Published in KARISMA magazine issue 24. This is the original reply in English. It took me some times to come up with the questions. I hope it add some extra information to your Dream Theater library. Replied by John Petrucci.
Dream Theater – Karisma Magazine [http://www.majalahkarisma.com] (Malaysia)
We know that John Petrucci, John Myung, and Mike Portnoy started this while attending the Berklee College of Music. What we don't know is that whether dropping out of college to play fulltime was a hard decision? How do you reflect it now? Will you suggest this decision to those who have the same urge?
It was definitely a difficult decision to make. We were young and passionate but our parents wanted us to follow through with our degrees. It took some convincing! Fortunately it turned out to be the right decision but I don’t necessarily advocate dropping out of college for everyone.
Was the decision to play to a more progressive approach in Dream Theater due to the existing talents? How hard was it to be recognized when the album When Dream And Day Unite was released?
We fell into our style very naturally right from the beginning. We were big fans of Rush and Yes as well as many prog/fusion artists. That, combined with our love of metal defined our sound. WDADU really didn’t receive much press. We also didn’t tour in support of it so a lot of people weren’t aware that it was out there.
In Images and Words, the direction of the band is more coherent resulting in the success of the album as well as the band. What was the main approach for that album?
We really just honed in our writing and style for that album. We focused not only on the intricacies of the music, but on the compositions and melodies as well. As a young band, it was a huge help having David Prater produce us.
Awake is a bit dark and some says it was due to Kevin Moore's unwillingness to complete the album. Probably the band was in a difficult situation in trying to catch up with the success of Images and Words. Any reflections on that?
The main contributing factor to the darker and heavier direction was the introduction of the 7-string guitar in our music. Kevin’s departure was certainly heartbreaking but he did complete the album. We had a great time recording in Los Angeles.
When David Prater produced A Change of Seasons, the production was a little bit thin although it fits with the overall compositions. The EP was a little bit out compare to the previous albums which are quite heavy. Was that an agreement between the band and the producer?
David produced ACOS the way he heard it. I’m not sure why he changed direction a bit from IAW but I think in the end it could have been a bit more polished sounding.
Although Falling Into Infinity was regarded as an album which is too commercial, it has many of the Dream Theater's progressiveness trademark. Portnoy hated it. Personally I loved it. To whom you are in agreement with (me or Mike)?
Not speaking for MP but I highly doubt he hated it if I were to speculate. Every one of our albums is a proud moment in our creative lives and I think FII is no exception. Some of our best songs are on that album. Working with Kevin Shirley was an awesome experience that led to a long and great friendship.
Metropolis Part II is regarded as one of the best Dream Theater album. Does this album happen due to the frustration of Falling Into Infinity? Or was it because of Jordan Rudess joining the band?
There was no frustration with FII. It was a great album in my opinion. Scenes is special for many reasons. It is the first album with Jordan, it is DT’s first concept album and it is the first one produced by Mike and I.
The Great Debate in the album Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence is one of my favorite Dream Theater song in particular the lyric subject is very interesting. Do you strive to write lyrics which are extraordinary or were it simply because it affected you in some way?
I like to experiment with a few different writing styles. Sometimes I tell stories, other times I reflect on emotions or personal events. This was an example of choosing a very controversial topic that would raise questions and get people talking. A reflection of the state of the world at that moment.
How was the guitar/keyboard solos in the song In The Name Of God was written? Amazing!
It is a legato guitar line that I wrote and showed to Jordan. We had the idea of doubling it in unison in order to create a cascading flow of notes.
Octavarium was a little bit laidback. Some argued too many ballads. Was this intentional?
The focus on Octavarium was on composition. Stripping down the external elements and getting to the core. It is a very thematic and melodic album.
Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds & Silver Linings had the same production quality. Do you agree on this statement?
Those two albums were recorded in a very similar fashion with the same team. Although there are consistencies, I believe we learned from SC and that Black Clouds came out better sounding.
A Dramatic Turn of Events is basically a new chapter in Dream Theater's history and it turned up to be an excellent album? Is this going to reflect in the future albums as well?
We will continue to strive to be our best musically in all areas. Songwriting, musicianship, production etc. Meeting those challenges each time will help us to grow as a band.
How's Mike Mangini doing in the band? How long does it take for him to be comfortable in the band?
MM is doing amazingly well. Not only is he a super-human drummer but he is also a great person and fits in perfectly with DT. It seems like he was comfortable from the first day.
One thing I remembered seeing Dream Theater live in action (Adelaide, Australia 2008) was that you had multiple cameras fixed to all the band member's positions, eliminating moving cameraman on stage. However, does it limit the way it turns out in DVD?
Those cameras are just to send images to the video screens. A real DVD shoot would have moving cameras.
I guess, unlike Mike Portnoy, looking at the progress of Dream Theater the last few years, there will be no rest. But perhaps you will need it in the future, in what conditions that can be?
We plan on making music as DT for many years to come.
How do you find playing in Singapore for the last two shows (2006 & 2008)? What it is going to be like in 2012?
We had a great time and I’m so excited to return and not only introduce Mike Mangini to everyone, but to play the new songs and to show off our beautiful stage production.
Asian crowds are not as aggressive compare to others. How do find this affecting your stage performance?
No. It is amazing playing in Asia. We always have the best time and the audiences are spectacular.
Will there be a new DVD with Mike Mangini on it?
Yes, coming soon.
Is anyone going to help Petrucci producing the next album?
No, I will continue to produce DT on my own.
Last words to fans in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia?
Thank you so much for the many years of support and love. We are so psyched to be playing for all of you and look forward to sharing many more musical memories in the years to come!
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