography involved are minimal. The Ciphers section expands on five of these ciphers, with brief backgrounds, examples, and explanations about how they work and the way they can be approached just with paper and pencil. (Links to websites with more information, as well as freely available online decrypting tools, are listed in the Sources and resources section at the end of the document.)

Following the walkthrough, there’s a Summary of key dates related to the hunt, concepts and tasks required, and what the treasure was and who found it.

Finally, the last section of this document consists of four Bonus tracks:

  • A short history of Dream Theater online fan communities, going back to 1993.
  • A short history of the band’s online presence, going back to 1996.
  • A timeline of the production cycle for the band’s forthcoming studio album.
  • A list of key anniversaries that will occur in 2019.

The documents by ‘Hyrul’ and ‘the keyboard wizard’ formed the basis for this one, and can respectively be found by clicking on the following links:

This document was produced with invaluable help and contributions by Kim Arthur ‘noxon’ Sakariassen, ‘bosk1’, Mark Bredius, Rai ‘Weymolith’ Beardsley, Scott ‘Setlist Scotty’ Hansen, Rudy van IJzendoorn, Nick ‘Bogie’ Bogovich, Darko Böhringer, Mark Maryanovich, Jake Solomon, Juan Manuel Perez, ‘the keyboard wizard’, Rob Webster, Chris Herdt, the Microsoft Translator Team, my English teacher Josefina Rivero Rodriguez, and my friend Ana Polari. (

Thank you, everyone at the #dt Discord channel (specially ‘Hyrul’, ‘el_deadache’, Max Kühnau, ‘Beatrice’, ‘Sinister Rectus’, ‘Pax’, ‘rwcrell’, ‘Xiad Mabsax’, ‘Atakan’, ‘Burgersinthesky’, ‘Cam’, ‘IDontNotDoThings’, ‘Joachim_YourMajesty’, ‘CezShreddR’ and ‘rblakefoster314’), for the many things you taught me throughout the past three months.

Thank you, Dream Theater and Freddy, for entertaining us and making us learn. This was worthwhile.

And thank you, uncle Mario, for introducing me to the band when I was 15.

Sebastián Pratesi

Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Friday, November 2, 2018


On Thursday, June 6, 2013, a video titled ‘In Studio Ep1’ was uploaded on Dream Theater’s YouTube page. The 2-and-½ minute clip represented the first in a series of updates by the band on the production of their self-titled 12th studio album, ahead of its September release date.

Towards the end of the video, the camera shows engineer Richard Chycki looking at his computer’s screen, which displays a MIDI grid for one of Jordan Rudess’ keyboard tracks. The grid can be seen twice, very shortly, while Chycki talks about the five-piece’s attention to detail.

A member of Dream Theater Forums going by the alias ‘The Fatal Tragedy’ took a screenshot of the video, re-created the MIDI file based on the image, and shared his work in the ‘DT in the studio again!’ thread, on Saturday 8. And that’s how the ‘Lucid dreams’ movement in “False awakening suite” was first listened to, more than three months before the track’s release.

Later, on Thursday 12, Rai ‘Weymolith’ Beardsley –moderator at DTF, and one of the people involved in the band’s online presence– posted a picture on his Facebook page, consisting of a screenshot of the soundwaves for a 2-hour FLAC file named ‘DT Xmas Live v1’, opened in the Goldwave audio editing software.

Image by and courtesy of Rai ‘Weymolith’ Beardsley.


That evening, another DTF member named ‘Nest777’ noticed that the soundwaves for the final 20 minutes of the file coincided with those of the song “The Count of Tuscany”; he proceeded to identify all songs –minus one– corresponding to the rest of the soundwaves, and shared his conclusions in the ‘Interesting Post On Weymolith’s FB Page This Morning’ thread. Two hours later, fellow member ‘TheAtliator’ identified the remaining song, corrected one of the titles, and suggested that a specific additional song should have been part of Beardsley’s file as well. And that’s how the track-list and concept of the Happy Holidays live compilation was discovered, ten days before the album’s announcement/release.

The above are only but two of many examples of how dedicated Dream Theater fans can be. That level of ‘detective work’ has only become more frequent and incisive ever since the band started actively using social media as a means of updating their followers on the progress of the writing and recording stages of their studio albums – i.e., at the beginning of the current decade.

Of course, fans have also been this way long before the social media craze, and even apply their skills to dissect the band’s music – particularly on concept albums. Some of us are able to discover a reoccurring element or two floating around on a few songs, such as that one at the beginning of “Octavarium” (made up of a melody by the strings in “The answer lies within” and a chord progression from “The root of all evil”); others take it to a whole different level, like Fabien Labonde did in his ‘Scenes From A Memory analysis’. (Occasionally, the band has reacted to these type of expressions, such as through the 2016 ‘Inside The Astonishing’ series.)

More interestingly, though – the band has posed challenges to their fanbase:

  • The “Stream of consciousness” song-writing contest:

In August 2003, after Train of thought had been recorded (but its details not yet revealed), Dream Theater posted on their website MIDI conductor charts and pictures of whiteboards with handwritten notes taken during the writing process of the instrumental “Stream of consciousness” from the forthcoming album. The pictures detailed certain aspects of the piece –such as length, tempo, time signatures, and keys– but gave very vague information about melodies. (For instance, two sections were called ‘Beatles B to G’ and ‘E♭Evil Di Meola’.) Furthermore, the post offered tips on how to interpret the information found in the pictures, asked fans to create and share a CD with their version of what was abbreviated in the whiteboards as “S.O.C.”, and indicated rules and prizes. An initial deadline of October 1 was soon postponed two weeks, by which time the band had received over 50 entries from 4 different continents. The winning composition (by Andy Rowland and Ant Law) was announced in January 2004, and eventually played at every Dream Theater tour date that year, during the ‘house music’ that concert-goers listened to before the band hit the stage; what’s more, the top 7 selections were compiled into a CD by Theater of dreams –then the “Dream Theater International Fan Club”– as a souvenir to its members.

  • The “In the name of God” Morse code message:

In December 2004, then drummer Mike Portnoy released a DVD called Live at Budokan, featuring the isolated drum tracks from the band’s video of the same name (recorded in Japan in April); also included throughout the DVD was audio commentary by Portnoy. One of his comments was that the band had hid something ‘special’ in the studio version of “In the name of God”, released a year earlier. On New Year’s Eve, a member of Portnoy’s message board with the screen-name ‘drumfan256’ created a thread asking fans about this; similar threads were opened 3 weeks later by fellow members suggesting what they thought the ‘nugget’ was, with Portnoy eventually letting them know they were incorrect. On January 24, member ‘DarrylRevok’ wrote on ‘drumfan256’s thread that, at 5:51 in the song, he was hearing sounds resembling Morse code. Two days later, Portnoy commented that the answer was indeed somewhere in that thread, after which Nick Bogovich –longtime Dream Theater fan nicknamed ‘Bogie’– worked on ‘DarrylRevok’s idea and discovered the complete message in Morse code, heard very subtly in the song from 5:51 to 6:07. That evening, Bogovich posted his discovery, which Portnoy confirmed solved the mystery.

