Dream Theater have steadily achieved a startlingly sublime synthesis of soaring and unmistakable melody, progressive instrumentation and aggressive heaviness unrivaled within hard rock music. The legacy established throughout their virtuosic career of astounding aesthetic alchemy has made their very moniker synonymous with the power of talent, ability and momentum when brilliantly forged together.
As the world around them unravels, unfurls and transitions toward an uncertain destiny economically, militarily, spiritually and politically, Dream Theater refashioned a way forward from the molten hot iron of their own internal transition to create the career-defining album A Dramatic Turn of Events. It’s an evocative collection of fully-realized soundscapes that stands alongside landmark Dream Theater albums like Images and Words and Scenes from a Memory with an even greater prestige, ambition and cunning.
Over twenty-five years since their formation, Dream Theater continue to cultivate, curate and protect their status as worldwide niche tastemakers on their eleventh studio album, which was produced by the band’s own John Petrucci and mixed by hi-fidelity magician Andy Wallace (Nirvana, Prince, System Of A Down).
“I’m ecstatic with the way the album came out,” proclaims James LaBrie, whose lead vocals are instantly recognizable as one of the strongest elements of the well-established Dream Theater sound. “It’s the album we had to make. I think we’ve once again touched on what in the earlier years gave us our originality and our identity. We infused definitive styles that were predominant in our music: the progressive end and the metal end, with the melodic element pretty high up on the list of priorities.”
It is an album born out of transition, crafted with studied persistence and possessed by newfound freedom and free-flowing invigoration. A Dramatic Turn of Events strikes the perfect balance between Dream Theater’s intimate history with all that is heavy, progressive and melodic with each element fully realized. Longtime fans of the band intrigued by the speediness of the notes on display from Dream Theater have much to study on the new album, while fans of melodic hooks will find equal pleasure within the songs.
Perhaps most excitingly, as always, the progressive and the heavy compliment one another without the risk of one overshadowing the other. Dream Theater knew they wanted the album to be both heavy and melodic (musically and vocally) and with that determination of vision they obtained that goal. It’s the natural culmination of a rightfully celebrated career that has endeared them to millions of fans.
Lead guitarist Petrucci and bassist John Myung have a relationship dating all the way back to middle school. Kindred spirits united by their shared devotion to constant study and rehearsal on their respective instruments, they formed the nucleus of what would become Dream Theater with a fellow student at the Berklee College of Music named Mike Portnoy. The second Dream Theater album, Images and Words, introduced the world to LaBrie while achieving gold status and heavy MTV rotation for “Pull Me Under.”
The band took a step toward its modern lineup with the addition of keyboardist Jordan Rudess, who made his recorded debut on their sixth album, Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory. Thanks to fan embraced releases like the dark Train of Thought (2003) and the much more diverse Octavarium (2005), Dream Theater has sold well over ten million albums worldwide, including over two million in the United States.
Dream Theater found themselves at a career crossroads following the departure of longtime drummer, co-producer and unofficial spokesman Portnoy. But the addition of Mike Mangini (the result of a search and audition process documented in a highly-viewed YouTube series) and the remaining members rededication to each other and their band has resulted in a creative resurgence overall. The personalities and individual talents possessed by Dream Theater behind the scenes were strengthened by adversity, with each rising to the challenge individually and collectively as Dream Theater pushed forward.
“When I came upon the title A Dramatic Turn of Events, it really spoke to me as so perfect to what the content of the album is in general,” Petrucci explains. “Most of the songs deal with some kind of major change, whether in one person’s life or the lives of many on a grand scale. Whether it be uprising that’s happening now in the Middle East or some even in history or some incredible spiritual or personal journey that somebody went on that they had to go through to get somewhere else and become a better person.
“That theme of metamorphosis was really constant throughout the lyrics,” he continues, noting the obvious change within Dream Theater as well. “Not on purpose, maybe subconsciously, because of what was happening to us, that album title just fit so perfectly. ‘White elephant’ or not, it was perfect.”
The positive recharge within the re-calibrated group played into the dismissal of an angrier side they had previously experimented with. “Dream Theater has always had a basis of metal mixed with prog, that’s who the players are at the core, [but] over recent years we were going into the arena of being growly,” Rudess points out. “We withdrew from that a little bit. We thought about who we are – the remaining forces in the band – our personalities and where we were coming from. The music remains heavy, of course.”
