When I was a teenager, listening to Rush and Yes, those songs didn’t have typical arrangements. So that was something that sort of became engrained in us.”
Wikimetal (Nando Machado): Hi, Mr. John Petrucci. How are you?
John Petrucci: Fine, how are you?
W (NM): Excellent. Great to have you on our show, thank you for your time.
W (Daniel Dystyler): First let me thank you for everything you’ve been doing for rock and metal for almost 30 years, it’s a real honor to have you on our show. I’m going to start asking, like, back in the day when you started what were the main influences, that made you play guitar and put together a heavy metal band?
JP: You know, when I first started, it was the real basic stuff that was being played on the radio, so I was into Zeppelin, and Sabbath, and, you know, AC/DC, and all stuff like that. I grew up in New York, on Long Island, so the local radio stations played all that kind of thing. But then I started playing guitar when I was 12, and I started getting into more metal, like Maiden and Metallica… Of course, as I kind of got better and better in the guitar, I was listening to more guitar players, so then I got into, I guess, more of the prog side, through Yes and Rush, and stuff like that, just kind of turned into this sort of mix of metal and prog and, you know, jazz and classical, and all that sort of stuff that turned into my writing style with the band.
W (NM): So, John, changing the subject, I’ve always admired the way you guys write and create music on Dream Theater. Usually, the structure of your songs are very different from the basic standard of “verse-bridge-chorus”. How you guys structure the songs? Do you plan this ahead?
JP: Yeah, you know, you’re right. It’s definitely different than typical structures, I mean, you can’t… It probably stands from when I was a teenager, listening to Rush, you know, albums like “2112” and “Hemispheres”, and Yes, you know, “Close to the Edge”, and “Fragile”, and all that stuff. I mean, those songs didn’t have typical arrangements, you know, so that was something that sort of became engrained in us. So we would write, I mean, I remember, even in the early days, with just John Myung and myself, when we were in junior high school, and high school playing together, you know, we just wrote whatever came to mind. We weren’t really thinking too much about structure, you know. So it was probably just sort of accidental the way that we would write things. So that style that we created, where the song arrangement is a little bit unusual, it sort of became our sound, so it’s something that we retained for a long time.
W (DD): Yeah, John, you know, it’s such a hassle to try to play your songs since you guys go “only on the third chorus we will repeat three times instead of four this riff,” so… For us to try to emulate what you guys are playing… It’s tough, man!
JP: Especially for all the changes.
W (DD): Yeah, yeah, definitely. And since you already mentioned Rush, do you see similarities between Dream Theater and Rush, besides this structure that you guys put on the song?
JP: You know, what we try to do is, you know… With a band like Rush, for example, that specifically, they’ve obviously had a really successful career in so many areas, you know, not only having a long career, but playing the kind of music they do, and, you know, being able to tour successfully, and put on the kind of show that they do. So sometimes, you know, we look to bands like that, that we sort of look up to and respect, you know, whether it’s Iron Maiden, or Rush, or Metallica, or whatever, and we say “What do they do? Who are the people that they use?” You know, we still use, Hugh Syme for our artwork the way Rush does, and we look at the live show, and the video show that Rush and Muse and these different bands have, and try to take and learn from them and emulate them. I think it’s a good way to sort of build your career, you know, and even when I was a young kid, I did the same thing, I looked at these guitar players, like, you know… I was a big fan of Steve Vai, and Al DiMeola, and said “What do those guys do?” and, you know, I found out that they went to Berkelee College of music, so I was like “Well, I’m going to go to Berkelee College of Music”, and you try to, like, learn from those things, so… It’s important.
It brought people together, it brought our fans into the experience, it sort of exposed us, exposed the process, and I think it welcomed Mike Magini, because people saw what happened to get to that point.”
W (NM): Excellent. We have a classic question on our show that we ask every single person that we interview, which is, imagine you’re listening to the radio on a rock station, driving your car or doing something like that, or listening to your iPod or any music player in shuffle mode, and all of a sudden a song starts that makes you lose your mind and start head banging immediately, doesn’t matter where you are you can’t refrain yourself. What song is that so we can listen to that one on our show right now?
JP: Oh, man, there are so many great ones. There are so many great ones… I don’t know, I think you’ve got to do “Master of Puppets”.
W (DD): Talking about the last album “A Dramatic Turn of Events”, first congratulations on the album. I love that album, the songs are great. And Mike Mangini is amazing… I assume the creation of the album was a huge challenge since, after so many years, you changed the way the albums were being created, right?
