Dream Theater Part 2
By Bob Nalbandian

SW: The music we hear today on the radio, and what is covered in the media, has changed quite drastically within the last five years, at least here in the US, making it, nowadays, extremely difficult for a talented hard rock band such as Dream Theater to get national recognition. Yet in Europe, and Japan, Dream Theater records have gone multi-Platinum and the band headlines large arenas. Why do you think foreign countries have taken such a liking to Dream Theater as opposed to here in your homeland?
John: Good question...the climate is really different over there, whereas here, there's many different ways for people to get information. There's many different video channels, and radio in general is pretty huge out here, whereas over there it's more streamlined...there are very few radio stations dedicated to hard rock. I see the music over there is more built on relationships, people are really into following the groups, whereas the state-of-mind over here changes from year to year. Although we do have a following here in the States, but it's more of a cult following. The Internet has been very good in keeping them informed on what the band is doing.

SW: Speaking of the Internet...we interviewed Geoff Tate; and he also stated that Queensryche maintains much of their fan base by utilizing the Internet. And, like Queensryche, Dream Theater has maintained a very loyal fan base through these so-called "alternative" years. It seems as though the Internet is one of the only means of promoting a new CD from a hard rock/metal band...apart from rigorous touring.
John: Well, the Internet has been the most useful as far as getting the information out to our fans. For our previous albums, Awake and Images and Words, it was very press heavy. The Internet has opened up a whole new way for any diehard fan to get information on us. It has really changed things a lot and has really helped us in promoting our new record.

SW: Progressive rock is still very popular today...in fact, the reunited Styx recently sold out three nights at Universal Amphitheater here in LA. Bands like Yes, Rush and Queensryche are still headlining arenas...and Dream Theater also sells out large venues. What do you feel contributes to the success and the demand for progressive rock, despite the lack of media coverage?
John: I think it's the type of relationship the fans have with the artists, it's not something that will go away just because radio or MTV decides not to play it, it goes beyond that. These fans really look forward to hearing a new record, whether or not MTV plays your videos.

SW: Bands such as Styx, Kansas, Rush, Yes, ELP...obviously they attract an older audience, generally 30 years plus. Even though Dream Theater is not a band from the seventies, your music is much more sophisticated than the average rock band of the nineties, and you, too, also attract a somewhat older audience. Do you feel that there is potential in this day and age to market your style of music to today's teenagers?
John: It really depends on who has the most money and clout...it takes someone to really step in and spend mega-dollars to keep you popular. And I don't really see that happening, I see it more as us taking matters into our own hands.

SW: Are you agreeing that the music industry today has become much more a business than a love for music?
John: Yes. There's always that side to it. You know, we're not Michael Jackson or someone, where millions of dollars are spent to keep up his popularity. We're totally on the opposite side of the spectrum when it comes to that, because we don't really write songs that are formatted for Top 40.

SW: There have been certain people in the industry who claim that everything in music has come around full-circle, and that a new "progessive" musical revolution will soon emerge into the mainstream...what are your thoughts?
John: It's possible...I mean, what other options do you have? (slight laughter).

SW: What music business advice would you give to a young band today that is just starting out?
John: The way I see it is, it's really tough to be a musician because the overhead is really expensive when you think in practical terms of being able to pay for your gear, pay for your health insurance, and whatever else. It can be really frustrating. You have to really keep things in perspective...especially your finances. A lot of businesses feed off the industry, or off the musicians themselves, whether it be attorneys, recording studios, tour bus companies, the promoters, or booking agents...it's very hard to do well for yourself when you have all these different industries that evolve around you and take a piece of what you do. It really pays to have a good understanding of the financial and business aspects when it comes to your career. I've made mistakes, and I've paid for them. I don't know if it's so much different from when I first started to where it is now, it's just that now I am that much more aware of everything that is going on on a business level.