DREAM THEATER guitarist John Petrucci recently spoke with Metal Wani. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the group's new album, "Distance Over Time":
John: "This one, just by the nature of how we did it, it really lent itself to make this kind of record a little bit more rootsy, more primal, more organic. The whole band went away to a location together. It was kind of like being on guys' hunting trip or camping trip or something, like a retreat — no distractions, no commuting, just being together and being able to hang out, long days playing music, write, take a break, barbecues, hang out at night drinking bourbon, wake up the next day, make some bacon and eggs and do the whole thing again. Just the environment in which we did it and the way in which we did it contributed to [make] this more of like a bonding experience as friends and as musicians. The music, I think, it really oozes that feeling of connection and rootsiness. I'm really happy with the way it came out."
On deciding to record the album together in an isolated setting:
John: "We really did enjoy each other's company. As much as we spend a lot of time together on the road, as long as we've known each other, it's not the same when you're traveling and you have the show, and then you have a day off, or you're in the studio, [when] you say goodnight and you drive back home. When you're able to just go and hang out and just talk and watch TV together or have a meal or cook or whatever, it creates a different kind of environment. Everybody felt very much a part of what was going on and very invested in the outcome. You're doing this project together and feeling really positive and proud of what you're doing. It really was a great environment to do it in."
On the new song "Out Of Reach":
John: "That's a funny song, because we really didn't intend to write a ballad on this record. One day, I walked into the studio, and I just started playing my baritone guitar. It's a very deep, low-tuned guitar, and I started playing this clean thing. Next thing I know, Jordan [Rudess] starts playing along with me, and we just sort of very naturally composed a song on the spot, just improvising. When we finished, we were, like, 'Wow, that's really cool. We really should record that.' It wasn't our intention at all. It was written in the time it took for us to play it. It was really off-the-cuff... We weren't really sure we would put it on the record. It was just a really pretty piece, like, 'Let's do something with this.' I think it ended up being a nice part of the record in the end."
On the high placement of drummer Mike Mangini's cymbals:
John: "Being the caring person that he is, I think Mike originally raised the cymbals out of the way so they wouldn't interfere with James [LaBrie] onstage. Because of James's height and him holding his microphone, and the drum riser, the cymbals are like right at his head level, so I think part of the reason he pushed them out of the way was to help out James. And the other reason, if I'm not mistaken — you'd have to really ask Mike — but I think he wanted to create more of a window, like, more visual access so you can see what he's actually doing. It doesn't physically look very convenient. [Laughs] I don't know how he does that. That has to be hell on your shoulders, but only Mike could do that."
On the band's experimental nature:
John: "It's hard if you're somebody who's going to turn DREAM THEATER on to a new listener. It's hard to pick what type of song to play, because they kind of come from a different side of us a lot of the times. You might have a song like 'The Spirit Carries On' or 'Another Day' or even 'Out Of Reach' that [is] very sort of emotional and melodic and more ballady. Then we have all the technical crazy stuff, and then we have records like 'Train Of Thought' [and] 'Systematic Chaos' that are very heavy and dark. I think for us, what keeps us going and motivated is that creative edge, that spark to try different and new things and explore. It's part of being a progressive band, which we're fine labeling ourselves as. It's sort of, like, in the nature of that — you try different things, you try new things, new sounds. In the end, records are all an experience. To me, it's always been like watching a movie — an event that you sit down for. I remember doing that as a kid, as a teenager, as a young man — putting on a YES record or a RUSH record or a PINK FLOYD record and just listening to the whole thing. You experience it the way you experience a movie. When you think about things in those sort of broad strokes with that bigger picture mentality, it makes you a little more open-minded to try a range of different things. This way, a record isn't just one-dimensional. As you're listening, you get taken on this ride, and you're not sure what's going to be around the next corner. That unpredictablility, I think, is really what makes it interesting, and keeps us really motivated."
DREAM THEATER's 14th studio album, "Distance Over Time", will be released on February 22. The disc, which marks the band's first for their new label InsideOut Music, was produced by guitarist John Petrucci, mixed by Ben Grosse and mastered by Tom Baker.