will be appearing as part of the G3 Tour along with Joe Satriani and Phil Collen at the
Pompano Beach Amphitheater on Thursday, February 1st.
By joseph Vilane - Photo: Courtesy g3 tour
A motion picture uses a soundtrack to enhance the visual experience. However, it’s the music that can make a movies script come to life to create or develop the mood. The music of the progressive metal band Dream Theater tells a story that goes beyond words. It’s the music of guitarist virtuoso John Petrucci that takes listeners on an incredible spiritual journey that has astounded generations of listeners and will continue to do so for years to come.
Not only is John Petrucci the founding member of Dream Theater, he’s also part of the G3 tour organized by guitarist Joe Satriani. This year will make it a record breaking seven times that John has been a part of this legendary show. Petrucci is sharing the stage with Joe Satriani and Phil Collen on February 1st at the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre. This exciting tour gives John another way to showcase his innovative guitar skills that continue to inspire fans and musicians beyond progressive rock.
Petrucci has been entertaining his audience for decades. His musical ability is significantly more sophisticated than others because of his high-speed alternate picking and frequent use of the seven string electric guitar. The seven string guitar allows him to take advantage of the extended range for heavier riffing and has helped define the sound of Dream Theatre. SFL Music magazine recently had the opportunity to speak with John Petrucci about the latest G3 tour and what makes his music approach stand out from the rest. It’s John Petrucci‘s success in conjunction with his ability to create masterpieces that continues to inspire new upcoming guitarists to be original and find their own sound.
SFL Music: I want to congratulate you on this being your seventh time on the G3 tour. Tell me how much of an honor it is for you to be involved with such talented guitar players.
John Petrucci: Thank you it’s an extreme honor. It’s such a fun tour as a guitar player and I just love Joe (Satriani), I admire him so much. I admire his playing, him as a person and the whole organization. So it’s always a lot of fun. We’ve done a lot of these tours in many parts of the world but we haven’t done them in the US for a while. We’re going to Europe as well and I’ve never done one in Europe. I’m thrilled that Joe continues to have me back and ask me. I’ll say yes every time. I love it. We have one show under our belt already and it’s already a blast.
SFL Music: You’ve played with many greats on this tour such as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Do you have a favorite?
Petrucci: All the guys I’ve played with: Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Paul Gilbert and Steve Morse- they’re all amazing guitar players. I can’t pick a favorite. They’re all my favorite. It’s also a lot of fun having special guests come up and jam. That’s always a blast as well.
SFL Music: When you first started this journey as a guitar player, was it your initial goal to start a band or have you always had aspirations to branch out on your own as a solo artist?
Petrucci: I was always a big fan of Yes, Rush, Metallica and Iron Maiden. I always pictured myself in a band and that’s the career path I chose which led with Dream Theater. The solo thing kind of came out of that much later. It was not until 2001 when Joe Satriani asked me to do the first G3. It’s fun having the opportunity to play as a solo artist. It’s fun to do these types of tours and do solo albums, but my career goal was always to form a band and take that path. That’s exactly what I did with Dream Theater and continue to do. I love that.
SFL Music: What are some of the most challenging aspects that you encountered throughout the years being a musician?
Petrucci: Being a working, touring musician is the biggest challenge. The traveling is challenging because you’re away a lot. These tours last for about seven weeks, then you do one in Europe, one in US and one in Asia. You’re really away a lot. There’s a lot of traveling so it’s just trying to keep yourself healthy while on tour. You have to strike a balance with your personal, family life and professional life. When you talk to musicians who have been doing this professionally, that’s probably the biggest challenge-just trying to balance the time away with the time that you are at home and you’re living your life.
SFL Music: Speaking of time away, what inspires you outside of music? Do you find that there are other aspects of your life that inspire you to be creative?
Petrucci: Sometimes personal events can inspire music but for me a lot of time it’s just from playing, just being on the instrument. When I’m by myself and I’m just playing for a while, ideas kind of start to emerge. It’s also when I’m playing with the other guys in Dream Theater, getting together writing, and bouncing ideas off each other. It’s always really inspiring, but it’s not to say again that something might happen in your life that you might experience. You might see something or read something or anything like that can strike a chord and be a subject matter that you might want to write about. But there’s not really a hobby that I have that really inspires a creative theme.