Recently, Dream Theater has experimented with various approaches when promoting an imminent release. In August 2011, 1-minute snippets of songs from A dramatic turn of events were posted in different YouTube channels and music news portals. Throughout August and September 2013, the band shared on their official Instagram page fragments of artwork from the forthcoming self-titled studio album and Live at Luna Park DVD. In October 2015, an invitation to “Choose wisely” one of two paths (or both) popped up when visiting; soon, the plots, characters, places and map related to the story of The Astonishing –as well as the album’s track-list and videos– started being revealed through e-mails, social media, and a specific site.

The 2018 treasure hunt seems to have been created with Dream Theater’s fan base in mind, with the examples and challenges described above as precedents. Additionally, a key aspect of the hunt was the creative use of a variety of social networks, websites and software to reveal information – something the band had been doing for the previous three album cycles, as exposed earlier.


Puzzle #1

On the account description of Freddy’s Twitter page, there’s a link:

The link redirects to the WordPress page of a certain company called ‘Vail Renovations’, supposedly ran by Freddy.

In the ‘Welcome’ message at the site, there’s a phone number:

When calling this number (which, according to the area code, corresponds to a client in upstate New York), a pre-recorded message by a male voice is heard:

Thank you for calling Vail Renovations. Play close attention. The password you seek is the last name of the designer of the most Dream Theater album covers, and the year that Dream Theater reached their highest peak on the Billboard charts.

Between 2005 and 2013, Canadian artist Hugh Syme designed five Dream Theater studio album covers – the most by any designer. Black clouds and silver linings, one of the albums whose artwork Syme worked on, debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200 chart the week of Saturday, July 11, 2009; this is to date the group’s highest peak on the popular publication. Therefore, the ‘password’ is Syme2009.

In the ‘Contact’ section at Vail Renovations’ site, Freddy also offers the possibility of contacting him through a form, with ‘Email’ as a required field.

After doing so, the following e-mail by Freddy was received:

On Wednesday, July 11, Freddy sent a second e-mail:

Thanks to Rob Webster for sharing Freddy’s e-mails.

The link sent by Freddy in his second e-mail redirects to a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site, named after Dream Theater’s first studio album:

By inputting Syme2009 as password, the puzzle is solved.

Puzzle #2

On Wednesday, July 11, Freddy tweeted:

The picture shows bassist John Myung in the studio where the band had finished writing the music for their forthcoming fourteenth studio album the day before; indeed, the camera captures John checking out Reddit –specifically, Dream Theater’s fan community (or ‘subreddit’) on the platform– on a computer screen on Friday, June 29.

One of the tabs open in the web browser reads ‘Freddy Jacobi (u/FreddyJacobi)’:

This suggests the existence of an account of Freddy on Reddit. Indeed – the account with the URL

Three minutes later, Freddy replied to his own tweet:

The tweet is an anagram of ‘Gronsfeld cipher’ – a type of cipher that Freddy had admitted he enjoyed. (See Easter Eggs.) This suggests that the meaningless phrase at the end of Freddy’s Reddit account description is text encrypted through the Gronsfeld cipher, which requires a numeric key. (See Gronsfeld cipher.)

Indeed: using ‘84552723’ –the number in the URL of Vail Renovations’ site– as key, ‘OpfxuWtlass’ decrypts as ‘GlassPrison’ – the title of a song from Six degrees of inner turbulence, Dream Theater’s sixth studio album.

On Friday 13, Freddy tweeted a link:

The link redirects to a GIF:

The GIF consists of two almost identical frames featuring Dream Theater’s logo –called the ‘Majesty symbol’, after the original name of the band– in black, over a white background; the only difference between the frames is that, in one of them, there’s text hidden below the logo, in a slightly darker shade than the background:

The text is – the URL of a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site.

By inputting GlassPrison as password, the puzzle is solved.

Puzzle #3

On Monday, July 16, Freddy tweeted a poll, with the options being the titles of the band’s four longest songs. (“Octavarium” won three days later by a narrow margin.)

Note that there’s a typo in “In The Presence of Enemies”: the letter ‘o’ is missing.


Starting on the evening of Wednesday 18, Freddy tweeted four numbers:

The many hours between consecutive tweets suggest that these numbers form the IP address

On Thursday 19, Freddy also tweeted a low resolution image of a dead sparrow:

Above the sparrow, there’s text hidden in the darker section of the image:

The text is ‘spz2.jpg’, which suggests that there’s a URL of another image to be formed by the clues. Indeed –, the URL of a higher size and resolution version of the sparrow image:

The text to the right of the sparrow is part of the lyrics to “Pull me under” – a song from Images and words, Dream Theater’s second studio album.

Below the sparrow, a sequence of thirty-three 8-digit numbers can be found:

01011001 01101111 01110101 00100111 01110010 01100101 00100000 01101100 01101111 01101111 01101011

01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000

01110111 01110010 01101111 01101110 01100111 00100000 01110000 01101100 01100001 01100011 01100101

These numbers consist entirely of zeros and ones, which suggests that the sequence is ASCII code written in binary system.

ASCII –acronym for ‘American Standard Code for Information Interchange’– is a code for informatics developed in the 1960s by then American Standards Association (nowadays, the American National Standards Institute), and consists of the representation of 95 printable –and 33 ‘control’– characters written in four different numeral systems, including binary.

Indeed – the sequence is the following message written in binary:

You’re looking in the wrong place

Of course, the ‘right place’ to look for text in the image is the image opened in a text editor; when doing so, and scrolling down to the bottom, the following can be read:


The name ‘more.txt’ on the last line suggests that there’s a text file to be found as part of the image. Indeed – the image is a self-extracting archive. (In other words: it’s an image which also works like a ZIP folder.) Its content is, precisely, ‘more.txt’.

When ‘more.txt’ is opened in a text editor, a message by Freddy can be read:

As ‘rc4’ suggests, the first line is a ‘box’ encrypted through the RC4 cipher, and the ‘key to open’ it –according to the paragraph about ‘inspiration’– is found in the Bible.

Part of the inspiration for former keyboardist Kevin Moore when writing the lyrics to “Pull me under” was the tragedy Hamlet, written at the dawn of the 17th century by English poet William Shakespeare; in Act 5, Scene 2, Hamlet speaks to Horatio:

There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.

In turn, this line is an allusion to the 29th verse in the 10th chapter of the ‘Gospel of Matthew’ – the first book in the New Testament of the Christian Bible:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.

Therefore, ‘the key to open the box’ is ‘Matthew 10:29’.

