DREAM THEATER singer James LaBrie says that he and his bandmates were "shocked" when they saw the similarities between their "Distance Over Time" album artwork and the cover of an issue of The New York Times magazine.
Last November 6, DREAM THEATER revealed the "Distance Over Time" artwork via social media. Just 12 days later, The New York Times magazine published a cover story titled "What Will Become of Us?" as part of its "Text And Design" issue, featuring remarkably similar artwork. While The Times cover does feature some minor aesthetic differences, the design concept is virtually identical. The band briefly chimed in on Twitter, saying, "Imitation is the highest form of flattery, NY Times." In response, Gail Bichler, The New York Times magazine's design director, tweeted: "Yes, these things look remarkably similar but we had never seen the album. As far as I can tell the album and our cover were released within days of each other. Sometimes people independently come up with the same idea at the same time."
A DREAM THEATER representative later said that the robotic arm seen on the album artwork was taken from a licensed stock imagery. This caused one DREAM THEATER fan to blast the band's longtime cover collaborator Hugh Syme as "a con artist" who created the artwork by "literally" putting "two stock pictures together." The fan added: "I hope you didn't pay him."
In a brand new interview with Italy's Linea Rock, LaBrie and guitarist John Petrucci weighed in on the controversy, with the singer saying: "We were all flabbergasted. We were shocked" after learning of the similarities. "John sent it out to the bandmembers, and, of course, we were all, like, 'What? What is going on? Is this for real?'
"We had released what the album cover would be two weeks before that was the cover of The New York Times," he continued. "So we were, like, 'Is this a coincidence?'
"It's anyone's guess at this point," James added. "Was it somebody who was a fan that worked at The New York Times? That's my theory. They saw it [and went], 'Hey, this is really cool. I'll just suggest it.' But who really knows? Is it coincidental? I've got a hard time believing it. That's me personally."
Petrucci said: "That freaked us out… We were, like, 'What the hell is going on?' And there was a tweet that went out where fans were kind of talking about it. And I think the art director for The Times chimed in and said, 'Oh, sometimes that happens. There's similarities.' So I don't know. It's just bizarre. It could be some bizarre cosmic coincidence. Who knows?"
James went on to say: "The art director from The Times will get fired, and then he'll reveal the truth. No. Who knows?"
"Distance Over Time" was released on February 22. The disc marks the first for the band's new label InsideOut Music.
DREAM THEATER is planning to hit the road in support of the new album. The "Distance Over Time" tour of North America will kick off on March 20 in San Diego, California. The tour will run for seven weeks before wrapping up in Mexico City on May 4.
Yes, these things look remarkably similar but we had never seen the album. As far as I can tell the album and our cover were released within days of each other. Sometimes people independently come up with the same idea at the same time.— Gail Bichler (@GailBichler) November 22, 2018
I'm a HUGE fan of all your music, been listening for ~15 years now, but let's be real... what about this stock image from 2017? The concept isn't all that original, especially in this day and age with A.I being so prevalent in media! https://t.co/Xajvk9atpD— TANUKI (@tanukimusic) November 26, 2018