John Petrucci of Dream Theater: “I always wonder why more women don’t come to our shows”

If you thought that an extended hiatus from touring cycles would give Dream Theater’s John Petrucci a hard-earned rest from the craft of progressive genius, you’d be wrong. Hinting at a new solo album, Liquid Tension Experiment’s first record in 22 years, and a new DT venture in the pandemic space, the general metal riffmeister proves there is no rest for bad guys.

To celebrate the release this month of the prog maestros’ 15th effort, A View From The Top Of The World, we challenged you to interview the guitar master for us. Uncover his secrets to the epic beard grooming, the challenges of eight-string guitars, and the many feats of DT’s career so far, here are the answers to your burning questions.

Metal hammer line cut

What made you want to write progressive metal?

@ zephyrus1324

“It’s something that came naturally to me because of the bands I played guitar in. I was in metal, Iron Maiden and Metallica and stuff like that, but at the same time I was a big guy. fan of Rush and Yes, plus Pink Floyd. When I would get together with my friends and write music, it kind of came out that way, so it was a natural phenomenon based on my influences.

What album is playing with you now?

@ Steps77765305

“Nothing! In my house, as probably in most homes around the world, there are a lot of Netflix, Hulu, and Disney +, so there aren’t a lot of rotating albums. It seems obvious but since the production of this new Dream Theater record, it was the only thing I listened to for several months, I must have heard it 5000 times! It’s weird, but a lot of people listen to music when they are doing music. exercise, drive or hang out around the house, you’d think I would, but I don’t. “

What beard oil do you use? Your beard is magnificent.

David Pacholok (Facebook)

“Well thank you! I’m going to use it as a plug because there is a UK company called Captain Fawcett that makes men’s grooming products, beard oils and balms, mustache wax and scissors and everything. that. I was one of their customers and we ended up making a connection through one of the people there who was a fan of DT. They make branded products with a lot of different people, barbers, famous models, so I approached them like, “Have you ever done that with a musician?” That’s what we did, now I have a signature product line called Nebula with beard oil, balm and mustache wax I’m wearing it right now and it looks and smells great!

You have been a favorite of many guitarists over the years, but can you identify the moment when you thought about your own playing and realized you were a good guitarist?

Chris Beattie (Facebook)

“I remember being a teenager and training six hours a day, really getting into it and realizing, ‘Yeah, I want to do that as a career and go to Berklee College of Music in Boston like some of the my heroes did. “It was somewhere in my teens, maybe 15, that I realized this was something I could do well and loved to do and I was willing to sit there for hours as if nothing had happened There is nothing else I have ever experienced this way.

Dream Theater

(Image credit: Rayon Richards)

With the new album, did you find yourself writing using familiar techniques, or did you try to experiment a bit more with the risks?


“A bit of both. There’s definitely something new to me about this record that I didn’t know at all: I had my first eight-string guitar. Ernie Ball Music Man has an eight-string version of my guitar. guitar, the first eight string they ever made and the first I ever played and used, so we wrote a song on the record with it and it was different.

It didn’t take long to get used to it as it is a guitar based on one of my models called the Majesty, it is available in six and seven strings so that adds one more string … ‘one more string? Some things are different about the eight strings – they’ve got fan frets and angled pickups and stuff, but since this was a Majesty I’m so used to, it felt like a natural extension of that. The guitar is absolutely beautiful!

Considering the low female to male ratio (est. 4:96) in your shows, have you considered using the lack of a ladies’ restroom line as a selling point to promote your gigs?

Jo Fleischer (Facebook)

“That’s funny! I don’t know why it’s like this. I just went to my third guitar camp called John Petrucci’s Guitar Universe and I have a lot of guest instructors. It was the first time that my wife Rena was coming in as a guest instructor – she’s a guitarist from Meanstreak, who was an all-female thrash band, and she plays in [all-female Judas Priest tribute band] Judas priestess now.

All of the campers there, except two, were men. We have had discussions about why more women do not come to camps and concerts like this. There are tons of players and drummers, why don’t they come to the concerts? We have seen an increase in DT audiences lately but the ratio is still looking good and I still wonder why. I would love to see more women come to our shows!

If you could have a beard in the story, fictional or not, who would it be?

Alasdair Belling (Facebook)

“I’m going to take Gandalf’s beard, how’s that?” I arrive there !”

What comes first when writing a new song? A riff, a melody, a rhythm or all at the same time? How do you build the rest of the track?

@ ObiWan_2_3

“It depends on the song. As a guitarist, the riffs usually come first to me, but as a lyricist and general songwriter, the melodies always float through my head. In the case of Dream Theater, it depends on the section of the song as some of these songs are quite long and they are driven by a melodic idea, but for the most part it is more of the riffs or the pattern on the guitar. “

On DT’s new song The alien, drums and bass sound more remarkable than the three previous albums. Any reason?

@ DKeita8

“This is the first album that we recorded in our own studio called DTHQ in Long Island, New York. I recorded my solo album Terminal speed in 2020 there, then recorded LTE3 with Liquid Tension Experiment and DT went there last October. It’s thanks to the talents of our engineer Jimmy T Meslin and our mix engineer Andy Sneap, who is also in Judas Priest. It’s a team effort where everyone’s talents come together. It looks great ! We’re always striving to do better and find out how we can improve our sound and our writing, so it’s great to have that feedback from people, especially so far in our careers.

There aren’t a lot of Dream Theater song collaborations. What’s the best or weirdest idea for a collaboration the band has ever had?

Kevin Tobin (Facebook)

“I don’t know if you would call it a collaboration rather than a concerted effort, but one of the best things we did was ask David Campbell to organize all the orchestration for The astonishing. It’s over two hours of music and we had full orchestras and choirs, bands, you name it, and David arranged and recorded it all. In the studio, we had something like 700 tracks to mix and it was an amazing partnership to get him to do that. It was mind-blowing and so musically satisfying to work with someone of his level.

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