With this key, ‘sp9fOXAkIFer1fLh4UpAisBoB1AKv5SaB8E4kw==’ decrypts as – the URL of a video on Freddy’s YouTube channel:

The video shows guitar tech Matthew Schieferstein and engineer James Meslin in the studio where the band had been recording their new album since Tuesday 11; throughout the video, Matthew dials a 10-digit number on his cellphone.

Although the camera doesn’t show the keys pressed by Matthew, it’s possible to reconstruct the number dialed based on his thumbs’ initial positions and movements. (Each thumb moves vertically in a single column, so the possibilities to consider are few.)

Left thumb Right thumb
Presses key in the middle, and moves down
Presses key at the top
Presses key at the bottom.


Judging by Matthew’s thumbs’ movements, the dialed area code can be 510, 518, 619, 629, and 810. Of these, 518 had already appeared in a phone number to be called (see Puzzle #1), and is the only one assigned to an area in New York. (Which is the state where Freddy lives.) This suggests that the dialed area code by Matthew is 518.

Indeed – 518 and the thumbs’ other movements determine the number to be (518) 227-1547. When calling it, a pre-recorded message by a female voice is heard:

Thank you for calling. The password is ‘Finally Free’.

The description of Freddy’s YouTube video is:

When the ‘password’ heard during the phone call is ‘surrounded by the missing’ letter in Freddy’s Twitter poll, the actual password oFinallyFreeo is formed.

The last line of ‘spz2.jpg’ opened in a text editor ends with the URL of Freddy’s personal WordPress page, at the time consisting of just one password-protected entry, named after Dream Theater’s third studio album:

By inputting oFinallyFreeo as password, the puzzle is solved.


To Be Continued in Part 2!

Haken – Vector

When Dream Theater changed label to InsideOutMusic, they became label mates with bands such as Leprous, Haken and Caligula’s Horse. These bands represent much of the current, modern state of progressive metal – a genre Dream Theater themselves pretty much pioneered. It’s only natural that bands such as Haken owe a lot to Dream Theater. But they’re also interesting to the common Dream Theater fan, as they represent a lot of the same elements that Dream Theater has – virtuosic music skills, a balanced mix of progressive music, modern metal, poppish sounds, melodic rock and a sheer disregard of genre boundaries. Their previous albums have drawn influences from all over the place – Gentle Giant was prominent in the epic The Cockroach King, 1985 extracted a lot of the 80’s soundtrack stylings of Vince DiCola, and Aquarius drew heavily on the Dream Theater influences. It’s also telling that they’ve established great contact with Dream Theater itself – Jordan Rudess has often shown support for Haken, and Mike Portnoy appeared on a Haken song (albeit for only a second) – and when it came time for Mike Portnoy to pay tribute to his 50th year on this planet by playing Dream Theater songs he wrote (such as the AA-suite), he used the members of Haken to create the backing band for his Shattered Fortress tour. That tour also became a source for inspiration for the band Haken, as they used the tour to start thinking about their next album, writing riffs and songs in the downtime between concerts. The result; a concept album called Vector.

I’m not going to go into the story itself, as I believe part of the fun of listening to a concept album is deciphering and interpreting the story yourself. In broad terms, it’s about a patient at a mental institution, who under duress of electroshock therapy has experiences of dreams or delusions. There’s a lot of hints and references to Hakens back catalogue. Now, this may not be a strictly ordinary concept album – the songs can exist just fine without knowing the story or hearing them in context with the story, but then again this is nothing new for Haken. Many of their previous albums have had loose concepts attached to them, and the band enjoys leaving much of the interpretation up to the listeners themselves.

Now, the conspiracy theorists in us might see a lot of strange things here. The album is being released on October 26th. That’s the same date that Dream Theater released Scenes from A Memory. The twelve-step-suite which made up the bulk of the Shattered Fortress tour started on the next album, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. A thematic album that focused on mental battles people go through, be it addiction, religious faith, political thoughts, spirituality or specifically the titular song; mental illness. But; this is just coincidence, I think.

The album starts with a great intro-track; Clear. It basically sounds like the soundtrack to a scary movie. It brings forth images of crazy inventors/professors like Frankenstein, at the same time as it sounds a bit like the classic 80’s synth music that horror films often had.

Then we go called The Good Doctor. This was the first song released, and it fits really well as a single. It’s got a nice hook for a chorus, and it also serves as a nice connection from the sound of the Affinity album. It feels like a natural continuation or evolution of what Affinity was. Running under just about 4 minutes, it manages to fit a LOT of different things within the song. There’s some cool brass sections here, something we’ll hear later in the album as well. What is striking, is how riff-driven this is. It’s not focused on soloing at all.

Haken Press photos, Wansdworth

From there it goes to the song Puzzle Box, the second released song. Now the heaviness of this album starts to strike me. This album is much denser than the previous Haken albums. It’s driven by riffs and melodies, and for that reason it feels more sonically dense and busy. I understand why they kept the album length short – it may have been overwhelming to keep this intensity up for 70 minutes. It’s technically complex, with a lot of complex time signatures, rhythms, and with a lot of layers to dig through to discover what’s really going on in the music. In the middle of the song there’s a longer, calm section with some programmed rhythms (courtesy of original keyboardist Peter Jones, if I’m not mistaken) – but make no mistake, this is just calm before the storm before even an even heavier onslaught of riffs take over. And lots of great harmonies on the vocals.

Veil starts calmly with piano and multipart vocal harmonies. But it soon returns to the heaviness, with some damn cool riffs.This track is huge, with gigantic, mounstrous riffs both on the guitars and the keyboards that drive the song forward. It feels a lot like they’ve taken the inspiration from the Shattered Fortress tour and focused it into this song, because it feels similar to Glass Prison / This Dying Soul – just added a few bits of Tool and of course put through a Haken filter. This is also the song with trading solos between guitars and keyboards. It’s a very good song, and Dream Theater fans will feel right at home with this song. In the middle there’s this fantastic jazz-type breakdown, and a fantastic slower section with some great atmosphere and vocal harmonies. Before ending the song as heavy as possible – awesome riffs, awesome song.

Nil By Mouth is the instrumental on the album (clever title, right). Starting with an arpeggiated synth riff, but soon enters a very djenty guitar/drum riff that just beats you down with the onslaught. But it evolves, and becomes much more. It takes on a melodic nature, and constantly changes up the flow of the song with complex rhythms, melodies and calm breaks. It feels like a story is being told through the evolution of the riffs. And it leads into a great climax.

Host is a welcome break after the insanity that precedes it. It starts with some electronic piano and trumpet. Calm, and quiet. Simply put beautiful. Clean guitars, calm singing, calm drums. It’s a beautiful song, with a natural, slow evolution bring up the volume and loudness of the song towards a very satisfying climax. In my ears, the most pleasing song on this album.

