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DREAM THEATER (MIKE PORTNOY)

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YOU’RE ABOUT TO BRING OUT YOUR TENTH STUDIO ALBUM “BLACK CLOUDS AND SILVER LININGS” ON JUNE 19TH. RECENTLY YOU SAID THAT EACH ALBUM IS A REACTION TO THE LAST ALBUM. HOW WOULD YOU RELATE THE LAST ALBUM WITH THE NEW ONE? You know what? I think this album is probably most closely related to our previous than any of our back to back releases. Maybe with the exception of “Images and Words” and “Awake”. But really, if you look at our whole catalogue it kind of goes light to dark, light to dark, light to dark. But I think these back to back ones, we went dark to dark. (laughs) Which is ok because I personally love the last album and I love the latest one as well. I think this is just the next logical chapter for Dream Theater. You know, it’s still a balance of styles, heavy to light, dark to melodic. That’s kind of what the title of the album is all about. And you know, this is filled with epic songs, long songs. We’ve always had long songs, but this album has many of them. And each one is a bit of a musical journey in itself. I WAS ACTUALLY VERY SURPRISED WHEN I LISTENED TO “A NIGHTMARE TO REMEMBER” FOR THE FIRST TIME. I THINK IT WAS THE FIRST TIME IN YOUR CAREER THAT YOU EVER USED BLASTBEATS… Actually, there were some serious death metal / cookie monster growls in the song as well. There was one section that I sing in that song that originally… originally we tried James singing it and it just didn’t work. You know, he’s got a more cleaner, higher melodic voice. And this really heavy section, it’s like a King Diamond section, and James’ vocals just didn’t work on there. And I kept saying to the guys: “Guys, you gotta picture it like an Opeth vocal on there: Rooouuww!” (lets out a death metal growl). So I did an Opeth, real death metal growly section. And I thought it sounded awesome. It was great. But the other guys couldn’t hang with it. So we ended up redoing it, and I did a little bit more of a, like a Robb Flynn-Machine Head-type of vocal instead. So I think, you know… But yeah, this song in particular is real heavy and dark and I did put a blastbeat in the end of the song just so I could mark it off on the checklist of life, you know. Had to have a blastbeat somewhere on one of our albums. And last year we toured with Opeth and Between the buried and me. And, you know, after listening to blastbeats all night long on that tour I knew I had to throw one in for prosperity. DID YOU ALSO DO THAT TO SHOW THE CRITICS WHO ARE COMPLAINING THAT DREAM THEATER IS A NICE, MELODIC, FLUFFY BAND THAT YOU’RE TOTALLY CAPABLE OF DOING THAT AS WELL? Well, I’m a metal guy at heart. I mean I’ve always, always been a huge metal fan. So it’s definitely in my blood. There is no posing about it. I mean it’s natural and normal for me. But within the context of the band and the other guys – some of the other guys like, you know, Jordan and James – they’re not really metal guys. So I think that’s what makes up the chemistry of Dream Theater. It’s kind of like a little bit of everything thrown into one band. SO YOU’RE GONNA KEEP ON GOING WITH THE COOKIE MONSTER VOCALS IN THE FUTURE? YOU INTRODUCED THOSE VOCALS FOR THE FIRST TIME WITH YOUR LAST ALBUM “SYSTEMATIC CHAOS”… I mean, like, the Machine Head type vocals that I had on “A Nightmare To Remember”, that’s kind of like what I did with “Constant Motion” and “Dark Eternal Night”. I tried to inject some cookies into the song and it just didn’t fly. Got shot down by the other guys. I mean I know it’s an acquired taste and I know a lot of people hate those kind of vocals but it really is such a part of today’s metal sound that I think it’s important to change with the times. You know, I don’t want Dream Theater to ever sound like a dated sounding band. I want us to constantly do what we do and stick to our guns and not try to be something else, but always be current. WOULD YOU GO WITH ME IF I SAID THAT DREAM THEATER ALWAYS HAS BEEN ABOUT BRANCHING OUT INTO OTHER GENRES AND MUSICAL STYLES? Yeah, I mean absolutely! I mean if you look at any of our albums there is that balance, you know. The “Dark Eternal Night” to “Repentance”, “A Nightmare to Remember” to “The Best Of Times”. You know, every one of our albums has that