Once again I managed to track down the band to do a up date interview which took place at the bands hotel in London in March when the band happened to do a one off show at the London "Forum" on the 15th March with Fates Warning supporting. This was one show that I will never forget because it was excellent and I had waited 11yrs to see Fates Warning, this was the bands debut UK show, and believe me they kicked ass!. Dream Theater was equally as good, I guess in my mind there was one band missing, that been Psychotic Waltz.
Well I caught up With John at the hotel before he was off for the bands sound check, and I put the following questions to him. Well it was meeting John and Co, it had been a while, so here is what John had to say about the following questions put to him.
It's nice meeting you again John, so I will start off this up date interview by asking you how well the last European tour went, did anything bizarre happen while you were on tour, I mean anything stupid?.
"It's nice to see in you again Jase, well the answer for your question is that I can't remember if anything happened (’Laughing“), probably ha!. That was a great tour & we were just building up and this time around it's more successful."
"So just how well did the "Images & Words" LP sell, do you know the number of sales for that LP?“. ’Also were you happy with the end results of the LP?“.
"We were absolutely happy with the way the album turned out. The LP sold gold in America & in platinum in Japan and I think it's about a million world wide.
So now John could you tell me why Kevin left the band, and are you still friends with him or not?.
"Yes I am still friends with Kevin, we grew up together. He left because he wasn't into what we are doing any more. He's demo's a lot of stuff at present & listening to alot of different stuff, a lot more different stuff from what we are doing. He's listening to stuff like: Techno, Industrial, Dance, Alternative."
So when did you realize he was loosing interest in the band, did it show in his performance?. “
"I did notice a little bit when we were last touring that his performance was lacking. When we started to write songs for the "Awake" lp as we started to write the song's he never turned up for 2 weeks, it was like he said "I Just Want To Finish My Own Demos". Some of the songs when we were writing he was just kind of like wasn't into it that much, it's like we made suggestions we he said "No I Don't Like That". So you could tell that something was up!."
So how many people did you audition as a replacement for Kevin, anybody we might know of?“.
"Well we only auditioned 4 guys, and one of the guys was the keyboard player who use to be in "Yngwie", the others were nobody famous. (ED: ’What was wrong with "Yngwie's" old keyboard player?). It didn't seem right within the band but he is a great player but there has to be a chemistry, a spark between the band and that person, which there wasn't."
I understand that your new keyboard player was once helping out the likes of: Kiss, Alice Cooper, just who else has he worked with?
"Yes you are right, he has worked with Alice & Kiss. He also has worked with: Brad Gilles, basically he went to the same school as we did "Burklee Music School", so he has a similar background to us. He's always been a hired guy."
So how long did it take him to learn Kevin's parts and are you happy with his performance?“.
"He is an amazing player!, and we are totally happy with his performance. We has a very quick schedule from the time Kevin left the band to the release of the record & to the beginning of the tour there was not that much time at all. So we kind of crunch everything together in 2 weeks."
John have you and the band ever considered having another guitar player to give the band that extra crunch live & in the studio?“.
"No we haven't considered having another guitarist in the band-ha!. I have always been the only guitarist in the band, and that's the way the band work.
So why the title for "Awake", who's idea was it to have the title and also were there any other covers for this LP?“.
"Well when we came up with the title we in L.A. recording and we sat down, what we do is sit down and read all the lyrics for each song and we just write down key words that sound really cool. I think "Awake" came up in a couple of song's so we all thought why call the lp "Awake"!. We also thought it had a catch to it because the bands name is "Dream Theater" and it sort of fitted together.
As for the cover, we wanted to illustrate first of all some of the different subject matter for the songs like the mirror's & and the silent man and 6 o'clock and that was the obvious part of it. The other thing is that we wanted the cover to also illustrate the contrast of black & white and colour symbolizing kind of been enlightened like listening to something with a open mind and not just see in something just in black & white, see in the true colours been "Awake"."
So who's idea was it to have that cover for the album?“.
"Well it was all of our idea's really, Mike had the concept of the black & white & colour."
Who writes the music & lyrics for this album?
"Well all the music we write together as a band, except for 2 songs which were "The Silent Man" which I wrote by myself & Kevin wrote "Space Dye Vest" himself. Lyrically I would say just about everybody writes the lyric's I tend to write most of the lyrics.
So how long does it take to prepare an album both lyrically and musically and re-arranging the songs?
"Well this one took about 3 and half months which I think is relativity short and it doesn't take us that long to write, but I think we will take a little while longer for the next lp.
Ok John briefly could you tell me what each song on the "Awake" LP is about?“.