JP: Well, thank you for saying that, I appreciate it, I’m glad you liked the album. You know, after… Since the beginning, you know, with Mike, and having him in the band for 25 years, or something, then having him leave… Certainly it’s something different, obviously, when that person is not there at the studio, the dynamic can change. We actually went into the studio without Mike Magini, without a drummer for two and a half months, I guess. And, you know, we wrote in the studio, and I programmed the drums on the computer, so we had like a sketch of the songs, and we fully, fully demoed out the songs with the drum parts, and with all the music, and then presented that to Mike Magini, and he interpreted that and recorded it. So, you know, that was certainly different in that sense. But at the same time, I’ve always written the music, so that was no different, that was the same. It’s just that the dynamic was different, obviously, without having Mike there, without there being any drummer there. It was a little bit more intimate, and it was good, it was a fun experience, and I think it turned out great, I’m glad you’re enjoying it, I’m glad you like it.
W (NM): Still talking about Mike, we know he sounds great in the album. And we also had the opportunity to see Dream Theater in the past, several times playing live concerts in Brazil. And the live performance of each individual of the band was always superb. How has the reception of the fans to the new lineup been?
JP: You know, it’s been great, I have to say that our fans have been absolutely wonderful all across the world. We started the tour in Italy last July, so a year ago, last July, July 4th, in Rome. And from the very first show, the fans have really, really welcomed him with open arms, which was a big relief for us, you know, just the fact that they saw the band with a new face and they accepted it so positively… And then our tours throughout Europe and North America and Asia were really, you know, the same thing. People really welcoming us, the concerts doing really well. And now we’re here in South America, and people are seeing Mike Magini for the first time with Dream Theater, and so far it’s been more of the same. You know, we played in Colombia, we played in Argentina, we played in Central America a couple of weeks ago, and the response to him, and the acceptance has been overwhelming, really fantastic.
W (DD): We can imagine that the process of choosing the new drummer was very delicate and on a very important moment for the band, so the idea of making public all the audition videos was really great in order, I guess, to bring people together with the band, in order for us to get to know all the candidates and understand why and where the decision from you guys was coming from. So, for me, it really humanized the whole process. Who had that idea and any memories you’d like to share from those sessions?
JP: Well, thanks. I’m glad that it came across that way, and it did turn out being a great thing. You know, as soon as we decided that we were going to audition drummers, and that it was only going to be a few drummers, we didn’t have an open audition, we just… There were certain people that we reached out to, and it turned out to be, you know, there were maybe ten people or so, it turned out that seven we ended up auditioning, so we knew it was going to happen over a couple of days, and we wanted to film it. But, you know, taking it to the next level, like actually getting a professional film crew in there, making it something that we would release. And the idea of sort of creating a series, which would be the way that it would unfold, you know, to get to the point, to reveal who the drummer was. It turned out to be a really cool thing, because, like you said, first of all, it created a lot of anticipation. A lot of people around the world were, like, very frustrated, you know “Why don’t you just release the name? Why is it taking so long?” But the cool thing is that it brought people together, like you said, it brought our fans into the experience, it sort of exposed us, exposed the process, and I think it welcomed Mike Magini, because people saw what happened to get to that point. You know, the memories, you know, I was a little nervous about it I guess, but it was also exciting. It was a lot of hours, a lot of work within the three days with them, but we had a good time in Manhattan, we had a lot of meetings, it was difficult, you know, to… We had to think about it a lot, of course, it was difficult to keep it a secret for so long, but I’m really glad that we did it.
You have to write original music. That’s really important, because that’s the things that’s going to separate you from everybody else.”
W (NM): Still talking about the auditions, as Brazilians we were hoping that Aquiles Priester would get the job. Do you remeber Aquiles? What do you remember from his session?
JP: I remember… Well, first of all, there was some trouble getting him down to the auditions being from Brazil, there was some Visa problem, that he almost didn’t make it down, but we got him down there on time. He was very, very… A really nice guy… He came in, and he had told us that he had to postpone or cancel a few shows with his band, which I thought was very… It was a great sacrifice. And we had fun. Obviously, he didn’t get the audition, but he was a really, really nice guy, very humble, a great drummer, and we really enjoyed playing with him, so it was cool.
W (DD): John, you guys paid tribute to great albums in rock history playing full concerts that were based on these albums, such as “Master of Puppets”, by Metallica, and “The Number of the Beast”, by Iron Maiden. Can we expect that you guys will do that again in the future, and maybe in Brazil? That would be awesome!
JP: Maybe, you know, it’s not something that we’re doing right now. Right now, on this world tour, we’ve been focusing, obviously, on introducing people to Mike Mangini, and trying to play a balance between the new album, and a lot of the older material, so, there’s just only so much time that we have in the concert. I mean, even right now, the concert is about 2 hours and 40 minutes long, so, you know, it’s something that maybe we’ll do in the future, but we’re not doing it on this particular run.