balance from song to song. And even on this album, I think more than ever, that balance is usually within each song. If you take a “Nightmare To Remember”, we’re just talking right now about the heavy aspects of that song, but there is also some incredibly cool Pink Floyd moments in that song as well. So, you know, we try to always have that balance. Not only within the album, but within individual songs as well. I FOUND OUT THAT JAMES WASN’T INVOLVED INTO ANY OF THE LYRICS ON THIS ALBUM. WHY IS THAT SO? DID YOU CONSCIOUSLY LEAVE HIM OUT THERE? He’s Canadian. So we try not to have Canadian lyrics on our albums (chuckles). No, I’m just kidding! It wasn’t a conscious thing. Usually in the past he’ll write – he’s written one song on each of the albums – and, you know… but each of our albums in the past have had seven, eight, nine songs to go around. This time around we only had six songs cause they were very long. So there wasn’t enough to go around. And I mean, I knew which two I was writing cause I had one that I was writing for my dad, and one that I was writing as part of this twelve-step series. So I had already claimed two and that left four, you know, to go around and John Petrucci had already dug in into some of his lyrics and it just basically got divided up before James got to claim anything. YOU JUST MENTIONED THAT TWO OF THE LYRICS WERE ALREADY RESERVED FOR YOU. ONE OF THESE SONGS IS “THE BEST OF TIMES” WHICH IS ABOUT YOUR FATHER WHO RECENTLY PASSED AWAY. HOW DID YOU FEEL THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE MUSIC AND YOUR EMOTIONS AND WHEN DID YOU DECIDE THAT THIS WOULD BE THE SONG THAT YOU SIMPLY HAD TO GIVE LYRICS TO? Well, we always write the music first. And we had just written the music to that song without knowing what it was gonna be written about or who is gonna write the lyrics to it. But it had such a sad tone to the song. There were some really heart-wrenching melodies and progressions going on in this song instrumentally. And I remember I was going to visit my dad every couple of weeks in California while he was battling cancer. And I’d fly to California every couple of weeks and bring the CDs of what we were working on with me just to listen to. And we had just written the music to that song as I was going out there for one of my trips. And the music just moved me. There was, I remember this one particular trip right after we wrote the song, it brought me to tears. Just because the melodies and the song were so sad. And I immediately said: “You know, I’ve gotta write this one about what I’m going through with my dad and what my dad is going through!” And I knew that that was gonna be, you know, the subject matter for those lyrics. Just from the tone of the music. And then I ended up writing the song for him and was able to demo it with me sing it and play it for him at his bedside, and we listened to it holding hands and crying and he (it) was really, really heart-wrenching and powerful, and a really powerful emotional experience. But to be able to play it for him before he died meant the world to me and to him and it was great. BUT HOW HARD IS IT FOR YOU – ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU WENT THROUGH SUCH A HEART-WRENCHING SITUATION – TO BE EVER BEING ABLE TO PLAY THAT ONE? DO YOU THINK YOU’LL BE EVER ABLE TO PLAY IT TO OUTSIDERS? IT MUST MEAN SO MUCH TO YOU ON A PERSONAL LEVEL… It is very, very personal. It was even hard for me to give it up to James to sing because it’s… the lyrics are so about me and my dad. But, you know, I think James did a great job of portraying the lyrics and bringing them to life. But it is, it’s a hard song for me to listen to. Even my kids, they can’t listen to it. They love the new album but they have to skip that song every time. And I played that song at my dad’s funeral, the version of me singing. So, I don’t know if I can ever hear that song without like thinking of the funeral and that whole experience. So that’s tough, you know. On one hand I feel great that I was able to get this out and share those feelings and those words with the world, and kind of have it as a tribute to my dad’s life. But on the other hand it’s, you know, I can’t imagine playing that one live. At least right now, you know. Maybe down the road it will be easier, but right now that’s very difficult for