Interviewer: Cameron Edney - http://www.myspace.com/insideout666ints
Born on July 12, 1967, guitar god John
Petrucci grew up in New York City. By the age of twelve John had picked
up the guitar, growing into an obsession that would become a massive
part of his life. In history very few guitarists receive the worldwide
acclaim and recognition that John has. Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Hendrix
and Jimmy Page are all up there of course and being in the same league
as names like that is mighty fine. Growing up John would practice
for at least six hours a day, which has no doubt helped shape the
amazing and talented guitar player which we see before us today. Influenced
by many of the greats including Randy Rhoads, Steve Morse and Stevie
Ray Vaughan, John took guitar playing to new levels and was voted
by Total Guitar Magazine as guitarist of the year in 2007.
Forming the legendary progressive metal band Dream Theater with school
friend/ bassist John Myung and drummer Mike Portnoy at the age of
eighteen, Petrucci and crew took Dream Theater to the world. Breaking
all the rules and following there hearts Dream Theater have set new
standards for all progressive rock and metal bands that follow. In
2007 the band released there ninth studio album "Systematic Chaos"
which was praised by fans worldwide and included fantastic tracks
such as "The Ministry of Lost Souls", "The Dark Eternal
Night", and my favorite track "Forsaken". After many
years with record label Atlantic/Elektra 2007 also seen Dream Theater
signing to Roadrunner records a relationship that is proving to be
strong and healthy.
More than twenty years after the bands formation, Australian Dream
Theater fans finally heard the news they have longed for... The very
first Australian Dream Theater tour! The tour which kicks off in Perth
on Jan 26 (Australia day) will prove to be a breathtaking and truly
amazing show that fans won't want to miss! Meet and greet packages
were put together as part of the bands first visit to Australia and
fans snapped them up within days of being announced. The meet and
greet packages are a great way for the band to interact with 50 of
there biggest fans at every one of the Australian shows.
I recently caught up with guitar great John Petrucci to discuss the
bands first ever-Australian tour and the excitement shared amongst
the members. We also discussed the bands latest album "Systematic
Chaos" and talked about John being perceived as one of the worlds
greatest guitarist. "In The Presence of Enemies" it's time
to kick back with the one and only John Petrucci
Metal Fanatix: Hi John; how are things
John Petrucci: Great Cameron, how are
Metal Fanatix: I’m well mate!
Firstly John, I want to thank you for takin' the time out to speak
with me today. How does it feel to finally be bringing Dream Theater
John Petrucci: Oh, I can’t tell
you how wonderful it is. We’ve been a band for over twenty years
and have played in so many countries all around the world, unfortunately
during that time we never made it down to Australia. We’re all
excited to be coming down.
Metal Fanatix: Why has it taken you
so long to secure dates here?
John Petrucci: I’ve been thinking
about that question… a lot of times there’s certain places
that seem very obvious to play, and it unfortunately comes down to
some of the logistical and financial reasons. I don’t know 100%
why we haven’t played there. Maybe the offers weren’t
there? Maybe we couldn’t bring the full show to Australia, it’s
really hard to say. It just seems like the time is right now.
Metal Fanatix: As we all know this isn’t
your first visit to our shores, yourself and Mike [Portnoy] were here
in 2006 as part of G3. Is there anything you are hoping to do on your
days off here that you didn’t get to do last time around?
John Petrucci: Man, I would love to
see more of the country. I had a bunch of guitar clinics on the days
off and in fact I think I have guitar clinics as well this time. It’s
such a beautiful country and I would love to be able to do some more
sight seeing, but I’m not sure as usual if I will be able to.
Metal Fanatix: Is there any chance of
the Australian tour being filmed for a possible ‘Systematic
Chaos’ live tour DVD?
John Petrucci: Usually things like that
are planned well in advance, and there is no plans for that at this
point, my guess would be no.
Metal Fanatix: Over the last year or
so, Australian fans have witnessed many of rock and metals greatest
bands for the very first time due to a very active and thriving scene
here. Is the metal scene still alive and well over there in the states?
