The AU Review recently conducted an interview with keyboardist Jordan Rudess of progressive metal giants DREAM THEATER. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
The AU Review: Was there a central theme that you guys were portraying or using on the new [self-titled DREAM THEATER] album? I know you guys often go into the studio with an idea — so was there anything in that regard, this time around?
Rudess: Well, you know, we always go into it with a strong conceptual idea of what we want to create. Basically, we wanted to create an album that was maybe a little bit to the point with a lot of the songs — a bit more concise. You'll notice that there are some shorter songs than on the usual DREAM THEATER album. We wanted to see if we could take our style without really limiting it — having the same kind of integrity and virtuosity and bring songs that had definition to them. That being said, we also have a 22-minute epic on the album as well, so that was kind of a release and, you know, a trip toward the total prog land.
The AU Review: Now there is a new — well, I can't say he's a new member any more he's been there for a little while — but Mr. Mike Mangini [drums], how has his writing style helped this time around with him being in the band in the writing process from pretty much the moment? Was there anything you guys had to adjust to do to adjust to his style?
Rudess: Well, it was really interesting having Mangini there for the whole process. One part of the situation was that he's a very upbeat, energized guy, so just having that personality in the room with us was a good experience for all of us. On a musical level, you know, Mike has one of the most incredible rhythmic minds, I think, of anybody. So he was kind of able to conceptualize these kind of concepts that we would just take and try to compose around. We got some really interesting results form doing that — it was fascinating for us because everyone in DREAM THEATER has a good sense of rhythm, but we never before in our history have had this kind of input where someone would say, "Petrucci, if you play a bar of seven ten times, and Jordan, if you repeat something in five and I play this, it'll all come together" — you know, we would all just smile, because it was some pretty cool wacky stuff that was just purely conceptualized by Mike. And, you know, I guess what helped the most with the writing process was just his drumming — you know, having him be there for the writing, so we could try something and have him do his thing on the drums which would lead us to compose differently.
The AU Review: So Jordan, take us through a typical day in the studio of DREAM THEATER recording a new album. Is it a 9-5 process or is it a many-, many-hour process per day?
Rudess: Yeah sure; we would get to the studio around lunch time. We usually make a Starbucks stop on the way. You know, Maddi, the guy who is like our head tech of the group who also takes care of us when we are in the studio, he would pick us up in the hotel — for those of us who were staying there — we'd make our coffee stop and go to the studio, have some lunch, turn on our instruments and get started, you know, around one, one-thirty or so, and then we'd work up until dinner and then after dinner for a while too. And when we got tired — maybe around ten or eleven — we'd call it a day. We worked pretty hard; we're pretty focused when we do our thing, and when it's everybody's turn to do their own tracks, then everybody decides on their own schedule. Like when I did my tracks, I got there a little earlier, and you know, I'd just work all day and night until somebody says stop. And everybody is different in that way, but we all kinda had our choice — it wasn't as much of a routine. But when we're working together, and we are writing, we generally sleep a little bit late or start a little late so people have their mornings to do whatever they need to do, and then go from there.
Read the entire interview at The AU Review.