me. “THE BEST OF TIMES” DEFINITELY HAS A POSITIVE VIBE IN THE MUSIC, VERY UPLIFTING, VERY “MAJORY”. IT’S NOT A MELANCHOLIC BALLAD YOU WOULD THINK SOMEONE WOULD COME UP WITH WRITING ABOUT SUCH AN EXPERIENCE… Even look at the title. The title is complete optimism. In fact, that was important to me. I didn’t want to write a song about his death. I wanted to write a song about his life. You know, I wanted to focus on the 41 years we had together, not the last six months, you know, that he was dying. So it was important that that was the focus of the lyrics and it was a real tribute. LET’S TALK ABOUT THE OTHER LYRIC YOU WROTE. YOU FINALLY FINISHED YOUR PERSONAL TWELVE-STEP CYCLE, WHICH IS REFERRING TO THE TWELVE-STEP PROGRAM OF THE ANONYMOUS ALCOHOLICS, WITH “THE SHATTERED FORTRESS”, ENDING WITH THE LINE: “I AM RESPONSIBLE!” YOU SAID BEFORE THAT YOU ARE PLANNING TO PERFORM THE SAGA LIVE AS ONE GIANT PIECE. DO YOU STILL WANT TO DO THAT NOW THAT IT’S FINISHED? Yeah, all along the intention was to create a concept piece that would ultimately be performed in its entirety. So that’s surely something that I want to do in the future. When we do it I don’t know, but it will eventually happen for sure. But now that all twelve steps have been written and the five songs are complete, it’s actually a tremendous burden being lifted from me, you know. It’s incredibly therapeutic to have written it to begin with but on the other hand there was a tremendous pressure that was starting to mount that I felt like: “Oh my God! What did I do? I dug myself into this hole. You know, I wanted just be done with it already!” So there is a tremendous amount of relief that that is finally finished. But I think we rounded it out really well with this final song. It wraps things up lyrically; it brings back a lot of the musical themes and just ties it all together. So I think when we finally do perform all five songs together this will be a great, great finale to it. YOU STARTED THAT CYCLE SEVEN YEARS AGO WITH “THE GLASS PRISON”. HAVE YOU EVER REGRETTED STARTING OUT WITH IT? HAVE YOU EVER FELT THAT YOU’VE GOTTEN YOURSELF INTO TOO MUCH? Yeah, absolutely. I definitely think if I had realized what I was getting myself into five albums ago, I don’t know if I would have done it. I think maybe I would have written one song that encompassed all twelve steps. It was definitely a big giant master plan that I had that… you know, it took five albums and seven years to complete. But you know what? I really think it was a cool, original idea. I can’t think of any band that have ever done something like this. So, you know, I guess it’s been a lot of pressure and a lot of work but I think it’s worth it in the long run. WHAT ARE YOU REFERRING TO WITH THE ALBUM TITLE “BLACK CLOUDS AND SILVER LININGS”? It kind of reflects the lyrics and the music, you know. Lyrically all the songs on this album are about heavy, dark situations, you know, death, recovery and car accidents and, you know, these near death experiences. But each set of lyrics are kind of looking at these situations optimistically. You know like, we were just talking about “The Best Of Times”. It was, you know, a very dark negative situation but shown in a positive light. And I think you could say that about any of the set of lyrics. And you could say the same about the music. You know, “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” it’s kind of like representing the dark and heavy side of Dream Theater, but we also have these silver linings, these kind of melodic, progressive dynamic side as well to the music. And so it’s that contrast that I think is a big, big part of what Dream Theater is about. YOU JUST SPENT SIX MONTHS IN THE AVATAR STUDIOS IN NEW YORK PRODUCING THE ALBUM. HAVE YOU CURSED YOURSELF SOMETIMES FOR TAKING ON THE JOB AS YOUR OWN PRODUCER? WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES VERSUS THE DISADVANTAGES WHEN IT COMES TO PRODUCING YOUR OWN MUSIC? Well, the advantage is complete artistic control which in the end will give you complete artistic satisfaction, you know. We don’t feel like when we finish our record – at least myself and John Petrucci – we feel that we have put our blood, sweat and tears, heart and soul into every single note on the album overseeing every detail, making sure it’s all perfect and exactly the