SFL Music: You’ve had such a great career with such loyal and accepting fans. What do you feel has been your staple as far as longevity in your career as an artist?
Petrucci: We have amazing fans first and foremost that stayed with us for a really long time. We have people that have come out and bought the very first Dream Theater album and have been coming to see our concerts ever since. Our fans have been taking that into further generations with their kids and everything. That’s first and foremost, our unique and dedicated fan base that has allowed us to do this. As creative people we always try to challenge ourselves. When we do something new we try to listen to it objectively. We try to be really proactive about how it’s coming across to us and how it’s hitting us. If it sounds interesting, new, unique and cool to us when we’re writing and recording it, then we’re pretty confident that we have something that’s going to add to our catalog in a good way to keep the diversity. If something is ever hitting us that sounds a little subpar or weird and not great then we don’t do it. We will try it, scrap it and we try something again. If the music is moving us and its striking us as something that sounds good, then we know that it’s something new and different. We’re confident and hopeful that people will enjoy it.
SFL Music: Are there certain guitar players that you have been listening to as of late that you would tell people to watch out for?
Petrucci: There’s a lot of guitar players out there that are amazing. All you have to do is go out, go on YouTube and watch these unbelievable players of all ages. It’s insane that electric guitars have come so far, as far as what people are doing technically and creatively. Yeah, there are just so many players out there to listen to its hard to keep track. Now kids have the ability of watching how it’s done on YouTube and it just seems like normal. It’s kind of like learning a sport where you say ‘oh that’s how it’s done’ and so then the technical bar has been raised incredibly. A lot of young players are doing great things and it’ll be great to watch them and see how they develop creatively.
SFL Music: When you write your guitar solos especially for the latest Dream Theater album The Astonishing, do you find that you just kind of wing it or do you piece them together? What has been your approach lately?
Petrucci: Usually I’ll listen to the solo section that I’m going to play over. I just have it on repeat over and over again in the studio and I just play over it a lot. As I play over it, I just kind of develop ideas and different things that have emerged in melodies and motifs and then from there I start to build the solo. When I get comfortable with certain sections, I’ll start recording. As I’m listening back and thinking to myself ‘is that something that’s cool and creative? Is it moving me? Is it exciting?’ Once I get to the point where I’m happy with that, then I’ll move on and I’ll start building it from there by piecing it together. For the most part I try to make the solos sound like another interesting section of the music and not kind of like a self-indulgent nonsensical thing, but something that moves the music a long and the piece along. Sometimes that involves improvised sections and just going for it. Sometimes it involves really sort of working something out or maybe doing something you haven’t done before. It’s where you’re really playing through the chords in an interesting way or a technique that will really have the wow factor. So it’s a combination of all of those different things but the idea is that once it’s done and I listen back to it that I have a smile on my face and it sounds good.
SFL Music: Tell me about the transition from the six string guitar to the seven string guitar. What is it about the seven string that motivates you moving forward? I noticed that you have not transitioned to eight or nine string guitars. Tell me about how seven string guitars help define your sound.
Petrucci: At the time when I first picked it up, Steve Vai was the only person I knew that was playing seven string guitars and they’ve been around for a long time. Jazz players used them a lot but Vai was using it and I just thought it had an awesome sound. It sounded heavy, I loved the extended range and with Dream Theater since we have keyboards and a bass player who plays five strings or six strings. The range of being able to play a passage where you go below standard E to create lines, riffs or chords is something I found really interesting . It’s really free being able to play seven string. It’s free being able to do certain riffs and lines where your lowest note wasn’t always E. It’s where you could go below that note just like a keyboard player would or a bass player would that’s playing a five or six string. That was the biggest thing that interested me was the compositional thing. As soon as I started the Awake sessions in ‘94, I started writing with it. There are a lot of the songs on that album where you can hear that sort of extended low range in a lot of the riffs and lines. It just makes things more interesting.
SFL Music: Is there anything that you can tell me about the upcoming 14th Dream Theater Album and what we can have to expect?
Petrucci: We’re not working on it at the moment. I’m on tour with G3 ‘till May and then at some point this year, later in the year we’ll begin to work on it. It’s not something that will really be out until 2019, so there’s not really anything to say about it yet. We haven’t actually dove into it yet.