Dream Theater is considered a success in the progressive metal scene, often considered to be the vanguards of the genre. Although Progressive Metal bands tend to have no success in mainstream circles, Dream Theater have managed to cross over into the mainstream at points in their career, most notably with their top 10 hit Pull Me Under back in 1992. The band have since seen limited mainstream success, although they are currently gaining in popularity.
The band is well known for the technical proficiency of its instrumentalists, who have won many awards from music instruction magazines. Dream Theater's members have collaborated with many other notable musicians. Guitarist John Petrucci has been named as the third player on the G3 tour six times, more than any other invited guitarist, following in the footsteps of Eric Johnson and Robert Fripp.
The band's highest selling album is the gold selling Images and Words 1992, which reached #61 on the Billboard 200 charts. Both the 1994 release Awake and their 2002 release Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence also entered the charts at #32 and #46 respectively and received mostly positive reviews. Six Degrees of inner Turbulence also led to Dream Theater becoming the initial band reviewed in the Music Section of Entertainment Weekly during its opening week of release, despite the magazine generally preferring more mainstream music. in 2007, Systematic Chaos entered US Billboard 200 at #19. The band has finished recording their tenth studio album, Black Clouds & Silver Linings, which was released on June 23, 2009 and entered the US billboard chart at #6. They released their eleventh studio album A Dramatic Turn of Events on September 13th, 2011, which charted at #8 on the US Billboard 200. Their twelfth studio album, Dream Theater, was released on September 24th, 2013, entering the US Billboard chard at #7, making it their 3rd consecutive top 10 debut. Dream Theater has sold over two million albums in the U.S., and over 8 million records worldwide.
The early days of Majesty at Berklee (1986-1987)
The initial formation of the band started in September of 1986 by John Petrucci and John Myung, two Long Island natives who were studying music at Berklee College of Music. The two friends came across drummer Mike Portnoy in one of Berklee's practice rooms and approached him, striking up an immediate friendship based on shared musical tastes and the fact that Portnoy was also from Long Island. The three came together to form an as-yet unnamed band, gaining some notoriety at Berklee for constantly playing rock and metal music such as Iron Maiden and Rush, while most other students were interested in classical and jazz music.
Myung, Petrucci and Portnoy came up with a name for their band while camping out on line for a Rush concert, Portnoy made the comment: "Their music is so majestic" while listening to the song "Bastille Day". The band then became known as "Majesty" from then on.
Deciding on this point to become serious about their band, Myung, Petrucci and Portnoy set out to complete the line-up. Myung and Petrucci immediately recruited their mutual friend Kevin Moore as keyboardist, whom they had grown up with and who was currently going to a state college. Also recruited was their friend Chris Collins who was planning on joining the United States Marine Corps, after hearing a tape of him singing with a Queensrÿche tribute band. Not knowing that he could sing, the band was impressed with his high vocal range and the Majesty line-up was now complete.
Although the band now had five members, they were scattered around New York, going to different schools. Myung, Petrucci and Portnoy began writing and recording demos on a 4-track recorder donated from Portnoy's grandmother, and as such came up with early versions of such songs as Another Won, Two Far and March of the Tyrant. Myung, Petrucci and Portnoy dropped out of Berklee, with Moore dropping out of school also and Collins deciding not to join the Marines, the band came together and started writing more and expanding on the trio's demos.
The beginning months of 1986 were filled with various concert dates in and around the New York City area. During this time, the band recorded a collection of demos, titled The Majesty Demos, which were pressed to 1,000 cassettes using money donated again by Portnoy's grandmother. The band would sell their tapes at shows, which sold out quickly, as well as sending them to various magazines and music publications, often receiving favorable writeups. The tapes became popular and were copied by many fans, leading to the tapes still being available today, though they have been released on CD through YtseJam Records.