John Petrucci: Oh yeah big time! I love
it and think it is great. I love to see that side of music growing
and getting more popular. It’s hard to say why things happen,
what the trends are this week, but I think it’s fantastic and
really strong over here.
Metal Fanatix: John, I want to talk
to you for a moment about the latest album ‘Systematic Chaos’,
congratulations on yet another amazing release! After more than twenty
years in the business how do you guys keep coming up with such amazing
John Petrucci: Well thanks for saying
that first of all. You know what… I think it’s the spirit
of music that keeps us going! Everybody in the band is a player. Everybody
in the band is a creative and artistic person. We have a great chemistry
fortunately and when we get together there’s nothing more important
than writing music together. It’s just a blast. There is never
a shortage of new ideas and good ideas; in fact there are too many
ideas [laughs]. That spark is very much alive in all of us.
Metal Fanatix: In a few words tell us
what comes to mind when I mention the following tracks from the "Systematic
The Ministry Of Lost Souls: That one
is almost like a movie soundtrack song. I had that idea as a melody
that I had written on the piano and bought in to the guys. I kinda
always envisioned it as a big dramatic orchestral song and that’s
how it came out.
Prophets Of War: Something different.
It’s the song on the album that sticks out as being the song
that’s a little bit different to everything else. Cool riff
in that one!
Forsaken: It’s funny, when we
wrote that song everything was going really well. We needed a killer
riff as a theme, and if you know anything about our bass player, he’s
a quiet guy and he was noodling around in the background with this
riff and we were telling him to be quiet. Surely enough the riff he
was playing around with became the main riff of the song so kudos
to John [Myung] for that!
Metal Fanatix: The band recently signed
to Roadrunner records after a long relationship with Elektra/Atlantic.
What makes Roadrunner the perfect label for Dream Theater?
John Petrucci: It’s the fact that
they know who we are, they completely understand our history and our
potential at the same time. Roadrunner completely get the type of
fans that we have, they’re not blind to the worldwide success
that we have, they get it! They understand it. They have the power,
the ability, the tools and the personnel to further that and exploit
that! It is really important that a label really identifies with a
band. We spent too many years on a label that really didn’t
know what we’re all about.
Metal Fanatix: When you’re working
your ass off, you really want to know that the people who have your
future in there hands are doing everything they can possibly do for
John Petrucci: Yeah of course, besides
recording the record, everything else becomes the business part of
it. You’re trying to sell the record, you’re trying to
promote the record, it’s more than just playing the live concert.
You’re out there working and trying to promote your product
and you need the support to do that. People need to know that you’re
around, and without that it’s very difficult to get anywhere.
Metal Fanatix: Mate, let’s talk
to you about life on the road for a moment…. With the Australian
tour edging closer do you find it hard to choose the right songs to
complete the set list? There will always be fans who want to hear
the old stuff and the occasional obscure song and of course you have
to play some new tracks. Do you find it hard to make a set that is
for fans of all eras?
John Petrucci: Well, it is harder and
harder the more records we have. That responsibility became Mike’s
at some point along the way, after we got tired of arguing every night
about what songs we wanted to play! Mike [Portnoy] will tell you that
he actually loses sleep over things like this!
Metal Fanatix: Is there any one band
that you would love to hit the road with but just have never had the
chance to be billed together?
John Petrucci: There are a couple of
them. We’d love to tour with Metallica and we’d love to
tour with Rush. Both bands are two of our big influences, I think
that would be fantastic, but unfortunately it’s just never happened.
Metal Fanatix: John there is no doubt
that you are an amazing guitarist, before hitting the stage these
days what do you do to warm up and prepare for the show?
John Petrucci: I do the normal exercises
that most guitar players do, but apart from that the most important
thing for me to do is to get into a physically relaxed state. I’m
not one that really likes the attention and adrenaline that comes
with playing live. I need to be in a more focused relaxed performance
state and that is what I try to accomplish backstage before the show.