way we envisioned it. So there is that satisfaction of creative control. But, you know, on the other hand, you know, we have to work our asses off to get that. You know, the other guys would come and go as needed. You know, we were in the studio for six months. And not to belittle James, but he was there for a total of three weeks out of those six months. So, you know, the rest of the time he got to spend time with his wife and kids and enjoy his personal life. So, you know, there is a lot of sacrifice involved with producing the record. And not only producing the record, doing everything that I do. Here I am, you know, in Europe doing a promo tour while the rest of the guys are home with their families. And, you know, I’m not complaining because the expression “It’s good to be king, but it sucks to be king!”, you know, it’s, you gotta pay the price if you want that kind of control. You know, it’s great to get the credit but you also get the blame. So, there is good and bad with it but there is a lot of work and it takes away a lot of time from my family which – thank God – they’re very understanding and supportive. But, I don’t know. I don’t think I could have it any other way. I could never not oversee what’s going on with my career. SO IN A POSITIVE WAY YOU ARE A CONTROL FREAK? Yeah, I think I’m an absolute obsessive, compulsive control freak which benefits Dream Theater and Dream Theater’s fans in every way but it also makes my wife and family completely crazy! (laughs) SOMETIMES I REALLY WONDER HOW YOU DO ALL THESE THINGS: THE DIFFERENT BANDS AND PROJECTS, THE PRODUCTION, THE PROMOTION, YOUR LABEL STUFF – JUST HUGE AMOUNTS OF WORK! YESTERDAY YOU ARRIVED FROM NASHVILLE… I went straight from the Dream Theater album to doing a Transatlantic album, and then straight from Transatlantic to do this press tour. And I get a few weeks home before the actual tour begins. Yeah, it’s a lot of work and throughout all this I’m overseeing the Liquid Tension Live DVD and CD and the next wave of Dream Theater official bootlegs. It’s a lot of work but someone’s gotta do it! YOU EVEN SAY THAT IT TAKES AWAY A LOT OF TIME FROM YOUR PRIVATE TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY. YOU SAY THAT IT’S ALMOST LIKE AN OBSESSION, THAT IT’S COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOUR. HOW DO YOU JUGGLE PRIVATE LIFE AND THE CAREER? I just don’t know how to not do it. I don’t know how to turn the switch off. The times that I have somehow forced myself into having time off and sitting home with the family I can’t sit still. I go nuts! And I think that I make my family nuts. I think they are used to me having to work and having to do things, you know. After a couple of days, it’s nice but then, you know, my wife will be like: “Don’t you have a tour to go on?!”, you know. (laughs) So, I think we’re all just very used to it. It’s part of my personality and we’ve never had it any other way. So you just become used to it. REGARDING YOUR RELATION-SHIP WITH JOHN PETRUCCI: YOU’RE PRODUCING THE ALBUMS TOGETHER AND YOU’RE BOTH PLAYING IN LIQUID TENSION EXPERIENCE – BESIDES BEING IN THE SAME BAND FOR 24 YEARS. WOULD YOU SAY YOU’RE CLOSER TO HIM THAN TO THE OTHER BAND MEMBERS? Yeah, for sure. I feel a definite connection with John on so many levels. I mean, we’ve been doing this together for 24 years; we have a lot in common. We have, you know, beyond the music in common we have, you know, we’re both family men and have families at home that we, you know, really value. You know, we’re definitely brothers. We have a great work environment and a working relation-ship together. And actually I think it’s a great chemistry. We get along really, really well. People would think if you have two guys like that that are co-producing a record we would be fighting or bickering or arguing, but we rarely, rarely disagree. One out of 20 issues we might disagree on. But really, we surprisingly get along really well. And we balance each other out cause I think, you know, I oversee most of the creative decisions, you know, how something is put out or marketed, you know, the artwork or the merchandise. He doesn’t oversee that stuff, he doesn’t really care about that stuff. But he’s got a great mind for money and the financial side, and the business side which I’m horrible with. So, you know, we very