Dream Theater Fan Club Interview August 2016
To celebrate that we have several new south american fan club chapters popping up (Dream Theater Colombia, Dream Theater Chile, DreamTheater.com.ve, Dream Theater México, Dream Theater Bolivia, Dream Theater Fans Perú and Dream Theater Ecuador), each of the new fan club chapters got to gather a list of questions they wanted to ask the band, which were then compiled and sent over for the band to answer. All of these questions were fan questions, asked by the fans themselves. This is what Dream Theater answered:
Mike Mangini: In Thrash metal there’s the Big 4 of Thrash (Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer) – who do you feel would belong in the “Big 4 of Progressive Metal”?
I can’t define a big 4 in that genre as I was more into Rush and Yes on the more rock side of “Progressive” and mainly listen to heavy rock and older school heavy metal, along with world styles like Latin & Indian rhythms.
Mike Mangini: There were latin rhythms in Lord Nafaryus – would you consider making more songs with latin rhythms?
Yes. I know some Afro Cuban and Brazilian grooves in both the standard and triplet realms that could weave into songs. I think they groove amazingly !!
Mike Mangini: What are some of the sacrifices you’ve made to be able to have your career?
The biggest sacrifice with the drumming is to have to spend time practicing as it just a few days does no good. I need to practice consistently for some weeks for it to matter. When I do that, it means that I’m not working and earning income, but rather spending it to support the practice regiment, so I have to balance when I work and when I practice. This can be tough to take while being responsible for a family as that means a lot of pressure. The biggest sacrifice to have a career, is not being in control of my own final sound and sometimes not playing exactly what I really want to play. Working with others and morphing into a collaborative final result means compromising. It hurts to compromise one’s personal art. In the end, at least products, relationships and something at all, like a career is made as opposed to being in a basement alone doing everything you want as you want and how you want. Oppositely, a career means that you’ve been able to work with people and that has a great feeling.
Mike Mangini: In your eyes, what makes “Dream Theater” a main big reference in the Progressive Metal scene?
Dream Theater is a big reference in the Progressive Metal Scene partly because it has lasted relative to other bands. Other things that matter are the quality of the playing, the songs, the touring, the melodies and a general sense of producing different works relative to alternatives.
John Petrucci: Did you consider any alternative storylines for The Astonishing? Alternate endings?
There were a lot of incarnations the story went through while I was writing it. Different characters, plot twists and story-lines etc. Part of the story-telling process is writing and then re-writing many, many times. I was still tweaking things story-wise even while I was in the lyric writing stage which is the last step before everything is final!
John Petrucci: Can we expect a new solo album anytime soon, and will the material that was played during the G3 2012 be a part of that?
Yes. I realize it’s been a very long time since my first solo album! The issue for me is simply finding the time to get into the studio and record everything. In fact, all of the material is written including the 3 songs I debuted while on tour with G3 in S. America. Once I find a hole in the DT schedule, I’ll be sure to get it done!
John Petrucci: Have you considered using even more strings on your guitars? Going 8 strings, maybe include some big djent riffs in your playing?
Yes. In the same way that I picked up the 7-string while writing the Awake album, I’m planning on using 8-string on the next DT album. The prospect of an even further extended range is really exciting to me!
John Petrucci: The Astonishing has incredible and spectacular lighting effects, screens and production. Have you set the standard for how DT will be presented on stage going forward?
The show for The Astonishing Live tour is definitely the most complex and elaborate production DT has ever toured with. It actually took over a year to design and perfect, especially with all of the original animated content which is very time consuming to create. Our lighting designer Steve Baird and our video design team at Lucion headed by Bernard Duguay really outdid themselves! I think it’s fair to say that it is unique to the type of more theatrical show we are presenting this time. We have been increasing and perfecting the quality and level of production especially over the past 6 years and we will continue to put our strongest and most creative efforts forward for future tours.
John Petrucci: What has been the overall reaction to the new tour and show? Which city/country has been the most enthusiastic about it? Was the reaction as expected?
