I love to talk with musicians and find out what inspires them to create a song. For a group like Dream Theater, anything is possible. They are one of the best bands in creating incredibly innovative progressive metal. Earlier this year, they released their new double album titled; The Astonishing. This is a concept record that incorporates their love for fantasy and Sci-Fi. I had the opportunity to speak with Keyboardist and songwriter Jordan Rudess. He is considered one of the best musicians on keyboards today. We spoke for a good 15 minutes about how he joined the band and how their new record came to be.
Rudess told me that when founding member Kevin Moore left the band in 1994, he was asked to audition. They then played one successful show (1994’s Concrete Foundations Forum in Burbank, Calif.), but he says the timing to join the band full time was not right. After doing some solo albums and working with The Dixie Dregs, Rudess ended up doing a super group project called; Liquid Tension Experiment (LTE). The project featured Dream Theater founders Mike Portnoy (drums) and John Petrucci (guitar). He explained that after two successful instrumental albums with LTE, Portnoy and Petrucci asked him again if he would like to join their band. This time he accepted.
Rudess went on to talk about how he got into music and what made him choose the keyboards/piano as his instrument. He then explained that as a band they are fans of concept records and he said they have wanted to do another one since the 1999 release of Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory (which happens to be Rudess’ first Dream Theater record). Rudess co-wrote this record with Petrucci, who is also Dream Theaters' main songwriter. According to Rudess, Petrucci has been working on the synopsis for this album for three years. When Pertucci showed it to Rudess, he loved what he read and they immediately started working on it.
Rudess also explained what musical elements went into The Astonishing, which included a symphony orchestra and a choir. When I asked him what his favorite song off the record was, he said "It just depends on the day." He then revealed that he is attracted to the song “A Life Left Behind,” which is one of my favorites besides “Our New World.” Rudess says that he hopes more will come out this project besides being just a rock opera. When I mentioned Petrucci created this concept based on his love for Sci-Fi and fantasy pop culture, Rudess told me how much he loves the music scores from those genres. Dream Theater is planning on a tour where they only play songs from The Astonishing, which he says was the goal for the group.
Rudess is a true maestro and an absolute gentleman. His description of their show for this tour paints a vivid picture, and I cannot wait to check it out. He is not just a fan of rock music, but of all music in general. It was a thrill speaking with him. To Jordan Rudess, I say good luck on the road and I salute you. Horns up. ~B-Mac