much balance each other in that sense. And also in the studio I usually as the co-producer I get more interested in what’s being recorded, how it’s scheduled, who, you know-, kind of organizing everything whereas he is more interested in the sonic, and the EQ and the balances and, you know, he has got a great ear for that kind of stuff, which I’m not really good at. So we very, very much balance each other out. “BLACK CLOUDS AND SILVER LININGS” WILL COME OUT AS A STANDARD CD AND A THREE CD EDITION: THE REGULAR ALBUM, ONE CD WITH THE INSTRUMENTAL VERSIONS AND ONE CD WITH COVER VERSIONS. WHOSE IDEA WAS THAT – YOURS OR THE RECORD COMPANIES’? It was a combination of both I think. The record company has been incredibly supportive in-, anytime I’ve had an idea like that, you know, with the last album I wanted to make a making of DVD and a 5.1 mix. And they were like: “Boom – done!” This time around they wanted some bonus stuff. So I had this idea of just recording a cover CD and recording, you know, one CD of the instrumental mixes. So basically I come up with the ideas but God bless them for actually embracing them and making them come true, you know. Our previous record company really could care less about that kind of stuff whereas Roadrunner embraces it and supports it. So I’m very fortunate to have their support to make my ideas come to life. THAT’S DEFINITELY AN INCENTIVE FOR THE FANS TO BUY THE RECORD IN THESE DAYS WHERE THE TEMPTATION TO DOWNLOAD IT FROM THE INTERNET IS JUST SO HIGH. IS IT NECESSARY TO FIND OTHER WAYS TO PROMOTE AN ALBUM NOWADAYS? Yeah, you have to! Really the music industry right now is scrambling to keep itself alive. You know, and it’s different because the record companies and the music industry are in the business of selling music whereas bands and artists are in the business of making music. And, you know for me as an artist, I just want people to hear it. I don’t care how they hear it. I just want them to hear it, whether they buy it or steal it or, you know, download it legally or illegally. Me as an artist I just want them to hear it. So I probably care less about the business side of it than the labels do. But I know how important it is for them to stay alive and try to market records each and every time, you know, in new ways. And, you know, the way that records are being marketed now is totally different from five years ago. And five years from now I’m sure it will be completely different from the way it is today. So, you know, the labels are scrambling to change with the times. And if that means offering albums in different special editions and deluxe editions, boxsets and vinyl, then really, I guess it’s a win-win situation for everybody because, you know, it’s keeping the labels alive and it’s also giving the fans more options and more different things to collect and buy if they so choose. LET’S TALK ABOUT ANOTHER ONE OF YOUR “MUSICAL BABIES”, THE PROGRESSIVE NATION TOUR. WHY DID YOU PICK TWO RELATIVELY UNKNOWN BANDS INSTEAD OF PLAYING IT SAFE AND BOOKING BIGGER ACTS. ISN’T THAT A BIT RISKY THESE DAYS? To me the whole point of Progressive nation is to give a forum for younger or more up and coming progressive artists that don’t necessarily have the outlet to share their music. You know, a band like Unexpect or Bigelf is kind of struggling to get seen. So I see it as my job and my duty to help these bands. I’ve always seen it that way even, you know, dating 15 years ago I would take bands like Fates Warning and I Mother Earth and the Galactic Cowboys and King’s X and all these bands under my wing, Spock’s Beard, Porcupine Tree. I’ve always seen it as my duty to use Dream Theater’s success as something to help the progressive music scene in general. So the point of Progressive Nation isn’t, you know… I’m not putting together these bills based on markee value, it’s more based on musical value. And I think the kind of trend that I would like to have is to kind of have a band as direct support that has a name, like Opeth or in America we’re gonna have Zappa Plays Zappa, but then use the opening slots to kind of really expose new acts. And that’s what I’m doing with Unexpect and Bigelf. Or in America I’m taking a band Beardfish out or Pain Of Salvation, that hasn’t had much exposure in America. So to me those two opening slots are really the wild cards that I can have fun with and help new bands with. And Progressive Nation, it’s great because it’s a chance for me to share our audience with Bigelf and Unexpect, and it’s a chance for me to share Bigelf and Unexpect with our audience. You know, so the bands are gonna benefit by having a Dream Theater audience to play to, and I think the Dream Theater audience is gonna benefit by having this great new music to be exposed to. So it’s a win-win situation for everybody. