John Petrucci - Dream Theater, G3, Liquid Tension Experiment - Back
Interviewer: Cameron Edney -

Born on July 12, 1967, guitar god John Petrucci grew up in New York City. By the age of twelve John had picked up the guitar, growing into an obsession that would become a massive part of his life. In history very few guitarists receive the worldwide acclaim and recognition that John has. Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Hendrix and Jimmy Page are all up there of course and being in the same league as names like that is mighty fine. Growing up John would practice for at least six hours a day, which has no doubt helped shape the amazing and talented guitar player which we see before us today. Influenced by many of the greats including Randy Rhoads, Steve Morse and Stevie Ray Vaughan, John took guitar playing to new levels and was voted by Total Guitar Magazine as guitarist of the year in 2007.

Forming the legendary progressive metal band Dream Theater with school friend/ bassist John Myung and drummer Mike Portnoy at the age of eighteen, Petrucci and crew took Dream Theater to the world. Breaking all the rules and following there hearts Dream Theater have set new standards for all progressive rock and metal bands that follow. In 2007 the band released there ninth studio album "Systematic Chaos" which was praised by fans worldwide and included fantastic tracks such as "The Ministry of Lost Souls", "The Dark Eternal Night", and my favorite track "Forsaken". After many years with record label Atlantic/Elektra 2007 also seen Dream Theater signing to Roadrunner records a relationship that is proving to be strong and healthy.

More than twenty years after the bands formation, Australian Dream Theater fans finally heard the news they have longed for... The very first Australian Dream Theater tour! The tour which kicks off in Perth on Jan 26 (Australia day) will prove to be a breathtaking and truly amazing show that fans won't want to miss! Meet and greet packages were put together as part of the bands first visit to Australia and fans snapped them up within days of being announced. The meet and greet packages are a great way for the band to interact with 50 of there biggest fans at every one of the Australian shows.

I recently caught up with guitar great John Petrucci to discuss the bands first ever-Australian tour and the excitement shared amongst the members. We also discussed the bands latest album "Systematic Chaos" and talked about John being perceived as one of the worlds greatest guitarist. "In The Presence of Enemies" it's time to kick back with the one and only John Petrucci

Metal Fanatix: Hi John; how are things goin' dude!

John Petrucci: Great Cameron, how are you doing?

Metal Fanatix: I’m well mate! Firstly John, I want to thank you for takin' the time out to speak with me today. How does it feel to finally be bringing Dream Theater to Australia?

John Petrucci: Oh, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is. We’ve been a band for over twenty years and have played in so many countries all around the world, unfortunately during that time we never made it down to Australia. We’re all excited to be coming down.

Metal Fanatix: Why has it taken you so long to secure dates here?

John Petrucci: I’ve been thinking about that question… a lot of times there’s certain places that seem very obvious to play, and it unfortunately comes down to some of the logistical and financial reasons. I don’t know 100% why we haven’t played there. Maybe the offers weren’t there? Maybe we couldn’t bring the full show to Australia, it’s really hard to say. It just seems like the time is right now.

Metal Fanatix: As we all know this isn’t your first visit to our shores, yourself and Mike [Portnoy] were here in 2006 as part of G3. Is there anything you are hoping to do on your days off here that you didn’t get to do last time around?

John Petrucci: Man, I would love to see more of the country. I had a bunch of guitar clinics on the days off and in fact I think I have guitar clinics as well this time. It’s such a beautiful country and I would love to be able to do some more sight seeing, but I’m not sure as usual if I will be able to.

Metal Fanatix: Is there any chance of the Australian tour being filmed for a possible ‘Systematic Chaos’ live tour DVD?

John Petrucci: Usually things like that are planned well in advance, and there is no plans for that at this point, my guess would be no.

Metal Fanatix: Over the last year or so, Australian fans have witnessed many of rock and metals greatest bands for the very first time due to a very active and thriving scene here. Is the metal scene still alive and well over there in the states?

John Petrucci: Oh yeah big time! I love it and think it is great. I love to see that side of music growing and getting more popular. It’s hard to say why things happen, what the trends are this week, but I think it’s fantastic and really strong over here.

Metal Fanatix: John, I want to talk to you for a moment about the latest album ‘Systematic Chaos’, congratulations on yet another amazing release! After more than twenty years in the business how do you guys keep coming up with such amazing material?

John Petrucci: Well thanks for saying that first of all. You know what… I think it’s the spirit of music that keeps us going! Everybody in the band is a player. Everybody in the band is a creative and artistic person. We have a great chemistry fortunately and when we get together there’s nothing more important than writing music together. It’s just a blast. There is never a shortage of new ideas and good ideas; in fact there are too many ideas [laughs]. That spark is very much alive in all of us.

Metal Fanatix: In a few words tell us what comes to mind when I mention the following tracks from the "Systematic Chaos":

John Petrucci:

The Ministry Of Lost Souls: That one is almost like a movie soundtrack song. I had that idea as a melody that I had written on the piano and bought in to the guys. I kinda always envisioned it as a big dramatic orchestral song and that’s how it came out.

Prophets Of War: Something different. It’s the song on the album that sticks out as being the song that’s a little bit different to everything else. Cool riff in that one!

Forsaken: It’s funny, when we wrote that song everything was going really well. We needed a killer riff as a theme, and if you know anything about our bass player, he’s a quiet guy and he was noodling around in the background with this riff and we were telling him to be quiet. Surely enough the riff he was playing around with became the main riff of the song so kudos to John [Myung] for that!

Metal Fanatix: The band recently signed to Roadrunner records after a long relationship with Elektra/Atlantic. What makes Roadrunner the perfect label for Dream Theater?