But if the previous song was starting out calm, this song does the complete opposite. A complex riff opens the song, but quickly gives way to a vocal-driven track with bass, clean guitar, and drums being very up front. The chorus is my favourite part on this album, and the multi-layered harmonies they add to it throughout the song are just perfect. Of course, this track also shows that Haken has been inspired by their touring mates Leprous, as it seems that some of the DNA of Leprous has rubbed off on this track. Not that that is bad at all, I think it’s only natural that people are inspired by eachother.

Vector is a short, but very sweet album. I liked it a lot, and it feels like a very worthy successor to Affinity. As a Dream Theater fan, you should absolutely get this album.

Press Release

Release Date: October 26th 2018

In the contemporary era of progressive music, there are few bands who can claim to be as innovative, creative and restively dynamic as Haken. Since their inception in 2007, they’ve shown over four previous studio albums, one EP and a live release that they never stand still, merely satisfied to rely on past triumphs. Rather, Haken always look for ways to challenge themselves as musicians and artists, and also to keep the listeners on their collective toes.

Haken Press photos, Wansdworth

“We don’t like to make simple music,” laughs vocalist Ross Jennings. “We always aim to defy expectations, and I believe we’ve surpassed what we aimed to achieve with our new album.”

Their fifth studio record sees the band going in a heavier direction with the music. “We’ve always had a heavy influence”, explains guitarist Charlie Griffiths, “but it was obvious from the riffs that were naturally coming out of us early in the writing process that this would be a more metal album. These are some of the most riff driven songs we’ve ever written.”

“This is something we have been thinking about doing for a while now,” adds keyboard player Diego Tejeida. “We had a couple of heavier tracks on our last album, ‘Affinity’ (2016). And they went down really well. At the end of last year, once we had finished touring, we all felt it was time to go in that direction and embrace a heavier stance.”

Jennings gives praise to his bandmates for the way the music on the new album was developed. “It’salways a huge puzzle at the beginning. Charlie (Guitars) seems to have an endless library of original riffs up his sleeve ready to be developed. Bassist, Conner and Rich (Guitars) started writing initial ideas in hotel rooms while we were on the road performing with Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress, and Diego came up with 2 fantastic compositions which we all got really excited about and developed.
“Once we had the musical style worked out, it made it a lot easier for us to write the songs,” says Tejeida. “We were all focused on where this album should take us, and had a unified sense of direction. And, as has been the case since ‘Affinity’, all of us contributed to the writing side of things.”

But if this album, titled ‘Vector’, is musically heavy, then there’s an underlying theme running through the seven songs which is certainly esoteric and fascinating.
“The scene is set with the track The Good Doctor, which was a really fun song. Musically it feels like a logical step from ‘Affinity’, but lyrically it’s a bit more theatrical and about as ‘rock opera’ as Haken has ever got”, explains Griffiths. It’s about a Doctor with an intriguing, perhaps sinister interest in a particular patient. From there the story enters the point-of-view of the patient – who appears to be catatonic, but his mind is sparking with what could be memories, or delusions brought on by the treatment he’s receiving – we leave this up to the listeners to decide. Although we don’t want to give too much away, listeners who are familiar with our back catalogue will have fun discovering further clues we’ve planted throughout the album”.

Griffiths also sheds some light on the significance of the album’s title. “There were various meanings of the word ‘Vector’ that seemed to fit the type of album we wanted to make, as well as the letters themselves having a nice connection, which might make more sense in the future. I’d say the biological meaning is the one most relevant to the story arc of the album.”

Jennings continues to offer some added insight to the lyrical concept. “We’ve drawn inspiration from various sources. Cinematically we talked about One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Shining, Bronson and A Clockwork Orange for that dark and slightly surreal, dreamlike tone. Also the early to mid-20th century psychological studies carried out by the likes of Stanley Milgram, B.F. Skinner and of course Hermann Rorschach were a big part of it.”

Tejeida reveals that he has long had an abiding passion for Psychoanalysis. “If I hadn’t become a musician, then there’s every chance that I would have become a Psychoanalyst. I have been interested for a long time in the whole concept of the human mind. The way in which the unconscious can be brought into the conscious. I did draw on my own experiences while undergoing psychoanalysis for the lyrics which I wrote, although, as is always the case with us, this is mixed with fiction. And the line between reality and fantasy is deliberately blurred.

“I have personally found being in analysis to be very beneficial. It’s a big taboo for some people, and I have been asked why I do it. But I love what it has done for me. It’s a voyage of discovery, which is sorevealing.”
As Tejeida suggests, the band have used such devices to bring to the fore their own life experiences, although you will have to dig deep to discover exactly what these might be. However, that has always been the Haken method: offer clues, but leave people to solve these for themselves.

They began the recording process in late May this year, and had this aspect of making the album finished by the end of June.
“The drums were tracked in London,” says Jennings. “But these days we are something of a transatlantic band. Diego lives in Mexico (close to Mexico City) and Conner is in Indiana, so a lot of the process was done through exchanging music files over the internet. The vocals were done at Diego’s home studio, which was perfect for what we needed and provided a relaxed environment for me to focus on theperformance”

All the musical adventures and notions were coalesced by Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood. Formerly bassist with Periphery, in the last couple of years he has built a reputation as a fine producer.
“We produced the album ourselves, as we always do,” insists Jennings. “But we’re fans of what Adam has done with Periphery, Sikth and Devin Townsend. He has a great reputation for the heavier end of ourgenre”.

“We contacted Adam and asked him to work with us very early in the album process,” explains Tejeida.“It was even before we had done demos for the songs.
“I’d known Adam for a few years and I’ve wanted to work with him for a long time” adds Griffiths. “Itbecame obvious to me that his expertise would be perfect for the music we were writing. With him being UK based we were really able to dig into the drum and guitar tones to a level we haven’t been able to before; he was very hands on in that respect and was very much interested in realising the sounds we had in mind, it was a lot of fun.”

The Rorschach inspired album cover again fits in to the whole psychological theme. “I approached our long-time collaborators Blacklake Design about creating an ink-blot album cover”, explains Griffiths “I felt that it was important that it was created randomly and not be designed. Within a few hours Mark had sent back around 20 that he’d made using real ink and paper. We picked the one you see, that seemed to have the right attitude for the music.”

“The great thing about having this as a cover is you might think you know what it’s supposed to be, but it’s not necessarily true for the way others see it,” says Tejeida. “It’s all in your own mind.”

And this is far from being a self-contained concept. The band have deliberately left it rather open ended.“This might be a starting point for something in the future,” reveals Tejeida enigmatically. “Who knows?” “The way it’s been set up, we can always return to this theme in the future,” concludes Jennings. “Butwhat we have done here is leave it to others to decide for themselves where it’s all going, and how it ends. That’s what Haken have always been about. By taking this approach, we ensure that what we do means different things to different people. And that’s the challenge for the fans – to find out for themselves their own meaning for ‘Vector’ as an album.”