I am absolutely humbled by the incredibly positive reaction our fans have had to this show. I realize that we are asking a lot of people to sit through an entire evening of new music but I think that the care and effort we put into the production and presentation has helped to not only convey the story, but really bring the music and characters to life and I think that audiences are really feeling that. All of the shows have been so much fun and the audiences world-wide have all been incredible but nothing beats a home town show. The Radio City Music Hall show was one of my favorites! The reaction to this show is one I could have only hoped for and I am immensely grateful for that.
John Petrucci: What inspires the band in the making of new music? What is your process when you compose music? Do you consider lyrics first, or music first? Do you jam the songs into existence, or do you write more from music theory principles? How do the different band members participate?
First, it is really inspiring to be able to play and create music with all of the other guys in the band. The level of both joy and ability when jamming or writing that all of the guys have is extremely inspiring. Sometimes we have free-form jams together as a band and ideas or seeds for songs are born from them. Sometimes we individually bring in ideas and riffs that we’ve worked on at home and develop them in the studio. These primarily come from myself and Jordan. The Astonishing was written completely by Jordan and I so that was another process that was more driven by a specific goal or direction, this time being the story. Sometimes theory has it’s place when exploring options and ideas. Each album has a different level of band member participation, depending on the direction and process.
John Petrucci: Where will Dream Theater go next? Have you started thinking about the next album? Do you think you will do a more progressive album or a more metal album?
We have started thinking about the next album although we are still very much into bringing The Astonishing Live to as many audiences as we can. As usual, I tend to avoid talking about the direction of future albums to at least keep some level of mystery and sacredness to the creative process as it so truly deserves.
John Petrucci: Are there any plans for a special 30th anniversary concert?
We did indeed celebrate our 30th year together in 2015 and the live set we toured with which chronicled a song from each release in order was representative of that anniversary.
John Petrucci: Will there be a live recording and video release of The Astonishing tour?
Yes! We are currently working out the plans and details for such a recording and release.
John Petrucci: Would you, in the future, consider making more “radio-friendly” mainstream music again?
DT has never had any interest in doing anything ‘mainstream’ and our trajectory in this crazy industry has really been doing the exact opposite. I think that the fact that certain songs may have made it to radio or been more successful or even listenable than others over the years are all just fortunate coincidences.
John Petrucci: Will there ever be a re-issue of Score on Blu- Ray like what was done with Live at Budokan?
We can certainly investigate that!
John Petrucci: Would you ever do a festival tour again, like Gigantour or Progressive Nation, with you as the headliners?
We are really enjoying the ‘evening with’ format currently. I think it would need to really feel right and present the type of show where people would be happy to pay their hard-earned money to see if we were to consider that type of festival. What we’ve learned from the past is that our incredibly devoted and supportive listeners may not necessarily be willing to spend money on a ticket where DT only plays for an hour or less and they may not be really interested in the other bands on the bill. That type of show is a huge commitment for the concert goer and a lot of music to sit through.
James LaBrie: After the great performance of the Astonishing characters, do you think you would like to do more interpretative roles of such caliber? What’s your best memory from the whole The Astonishing experience?
Yes I would like to think there will be a time when I can avail myself to portray a lead role character in a world renowned theatre production.
My fondest memory from ‘The Astonishing’ is the development of each characters’ voice during the recording process.
James LaBrie: Will there be a live tour presenting your solo work? We want a DVD!
I hope to tour with my solo band after our next release. A DVD would be a beautiful thing, but first the album and tour and if a DVD can be achieved at the highest of standards, then it too will be done.
James LaBrie: Are there any countries you still would like to have a concert in? (Come to Ecuador!)
Yes, there are many countries in the middle east that we haven’t had the pleasure of performing and we are well aware of a huge number of fans throughout that region.
Would love to come to Ecuador, but the reality is we need to be asked by an Ecuadorian promoter who is willing to guarantee all that is involved to make a DT concert take place.
