Dream Theater interview (12/2007)
|With:||Mike Portnoy [Drums] & John Petrucci [Guitars]|
|Conducted by:||Jeff (in person)|
You're lucky on Metal Storm! Today, this is not one but two interviews with the leaders (Jonh Petrucci and Mike Portnoy) of THE progressive Metal band, Dream Theater, that you'll be able to read. We did these interviews in a hurry just before the show but we did our maximum to get some interesting informations and all in all, we just hope that you'll enjoy to read them! Have fun!
I: Interview with "Mr percussions" aka Mike Portnoy by Jeff
- Hi Mike, welcome to Toulouse! I think that it's only your second show here in this city…
Well, I'm maybe wrong but I think that we played here in 1998… I don't remember very well…
- Ok so at least this is your first time in this new venue and this is also its first Metal show… So how do you find it, is it a good one? Will we have a good sound?
It's pretty small you know. In general we play in some big stadiums and arenas during this tour so it's a bit weird… hum… it's small and it will be hot, but it will be fun to play here.
- Let's talk about your new album, how are the reactions of the fans so far?
I guess that it's good. Well, like with all our new albums, we cannot please everybody because people have different tastes we don't only play one single style like a band like Pantera which only played heavy music and pleased everybody… we change a bit our music so it's a matter of taste some people like our Heavy side, some others like our Prog side. It's hard to please everybody but we try to do our best every time.
- I have the feeling that the new album mixes the power of "Train Of Thought" with the technical but a bit poppy side of "Octavarium"… Am I right?
I agree! I think that it's a good cross-over between these two albums…
- But was it a wish to "mix" these two really different albums
Yeah I think so! I really think that we wanted to have the dark and aggressive side of "Train Of Thought" with some of the range and technicality of Octavarium. So yes, it was a real decision to take this direction.
- As I know you use to listen to a lot of music from a lot of different "universes". A lot of people say that you take your inspiration from bands like Muse, U2 or Evanescence…. Is it a good think for you to be compared to these bands?
I think that in our whole career we used a lot of different influences for our inspiration. I mean that I'm music man and I will always be one. I use to listen to a lot of music, I'm constantly listening to a lot of different and new bands. So all these stuff are in my heads and when I start to write new songs, I think that these bands influences give the direction of Dream Theater's musical melting-pot. But of course, we always try to do our own music and sound like Dream Theater so even if you say that a song like "Prophets Of War" sounds a bit like Muse, its still has sections that Muse will never play.
- On the new album, you have on "Repentance" a lot of guests like Daniel of Pain Of Salvation who speaks on it. Why did you choose them, and what is the message of behind this song.
Yes on "Repetance"… The section was about sorrow, forgiveness etc… It was a bit personal and I thought that it could be original to have spoken words a bit like some samples of a movie. So I asked to some special guests to "talk" on this song. Mikael of Opeth, Daniel Gildenlöw, Neal Morse or Steven Wilson. I sent maybe something like twenty emails to different people inviting them to participate to this song and eleven of them said "yes". The rule was simple, they were free to talk about what they wanted to say… they were free…
- And it was a good experience with a nice result…
Ho yeah! It was cool and fun to do that really!
- Mike, you sing on a lot of the songs of the last album… that's maybe a stupid question but do you like to sing and will we see you one day as a singer on a project?
Noooo… I sing a lot on the last album, I'm the lead on "Repentance" and do the choruses on a lot of other songs but that's enough for me! I have no inspiration to do that except with Dream Theater. I like to be the balance of James but that's enough. Though, I did a lot of singings with Transatlantic as well… that's fun but I'm not a singer!
- How it's going on with your new label Roadrunner? Is it good, are you happy with them?
Roadrunner is awesome! We have a good relationship with them so far, they let us do what we do, they do a great work in term of promotion. They're all what we want from a record company. You know, we're not expecting miracles we don't ask a lot too, we just want support and promotion and they do a great job.
- I know that you really like to work on videos, you produced the bonus DVD of "Systematic Chaos" etc… I would like to know if you have somewhere in your mind, maybe a project of a video-musical-movie" like "The Wall" or "Tommy" of The Who?
Hum… On one hand I really would like to do it but on the other hand, I'm not sure that I could have the full control on this movie… If you have to deal with Hollywood or movie companies in general you lose all your creative control… So I will never have the patience to do that, I'm happy with all what we did now with the band. I have the full control on our videos and well it's ok you know…
- So no…
Not for now at least!
- A lot of readers of my webzine wanted to have news about your other projects especially with Mikael of Opeth… how it's going on right now?
There are no projects at the moment. I mean that Dream Theater will be touring until June next year… I'm focusing on Dream Theater only right now. Last time when I was on vacations I played drums on Neal Morse last album and it's good to do some sessions like that but really that's all for now. But after the tour, Liquid Tension gonna get back together for some dates so it will be the next thing that I will do but before that I will not do anything else that playing music with Dream Theater.
- About your different projects, I know that you like a lot bands like Pantera or Lamb Of God so will we see you one day as a drummer of Thrash or even more brutal band?
I would like to do it yeah!!! If one day we finally do this project with Mikael Akerfeldt, hopefully it will be something really heavy!!! I hope so really because I love heavy shit, it's my favorite stuff in the world. I had the opportunity to play the drums for Overkill one night back in 2000 and for me it was a really fun experience.
