With many artists postponing new album releases due to Covid-19, with even more of them unable to tour and promote their new efforts, John Petrucci took a slightly different approach. ‘Terminal Velocity’ marks the first solo album from the Dream Theater guitarist in 15 years. It also happens to be the first studio recording he has done with former Dream Theater drummer, Mike Portnoy, in a decade. As artists try to navigate their way through these unprecedented circumstances brought on by the ongoing pandemic, with many of them delaying releases, John spoke with Metal Wani’s Carl O’Rourke on why he was eager to release ‘Terminal Velocity’ and not establish an alternative date.
“Well, this is a little bit non-traditional, the way that I’m doing it. You know, getting the digital out first and then the record but, you know, to me this is a labor of love. It’s something that’s fun as far as my solo career and you know, I did go back and forth and kind of try balance out and actually Roie, for those of your listeners who don’t know my publicist, we talked a bunch about doing this the more traditional way, or, just getting the music out as quickly as I can. To me it felt more important to get the music out, you know? Because it’s not like, with this record, you know, Dream Theater is my main focus in my career and it’s important that things are done in the way that you’re describing because they could be impacted. But in the case of this guitar instrumental music, it’s fun for me to do. I want to share it with people and hopefully bring some positive vibes to the listeners. I don’t know, that just felt more important to me than trying to do things in a traditional way as far as the set-up of the release, etc.”
John also spoke about how the experience was recording with Mike Portnoy for the first time in ten years.
“So that’s a testament to Mike’s playing. He played to my tracks, he came up to my studio and we recorded drums in the studio but he was playing to tracks that were already recorded. So I think the interaction you’re hearing is probably due to the history that we have together. He kind of like, when he hears what I’m playing he instinctually sort of knows how to respond and react. And the things that I like that he plays and gravitate to, you know, I’m like ‘yeah whatever you did there, that’s great! That’s awesome!’ But, you know, the way that mike recorded it, he tracked each song maybe two times, three at the most, and the tracks were built from that. It’s coming very instinctually for him. And that’s probably due to the history that we’ve had together, you know? Because it seemed very, very natural.”
Asked whether he would ever consider playing this material live with Mike and Dave, John shared,
“I mean yeah, I would play it together. I don’t think that’s going to be the focus once the world gets back to a place where, you know, live performances are possible and touring comes back. The focus will be on Dream Theater, for me. But sometime down the rod, something’s gonna come up. Whether it’s a G.3 tour, whether I decided ‘Hey, I have a little bit of time, I’m gonna do a little solo run’ or whatever. Yeah, I would love to play with Mike and Dave live. I think that would be fantastic.”
John generously spoke about upcoming Dream Theater plans, saying,
“This would be new music from scratch. As you said, we sort of shifted our schedule because touring, realistically, may not happen until this time next year or later. I mean, everything could change if there’s a vaccine and when it does change, we’re not really sure what state things will be in. But you know, so with all that in mind, we decided to. Not that I’ve been sitting around ’cause I’ve been super busy with all this! [Laughs] But as far as Dream Theater is concerned, let’s not sit around and let’s be creative together and make new music. Even if it won’t come out until 2021 at some point, probably later in the year. Let’s get together and do this. So yeah, we’re gonna do that. We kind of pivoted our schedule and if things in the world change we can make another change, you know? And that’s how we’re playing it.”