Malcolm Dome London, July 2018

Available as Ltd. 2CD Mediabook (incl. instrumental versions of the album as bonus), Standard Jewel Case, 180g Gatefold 2 LP Vinyl Edition (incl. the album on CD) and as Digital Album

Haken – Vector (49:19)

  1. Clear (01:57)
  2. The Good Doctor (03:58)
  3. Puzzle Box (07:45)
  4. Veil (12:41)
  5. Nil By Mouth (07:11)
  6. Host (06:47)
  7. A Cell Divides (05:00)


Ross Jennings – Vocals
Charlie Griffiths – Guitar
Rich Henshall – guitar & keys
Diego Tejeida – keys
Conner Green – bass
Raymond Hearne – drums



Enter the 5th Dimension (2007 Demo) Aquarius (2010)
Visions (2011)
The Mountain (2013)

Restoration (EP) (2014) Affinity (2016)
L-1VE (2018)
Vector (2019)

Essential Modern Progressive Rock Albums

Images and Words behind Prog’s most celebrated albums 1990-2016

I’m a bit late in the game with this one, but I still feel it’s important to get the word out for it. Roie Avin is the founder of the Prog Report, a great website for all news prog, and has worked in the music industry a long time. He’s also a regular contributor to the Prog magazine.

This book is his love letter to the genre of his heart. Progressive rock, as it evolved during the 90s and 2000s. He covers over 50 albums in great detail. Starting with Queensryche’s album “Empire”, he walks as through the evolution of modern progressive rock as it goes from Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Marillion, Spock’s Beard, via Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Ayreon, IQ, onto Haken, Between the Buried and Me, and Devin Townsend Project.
Dream Theater members are especially visible here, seeing as they were (and are) one of the true trendsetters in progressive music, having inspired many younger bands, and being very prolific artists in their own right. Dream Theater itself is covered with four albums, and we also find Liquid Tension Experiment, Ayreon with “The Human Equation”, Transatlantic, Neal Morse and Flying Colors, all with members (current and ex-) of Dream Theater. 

Each album is described in detail with excerpts from interviews, the story of the creation of the album itself, and some fun tidbits you might not have been aware of. As well as covering the general impact the album has had on the genre. The insight we get into each album is great, and you’ll learn a bunch of stuff about the bands and the albums.

This book is a great tool to discover some bands you may not have been aware of. It’s a great gift to give a new prog fan. It’s a great coffee table book to incite discussion among fellow friends. And a great book just to read on your own to gain a lot of insight into the genre and the bands themselves. I highly recommend getting this book.

Buy it here:

This past February, Dream Theater USA had the pleasure of interviewing John Petrucci before the G3 show in Fort Lauderdale, FL. We talked about the G3 tour, Dream Theater’s recent signing with Inside Out, the Images, Words and Beyond tour, the new Dream Theater album, the fans’ response to the Astonishing, Guitar Universe 2.0, the Liquid Tension Experiment, and even squeezed in some gear talk.

How is the G3 tour going this time around?

It’s amazing! I mean I can’t say enough about all these guys, not only Joe and Phil, but all the people in their bands, the crew… It’s a really cool feeling of friendship and cooperation and everybody’s just so into the music and the playing. After the jam every night, we walk off the stage just smiling and talking about how great it was, so it’s been really cool.


Is it less pressure than touring with Dream Theater?

Yeah. It’s a different kind of gig. I mean in some ways it’s more pressure, because I’m only playing in a trio and there’s no vocalist and no keyboards. The guitar is taking on basically everything. In other ways, there’s less pressure because it’s not a big production, and the show is shorter. There’s not as much going on, it’s not like the history of all these different albums and everything.  So it’s more of a liberating feeling as well. So it’s a little bit of both. It’s a balance.

Dream Theater recently signed a long term contract with Inside Out, which I think it’s the perfect fit since they have such a Prog roster.  How do you see that impacting the band?

This is only the 4th label we’ve ever been signed to in our entire career. In fact, when we were signed to ATCO, for Images and Words, that was an eight album deal. It was the longest thing we ever signed and it went through all the way to the last album with them. Then, we went to Roadrunner of course. We haven’t experienced changing to a new label too often, but I will say there’s definitely a renewed sense of enthusiasm. You have new people that you’re working with, and you know they have a lot invested. They want to prove themselves and they want to look at this as an opportunity to take the band to another level. So they’re infused with all this great energy, enthusiasm and attitude, and I think that’s really going to help us. For us it’s a new relationship too, so we want to make sure everything goes smoothly.


Thomas Weber, who signed us, we’ve known him for a long time. He used to come see Dream Theater play back in the day. He’s always been into progressive music and he had this label going and it developed and developed. It’s funny because he would approach us every time “Oh man! I really want to sign you guys” and finally the time was right. The offer was great and everything kind of lined up, and here we are.


You just wrapped up the 25th Anniversary tour for Images and Words, how do you feel now that the tour is over, and how do you feel I&W holds up 25 years later?

Feels pretty cool, actually. I definitely discovered that it has a lot of meaning to a lot of people.  For a lot of people that was probably the first album they got into. There are a lot of longtime fans that came out to those shows that said to us “we’ve been listening to you guys since 92”. At the same time, there’s a lot of younger fans that weren’t around back then, and maybe they got turned on to an album like Train of Thought or Systematic Chaos, or even one of the newer albums, and they never saw us really play that material. So they had this enthusiasm like “Oh man! I can’t wait to see you guys play

it”. So it was a sort of combination of old and new. It was a ton of fun. James kept telling these old stories, and it was nice reminiscing about those days.


How do you feel connecting and playing Images and Words will help influence the style of the new album?

It could help inspire it, from my perspective.  Playing all of that music from that time period, not only Images, but a Change of Seasons, To Live Forever and all that, it kind of brought me back to 25 year old me, or even younger… what I was thinking, how I was writing the kinds of chords I was playing, how we interacted, and how we thought.  I can see some of that carrying into the next album. I mean we are who we are now. We’re not the same band to some degree, certainly not all the same members, but it did spark a re-connection to something about that writing style that is really special.

It’s a very melodic style. I think in some ways maybe it’s not as complex as where we’ve gone lately. (At the time) we were influenced more by Maiden, Marillion, and stuff like that. We got more classically influenced and kind of more evolved and developed. If you listen to the writing style on the Astonishing, some of the chord progressions and movements are really sophisticated. So compared to something like a chord progression on Pull me Under, it’s simple in comparison, but there’s something about throwing those kinds of larger shapes at a song that make it enjoyable as well. So hopefully we can strike a balance, where we continue with the knowledge and experience that we have as far as our sound, in house developed, but we also remember some of the direction and simplicity, and nature, of how we wrote back in the early nineties. So it’ll be interesting. We’ll see what happens.


There’s been a lot of anticipation for the next DT album. What is the timeline for Dream Theater entering the studio and a new album being released?

