DREAM THEATER Guitarist: ‘The World Can Definitely Be A Little Hard On People’

Andrew Magnotta of The Aquarian Weekly recently conducted an interview with guitarist John Petrucci of progressive metal giants DREAM THEATER. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

The Aquarian Weekly: Why was [new DREAM THEATER drummer] Mike Mangini not included in the writing of the new record?

Petrucci: I decided to do it this way because I wanted to make sure that we were able to focus on DREAM THEATER‘s core compositional elements and sounds without a new person coming in. Whatever that Mike might have brought to the table, I thought it was too early to kind of bring in somebody that we didn’t really know at all, as far as their compositional abilities. I’ve been writing this music forever and just felt comfortable in that kind of environment. When you can focus on just guitar, keyboards, bass and our singer is there, it’s just a more intimate environment and you’re not trying to integrate somebody else and feel them out. I just kind of wanted to eliminate that whole process. I mean, it could have been great, but I was more comfortable doing it this way for this album at least.

The Aquarian Weekly: How is your relationship with [former DREAM THEATER drummer] Mike Portnoy now?

Petrucci: I haven’t spoken with him in quite a while now. We’ve known each other forever. We were in the band for over 25 years. But yeah, I haven’t spoken to Mike in quite some time now.

The Aquarian Weekly: He initially took and has continued to take what seems like the brunt of the criticism for leaving the band. Do you think that was fair to him?

Petrucci: I think that people can be pretty mean. It’s not good to read, as far as negativity. People from all walks of life make changes and for whatever reason leave jobs. Whatever it is in their life they have to do, they have to make decisions. That’s what happens. I know that people were very upset by that and I can totally understand that, but the world can definitely be a little hard on people.

The Aquarian Weekly: As far as the music on the new record, was there anything that influenced this album that was absent from past albums?

Petrucci: Going into it and writing it, we had made a conscious decision to really focus in again on the core compositional elements: What are the things that we really want to explore and focus on on this album? I knew that I wanted it to be a broad album, that we wanted to give everybody the band an opportunity to shine, whether that’s in an arrangement way or an orchestration way. I knew and hoped that it would be mixed by Andy Wallace, which it was. I wanted the presentation sonically to be epic and grand and high-fi and all that stuff. Those were some of the goals. We really wanted to infuse the elements of progressive music that we grew up with and make sure that it was a melodic album and rich in the lyrical message. Those were all the things that were on our mind, that we talked about the whole time.

The Aquarian Weekly: So were you inspired by work that you had previously done in DREAM THEATER?

Petrucci: I think that we’re always inspired by — we always kinda look back and kind of assess what we’ve done: What do we like about moments in our history and what don’t we like? What are the things that we want to continue to explore and keep a part of our sound and what are the things that we don’t necessarily want to be a part of our sound. It’s like that in any successful situation that you’re in; you always have to go back and assess and ask questions and always think in a way that’s moving forward, but that’s using your experience and lessons from that past to make things even better.

Read the entire interview from The Aquarian Weekly.