Dream Theater bassist John Myung has given an in-depth interview to ForBassPlayersOnly.com, talking about his earliest years as a player, his student years at Berklee, his feelings about the new album, and much more.
Says Myung, "I went to a Catholic school when I was really young for a little while in New York City and I learned Suzuki method for violin at around age 5, so I started kind of early. I stuck with it for ten years. Eventually, I guess my parents had had enough of city life and they wanted to move out to the suburbs. When I was 7, we moved out to the suburbs and I studied music with private teachers in the town where I grew up, Kings Park, Long Island. From there, it was just kind of something that I did...At around age 15, I lost interest in violin. I was more interested in playing bass. There was a lot of musical activity in my neighborhood. It was really cool. For some reason, all my friends were really, really into music and they started forming bands. John Petrucci formed a band in his neighborhood and I was part of a band in my neighborhood. It was just kind of this neat collection of musicians and we all hung out together and traded off on records. A lot of my friends had older brothers and sisters and, looking back, I realized what a big influence they had on us because it was their record collections that had Jethro Tull, Sabbath, Rush, Yes. As a young kid, I didn’t really know who these bands were. It was my friends and their elder brothers and sisters that really had a big influence on us kids as far as what we thought was cool and what we did with our time."
He says of Dream Theater's earliest days, "I went to the same high school as John and we actually wound up in the same band. We went to Berklee together and the band formed up at Berklee when we met Mike [Portnoy] and we just practiced six hours a night. It was like a full day of just taking classes and during the evening hours we would jam from like 6:00 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday. If you add up the jamming time, it was probably like thirty hours a week. We were just always optimistic and we were always like, 'Okay, well let’s see if we can take this a step further. Okay, we got to this point. What’s the next step, okay?'...One thing led to another and we spent the year at Berklee and then decided not to go back and just continue the band efforts. We rented some studio space, which was basically like the basement of a storefront. And there, we just maintained our practice schedule Monday through Friday. Once again, we’d meet up at like 6:00 at night and end at about midnight. It was that. It was the time we put in. That, and a combination of luck, running into really important people that we didn’t know were going to be very important, but very influential."
Regarding the band's new self-titled album, he says, "There was something about this album that really, really flowed. I remember after we loaded in the gear and set everything up, there was this buzz in the air, a certain electricity and it just drove the whole record. We set up all the gear so that we could record right away, the minute something was written or if there was something we felt had to be captured. 'Surrender to Reason' was the first song that was written. I think it was done pretty much within the first ten days of being there. And that set the pace for the whole record."
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