We’re still talking about this, so I don’t want to give any solid information but it’s not going to be any sooner than January 2019. If you think about the timeline, I’m doing G3 until May. We still have to get into the studio itself to write and produce an entire album, deliver it, do the promotion. If you’ve backed that up, however many months it takes, and you are looking at the earliest, January, but I don’t even know. Obviously with the new label they’re very interested in making everything as great as it can be. So they’re going to want to have a plan with as much advance notice as possible. So as soon as we lock something in it’ll be public information. No need to keep it a secret or anything. We just don’t know right now.

Rumors have been swirling for a long time about you using an 8-string for the next album, what can you tell us about that possibility?

It’s kind of a question mark because me and Ernie Ball Music Man are talking about doing an eight string together, we are designing one. However, we don’t have one yet. There’s a lot on their table. So it’s a project that has started, and it’s a matter of if it’s ready in some form by the time I enter the studio to write. If I have one in my hands, I will use it. If for whatever reason it gets delayed or something, then it is what it is. So you know in a perfect world they’ll have a prototype, or something even better ready in time, and they’ll send it to me and I’ll start writing with it. That’d be fun.


You have JP Guitar Universe coming up in August, and you have some amazing talent lined up:  Guthrie Govan, Tosin Abasi, Tony MacAlpine, Al Di Meola and many more. What can participants expect from version 2.0? Will there be any changes?

I really enjoyed how the first one came out. A lot of what we did, we’re going to continue. It’s at the same location which is in Long Island, at the Glen Cove Mansion, and which was perfect because the campers got to stay at the facility, and then all the events were in the same building. So that worked out great.


This time around we have 3 new instructors. A lot of (the previous instructors) came back, but Al Di Meola is new, which for me, when he said “yes” I wanted to hug him through the phone. He’s going to do a one day appearance only. He’s going to do a special masterclass that day and a concert at night. So that’s fantastic. Guthrie, I have not met, but from what I’ve seen him play on YouTube, I’m just blown away. The guy is just ridiculous. Amazing! I’ve heard nothing but great things. So that’ll be exciting. Also, my friend Jon Finn from Berklee, who’s been a professor there for a long time, and whose band toured with Dream Theater a long time ago, is coming.  I loved his drummer so much that I stole him for Suspended Animation (Dave DiCenso). So Jon is going to bring a Berklee contingent to the camp as well.


What everybody enjoyed so much last time was that it was like a university summer program. There was so much instruction, so much information. We’re going to keep that. In addition, we’re going to have more involvement from the Ernie Ball family, which is great. Last time we did a barbecue and I was flipping burgers, and that was great, but this time, if all plans go as scheduled, Sterling, who is an award winning Pit Master, is going to barbecue for us, and then also do some speaking and playing. So we’re working all that as well.

One other thing, and campers will know more details as the time approaches, is that we’re going to try to make sure that everybody can see and get instruction for all the guests instructors. Last time it was kind of hit or miss, you had to choose with the schedule. So we’re going to try to break it up into groups so that people can do rotations.

What would you say to someone that feels intimidated about coming to Guitar Universe?

I would say that they have nothing to worry about because there’s no situation, no matter what level you’re at, where you are put on the spot or forced to play.  It’s not like that. The camper community does get together and do these different jams, which is really great to see, but it’s all volunteer. You can play as much, or as little as you want. You don’t have to bring a guitar really, if you just want to absorb the knowledge, and be part of the whole scene. I understand it could be intimidating, being that there are so many great players, but instead of thinking “Oh I’m not good enough” just think “there’s so much for me to learn just by watching these people play, and talk, and teach that it outweighs that”


After some delay, The Astonishing Novel is finally out, what can readers expect from it?

It definitely took longer than expected. I read it and it’s fantastic! It makes me smile. Peter Orullian, who wrote it, had so many great conversations and brainstorming (sessions) with me. He made the story so much richer and deeper. It fills in all the blanks and it tells the backstory of the characters, and why they are the way they are. It has so much more action and battle scenes, and it’s really, really exciting to read. The artwork that was done for is fantastic. It was supposed to be ready before Christmas but that didn’t happen. This is all new to us.


I’ve always said that if I could go back and do this all over again, and we had all the time in the world, I would have done the book first. Do the book first, then do the tour, and then have the CD available at the shows.


That would have been amazing! I think a lot of people needed to hear the Astonishing live to connect with it…


That’s a good point because as a standalone piece of music it’s a lot to take in. If you’re not being absorbed by the story, you’re kind of like “well, why are they playing this? It doesn’t sound like Dream Theater” But, from the response that I got from people that came to the shows, and when we’d end the show and the credits were rolling, all I saw was smiles and hands in the air. So it would have been nice to release the book first. Have people leave (the show) saying “we gotta hear that again” and then pick up the CD… but we did it all backwards, because of the nature of the industry, and what you have to do.

We always get questions about Liquid Tension Experiment. The rest of Dream Theater has their own projects going on, is that inspiring you to get out and release more of your solo work?


You know, it’s not that I’m not inspired. It’s mostly because, and this will sound so lame and I say it all the time, it’s mostly because I don’t have the time, you know? For example, this part of the year where Dream Theater’s not on the road and we’re not in the studio, would have been the perfect time. But what am I doing? I’m touring. And then what do we do when I get back from this? We have to go into the studio… and what happens after that? We’ll start promotion. So it’s really been very difficult for me to squeeze it in.


Another thing is, I get so much satisfaction being in Dream Theater- playing this music, writing this music with the guys, being fortunate enough to say that they’ve let me produce it, and haven’t killed me yet. It’s so artistically and creatively satisfying. So as fun as the solo music is on an instrumental level, it’s not like it’s burning inside of me, like” I have to”. I get so much out of Dream Theater. At the same time, I do understand that a lot of people really enjoyed Suspended Animation and I have a whole bunch of new songs. It’d be great to get them recorded and done.


You actually do have some new songs?

Oh yeah. I have a ton of songs. I play the three of them tonight. Actually one of them isn’t mine, one’s more of an interpretation of the song.

You’ve reached a certain level of mastery on your craft, how do you continue challenging yourself musically and creatively?

I have?? What?! -Laughs. As far as guitar playing is concerned, the craft of guitar playing, it’s never ending. You know, it’s not like you wake up one day and say “Oh I can do everything” You can’t. Every day is a different challenge and it depends on what you’re doing. For me right now, I’m on tour with G3, so it’s all about performance. So every night I think “how can I play that better? What did I not execute great?”  And just try to rise to that challenge every time you perform. You know some days you’re on, some days you’re not, but as a performer, you just constantly want to give your best, and try to play things as good as you can. If you mess it up one day, try to play better the next night. So it doesn’t stop, and it’s a common thread, if you talk to any guitar player, any musician, they say the same thing “let me review what happened last night so I can do this better”. I don’t think I’ve met one person that’s like “yeah I’m perfect, I don’t need to practice”

Do you still feel that connection to the audience while playing? Has it changed over the years?

