DREAM THEATER keyboardist Jordan Rudess recently appeared on the "Talk Toomey" podcast. The full conversation can be streamed below (interview starts around the 17-minute mark). A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On his extensive discography, both with DREAM THEATER and as a solo artist:
Jordan: "As long as there's a keyboard around, or a pencil in hand and some music paper, or any digital form of getting my ideas down, I'll create music. That's what I do. One of the things that I love to do is just to sit at the piano and just play whatever comes into my head. I have to say, there's always something that will come into my head. Whether it's great or not, well, we can decide, but I don't have any shortage of musical ideas. For me, making music is kind of like talking — maybe even easier."
On the reception that DREAM THEATER's new album, "Distance Over Time", has received:
Jordan: "It's so amazing. It's been a long career with DREAM THEATER — it's one of these bands that lasts, and not only has been around for a long time, but is still really vital. This album really proves that, or cements that. This is a band of guys who really care about the music, about each other, about the responsibility of the business that we created. We enjoy playing live; we enjoy being in the studio. It's a very vital organization, and even the people around us are also supportive and helped be part of this amazing team that just has this great life to it. The way that this new album has been received is awesome... I'm really excited about this reaction to the new album. I think it's so awesome that after this many years of creating music, we can still put out stuff and get that kind of feedback and energy back from the fans, and keep our careers as vital as it is."
On the manner in which the album was recorded:
Jordan: "We had a great time. It was definitely something very positive about being in the room together doing that — just having people's reactions to ideas as they come up, instead of being on your own. In this case, I could play something and I could watch [drummer] Mike Mangini jump out of his seat in excitement and smiling and laughing. That is really great, because if somebody else in the band responds to an idea that you have, you know that they're going to lend their full support to it, which is what you want — you want everybody to come into the riffs feeling, 'Okay, this is cool'... It enabled us to have this great, spirited time there. It really worked. The cool thing was that we had scheduled, like, two months of writing in this barn and thought about, 'What happens if we don't finish?' — but we finished writing in under a month, and we didn't rush."
On the album's "heavy" direction:
Jordan: "DREAM THEATER's always been a very conscious band of the direction and where we want our albums to kind of head towards. In every way, we think it through. We'll start talking about it, obviously, months before we go into the studio — 'What kind of album would be cool to create? What would make sense to create?' Then we start refining it and kind of all zeroing in on the energy of what we want to do. We'll even go so far as to writing it down, whether it's in the studio on some massive chalkboard or these extended notebooks that we keep. We definitely do that kind of homework, and we're pretty good at that. I think it's one of the talents of this band, is to project what we want to do and make it happen."
On the group's current tour, in which they're performing the 1999 concept album "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory" in its entirety in celebration of its 20th anniversary:
Jordan: "That was the first album that I ever did with the band. It doesn't feel like that long ago, but of course, it's twenty years ago. It's a celebration of the anniversary of that album, but it's also kind of a celebration of my twenty years — probably more like twenty-one, since I joined, obviously, before that album was recorded. For me, this is a very important, very exciting tour. It just means a lot in every way."
On whether he enjoys performing albums in their entirety:
Jordan: "I like it once I've relearned everything. [Laughs] Before a tour, it's always intense, because it's like, 'What songs are we going to do?' For me, it's like, 'Where's the data?' I use these synthesizers that are more like computers, and if I made whatever sounds for things – whether it be strings, choirs, organs, piano, sound effects, who knows what — I have to locate that and put it together and map it out for my keyboard. For 'Scenes', I had to go back and find all the sounds, and in some cases, recreate a bunch of things. Then when all that work is done, it's like, 'Okay — ready to go!'"
On his forthcoming solo album, "Wired For Madness":
Jordan: "It's a pretty huge project. It was something that I was really inspired to do. It's been a while since I've come out with a solo album that was this large in scope. The last one was probably 'The Road Home', which was an album of more progressive rock favorite covers, with not many originals on it. This one is all original music. It ranges from hyper-prog; it does get heavy as well, but it also has some parts that are kind of electronic; I'm singing on it, which may surprise some people out there; there's a slightly progressive blues track which features Joe Bonamassa on guitar... It's not a concept album, although the title track is 33 minutes long, and it has a conceptual story within itself. I kind of went from all-out, crazy prog — like, fasten your seat belts and go for the full journey — to just, like, laying back. There are some songs that are more easily digestible and a little bit more mellow. I'm very excited about it."
"Wired For Madness" will be released on April 19 via Mascot Label Group. In addition to Bonamassa, the album features guest appearances by Rudess's DREAM THEATER bandmates John Petrucci and James LaBrie, as well as drummer Marco Minnemann and guitarists Vinnie Moore and Guthrie Govan.
DREAM THEATER's 14th studio album, "Distance Over Time", was released on February 22. The disc, which marks the band's first for their new label InsideOut Music, was produced by Petrucci, mixed by Ben Grosse and mastered by Tom Baker.