James LaBrie: What are some of your best memories of visiting Venezuela (and other South American countries?)
The greatest memories while in Venezuela are the shows and the fans reaction to the concerts. Incredible energy and feedback from our Venezuelan fans.
Our fans throughout South America have consistently shown us unbelievable support and appreciation since we first came down in 98′
James LaBrie: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? What do you feel will be your legacy in the music world?
10 years from now I see myself doing exactly what I’m doing now… making music with Dream Theater and my solo band and touring around the world to continue the great relationship we’ve had with our fans since the beginning of our career.
My legacy will quite simply be my singing, lyrics and the music I’ve helped to create.
James LaBrie: With all you have achieved in your career, are there still something missing from your bucket list, career wise?
As I mentioned earlier, I do hope to perform in a world renowned theatre production. Beyond that, to continue to create, perform and remain relevant until the day we and or I have concluded this amazing ride and journey we are so blessed to be a part of.
James LaBrie: You meet thousands of fans while on tour – do you actually remember people when you meet them , or is it just a blur? If a fan tells you a story, do you remember it?
I actually remember most people I’ve met but there are some that are not as obvious as others.
If they were to remind me of the story they once told me I’m pretty sure I would remember, I hope… J
Take care everyone and see you out on tour!
John Myung: What’s your favorite live performance that you have recorded and released?
I don’t know if I have a favorite, each live concert that we’ve released for me just documents and captures that particular moment in time on a tour, I don’t think I have a favorite.
John Myung: Which is more enjoyable, rotating set lists or the same set list every night?
I like the consistency of having a good set that really works and just sticking with it, it allows for everything to settle in and once that happens and everyone is on the same page the show feels better and better as the tour progresses.
John Myung: Which tour is fondest to your memory?
When looking back to each tour, it tends to be when we went to a place we’ve never been to before, our first world tour for Images and Words really stands out since every place we went was new at the time, more recently on the Dream Theater self titled album getting to go to Tromso, Norway was something that stands out as well.
John Myung: Which do you feel has the best cover art of your albums?
I might be overlooking a couple albums, The Astonishing cover is something new as far a cover, it stands out like a movie ad, the self titled album cover Dream Theater was also cool due to it’s simplicity, but there is something about the Images and Words cover where it stands out as a piece of art by itself, I’d have to pick Images and Words if it were just one.
Jordan Rudess: How do you remember all the notes for all your songs and not make mistakes live? Do you have any memory techniques for remembering everything?
I have a secret weapon. It’s called an ipad and a great notation app that is called ForScore.
Jordan Rudess: What’s your favorite instrumental that you’ve recorded?
Dance Of Eternity!
Jordan Rudess: What is your opinion on 5.1 mixes?
I love the idea of surround sound and am excited about the idea of music being created exclusively for surround than I am by music that is simply re-mixed in surround.
Jordan Rudess: You are considered virtuoso musicians by many all over the world. Are there any piece of music from either classical or modern artists that you find difficult to play?
Sure. Franz Liszt’s compositions are notoriously difficult for everyone!
Jordan Rudess: Will we get big epics like Octavarium or In The Presence of Enemies, in the future?
Absolutely. We want to bring that back to the stage at the right time!
Jordan Rudess: Will you ever play any of the long epics in full length again, like A Change of Seasons, In The Presence of enemies, Octavarium? Are there any songs in the back catalogue you feel should be played live again, that maybe hasn’t been played in a long time?
Yes. It would be great to play some of the Six Degrees material again!
Jordan Rudess: Do you think you will be doing a full album cover like you previously did with Dark Side of the Moon and Master of Puppets etc? Maybe Led Zeppelin or Rush?
We have no plan to do that.
Jordan Rudess: After the huge album The Astonishing, are you tired of concept albums? Do you think you will create one in the future?
I’m not tired of it at all and I’m sure sometime in the future when the time is right we will do it again!