Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess was interviewed by Classic Rock Revisited recently, and discussed the band's writing methods and new album; how their current drummer, Mike Mangini, and their former drummer, Mike Portnoy, compare; how he defines the term "prog rock," and more!
Says Rudess about writing for Dream Theater, "we start by sitting down and discussing where we’re all at and where we want to go musically—what we want to create. We do sort of a check in on where we are personally and musically and decide what we want to create. We’ve always been very conceptual about things before we start the process of writing. It’s been that way ever since I’ve been in the group and I’d imagine even before that, there was a lot of intricate planning that goes into a Dream Theater album."
Regarding the addition of Mike Mangini to the team, he says, "Both of them are great drummers but a lot did change both personally and musically for use. Musically, the new Mike has certain skills that the other one does not. For example, he’s incredible with mathematics, especially related to music. He was able to bring us some architectural structure that we’ve never had to this extent before as far as meters and how different instruments will interact—that was a totally new element that we got to work with. Also, Mangini has a technique on drums unlike any other human on the planet, so that brings an element of change. He also is really fun in the studio has tons of energy which we feed off of."
On the subject of "prog rock," Jordan says, "Prog Rock has two meanings at this point and it’s an interesting thing to discuss. You never really know what people mean by it but usually people mean that Prog Rock is a style that emerged in the early '70s with groups like King Crimson and Yes and Pink Floyd and it was all about those groups stretching the bounds of rock music by adding elements of harmony and structure and they would break new ground by using synthesizers and things like that. The other way to look at, and the way I prefer to look at it, is that 'Prog' means that you’re moving forward and continuing to expand the art form all the time. So really, if you look at it this way, progressive rock should be a much different sound than it was in the '70s. There are not a lot of people who consider themselves fans of 'Prog Rock' who think that way. I think the more progressive music these days are in the electronic field; people like Aphex Twin or something like that. So my hope is that people will continue to evolve the rock genre because I feel that there is still a lot of room for rock to grow and to me that is what defines progressive rock."
Dream Theater's self-titled album is available everywhere now—grab a copy from the Roadrunner webstore!
Jordan Rudess and drummer Rod Morgenstein are re-teaming as the Rudess Morgenstein Project for a short string of dates in November; read more about that here.