"When Dream and Day Unite" The end of Majesty, the beginning of Dream Theater (1987-1989)
Majesty had success in playing local shows and getting their tapes distributed, however the core members became increasingly frustrated with Chris Collins, citing creative and personal differences, as well as his poor vocals. One noteable incident nearly led to blows between Collins and Myung after Collins made a remark about Myung's Korean heritage that was taken personally. Collins and Majesty parted ways. Collins' merits and contributions to the band are debated by fans, with many seeing him as being an unimportant footnote in history, with others feeling he helped get the band on their feet. The band immediately started auditioning for a new singer. It is rumored that a man named Jim Kane had worked with the band after Collins left, and stayed with them for 7-8 months, though it did not work well between them, nor has this been confirmed by the band themselves.
The search for a singer was short lived, as an aspiring singer named Charlie Dominici sought them out, being familiar with The Majesty Demos and hearing they were looking for a singer. Dominici approached John Myung in the music store Myung worked at and introduced himself by singing. Dominici gained an audition for this, though the audition did not go well initially, with Dominici showing himself to have issues singing the Majesty songs. After showing off his improvisation skills, however, the band was impressed and offered Dominici the vocals position in the band.
The new Majesty lineup had its first hurdle, however, when they were forced to change their name. A Las Vegas-based jazz ensemble using the same name sent a cease and desist letter citing infringement on intellectual property. Deciding to avoid a legal battle, the band was forced to change their name, although the name change would not come easy. Many names were proposed, including "M1", "M2" and "Magus" and the band even went as "Glasser" for about a week, though fans reacted poorly to this name after Dominici announced it at a concert. The band was bombarded with suggestions, most of them tongue-in-cheek names too ridiculous or obscene to use, by Howard Portnoy, Mike's father, though eventually Howard would suggest "Dream Theater" named after an old fashioned movie theater in California. The band immediately took to this name and adopted it.
With their new line-up and moniker, the band focused greatly on writing and recording new material as well as playing more live shows in the New York City area. This eventually got the attention of Mechanic Records, a division of MCA records, who signed the band's first record contract. The band started work on their first album, When Dream and Day Unite at Jakem Vicotry Studios in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. Finishing the album very quickly (the basic tracks were recorded in a 10 day period), the album was released in 1989. After the album's release, the band were faced with the harsh reality of the poor deal made with Mechanis, as the album was released with very little fanfare, the label refusing the market the album, leading to poor sales. Promises of a national tour, single and music video also went by the wayside, leading to a short local tour of about 10 shows, not very much different from what the band had been doing previous to being signed. The band attempted to get Mechanic to drop them. However, the label refused, leading the band to buy their way out of their own contract, losing most of the small sum made from the album as well as the rights to the recording and all future revenue from album sales. To make matters worse, personal and creative differences between Dominici and the rest of the band could no longer be ignored, and he was let go, though they remain on amiable terms, Dominici even returning for one more show with the band after an opportunity came up to open for Marillion, and for another show much later for the 15th anniversary of When Dream and Day Unite.
The Road to "Images and Words" (1990-1992)
Following Dominici's departure and the break from Mechanic Records, Dream Theater decided to first focus on getting a singer before signing another record contract. The band auditioned over 200 singers for the role, with some noteable people who either came very close to landing the job, or did for a short period. The first serious contender was John Arch, formerly of the band Fates Warning, who was a friend of the band. Arch, however, was not seriously interested in becoming a singer for Dream Theater, and auditioned as a favor to Portnoy. The second serious contender was Steve Hendricks, who auditioned successfully and started working with the band. However, the band felt that he did not fit in with their image, despite having a great voice, and this was confirmed by a scout for atCO Records who was courting the band at the time.
The band's next successful suitor would be Steve Stone, who worked with the band for some time in the studio, recording demos impressively. Stone was offered the job, which he accepted, becoming the band's new vocalist. However, this proved to be short lived. Stone's first and only live performance with the band in 1990 proved to be disastrous, as he attempted to sing three of the six songs the band performed, breaking his voice quickly and embarrassing the band with his on-stage persona. Although he was let go shortly after the show, Stone claims the break was mutual, and that he had already purchased a plane ticket back home. Portnoy recalls that Stone asked him for a ride to the airport, which angered him.
