With the release of their fourth full-length album, Falling Into Infinity, Dream Theater are steadily becoming the new leaders of prog-rock. The band has attained an enormous legion of loyal fans worldwide that continues to grow stronger album after album. Over the last decade, this musically masterminded quintet has managed to remain unaffected by the shifting winds of trend, with their latest release venturing into even deeper, unknown territory. From their breakthrough 1992 release, Images And Words, to 1994's follow-up Awake, to 1995's partial live set A Change Of Seasons, the band has always conceptualized their music with their audience in mind. I recently caught up with DT bassist John Myung to discuss the group's ever-growing success.
SW: Let's talk about your latest release Falling Into Infinity (EastWest /Elektra); how would you say this record differs from your previous releases musically?
John: I think we've concentrated more on the songwriting with this album, whereas our previous songs had a lot of twists and turns.
SW: Was this album written with the intention of making the songs more marketable?
John: I would seem to think so.
SW: Not many people are aware that Dream Theater's debut came out in 1989 on the Mechanic/MCA label...have you maintained the same lineup since that release?
John: Myself, Mike Portnoy, and John Petrucci have remained, since then we got a new singer and keyboard player.
SW: What was the band doing between 1989 and the release of your Atco/EastWest debut, Images And Words, in 1992? The band seemed to have disappeared...
John: We were in our basement studio writing a lot, refining our songs. We decided not to go the club circuit route, we rehearsed Monday through Friday and really concentrated on our material. After the release of Images and Words, we hit the road for about 18 months.
SW: The second track, "You Not Me," was co-written with Desmond Child, who is known as the "'80s rock hit-maker," most notably from his involvement with Bon Jovi's biggest hit singles...what prompted you to collaborate with Desmond?
John: It was our relationship with Kevin Shirley (the producer). Kevin had just finished up with the new Aerosmith record, and he had worked with Desmond on that. He heard "You Not Me," and he felt it needed a stronger, more powerful chorus. So, Desmond and John Petrucci did a rough demo and Desmond reinterpreted the lyrics and collaborated with John on the music...the chord progressions. He stripped down the song to give it more of a straight-ahead chorus. This was the first song Dream Theater ever wrote with someone outside of the band.
SW: Was it a good first-time experience, especially to work with someone as famous as Desmond Child?
John: Well, it's a learning experience. You hear what Desmond has done in the past with bands like Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, and even now with Hansen, and you tend to wonder, "What is his magic?"; and it is actually very much what we do, and that is, try a lot of options and find out which one works the best.
SW: In your bio, it describes that song as a "tortured love anthem"... can you explain the meaning behind that? Or is that just the record company's perception of it?
John: I think that's the record company being a little bit too creative.
SW: "Lines In The Sand" is a really great song. I noticed it features King's X vocalist Doug Pinnick. How did that come about?
John: We heard this melody when we were writing the song and we decided to give Doug a call because he is one of our favorite singers and he's been a friend of ours for quite a while. He was really happy that we thought of him, so we flew him to New York to record it. It was amazing working with him, he is a true professional...he just came right in and banged it out.
Dream Theater Part 2
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