DREAM THEATER Keyboardist: ‘We Have A Lot Of Exciting Times Ahead’

Joe Bosso of Music Radar recently conducted an interview with keyboardist Jordan Rudess of progressive metal giants DREAM THEATER. An excerpt from the chat follows below.

Music Radar: Let’s talk about [the new DREAM THEATER album] “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”. Without belaboring the exit of [former drummer] Mike Portnoy, we’re curious about some comments you made recently where you said you felt free to expand the role of the keyboards.

Rudess: Yeah, I would say that’s true. I feel that this change allowed us to rethink everybody’s role in the band — who are we, where we’re at, what kind of music do we want to make? We asked a lot of questions of ourselves. One of the things that came up was maximizing everybody’s input, and yeah, the role of the keyboards was raised. How have we not been maximizing keyboards to their best advantage? Who am I, what can I do, and how can we change things and make them right? It was almost a spiritual thing, if you will. What kind of energy do we want to put out to the world? How can we rebuild this band? What are the kinds of things we need to do? All of those questions were important, and I think our answers are reflected in the album we made. It didn’t all come down to me, though — it was everybody. With James [LaBrie, vocals], it was about his melodies, his range and how he would feel most comfortable; and as composers, how can we make sure that things really flow for him? With John Myung [bass], who was feeling very re-energized, how can we use his enormous talents as a bassist? So yeah, it was all around. Coming back to me, we really took the time during the writing process to consider what I should be doing. Which was great, because I was able to pick up the pencil and paper and write stuff out. John Petrucci [guitar] would come up with a heavy guitar riff, and instead of me just doubling it, the dialogue was more like, “What can we do with that?” So it was exciting. I found new ways to use the keyboards and bring the musicality in the band to a new level.

Music Radar: It sounds as though you feel the rebooting of DREAM THEATER has been extremely positive.

Rudess: Well, you know, any change is good. But let’s address the situation with Mike Portnoy, and I should say right off that I’m a supporter of his. He an exceptionally talented man, and he did so much for this band, and he did so much for me, and we had such a great time making music together. I would never want to take away anything from my years with him, musically. Sure, everything has a balance, and yeah, there were some negatives — of course, there were. But mostly, when I think back to making music with Mike Portnoy, I’m very grateful. Moving forward, he decided to move on, and I can respect that. Unfortunately, it got a little turbulent and created some friction with the relationships, but hopefully everything will smooth over in time. The positive thing for me and this band, however, has been the re-evaluating and restructuring of who we are and what we do. Thankfully, within DREAM THEATER, there’s a whole lot of talent to work with. We’re in a really good place. We found an incredible drummer in Mike Mangini, who’s talented, skilled and funny. So life is good for us. We have a lot of exciting times ahead.

Read the entire interview from Music Radar.

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