Steven Rosen of Ultimate-Guitar.com recently conducted an interview with guitarist John Petrucci of progressive metal giants DREAM THEATER. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: For the “A Dramatic Turn of Events” album, you talked about wanting to do something on a grand scale that was musically interested. Did you continue with that approach on the “Dream Theater” album?
Petrucci: I think it’s building on it, but taking it to the next level. One of the things I really wanted to do on “A Dramatic Turn of Events” was to create something that was sonically very rich and high-def and powerful and I think we accomplished that. But on this album I wanted to take that even further.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: In what ways?
Petrucci: Get more cinematic with it and more earthy and aggressive and bigger. I wanted a bigger, more forward in-your-face kind of sound. I think that kind of dictated the sounds we went for while we were writing and recording and then ultimately how it was mixed. So yeah, it was kind of building on that, but taking it to the next level. You always need to progress and to try and do something different and kind of have a little bit different take on it and a different perspective. But hopefully make it better as you go.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: You talked about how you wanted the album to sound in the mix and for this album you brought in Richard Chycki. What did he bring to the final sound of the album?
Petrucci: From the beginning, and the way we set up and started writing and recording this, the concept was to have all of the sounds that would ultimately be contributing to the mix. To have them filed in from day one so while we were writing and building the album we could really hear what it was gonna sound like and how it was shaping up realistically.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: That’s a very interesting approach.
Petrucci: Yeah, so when the songs were in their early stages, they already sounded like kinda what you hear today. So it was like Rich is so intimately a part of what’s going on here from day one and it already sounds the way we want it, so it made sense to move forward with him doing that. ‘Cause he was kind of already there.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: “Dream Theater” is the first album drummer Mike Mangini has been involved in from the writing stages. Did he bring a different dynamic to the music than Mike Portnoy?
Petrucci: Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely different. Obviously they’re two different people so they’re gonna bring a different atmosphere and different things to the table. It’s like I wish everybody could kind of see what he did. You’re hearing it and when you’re listening to it some of the stuff he’s doing is absolutely mindblowing.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Mike Mangini‘s performance on the album was remarkable.
Petrucci: And a lot of that stuff was done off the cuff, which freaks me out. I’d just be writing and say, “Yeah, Mike, try something to this part.” He’ll just play and we’re standing there and we start laughing. We laugh at him. We’re like, “That’s just illegal. You shouldn’t be able to do that.” And he’s like, “What?” Plus writing with him was really great because he gets it. He’s really in tune with what we’re trying to do. If I have a certain idea for a song or if I come up with a riff or a direction, there’s nothing worse than working with somebody who’s pulled from that and they don’t get it.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: He was always on the same page with you musically?
Petrucci: There’s never an instant where he didn’t get it. He gets it and he knew right away that this groove in this section needs to be really heavy and this section needs to be technical and this section needs to be more sensitive. He really, really is in tune with what is required at the right moment musically. That says a lot about him not only as a drummer but as a musician. That’s a great, great quality to have. Even when I listen back to the album myself, I hear certain things and I’m like, “Wow, that was really, really intuitive for Mike to do what he did there.” It’s like I didn’t think about it at the time but whatever he did to set up a certain section or whatever was just so musical. It was a really amazing experience.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: By calling this album “Dream Theater”, are you trying to define who the band is in 2013?
Petrucci: Absolutely. Yeah, 100 percent. You nailed it. We’ve had a long career and we’re very fortunate to have been doing this as long as we have. Every time we go into a new album, we put everything into it. We’re so into what we do. It’s hard when a band has this many albums to convey that to the listener. Because a lot of times as the listener it’s very easy to say, “Oh, I like the old stuff. Who cares about the new album?”
Read the entire interview at Ultimate-Guitar.com.