"Ok first is "’6:00“", is a song lyrically about Kevin wanting to leave the band and it is a personal reflection on that with a lot of distorted keyboards. "’Innocence Faded“" is about losing something which you lose when you grow older when you create friends you don't seem to have the same bond as you use too. "’Caught In A Web“", that's a song that James wrote by himself for the first time for the band.
We kind of helped him out with it a little. That song was done on a 7 string guitar, that's why it has that what you said "Pantera" ha! sound to it. Also "’Lie“" is played with a 7 string guitar also. "’Erotomania“", "’Voices“" & "’The Silent Man“" is a trilogy which is a story about a person with a disorder, kind of like a schizo. 'Lifting Shadows Of A Dream' which John our bass player wrote. So there are a few song's for the readers to read."
Why didn't you do the second part to the song "Metropolis" for this LP?
(Laughing) "It's coming!!, we'll keep it for the next album, it keeps our fans guessing ha!."
I have noticed last time you toured that you seem to do a lot of jingles sort of instrumental's which lead to new tracks for the forth coming albums. Is this true and will you be doing any tonight?“.
"Yes we did do some jingles on the "Images..." tour which did lead to become tracks on this lp. We will do some tonight but our fans are going to have to wait and see what happens-ha!."
So what are your favourite tracks on the "Awake" lp and why?“.
"Well one of the ones I never mentioned was a song called "’Scarred“", this is one of my favourites because it was one of the first songs we wrote for this album together for our sessions. I think it has a lot of emotion and diverse styles and I like the why it was sung."
So how do you compare this lp to the first two albums?“.
"Well they are all representative of a different point of time in our lives and this lp was done with a different producer. So it has different interpretation and different sounds and we play different instruments on this new lp. I think this LP has more to offer with a 6 & 7 string guitars and all different types of percussion and James changing his vocal style."
Are you totally satisfied with the way "Awake" turned out or do you think something could of been improved in either the playing or sound?“.
"I am really happy with the way the album turned out. I think they were 2 songs that we didn't put on the album because it was already 75 minutes long. Those song's were called "’Eve“" & "’To Live’Forever“". We recorded those 2 song's on the "Awake" sessions and I think they are on b-sides of singles."
So how many video's has the band done for this album?“.
"We have done one for "’Lie“" & "’The Silent Man“" which is the latest one. The concept behind that one is basically sort of bringing the cover artwork to live, showing the contrast between black & white looking into the mirror and see in that world, wanting to have that world."
Do you know just how well this album is selling at the moment?“.
"I think it is doing twice as good as the last album-ha!".
I understand that you played a one off show in London doing just cover tunes, tell me a little bit about that show“. ’Who's idea was it to do that show?“.
"Well it was kind of a idea we had when we were coming up with touring. we were talking about doing a one off show in L.A. in a small club as Dream Theater. We later on said no we don't want to do that!. We then said why don't we do covers?, this is when Mike started to go all hay wire!. We said how about doing this show in London, which we all agreed on, it was so much fun."
So who played on stage with you at this show and what songs did you enjoy doing the most?“.
"Well we had Barney from Napalm Death, Metallica, Marillion, Steve Howe. The biggest kick I got all night was playing on stage with Steve Howe, oh shit I couldn't believe it!."
Would you ever consider doing another show like that again if you had the chance?. Also who would you invite next time and what covers would you do next time around?
"Well Jase there is a lot of song's we would love to do from bands like: U.F.O., Judas Priest, & more!. There are so many cool bands we like out there. I'm not sure if we would do a show like that again, we might."
Would you ever consider doing a cover song on your next album or future albums?
"Actually we pop one out live now and then which we have been doing on this tour."
So before we come to a end of this up-date interview, could you tell me just how well this your is going for you so far?“.
"This is the most successful tour we've had so far and it keeps building were we sold a 6000 seat arena in Japan so the band has really grown."
I understand that you have tried to get Fates Warning on tour with you before, why has it taken so long to arrange this tour together?“.
"Well they actually for a while didn't have a label or any new thing out. So this time it worked out because they had a label and a new album out so both bands went for the tour together."
How do you compare this tour to the "Images..." tour?“.
"It's a lot more easier and a better tour manager. It's defiantly the longest tour we've ever done."
Have you ever considered doing any side projects, if so what would you do yourself?“.
"Well it depends because I write a lot of music which is out of the style that Dream Theater are playing, like Jazz. I recorded a song with Steve Morris which was just a demo song he's my favourite guitarist in the world."
Well it's time to finish here kids, so I better ask john if he has anything to say too his fans reading this issue. I would like to thank Steve at East/West for arranging this interview and also John & Dream Theater for there time and I wish them luck in the future. So John do you have anything to add?.
"Yes I do have a message for our fans, to the UK readers please support us more so we can do more shows in the UK. Thanx to our fans in Europe and good luck with the zine Jase.