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO HAVE TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BILLS FOR THE NORTH AMERICAN TOUR AND THE EUROPEAN PROGRESSIVE NATION TOUR? I’M SURE SOME FANS OVER HERE WOULD’VE LOVED TO SEE ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA AS WELL… I wanted to mix the bills up. I didn’t want to spend six months on tour with the same exact line-up. So I thought it would be good to have one line-up for America, one line-up for Europe and mix it up. You know, and no way is it gonna please everybody. I know there is probably European fans that would have loved to have seen Zappa Plays Zappa, and there’s American fans who would have loved to have seen, you know, Bigelf or Opeth or whatever. You know, I just wanted to mix it up. And usually I get around to helping everybody at some point or another. Like Opeth did Progressive Nation in America last year with us. So it seemed like it would make sense to do Europe with them this time. And, you know, maybe next time we could do Zappa Plays Zappa in Europe. I don’t know. But I like to mix it up and bring different bands to different places. Like Pain Of Salvation was our opening act in Europe in 2002. So I wouldn’t even consider them for Progressive Nation in Europe cause they already did Europe with us. That’s why I bring them to America. I like to mix it up and give the different audiences different bands. YOU’RE TOURING A LOT WITH BANDS WHO YOU ARE FRIENDS WITH AND WORKED WITH OVER THE YEARS, FOR EXAMPLE WITH MIKAEL AKERFELDT (OPETH), DANIEL GILDENLÖW (PAIN OF SALVATION), STEVEN WILSON (PORCUPINE TREE) AND MANY OTHERS. HOW IMPORTANT IS THE PERSONAL NETWORK FOR YOU? You know, all these people that you’ve named, all these bands that we’ve toured with, I’ve become very good friends with most of them. Sometimes, you know, as a result of the tour or sometimes even before the tour. It’s important for me to have these relationships with people like Mikael Akerfeldt and Steven Wilson and Daniel Gildenlöw and Jim Matheos. I mean these guys are all friends of mine, Neal Morse. These are people that are kind of leaders of their respected bands and I feel a responsibility to kind of, you know, help each other and kind of support each other. And these are artists that I first and foremost admire. You know, I admire what they do. And like I just said before, I feel a responsibility to use Dream Theater’s success to help other progressive artists that are still working at trying to get that recognition. DREAM THEATER IS DEFINITELY ONE OF THE ONLY BANDS ON THIS PLANET WHO CAN GET AWAY WITH 20 MINUTE EPICS. BUT HOW DO THEY EVOLVE? IS IT LIKE A BUILDING IN THE WAY THAT YOU BUILD THEM UP ON A FOUNDATION OR IS IT MORE LIKE A STATUE WHERE YOU WOULD CHOP BITS AND PIECES AWAY UNTIL THE SONG IS FINISHED? It is like a building that starts with a foundation which to us is always the music. Music always comes first and then from there you add the orchestration and the instrumentation and the melodies and the vocals and the production. It’s a building process. But the length itself usually comes about just by this wealth of ideas. I mean the fact that we write together, it’s not like one person comes in it with a song. Rarely, that will sometimes happen. In the case of this album, a song like “Wither”, that’s the way it did happen. John Petrucci actually had this song that he kind of brought in. And that’s why it was able to kind of clock in at five minutes. But as soon as, you know, the 95% of the time that doesn’t happen and we write together, that’s when these songs blossom into long twenty minute epics is because there is just so many musical ideas on the table that we take our time to let fully blossom. You know, we don’t want to ever short-change a musical idea. DO YOU WRITE DOWN THE IDEAS ON PAPER OR DO THEY JUST COME