DREAM THEATER keyboardist Jordan Rudess recently spoke with Australia's Triple M radio about "From Bach To Rock: A Musician's Journey", his upcoming solo tour. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On "From Bach To Rock":
Jordan: "The idea of it is that I'm able to take the listener on a journey from the beginning of my musical outing, which started out as a young person, age 9, going to Julliard as a young prodigy, and then eventually discovering rock music and progressive rock and going through the various twists and turns of the road, ending up in LIQUID TENSION [EXPERIMENT] and DREAM THEATER. I'll be mostly playing piano, but using the piano as kind of a vehicle to tell the story. It lets me go through some interesting musical genres. Of course, it all starts with Bach, moving to some Chopin and whatever maybe comes to mind, improvisation, prog rock, LIQUID TENSION, DREAM THEATER and original stuff. It's a lot of fun for me to do, and I've taken the show to various parts of the world so far, and it always seems like it's engaging for the audience as well."
On going from studying classical music to becoming a rock musician:
Jordan: "There was a couple of different very notable points along the journey. The one big turning point was when a friend of mine in high school brought over the EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER 'Tarkus' record for me to check out. I absolutely was floored by it. I thought it was amazing. I would listen to it over and over again. I didn't realize that keyboards could have such immense power, with all the electronic keyboards as compared to playing the acoustic piano. That was a big step. I was very serious at Julliard at that point, but it made me really wonder what I was doing, because I was really turned on by the organ and the synthesizers and all that stuff. The second big turning point was that I had shifted or gone from the pre-college of the Julliard school to the college level, and when I did, I had this very famous piano teacher, Adele Markus, and she was really tough. I walked into a lesson one day and I was playing a Chopin [song] which was about 30 pages or so. I had been playing it for one week, and while I was playing it, she came over and took the music away. I stopped, because I needed the music. She said, 'Well, why'd you stop?' I said, 'I've only been playing it for a week. It's 30 pages long.' She said, 'When you study with Adele Markus, you have to memorize it within the first week.' I thought about synthesizers and 'Tarkus' and all the cool things I wanted to do. I left soon after that."
On how his parents reacted:
Jordan: "My mother, for many, many years, every time I'd see her and tell her about anything I was doing with rock or electronic, she would say, 'Oh, but you used to play Chopin so beautifully,' as if that was the only thing that really mattered. It wasn't until my career was very established that she started to realize that maybe it was a good move, and I was doing pretty well. It was all about Chopin."
On his twenty years in DREAM THEATER:
Jordan: "That's a third of my life, basically. It's incredible. The time goes by so fast. It really is amazing. It's been a very nice ride with these guys. They've always been really nice guys, really dedicated. Everybody that's ever been in DREAM THEATER is a pretty serious musician [and] takes this kind of stuff really responsibly. For me, it [feels] just like the other day that I was doing 'Scenes From A Memory'. It's incredible to think that it's been so long."
On how the band has changed during his tenure:
Jordan: "I guess anybody new is a big change, especially when you hire somebody to be also a composer. I brought in some things that they hadn't had before — things like the ability to really do some orchestration kind of stuff, and not only play an organ part or a piano part or whatever, to really think a little bit more orchestrationally. That was one thing that changed a lot – that a lot of our music was able to be epic in a new kind of way with this orchestral approach. Fast forward [to] when [Mike] Mangini joined the group. He offers a whole different kind of take on the rhythm section, so we can play some different games and try some different things there as well, and end up with some other kind of results. At the same time, DREAM THEATER has always tried to stay somewhat true to our core style, especially on this next album. We really made a step toward creating things that would be leaning towards our core a little bit more. It's hard to describe what the core is, but I guess if you had to, [it would be] some of the things that DREAM THEATER is really known for — the intense riffs, the certain combination of stuff. It's not leaning toward one side. The last album, 'The Astonishing', which I'm extremely proud of, was very different — it was more theatrical, it was more dynamic, different styles, a little more soft and sweet. It had elements that were not so much within the usual DREAM THEATER blend, but this new album and what we were going for was more the classic kind of blend."
"Distance Over Time", DREAM THEATER's fourteenth studio album (and first for InsideOut/Sony), will be released on February 22, 2019.
This fall, Rudess will embark on a three-continent solo piano tour, "From Bach To Rock", featuring the music of DREAM THEATER reimagined for the piano. The trek will begin on November 12 with performances in Japan, Taibei and Singapore, followed by seven shows in Australia and New Zealand and five shows in Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Many of the venues are offering VIP packages which will provide fans with an intimate experience with Rudess at the piano.