- And, as a compositor, would you like to write one day Thrash songs or even Death Metal songs?
[really enthusiast] I really would like to have a project like that yeah! For sure!
- Oki, to finish how is the tour so far?
The tour is great really. Well, tonight it will be a bit different because it's small place for us but it will be fun!
- Will we have a surprise maybe tonight?
All our show are always special (laughs)!!! But I don't think so no…
- What do you think of your openers Symphony X?
We're having a really good time with them. I like a lot the new album, we like them as persons… They're perfect openers.
- Is it you who wanted them to open for Dream Theater this tour?
Yeah yeah, I always chose our openers! And I think that it's a good match!
- The good thing in France is that people who like SX like also DT, everybody will be happy! It's the perfect show.
Definitely, we agree!
- Thanks a lot Mike for your time… Are you ready for tonight?
[Mike had a look on one of his roadies and clapped his hand and said to myself doing the "devil sign"] We're ready to rock!!!
II: A short interview of John Petrucci, quite badly conducted by me (Darkside Momo) with the help of Guillaume, a friend of mine.
- Darkside Momo (DM): So, the first question will be about the tour. How does it go now with Symphony X, and do you feel any friendly rivalry because both bands play a 'similar' style? Does it push you to play even better than before?
John Petrucci (JP): Oh, no. I think they have their own thing, you know, and we have ours and they're very very nice guys and they're from the same part of the US as we're from… No, they're no weirdness, there's no rivalry.
- DM: Oh, I didn't mean any 'weirdness', but friendly rivalry like 'oh, they're good, we have to do even better than them!'
JP: No, no (laughs)! Really, not like that! They play before us, we play after, it's not like in G3, where you have to impress. We just try to do the best as we can all the time.
- DM: You already played full albums that you like (The Number Of The Beast, Master Of Puppets…), but you haven't played any Rush or King Crimson album yet. Do you intend to do this one day?
JP: You know, next time we'll do that… Well, there are a lot of bands we all have as influences, Rush is one of them. But we never tell anybody beforehand, we always make it a surprise.
- DM: Okay ! And about Images and Words, I suppose you won't tell us if you'll play again the whole album?
JP: Hum, not anymore.
- DM: Aww…
JP: Yeah, we've already did that. We did it in Italy, in Germany and a couple of different places [including Clermont-Ferrand, France]. It went pretty well, people that like this album enjoyed it.
- DM: Have you recorded it, and will you release it as an album, on CD?
JP: We did record a couple of the nights, and we'll probably use it for something. But I'm not sure.
- DM: A question about Octavarium and Systematic Chaos. There are songs on these albums that sound like Muse. Why did you do it this way, and do you plan to continue like this?
JP: You know, for me, every so often you hear some music that is 'woah, great!', like that. And for me it doesn't happen too often. I think those guys are great, I love that band and I think the influence can seep all over it. It's just kind of experimenting with a different side, just part of being a progressive band, we're trying things, and you take new influences and old influences and you mix them up and you make it different from the other album.
- DM: So that's why one can hear a bit of Opeth too on the last album?
JP : Yeah, absolutely.
- DM: Now, about future albums, have you got any new ideas for now, or are you concentrating on touring?
JP: Yes, we're just concentrating on touring. You know, it won't be till next year that we'll be thinking about the new album. So we're just focusing on the tour, and?????
- Guillaume (GC): Have you thought about playing with more classical or jazz parts? Like trumpets, for example?
JP: I think as far as using other instruments, we've certainly have used orchestral instruments, as far using that in a jazz sense, I don't think so… I don't think it would really go, you now. It's cool, but not right for Dream Theater. It's a little darker… and it might not work.
- DM: Now, on a more personal level, do you intend to record another solo album?
JP: Yes, I do. The last one I did was a couple of years ago, and people ask me all the time (laughs)…
- GC: The first one was very, very good.
JP: Thank you ! I think it's time I make a new one. Hum, you'll probably ask me if I have any songs… The answer is no! (laughs)
- DM: And about Liquid Tension Experiment? Will there be another album too?
JP: Right now there are no plans for a new album. But you never know…
- DM: And about other side-projects? Do you plan to record anything with members of Symphony X? I mean as a side project for both bands, just to release one album.
JP: Er, to be honest, no. We don't have any plans for that… We haven't talked about that. Sorry.
- GC : Yesterday, you had a day-off. Did you visit Toulouse?
JP: Oh, you know, I had a very lazy day yesterday. I only went out a little bit at night. To be honest with you I don't really like the days off. I like playings in concerts, but in days off I find I don't know what to do with myself… I miss my family, so… I don't really care for days-off. So…
-DM: You'd rather play as much as you can and then go home?
- DM: Last question... What do you listen to, now? Which bands do you like now, except from Muse, of course?
JP : I think the new Symphony X is pretty good [everyone nods in agreement]. I listened to it before the tour started and wow, it's really good! Apart from that, I don't really know, I'm not really a music listener guy…
Jeff: Thanks to Mike Portnoy, Dream Theater and Bérangère of Roadrunner France for this interview.
DarksideMomo: Thanks again to Guillaume, without whom this interview wouldn't have existed, and of course to John Petrucci for his kindness and patience. After all I was badly hesitating, fumbling with my notes, whatever. Thanks again.
Parts of this interview were broadcasted on radio FMR, a french local radio based in Toulouse (89.1 FM).
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