First of all, I think the connection with the audience is really, really important, because that’s what this whole event is. People are coming to see you perform. It’s an interactive occasion. You’re not playing to a wall. You’re playing to real, live people who have paid a lot of money or sacrifice to get there. So I always try to take on this attitude that I have a responsibility to deliver the best I can do. When playing with Dream Theater I certainly try to look out, connect with people as much as possible. Having said that, the complexity of the music that we’re doing, the fact that we use in-ear monitors, it kind of closes us off to the audience, and we’re hearing a lot of things going on. Sometimes it’s easy to get in your own little bubble world. With G3 I’m not using in-ear monitors, I’m using traditional wedges and musicians earplugs, and in a lot of ways, I can hear the audience. It’s more ambient. It’s really liberating as a guitar player and I think it helps me connect more with the audience. Plus there’s no vocalist, so I can’t hide in my little world since I have more of a responsibility. Sometimes it’s hard depending on the venue and how far away you are where you can see, but it’s definitely important.

Do you still get nervous before a show?

Not generally. Sometimes at the start of a tour, I am a little anxious. If I do get a sense of nerves, I have things like just regular breathing and things to calm me down. I love to drink coffee but I found out recently that if I only have my morning coffee then I’m less likely to have any sense of heightened anxiety before I go on, which is nice because the goal is to walk onstage feeling calm, in control, and that everything that led up to that moment, your practicing and everything is going to come out the right way. Things like nerves or anxiety don’t help that at all. So yes the coffee thing is interesting.


You visited a lot of new interesting places with the Images, Words and Beyond tour

Yeah it was really cool. We went to Dubai for the first time, which you hear so much about, and that was really interesting. You know seeing how that part of the world has developed, and how much money is there, and what it’s turned into, it’s amazing. I mean it’s outstanding. Also, we played in India for the first time. You hear all these different stories about going there, and how it’s going to be, and we just had a wonderful time.


There’s always this really welcoming thing that happens, whether we are in Israel, Italy, or we are in Chicago, people embrace us being there. When you look out and you see people from all over, like in Dubai, it’s one of the most diverse audiences we’ve ever played to, and you see everybody getting into it, smiling and singing. It doesn’t matter what they’re wearing, what they look like, where they are from, it’s just like this large community of people that are there because they’re enjoying the music. As foreigners in those countries, it just makes us feel so welcomed, which I think is really special. I don’t think a lot of people get to experience that, and it’s really something we don’t take that for granted, you know? It’s really amazing.

T: Some gear questions now… what determines which guitar you’re going to play each night?

Well in general since the Majesty came out, since we developed that, I just fell in love with that instrument and I play it nonstop. Having said that, the other models that we came out with are also outstanding instruments, so I always want to give them some love as well.


For the Images tour, I was talking to Maddi one day and I thought for Images and Words we used to play an Ibanez guitar, basswood body with a Floyd rose on it. Maybe it would be good to play the JP-16, which is a basswood body with a Floyd rose? It had a similar sound and that was my reason for using it.


T: We saw you in Rochester and seems like you are constantly tweaking your sound throughout the show


Always. I’m annoying. Here’s an interesting thing about playing a concert using in-ear  monitors versus not using them. So when using the in-ear monitors, depending on your mix, it basically sounds like a CD. It’s an unbelievable sound, but at the same time you hear everything right there. So as I’m playing, I’m just “too much bass”… I drive myself crazy. I’m the worst tweakaholic of all time. Playing with just wedges and earplugs, you don’t get the same sonic experience, so it doesn’t sound as hi-fi and everything, but in a lot of ways it’s more enjoyable because it’s old school just playing guitar, and so my head doesn’t go to that tweak space. So it’s a cure for tweaking.


T: Have you had a chance to play around with the AXE FX-III?


I have not played around with it yet. That’s my plan. Before we integrate into my rig which is the plan ultimately, we got to make sure that everything is going to transfer and work. I’m just going to have fun with it backstage and kind of play around with it.  I’m really excited for those guys. It’s a great release and that they put a lot of work into that.


I saw some comments online and just to clarify, with the Axe FX, I just use the effects. As wonderful as the modeling is, I use it for the effects. My JP-2C, that’s my whole sound.

Even on this tour, just before I go on and Maddi just checks it, you hear the audience… it’s like a beast just got unleashed… it’s such an awesome amp.

Picture by John Zocco

T: Any new guitars you’re looking forward to?

I’ve been talking about this version of a Majesty for couple of years.  I had this idea of a carbon black Majesty with a spalted maple top and cream binding, and cream pickups. They finally did it!  I showed it to my wife, and I’m like what do you think? And she said “it’s like a steakhouse guitar” because it’s like so manly. So we call it the Steakhouse Majesty.  It’s my dream guitar.


At NAMM, Music Man also unveiled some new colors for my guitars. The new JP6 one is  FireMist Gold. They also did different BFR ones.


T: I like what Ernie Ball is doing with the quarterly releases, for those of that count down the days to NAMM


If you look at the series of my guitars since the Majesty came out, we did the original version, we did an Artisan series, we did a Precious Metal series, and now the Monarchy.  I think that if the general series keeps changing too much, it puts too much out there and people can’t keep up with it. Right now we’re on the Monarchy series which is gorgeous, those will be around for a while, but in the meantime the BFRs will do some very special versions of those, and they just do those in limited quantities.

The thing about Ernie Ball Music Man is that every instrument they make they are like works of art. They’re so special. They’re so detailed and so beautiful. You can’t go wrong.


Interview by Victoria and Tim Martinez for DT USA , a chapter of DT World

Very special thanks to John Petrucci, Rikk Feulner, and Kim Sakariassen


Jordan Rudess will be doing some solo concerts in the spring of 2018. This will be an intimate evening with Jordan. Don’t miss it!

And culminating with KeyFest 2018, the great event for keyboard players and musicians to attend classes with Jordan Rudess and some special guest artists, as well as jam sessions, and exclusive performances every day. This years event will be held at Sweetwater music in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

“Excited to announce the first dates of my Spring ’18 solo piano concerts. I’ll be touring the U.S. West Coast and Europe performing BACH TO ROCK, a musical journey from my classical roots through my rock influences. Frankfurt, Germany and San Francisco, California are on sale now. More dates are coming soon!” – Jordan Rudess

Jordan Rudess’ (Dream Theater) solo concert will travel through his fascinating musical journey – how a young Juilliard piano prodigy destined for a classical music career evolved into a keyboard rock star phenomenon.

“Calling Jordan Rudess a legend is an understatement” — Keyboard Magazine

“Jordan Rudess has journeyed from the depths of tradition to the ever-expanding outer limits of musical possibility, inviting listeners along for the ride. The results are, unsurprisingly, consistently beyond world-class.” The Musical Melting Pot

See the facebook page  for an updated list of tour dates!

