Prior to DREAM THEATER‘s June 16 performance at the Download festival at Donington Park in Leicestershire, England, keyboardist Jordan Rudess spoke with RAMzine. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether DREAM THEATER has considered offering cassettes:
Jordan: “Not really. Personally, I’m not that interested in cassettes, and actually, I don’t even have a turntable, but I think that vinyl is cool because of the packaging — you’re holding this big thing in your hands and a lot of people really like the sound of vinyl, which I respect. [It’s] not something I’ve personally gotten into, although I have a great collection of DREAM THEATER vinyl and Jordan Rudess vinyl and all kinds of stuff. One day, I should buy a turntable. The cassette thing, though, it has a certain sound. I definitely understand that. As a matter of fact, I just found a box of old four-tracks with some never-released-before, never-heard-before music of my own from a long time ago, and I found a machine to play it own, so my head is kind of in the cassette thing. But as far as releasing DREAM THEATER material on cassette, I don’t know. Do we really need to do that?… When I think about cassettes, I think about the fact that they used to break and used to get all tangled up. I’m not that anxious to get back into that technology.”
On the “best thing” a fan has ever said to him:
Jordan: “The DREAM THEATER fans are so dedicated and so passionate, and the music means so much to them, that it’s not unusual to get a comment that really affects me, affects us when we’re out on the road every time we meet somebody. When I hear how the music just affects their life, helped them so much, helped them get out of some kind of a really troubled spot in their lives, that kind of thing really affects me. They’ll say, like, ‘The Spirit Carries On’, when my father died, that song allowed me to come back and feel okay and deal with it.’ I’m, like, ‘Wow, okay. That’s amazing.’ I absolutely understand the power of music, because I feel that too with a lot of music — it can totally lift me out of a weird headspace — but when I hear that my music has done that, it makes me think, and I go, ‘Wow, that’s so awesome.’ I use music myself as almost like a self-healing. I’ll sit at the piano and I’ll vibe out. It’s great to share it, but it’s also great to just play things that almost are a meditation for myself. That’s a lot of who I am musically.”
On how much of DREAM THEATER‘s live performances are “choreographed”:
Jordan: “The DREAM THEATER shows are pretty dialed in. As far as improvisation goes, I would say that I’m probably the one who would improvise the most, just because of the nature of my musicality [and] also the nature of my role in the band, where I’m playing chords or comping something underneath the solo. I can kind of change it up and do something different. I get bored if I play exactly the same thing every night, so I’ll try different voicing to just bring out a part a little bit more [or] play something a little different on the piano. [I’m] staying in sync with the band absolutely, but kind of doing a little different things underneath to give it a little feel for the night. Whatever the vibe is, I try to go there. Also, I won’t play the same leads every night necessarily. I do something on my musical instrument app on my iPad, which is called GeoShred, and I’ll play a different lead on there every night. I’ll vibe it. Sometimes, I come out with my keytar, and I’ll do something different on that as well. I like to change it up. Improvisation is really important to me, so I try to do it, although DREAM THEATER is a pretty solid, tight kind of presentation.”
On the group’s pre-show routine:
Jordan: “We are an unusual bunch of guys. I guess we’re kind of boring. I hate to tell people that, because they think we’re, like, with hookers and blow and doing the rock thing, but it’s just not true. We’re usually with our instrument and we’ve got the metronome on and we’re practicing scales or polyrhythms, things like that that are more in line with who we are. [We’re] always trying to improve our art and just make it as high [of] an art form as possible. The other thing that’s really important before a show, especially a really big show like this, is that you have to kind of find your spiritual zone a bit, so there will be a little bit of time [for] stretching or breathing or trying to make it so that when the impact of the crowd hits, it’s not like, ‘Oh my god,’ and you start freaking out and you can’t play. You need to be able to process that energy — especially in DREAM THEATER, [in] which the music is very complicated — to be able to really handle it and breathe through it no matter what’s happening on the outside.”
DREAM THEATER‘s 14th studio album, “Distance Over Time” was released in February. The artwork was created by long-time cover collaborator Hugh Syme (RUSH, IRON MAIDEN, STONE SOUR). The disc was produced by guitarist John Petrucci, mixed by Ben Grosse and mastered by Tom Baker.
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