W (DD): I love your solo album “Suspended Animation” that was released on 2005 if I’m not mistaken, mainly a fantastic track that you have that’s called “Glasgow Kiss”. Do you think we can expect a second solo album in the future?
JP: Yeah, you know, people ask me that all the time, and like you said, that was released a long time ago, in 2005. So I have some upcoming dates with G3 in South America, I’ll be in Brazil in October with Joe Satriani and Steve Morse. So I will have some new material for that tour, and then, shortly after, I’ll be up again to the studio, and record music for a new solo album. So I know it’s been a long a time, and I’ve just been very, very busy with the band, so…
W (NM): Still about G3, you will be coming to Brazil again this year on the G3 tour. Can you share any nice memories from any G3 concerts and tours you’ve already done? And what can we expect from these upcoming concerts?
JP: Sure, you know, I’ve done many G3 tours all around the world, in Europe and Asia, Australia and America. But I’ve also… We did one in South America, where it was me, Joe, and Eric Johnson, we had a great time, and I think it’s going to be more of the same, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never done a G3 tour with Steve Morse yet, of course, Steve is my favorite, favorite player of all times, so that’ll be so much fun jamming with him. Joe is just such a great guy, and an amazing guitar player, and it’s always been a fun time for me to play with him, I’m always honored to be a part of this tour. And I think the fans will get to see some new music, and a new combination of players, and it should be great.
W (DD): And John, I’m curious, how do you guys rehearse since you all have these very, very busy schedules?
JP: Well, we’ll just rehearse for a few days in September. You know, just pick the songs and we’ll get together and rehearse some songs, so that’s just the band rehearsals. And then when we get together and soundtrack in South America, we’ll talk about which songs we’re going to jam on, and rehearse them. So everybody just sort of practices, getting ready for the tour.
W (NM): And John, what is, in your opinion, the importance for a musician to have an open mind about other styles of music? And how hard is it for you to do that, especially in the hard rock and heavy metal world?
JP: Well, you know, you want to try to keep your identity in hard rock and in metal, and you know… The good thing about playing this style that we play, you know, the progressive element of it, is that we can add in different elements of different styles. And that creates a more interesting overall sound. So, you know, it’s important, you might get out there and listen to some different things, you might pick up some influences from another type of music that you wouldn’t normally think of, but, you know, maybe as a guitar player, it will come out in your improvisational style, maybe as a song writer it might come out in your note choices, or in your melodic choices, and it just helps to making your music that much more original and unique.
Going to the Grammys, being nominated for a Grammy, that was a really big deal for me, for us as a band.”
W (DD): John, we are almost finishing our interview, but before we let you go, I’d like to ask you: with so many nice and incredible moments that you lived, what is the moment that you will never forget? The thing that immediately comes right into your mind when you think about all the great things you have accomplished?
JP: Well, thanks for saying that. It’s hard to just think of one thing, I mean, there’s obviously big moments… Recently… A recent one I’ll never forget: going to the Grammys, being nominated for a Grammy, that was a really big deal for me, for us as a band. And, you know, having my family there, having the band there with all of our families. It was really special, it was really a great moment.
W (NM): John, what kind of advice would you give a young kid that´s thinking of putting up a rock band or playing the guitar?
JP: You know, obviously, if you’re serious about music, you really have to put the time into it, you know, I’m from the school of putting a lot of hours of practice into playing. But at the same time, you know, you have to write original music – that’s really important, because that’s the things that’s going to separate you from everybody else, that’s going to give you your unique voice as a music that you create. So that’s… You know, write music and practice a lot.
W (DD): Mr. John Petrucci, from Dream Theater, it was a real, real honor. Thanks so much for your time, for your patience, and for being here with us at the Wikimetal show. Can you please leave a last message to all the Wikimetal and Dream Theater fans that are listening?
JP: Sure. To all the Wikimetal and Dream Theater fans: I’m excited to be in Brazil again, it’s always an incredible time, and I’m looking forward to all the concerts that we’re going to be playing over the next two weeks. And thank you for everybody that’s been with us from the beginning, and all the new people as well. I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be amazing.
W (NM): Thank you so much, Mr. John Petrucci, one of the great guitar heroes of our time. Thank you so much for the interview. We’ll be there for sure on Sunday, in São Paulo, with Dream Theater, and in October, with G3, for sure. It was a real honor to have you on our show, and we’ll always be there to support anything you do, either with Dream Theater, or with your solo career.
JP: Thank you very much, appreciate it. Bye bye.
W (DD): Thanks, bye!
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