“There’s as much metal as there’s been in the past,” he continues. “We also focused in. When we got progressive and instrumental, we took it an extra step. We’ve gotten a little crazier than we’ve done before. There are some tunes like “Outcry” which is such an example of us going full tilt and turning on the progressive maximum. We had fun. The instrumental madness really comes through on that.”
Which isn’t to say the new Dream Theater is all about the blur of fast-paced notes they are often (rightly) credited with popularizing within the genre, because they also love great melodies. “I always tell young musicians that having a good technique is not about playing fast, it’s about playing slow,” Rudess clarifies. “If you say someone has really great technique it’s because anything they have in their musical mind can come through the mechanism that they’re using. JP can express a beautiful melody lyric melody line as well as anyone else. That to me is a really good technique – It’s not always about 64th notes.”
A Dramatic Turn of Events is the perfect representation of Dream Theater for 2011 and beyond. There’s the progressive elements, deeply serious lyrical topics (“I often joke with JP about how he can’t just write straight loves songs,” notes Rudess), strong ballads, some wacky fun and no shortage of heaviness.
“This is a top three Dream Theater album for me,” LaBrie states. “There’s just something about this album that I think really touches on some of the elements on our music that really made this band shine as far back as 1992 when we released Images and Words. I think that put us on a level that was hard to ignore. I think this album solidifies that. We’re still the band we’ve always been. We’re keeping it contemporary and taking it to a whole new level. With all the body of work, this album proves we’re continuing to better ourselves and continuing to write the material we think is the best material we’ve ever written.”
Petrucci concurs. “The mood the songs have, the infectious nature and depth of the music, the depth of the subject matter, I think it’s going to be something of a shining light amongst a few others in our catalog for years to come. You always hope people enjoy it, you can’t predict, but I have a strong feeling that this is going to be something that our fans, and even new fans relate to on a different level.”
“We’re just having a great time on the road. Everything has really come together,” Petrucci concludes. “To deal with the departing of one band member to finding a new one that fits in like a glove, making a great record and finally be out on tour and playing in front of people has been unbelievable. Everyone has been incredibly accepting, gracious and wonderful. I look out every night and see hands up in the air and smiles. We had a definite mission that we were on from the moments before we walked into the studio with our whole tour and upcoming album. I feel great about it. I feel like we’re in a really great headspace.”
Born: May 5, 1963
From: Ontario, Canada
Personal: Married, 2 children
James joined Dream Theater in 1990 and has placed fifteenth on Music Radar’s list of “The Greatest Vocalists of all Time”. Throughout his career with Dream Theater, LaBrie has lent his voice to many other artists (including Fate’s Warning, Trent Gardner, Tim Donahue and Frameshift), as well as to Rush, ELP, and Queen tribute recordings.
Since 2004, LaBrie has been working with the True Symphonic project along with Thomas Dewald, Vladimir Grishko, Dirk Ulrich, Christopher Jesidero, Sandro Martinez, Paul Mayland, Marvin Philippi and Igor Marin. Their album “Concerto In True Minor – 3 Rock Tenors” was released in 2008.
Throughout his musical career, James has become one of the most well-respected and admired vocalists in progressive rock. In 2010 his James LaBrie band released Static Impulse, brilliantly dynamic and melodic extreme metal mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Paradise Lost).
James’ musical influences include Metallica, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Journey, Queen, Yes, Rush, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, as well as classical composers Mozart, Vivaldi and Beethoven as favorites. Influential vocalists include Steve Perry, Freddie Mercury, Sting, Paul Rodgers and Nat King Cole.
Born: July 12th, 1967
From: King’s Park, NY
Personal: Married, 3 children
John Petrucci is the guitarist and a founding member of Dream Theater. He attended the Berklee College of Music, where the nucleus of Dream Theater was formed. As the band’s producer, main lyricist and backing vocalist, his side projects include the Liquid Tension Experiment with Tony Levin. As well, John is a veteran of Joe Satriani’s prestigious G3 tours along with Steve Vai, Eric Johnson and Paul Gilbert.
