DREAM THEATER’S twin shred deities—guitarist John Petrucci and bassist John Myung—spoke to Premier Guitar recently to discuss Mike Portnoy’s departure, their tendon-thrashing hand workouts and the recording of their latest album, A Dramatic Turn of Events. You can pick up a copy of the album by heading over to the Play.com Metal Take Over, details found HERE. See below for some extracts from the Premier Guitar interview:
First, let’s discuss the question on everyone’s minds: Were there signs Mike Portnoy had been thinking of leaving prior to his announcement?
John Petrucci: No. It came out of the blue. We said everything we could to try to convince him that it was a mistake, but ultimately it was something he had to do.
John Myung: In hindsight though, you could kind of connect the dots. When you look back, you can pick up on vibes and stuff. But it wasn’t like you thought it was actually going to happen.
John P., in the past you’ve said you used to think of alternate picking and legato playing as two separate approaches, and that legato playing almost felt like cheating because you don’t have to pick every note. Later, you combined both approaches to play at what you call “hyper speed.”
Petrucci: Basically, if you’re alternate picking consecutively and then you stop to leave room for legato, the direction your pick left off and starts up again is where it normally would be if you were alternate picking, like where the downbeat is.
Do you mean like “down-up” then legato then starting again “down” on the next beat?
Petrucci: That’s the simplified version, but yeah, the downbeats still fall where they would normally fall, like on the beat.
I know you also make it a point to practice the same line starting with both a downstroke and an upstroke. Do you do that with these types of combination lines as well?
Petrucci: Yeah. It’s important to work on that sort of thing. I think this type of thing is a bit more natural. If you’re improvising it’s where it ends up, depending on where you’re starting. But it’s always good to practice things starting with different strokes so that you feel comfortable both ways. It’s funny, I was talking to Mike Mangini about this. He’s very into technique and plays at a highly developed level, and alternate picking is a very similar parallel to the left-right hand-foot coordination that drummers employ. Like if you have a weak hand or a weak foot or a weak upstroke, and you practice to make it strong and even.
Let’s talk gear now. Tell us about your Music Man instruments.
Petrucci: I started working with Music Man over 11 years ago, and they’re an unbelievable company. We started with the original signature model, and now we have a whole line. Instead of discontinuing a model, we keep it available for sale. The cool thing is that they’re all unique in some way. It’s like having different spices in your spice rack.
Myung: I’m using custom Music Man 6-string Bongo basses. I’ve had the one I’m playing now since last August, and it’s the best bass I’ve ever played.
You can read the full interview at THIS LOCATION.