JAMES LABRIE: New Dream Theater Album Is “A Much More Collective Effort”

James LaBrie

Helena Rosendahl of Ghost Cult Magazine recently conducted an interview with vocalist James LaBrie of progressive metal giants DREAM THEATER. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

You said in a recent interview that this album is the “most cohesive” work you’ve ever done. Keyboard player Jordan Rudess has also claimed that he and John Petrucci now feel “like free”. From your standpoint, how has the creative experience differed now?

It feels completely different. I know what Jordan is referring to and I would say that granted, Jordan and John Petrucci are the main composers but at the same time it’s a much more collective effort now, more so than it’s ever been. John Myung is really coming to the front, I’m coming to the front with what I represent, Mike Mangini speaks for himself in that you have to remember somebody like him, he’s been doing this just as long as we have, we’re all from the same place of inspiration and influences; growing up at the same time and schooling and all that musically. The way that this band writes quite a bit is there’s a lot of spontaneity and Mike Mangini is all about that. He hears a riff or a chord progression come from Jordan, or even a groove you know, stemming from John Myung and he’s just like (air-drumming) on it and playing it and you’re looking over and going “Oh my god it’s awesome!”You know what, there are a lot of moments on this album were actually what you hear is one take on the drums, right there when the part was constructed. Like immediately ‘bam-boom’ and he’s got it down. He’s just instinctual, he’s an intuitive player, I mean he has a full understanding of what this means.  So I think you know Jordan is definitely right, there is a chemistry of freedom too with John and him so that it doesn’t feel like there’s a pressure or a need for any one of us to say: “Well what about me? Wait a minute here you’re not listening to me!” No, we listen to every one of us and it’s the sum of the parts you know? It’s really why I think the last two albums sounded the way they are is because it is a collective effort, it is all about truly being a band in a writing environment.

You have sold over 11 million releases worldwide, reaping countless critical acclaim and accumulating a staggering amount of truly dedicated fans.  Do they feel creatively limited by the pressure of pleasing such a significant, fanatical fanbase?

I don’t like to speak on behalf of the band but I will comfortably say, no, I don’t think so. I think that the way that we introduced ourselves as the band, and I wasn’t even on the first album, from the second album onward and the way that we’ve maintained such an amazing relationship is because of what we represent as a musical entity. There are no limitations, we are expected to be unpredictable, we are expected to push the envelope, to be experimental and that’s the ultimate in creative freedom. I mean, that’s the only way that we can exist. So I don’t think that we’ve ever, ever found ourselves in a situation and gone “well you know…what do you think they expect from us?” I mean granted that you might think that but it’s not something that you stay focussed on or concerned with. It’s really a matter of what we feel and I’ve always said that each album of any band for that matter, is almost like a crystal ball, looking into what was influencing them at that point, what was going on in their lives, what were they intrigued by, what were they disturbed by, what was their emotional state at that point. And I think that each album is a very strong reflection of that. You have in any given band 3 guys, 5 guys, 6 guys, each person has their own personality, each person has the way that they react and communicate. It’s a matter of learning that from one another and I think that’s what really makes any band really click because we’re not all the same in a sense and that comes through musically quite a lot clearer, it’s an energy that’s indescribable and a union that’s indescribable.

Read full interview at Ghost Cult Magazine

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: