Mike Portnoy is not coming back as a drummer in Dream Theater: Interview with John Petrucci

Dream Theater is about to release yet another live album but something that I feel more exciting is the fact that the bands guitar player John Petrucci releasing his first instrumental solo album in 15 years. The new album ”Terminal Velocity” was released on different stream services on the 28th of august and the physical album is released the 30th of october. I hook up with John over the phone and we were talking about instrumental music, Dream Theater and other stuff as well.

Hello John. Nice to hear your voice and welcome back on record.

-Thank you.

Is there a market out there for instrumental music?

-Well it seems to be and it’s extremely funny. When you releasing music of any kind you really don’t know what to expect. I have absolutely no expectations about this record but my hopes are that it will be received well.

At the same time when you’re releasing instrumental music it’s a challenge. To be honest it’s one hour of guitar playing and I certainly don’t want the listeners to get bored and that feeling stands for me as well. The goal is to keep it interesting for the listeners and a great part of the challenge is that I don’t want it to only be for guitar players around the world.

You released ”Suspended Animation” fifteen years ago. How much time over the last fifteen years have you spent writing ”Terminal Velocity”?

-I really don’t know. Five of the songs are written this year and if we take the song ”Gemini” for example, it’s really old. I think I wrote that song in the early 90’s. A couple of the songs on the album I played when I played live with G3 a couple of years ago. So it’s a combination of new and old songs but most of the songs are from this year.

In my world I wonder how do you come up with a title for a song when it’s instrumental?

-Ha ha it’s funny because the titles are not very serious when it comes to instrumental music. I collect titles when I hear a phrase or a meaning somewhere. Sometimes it clicks when you finally hear how the song sounds. Usually the titles describe the mood you’re in and the song ”Out Of The Blue” from the new album ”Terminal Velocity” is obviously a blues song.

Will there be any live shows along with this album?

-No there will be no live shows. If the world gets back to normal maybe but as it is right now it’s hard to plan anything at all. No planning of live shows and for me I focus on Dream Theater but if the opportunity for a couple of shows will come it would be fun absolutely.

For a Dream Theater fan it’s pretty exciting that you are working with Mike Portnoy again. How was it working with Mike again? How was the contact made?

-It was great working with Mike again. The contact between us have been there over the years and when I asked him to play drums on the album he said absolutely, no problem. I recorded the guitars and I send the music to Mike and it ended up with him visiting me in my studio. It took six days to record the drums and it was extremely easy to record, also it was very cool that we conect again musically.

And now I have to ask if this is the beginning of a reunion with Mike in Dream Theater?

-No and on this I want to be really clear. Mike Portnoy is not coming back to be the drummer in Dream Theater. Mike Mangini is the drummer in Dream Theater and for me and Mike Portnoy this is just Mike playing on my solo album, it has nothing to do with Dream Theater. I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea here so in my opinion I had my friend playing drums on the album and it was great. Our fans are very respectful and me and Mike are not trying to create any drama.

What’s the plan for Dream Theater right now?

-We will start working on a new album which will be released next year we hope. When the world opens up we will tour on that album. But we have a live DVD that will be released later this year. The DVD us recorded in London and it’s a three hour show. It will focus on our album ”Metropolis, Pt. 2:Scenes From A Memory” which was released back in 1999.

Is there any song that’s too difficult to play live?

-I appreciate to play a lot of our songs and I really try to do my best night after night performing those songs live. When I play live in front of all the people in the crowd it’s extremely important that I practice a lot because it’s kind of difficult go up on that stage performing songs from ”Scenes From A Memory” or some songs that I’ve written 35 years ago. The answer to your question is that none of the songs are too difficult to play but if we take ”Pale Blue Dot” for example there are some very difficult sections to play.

Will there be more instrumental records in the future or was this something that came up when the corona virus hit our planet?

-Well, why not. I can say that much that if it happens I don’t want it to take fifteen years from now. But Dream Theater is my first priority so we’ll have to see.

Do you have a favourite song playing live?

-That’s a good question. If we get based on the last tour I must say ”The Spirit Carries On”, that’s a real favourite playing live. I love the songs when I got the energy so it’s extremely difficult to name songs so I stick with ”The Spirit Carries On”.

At last I have to share a little episode from my life being a heavy metal fan for 37 years. When you released ”Images And Words” 1992 MTV played the video ”Pull Me Under” and I thought it was totally awful, it was one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard.

-Ha ha, ok.

And then something happened. I bought the album after all and when I sat at home listening to it the opening track just gave me goose bumps, and of course we know that the opening track is ”Pull Me Under”. Now, 28 years later, ”Pull Me Under” is top 20 of all songs ever made. I have to say it’s strange how things turn out.

-It’s quite a story and I must say that some songs grow on you. It came out in 1992 and the musical landscape was turned upside down because there was a lot of grunge at that time. Our album was very unusual at that time and maybe that’s why we got that good response. To be frank with you the album helped Dream Theater a lot.

And I have to give you that the album is fantastic.

-Thank you so very much.

I say thank you John that you took a few minutes talking to me. Good luck with the new solo album and the upcoming live DVD from Dream Theater.

-Thank you and I hope to see you some time in the future.

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Mike Portnoy is not coming back as a drummer in Dream Theater: Interview with John Petrucci

November 1, 2020

The answer to your question is that none of the songs are too difficult to play but if we take ”Pale Blue Dot” for example there are some very difficult sections to play.

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