John Petrucci: It’s the fact that they know who we are, they completely understand our history and our potential at the same time. Roadrunner completely get the type of fans that we have, they’re not blind to the worldwide success that we have, they get it! They understand it. They have the power, the ability, the tools and the personnel to further that and exploit that! It is really important that a label really identifies with a band. We spent too many years on a label that really didn’t know what we’re all about.

Metal Fanatix: When you’re working your ass off, you really want to know that the people who have your future in there hands are doing everything they can possibly do for you too!

John Petrucci: Yeah of course, besides recording the record, everything else becomes the business part of it. You’re trying to sell the record, you’re trying to promote the record, it’s more than just playing the live concert. You’re out there working and trying to promote your product and you need the support to do that. People need to know that you’re around, and without that it’s very difficult to get anywhere.

Metal Fanatix: Mate, let’s talk to you about life on the road for a moment…. With the Australian tour edging closer do you find it hard to choose the right songs to complete the set list? There will always be fans who want to hear the old stuff and the occasional obscure song and of course you have to play some new tracks. Do you find it hard to make a set that is for fans of all eras?

John Petrucci: Well, it is harder and harder the more records we have. That responsibility became Mike’s at some point along the way, after we got tired of arguing every night about what songs we wanted to play! Mike [Portnoy] will tell you that he actually loses sleep over things like this!

Metal Fanatix: Is there any one band that you would love to hit the road with but just have never had the chance to be billed together?

John Petrucci: There are a couple of them. We’d love to tour with Metallica and we’d love to tour with Rush. Both bands are two of our big influences, I think that would be fantastic, but unfortunately it’s just never happened.

Metal Fanatix: John there is no doubt that you are an amazing guitarist, before hitting the stage these days what do you do to warm up and prepare for the show?

John Petrucci: I do the normal exercises that most guitar players do, but apart from that the most important thing for me to do is to get into a physically relaxed state. I’m not one that really likes the attention and adrenaline that comes with playing live. I need to be in a more focused relaxed performance state and that is what I try to accomplish backstage before the show.

Metal Fanatix: As many people know you started playing guitar at a very early age and are primarily a self taught musician. How do you feel about being portrayed in so many publications as a “guitar god”?

John Petrucci: Wow! Obviously it’s incredibly flattering. Certainly the work that you put into something to get recognition and rewards that way is fantastic and feels incredible. I’ve always put time in to practice and I try to learn new things and get better as a player. Once again it goes back to the spirit of music and it’s really important to keep that alive!

Metal Fanatix: You have grown up influenced by the greatest players of our time and have undoubtedly influenced many of today’s musicians, who have you been surprised to learn is a fan of your work?

John Petrucci: Its funny, you hear every so often you hear that such and such a person is a fan of your work. A lot of times, it’s a fan that you wouldn’t picture as being a fan because of the style that they play. But it’s another thing when it’s somebody that you respect. If I heard (and it’s happened in the past) where a certain guitar player I grew up really liking was a fan, then that kind of hits you like a slap in the face… Whoa! That’s so exciting to hear because you longed for that recognition and respect.

Metal Fanatix: Dream Theater… such an amazing band, surviving a little over twenty-two years in the business. Why do you think you have lasted so long in an industry that see so many artists come and go? What is the secret to the bands longevity John?

John Petrucci: First of all the most simple answer is we really love what we do and I think that’s really important to have that passion no matter what kind of work you do. We’re constantly revolving, changing and pushing ourselves. Pushing out records that are different, making double records, concept albums and we keep a lot of our focus on our live performances. In a way it’s kind of like being successful in the stock market. You diversify, and we’ve been able to play in many many different countries and have been able to develop fans, not over night fans but fans for life. Developing fans by word of mouth and by keeping the quality of what we do at a very high level. I think all of those ingredients contributed to our longevity.

Metal Fanatix: John, once you wrap up the current tour, no doubt you will be heading into the studio to work on the next album… have you guys already started penning ideas?

John Petrucci: No, we haven’t actually. It’s still too early for that, but I'm sure in the next few coming months it will happen!

Metal Fanatix: Mate, there has been so many highlights in your career, what would you say have been your greatest achievements to date?

John Petrucci: There is a bunch of different things. There have certainly been some live shows that are memorable, the recording of live at the Budokan, the live score DVD and playing with an orchestra. Selling out radio city music hall here in the U.S.A.. As a guitar player, having the opportunity to be a part of G3 and get to play with so many wonderful and incredible players. There have been many things.

Metal Fanatix: John over the years you have played on many albums, what is your favorite to listen to? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

John Petrucci: Yeah, it’s funny… you find yourself not really listening to a lot of your own stuff. One project that I was really happy to be a part of and really loved the music of was ‘Liquid Tension Experiment’. It was a really good thing to be a part of, it was such a great experience.

Metal Fanatix: John I want to thank you again for your time today. I look forward to seeing you later in the month. Do you have any last words for our readers?

John Petrucci: We’re genuinely incredibly excited to finally play in Australia. Everyone is really anticipating it. It’s going to nice to escape the New York cold for the Australian summer.

Catch Dream Theater touring Australia for the first time this month at the following venues.

Sat Jan 26 Claremont Showgrounds Perth All Ages
Mon Jan 28 RA & HS Showgrounds, Adelaide All Ages
Tue Jan 29 Festival Hall, Melbourne All Ages
Wed Jan 30 Hordern Pavilion, Sydney All Ages
Fri Feb 1 Riverstage, Brisbane All Ages

Tix are on sale now at all the usual outlets.

Australian Meet and greet package deals have all sold-out

The bands latest album Systematic Chaos is out now on Roadrunner Records. Grab your copy where all rockin' albums are sold.

To keep up with all the latest news on John and Dream Theater head to the following websites: - Official Dream Theater Site - Official John Petrucci Site - Inside Out 666

© Cameron Edney January 2008 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.