John’s awards include the 2007 “Guitarist of the Year” as named by the readers of Total Guitar magazine, and “Best Metal Guitarist” in the 2010 and 2011 Reader’s/Player’s Choice Awards polls in Guitar Player magazine. In 2011, John was named one of the 20 greatest-ever metal guitarists in Total Guitar’s poll as well as “Best Guitarist” in Classic Rock Presents Prog Magazine’s 2011 readers poll.
First released in 1995, John’s instructional video “Rock Discipline” continues to be held in high regard by guitar players around the world as both an influential and comprehensive guide to modern-day guitar techniques. John’s book, entitled “Guitar World Presents John Petrucci’s Wild Stringdom”, is a compilation of columns he wrote for the magazine.
Some of John’s early influences include Steve Morse, Al DiMeola, Steve Howe, Allan Holdsworth, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Randy Rhoads, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Alex Lifeson, Yngwie Malmsteen, Rush, Yes, Iron Maiden, The Dixie Dregs and Metallica.
Born: January 24th, 1967
From: Chicago, Illinois
Personal: Married, 2 children
Instruments: Bass, Chapman Stick
John Myung and his high school friend John Petrucci enrolled together at the Berklee College of Music where they met their future bandmate, Mike Portnoy and, with two other friends, formed the band Majesty. This early band would later undergo more changes to the lineup, and change its name to Dream Theater.
John’s outside projects include the Jelly Jam, along with Rod Morgenstein and Ty Tabor. In 2010, John was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and impressively, in 2010, was named the Greatest Bassist of All Time in Music Radar’s reader’s poll.
John’s early influences include Chris Squire, Steve Harris, and Geddy Lee, and their respective bands Yes, Iron Maiden, Rush.
From: Long Island, NY
Personal: Married, 2 children
Instruments: Keyboards, Continuum, Harpejji, iOS devices
Jordan Rudess is Dream Theater’s keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire. In addition to playing in Dream Theater, Jordan has worked with many other artists including Liquid Tension Experiment, David Bowie, Steven Wilson, the Dixie Dregs, Enrique Iglesias, Tony Williams, Jan Hammer and the Paul Winter Consort. In late 2010, the world-renowned keyboardist and Juilliard graduate premiered his first live orchestral composition “Explorations for Keyboard and Orchestra” in Caracas, Venezuela.
Jordan is the author of Total Keyboard Wizardry: A Technique and Improvisation Workbook. He also owns the successful App development company Wizdom Music, creators of MorphWiz, SketchWiz, SampleWiz, and Geo Synthesizer. A mere four months after the release of MorphWiz (the first release from Wizdom Music), it was named “Best Music Creation App” in the first-ever Billboard Music App Awards, produced by Billboard Magazine.
In 2011, Jordan toured as a special guest for select dates on Blackfield’s summer tour, opening for them in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Mexico City.
Born: April 18, 1963
From: Newton, MA
Personal: Married, 2 children
Instruments: Drums and percussion; composes on keyboard, bass, and guitar
Mike Mangini joined Dream Theater in 2010; to do so, he gave up a coveted position as faculty member at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. A highly-respected session musician as well, Mike has jammed and played with a variety of musicians and bands including, among others, Annihilator, Extreme, James LaBrie, Steve Perry, Godsmack, Steven Tyler, Dale Bozzio, Skunk Baxter, and Steve Vai.
Mike is well-known for setting five World’s Fastest Drummer (WFD) records and appeared on the Discover Channel show “Time Warp”, displaying his drum skills for high-speed cameras. He remains proudest however, of being ranked/rated by his students in the top 1% of college professors in America by Online Course Evaluators. A natural teacher, Mike has written two books entitled Rhythm Knowledge; these describe his unique practice method, designed for deconstructing and simplifying complex polyrhythms and time signatures.
Mike has garnered multiple Grammy nominations, and won accolades for his jazz, progressive, and rock drumming. About playing with Dream Theater, Mike says “I consider this opportunity the absolute pinnacle of my career. Playing with these guys…it’s the mountaintop. This is where I want to be.”
• 1989 – When Dream and Day Unite
• 1992 – Images and Words
• 1994 – Awake
• 1995 – A Change of Seasons (EP)
• 1997 – Falling into Infinity
• 1999 – Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory
• 2002 – Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
• 2003 – Train of Thought
• 2005 – Octavarium
• 2007 – Systematic Chaos
• 2009 – Black Clouds & Silver Linings
• 2011 – A Dramatic Turn of Events