TOGETHER BY JAMMING? Just by jamming. We, you know, we’ll move into the recording studio and set up into a rehearsal environment where we can write together and usually myself and John Petrucci and Jordan are usually the real mad scientists, kind of formulating everything and throwing the ideas back at each other. And we make this music together. The three of us have an incredibly fast pace that we work at, and our minds work at. And, you know, we’ll have chalkboards in the studio and I’ll be mapping everything out and putting all the ideas onto the chalkboard. You know, we’ll have like twenty different riffs or progressions or ideas that I’ll put on one board. And I call it the “riff-entory”, that’s our inventory of riffs. And then from there we start building the song, and there’ll be another chalkboard with the arrangements of, once we start compiling and putting it together and that arrangement chart is constantly changing. You know, we’ll experiment with moving, you know, the verse riff moving it to the bridge, and changing the key, changing the time signature. And we’re like these mad scientists that just somehow brew up these songs. And then once the music is written, and then there are other levels to the creative process, you know. That’s when, you know, one of us will go off and write the melodies and lyrics, and then that’s when we will give ‘em to James and then start incorporating his vocals. So it’s a creative process that might be strange to some but for us it’s just a very natural way to work. DREAM THEATER HAS BEEN AROUND FOR ALMOST 25 YEARS NOW. IS THERE STILL ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THE BAND OR ARE YOU HAPPY WITH WHERE YOU’RE STANDING RIGHT NOW? I couldn’t be happier. Really, we’ve had a dream ride so far. And it’s, you know, we’ve had the best of both worlds because we’ve had success, but it’s been moderate and kind of developing. It’s not like we were ever an overnight sensation, we’ve never become a household name where we’re selling millions of records and then suddenly just set ourselves up to fail or to, you know, to implode and die. You know, we’ve kind of had this slow-building career. And there is still so much room, still to grow. You know, we do great for what we do but there is still so much room for more mainstream and commercial exposure to come. So, we’ve had the best of both worlds. I don’t think I would want it any other way. It’s been a real great, great, great ride so far. DREAM THEATER IS MOSTLY RECOGNIZED BY MUSICIANS AND, OF COURSE, THE FANS WHO MAYBE UNDERSTAND MUSIC MORE THAN THE TYPCIAL MAINSTREAM LISTENER. DO YOU FEEL YOU’RE LEAVING OUT ON THE BIG AUDIENCES SOMETIMES? It used to frustrate us. It used to be like-, I remember we’d put out an album and it would be like a very underground cult reception. And then you’ll see these other bands, you know, not to name names but you’ll turn on the TV and see these other bands performing on TV in front of, you know, millions of people on these television shows or whatever, or playing these festivals in front of tens of thousands of people. And they have no talent and, you know, their writing is just mindless music. It used to frustrate us, it used to make us crazy. But you know what? Here we are 24 years later. And most of these bands that I would see ten, fifteen years ago are nowhere to be found and they’re working in Deli’s in, you know, in their hometown. So, really I think this is the more satisfying road. It’s taking that much longer and it can be frustrating, but we don’t let it bother us, you know. I know, it would be nice to sell millions of records and be, you know, as big as Metallica but, you know, very few bands ever get to do that. I realized that very few bands get to do what we do. So I have a lot of appreciation for that. WHAT ARE THE TOURING PLANS AFTER “BLACK CLOUDS AND SLIVER LININGS” COMES OUT IN JUNE? June will be festivals and assorted one-off in between shows, just kind of warm-up shows. Then we do Progressive Nation in America and Canada in July and August. And then Progressive Nation here in Europe throughout September, October and November. And then we’ll take the holidays off and then re-access what we are gonna do for 2010 at that point. RECORDED IN COLOGNE ON APRIL 24TH 2009

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