Jordan’s Spring 2018 Bach to Rock – Solo Piano Tour Dates

March 7  Oakland, California


Doors 7:30pm  Show 8:00pm

March 20  Portland, Oregon

Alberta Rose Theater

March 21  Seattle, Washington

Triple Door


March 30  Padua, Italy

Sala dei Giganti


April 1  Tel Aviv, Israel

Reading 3



April 3 London, England

St. Pancras new Church



April 4  Utrecht, Netherlands

Tivoli Vredenburg Cloud Nine Room



April 6 Vantaa/Helsinki, Finland

Kulttuuritalo Martinus


April 11 Hamburg, Germany




April 12 Essen, Germany

Alte Kirche Altenessen



April 13  Frankfurt, Germany

Jahrhunderthalle Club

Doors 7:00pm Show 8:00pm

April 15  San Sebastian, Spain

Teatro Victoria Eugenia


April 25 – 28  Jordan Rudess KeyFest


Fort Wayne, Indiana

This past November, Dream Theater USA had the opportunity to catch up with John Myung before the show in Rochester, NY. Myung discusses a variety of topics including the fans reaction to the Images, Words and Beyond tour, its impact on the new Dream Theater album, how his practice regimen has changed over the years, what’s next for the Jelly Jam, and how to stay inspired musically. He also discusses one of his pastimes on the road, golf.
How has the Images, Words and Beyond tour been received?

It’s been received really well and we’re having a really good time. It just seems like the perfect thing to do at this point, to kind of re-establish ourselves with that period of our history that was a breakthrough moment for us. There’s something natural about revisiting that period, sort of like coming full circle. For a lot of fans it’s coming back and revisiting that period too. I’ve run into fans that are coming out because they were there 25 years ago, and they haven’t necessarily seen us recently, but it’s the fact that we are playing this record that is bringing out the fans.  It also gives our younger fan base that didn’t get a chance to hear that part of our history, to hear it.

What are the reactions now to Images and Words compared to the reaction back in 1992?

It’s interesting because with the older fans there tends to be a lot more singing going on. They know the record inside and out. It also seems to have struck a chord with our younger fan base, where they just think it’s really cool. It has this sort of timeless element to it. It doesn’t seem dated.

Are you approaching the songs any differently this time around?

We are playing the record a half step lower. This gives the album, the way it sits, a little bit more of a darker and heavier feel, which I think is very cool.

What is the inspiration and story behind Learning to Live, and was that the first song you’ve ever written?

Yes. (Learning to Live) was just this collection of thoughts, and what I was feeling growing up in that period of life (early 20s). I think when you are young, you are looking for something to speak to you. Something that is telling you that this is your calling… “this must be it”. There’s that sense of adventure where you are really trying to find something to kind of align your life with purpose.

You create, and form, and mold something into a song, lyrically, but you don’t really realize it. As I am reading, I’ll collect words and thoughts, and I’ll write them down. I don’t necessarily know why these words are gravitating towards me, but they jump off the page.  So I collect a bunch of words, phrases, and sentences and it turns into a song.  Looking back it’s exactly what the song is… what I see missing in the world and I just want to find my own place and not necessarily be constrained or influenced by a lot of the negativity in the world.

Did you always feel a calling in music? 

Around 1979 or 1980, probably around that period, it felt really strong that this is what I really wanted to do. I happened to play bass, and connecting with music thru that instrument was just very real for me.

With all the changes in the music industry what is the best way for the fans to support Dream Theater right now?

What makes a music fan is just looking forward to every new album, spending time with it. I don’t think anybody can tell someone how to appreciate something, but the fact that there are people that appreciate what we do, it’s a blessing and something we don’t take for granted.

Me being a fan of other bands and other music, I think it’s more of our job to evolve and stay interesting. To have our purpose be our purpose, and have other people relate to that, and find out how it relates to them. Hopefully we can continue to evolve and be pertinent musically, and continue to reach people. As it is now, 25 years later, it’s incredible to see the turnover in our audience where we have fans we have grown up with, they have gotten married and they have children, and now they are bringing their kids out. It’s really amazing to see that.

 Do you think revisiting Images and Words will make an impact on the direction for the next album?

I see it having a definite impact on the next album. It’s realigning ourselves and recalibrating with what is that we do well, and what is that we do well that reaches the most people. I see our next record aligning with that perspective.

How do you continue challenging yourself musically and creatively, and stay inspired?

Music is so vast and there’s so much to learn. At this point, I am looking forward to doing things and studying things that I may not necessarily use (in Dream Theater). Like learning upright bass, or learning cello.  I have an electric upright bass at home, a Ned Steinberger design. Even if I can spend a half hour per day, just touching the instrument, and thinking in that way. It’s more about doing things that keep you sharp, and not really worrying about whether or not I’ll be able to utilize it in the band. I think it’s more important to be doing something musical.

I am also recording ideas at soundcheck. I collaborate with Ty Tabor and Rod Morgenstein, in the Jelly Jam. We do fun things. Like right before this tour started, we had the summer off, and we shot a video for one of our songs. Just doing fun things outside the band, and just focusing on things that are personal that I feel help keep me in the right musical perspective.

Any plans for the Jelly Jam?

I was talking with Ty right before I came out, and John (Petrucci) is going to be doing G3 for awhile, so I am going to have some time off.  So I think probably in late January, I’ll get together with Ty and Rod and work on some ideas for another future Jelly Jam album.

Switching gears, what is a very interesting place you’ve gotten to visit while touring?

We got to visit a lot of new places this tour. Yogyakarta in Indonesia is a really amazing place. Dubai, is another one. It’s really interesting to see places in the World that you haven’t visited like Mubai, India. On days off, I try to get out and play golf. In Dubai we had to go golfing at night because it was 120 degrees during the day so you couldn’t do anything. So my first nightime golfing was in Dubai. We went golfing at 10pm and it was amazing how they had it lit up. Got to play golf in Yogyakarta too which was very interesting. Getting to see the golf course, for me, it speaks volumes in terms of (getting) a sense of the feel of the city you are in.

What is your practice regimen nowadays? Do you still practice 6 hours a day?

I try to get at least 2 1/2 hours of warming up before a show. In general, when I am at home, I’ll always find 3 hours-worth of something I have to do, whether it’s preparing for a tour, or new material we are working into a set, or something special that we are going to add in.

Like Portrait of Tracy, Jaco Pastorius’ harmonic piece, that was something that I had to put in my routine so that I could keep it close to me. There’s always a minimum of 3 hours of stuff you have to do. When you are a professional musician, and it becomes a job, it can easily go over that.

When I am at home there are other things to balance, other things to do, but a minimum of 3 hours, and I try to get it done in the morning. I am morning person, I like waking up early and then after the 3 hours are done, then the rest of the day can take over.

Following the interview, John Myung and Jordan Rudess joined us during our DT USA preshow meetup and spent time chatting with everyone and taking photos. It was an afternoon to remember.

Interview by Victoria Martinez for DT USA , a chapter of DT World

Very special thanks to John Myung, Rikk Feulner, and Kim Sakariassen