Metal Fanatix: As many people know you
started playing guitar at a very early age and are primarily a self
taught musician. How do you feel about being portrayed in so many
publications as a “guitar god”?
John Petrucci: Wow! Obviously it’s
incredibly flattering. Certainly the work that you put into something
to get recognition and rewards that way is fantastic and feels incredible.
I’ve always put time in to practice and I try to learn new things
and get better as a player. Once again it goes back to the spirit
of music and it’s really important to keep that alive!
Metal Fanatix: You have grown up influenced
by the greatest players of our time and have undoubtedly influenced
many of today’s musicians, who have you been surprised to learn
is a fan of your work?
John Petrucci: Its funny, you hear every
so often you hear that such and such a person is a fan of your work.
A lot of times, it’s a fan that you wouldn’t picture as
being a fan because of the style that they play. But it’s another
thing when it’s somebody that you respect. If I heard (and it’s
happened in the past) where a certain guitar player I grew up really
liking was a fan, then that kind of hits you like a slap in the face…
Whoa! That’s so exciting to hear because you longed for that
recognition and respect.
Metal Fanatix: Dream Theater…
such an amazing band, surviving a little over twenty-two years in
the business. Why do you think you have lasted so long in an industry
that see so many artists come and go? What is the secret to the bands
John Petrucci: First of all the most
simple answer is we really love what we do and I think that’s
really important to have that passion no matter what kind of work
you do. We’re constantly revolving, changing and pushing ourselves.
Pushing out records that are different, making double records, concept
albums and we keep a lot of our focus on our live performances. In
a way it’s kind of like being successful in the stock market.
You diversify, and we’ve been able to play in many many different
countries and have been able to develop fans, not over night fans
but fans for life. Developing fans by word of mouth and by keeping
the quality of what we do at a very high level. I think all of those
ingredients contributed to our longevity.
Metal Fanatix: John, once you wrap up
the current tour, no doubt you will be heading into the studio to
work on the next album… have you guys already started penning
John Petrucci: No, we haven’t
actually. It’s still too early for that, but I'm sure in the
next few coming months it will happen!
Metal Fanatix: Mate, there has been
so many highlights in your career, what would you say have been your
greatest achievements to date?
John Petrucci: There is a bunch of different
things. There have certainly been some live shows that are memorable,
the recording of live at the Budokan, the live score DVD and playing
with an orchestra. Selling out radio city music hall here in the U.S.A..
As a guitar player, having the opportunity to be a part of G3 and
get to play with so many wonderful and incredible players. There have
been many things.
Metal Fanatix: John over the years you
have played on many albums, what is your favorite to listen to? Is
it even possible to narrow it down?
John Petrucci: Yeah, it’s funny…
you find yourself not really listening to a lot of your own stuff.
One project that I was really happy to be a part of and really loved
the music of was ‘Liquid Tension Experiment’. It was a
really good thing to be a part of, it was such a great experience.
Metal Fanatix: John I want to thank
you again for your time today. I look forward to seeing you later
in the month. Do you have any last words for our readers?
John Petrucci: We’re genuinely
incredibly excited to finally play in Australia. Everyone is really
anticipating it. It’s going to nice to escape the New York cold
for the Australian summer.
Catch Dream Theater touring Australia for the
first time this month at the following venues.
Sat Jan 26 Claremont Showgrounds Perth All Ages
Mon Jan 28 RA & HS Showgrounds, Adelaide All Ages
Tue Jan 29 Festival Hall, Melbourne All Ages
Wed Jan 30 Hordern Pavilion, Sydney All Ages
Fri Feb 1 Riverstage, Brisbane All Ages
Tix are on sale now at all the usual outlets.
Australian Meet and greet package deals have
The bands latest album Systematic Chaos is out now on Roadrunner Records.
Grab your copy where all rockin' albums are sold.
To keep up with all the latest news on John
and Dream Theater head to the following websites:
- Official Dream Theater Site
- Official John Petrucci Site
- Inside Out 666
© Cameron Edney January 2008 Not to be re-printed in any form
without written permission.