The band's next contender would be Chris Cintron, and whether or not he was ever an official member of Dream Theater is up for some debate. The band, soured by the experience with Steve Stone, decided to be extra-cautious with Cintron, who auditioned successfully. They worked with him extensively in the studio, attempting to gauge his abilities without a trial-by-fire that could potentially ruin the band's reputation. Although Cintron seemed like a fit for the band, some concerns were raised over his physical similarities to Charlie Dominici, though for the time it seemed like he was the best fit. Whether or not he was ever officially offered the position is unknown, though if he wasn't offered it, the band was very close to doing so.
in late 1991, the band received a tape in the mail of a Canadian glam metal band by the name of Winter Rose by way of an audition for their singer Kevin LaBrie. Impressed with both his vocals and looks, the band decided to fly him down to New York for a formal audition, all the while keeping this secret from Cintron. The band and LaBrie immediately took to each other, and he was offered the job almost immediately. As a first act as vocalist, LaBrie agreed to go by his middle name, James, to avoid confusion, seeing as how there was already a Kevin in the band. The band successfully recorded demos and toured with LaBrie in their lineup and recorded a three track demo for atCO, known by fans as "The atCO Demos", which successfully got them a 7-record deal with the label.
"Images and Words" and commercial success (1992-1993)
Dream Theater's next album Images and Words was released by atCO to commercial success. However, the process of creating the album proved to be difficult for the band. Although most of the material was already written either in the interim since their first album or were holdovers from that era, the album's creation was anything but smooth. The first hurdle was the label's refusal to include the song A Change of Seasons a song penned by Portnoy about his late mother, whose 16 minute length intimidated the label, who were looking for radio singles. The hiring of controversial producer David Prater also proved to be an issue, as he clashed with the band both professionally and personally, the band having to make many compromises such as using drum-triggers for Portnoy's snares and kick-drums (the latter of which he would remain unaware of for quite some time.) Prater fought with Portnoy and Petrucci over creative direction and in interviews has been dismissive of the band's abilities, claiming that any success they garnered was because of him. Prater seemed to have a grudge against the band, showing them open disrespect such as refusing to call Portnoy "Mike" and making obviously untrue statements such as the 16-minute A Change of Seasons was "over thirty minutes long". Despite this, the album was finished and released with much excitement on the band's part.
Dream Theater kicked off a world-wide tour in support of the album, touring Europe and Asia for the first time, as well as across North America. Album sales were strong, growing stronger after the lead-off track, Pull Me Under broke out as a radio hit, reaching #10 on the Billboard Top 200. A video was shot for the song, using concert footage from a show in England, as well as conceptual footage that lacked the band's input. Pull Me Under was a massive success, and to this day remains the band's most popular song, leading to the album eventually becoming Gold Certified by the RIAA and it reached Platinum status in Japan, although no single for the big hit song was ever released. The band later released a single for Another Day, the band's first EP release, and a video was shot for it, though it never received the commercial airplay or success of Pull Me Under. The third single from the album was Take The Time which received very little airplay.
Also coming out of the tour was the band's first live album, Live at the Marquee with a selection of six songs from their London show. The album is notable for having two distinct releases, a European and Japanese release, with slightly different tracklistings. Although Live at The Marquee was never released in America, it remains a popular import for Dream Theater fans. Due to James LaBrie having a cold during the show, many of the vocals were over-dubbed in the studio, leading the album to be criticized for not being truly live. As a companion to Live at The Marquee, the band released their first home video, Images and Words Live in Tokyo on VHS (it would later be released on DVD as part of Dream Theater Double Feature, which contained live footage of their Tokyo show as well as candid "Rockumentary" footage of the band in Japan and the music videos for Pull Me Under, Another Day and Take The Time.
"Awake", Moore's departure, LaBrie's vocal injury and "A Change of Seasons" (1994-1995)
After a successful tour and a run of commercial success, Dream Theater returned to the studio to write and record their third album, Awake. The album came off as heavier than Images and Words and considerably darker and more personal than When Dream and Day Unite. Wanting to distance themselves as much as they can from the stylings of David Prater, producers John Purdell and Duane Baron were brought in, giving the album a very heavy, dark tone that suited the band's music much more. Creation of the album however was not completely smooth though. Kevin Moore had grown emotionally distant from the band, and wanted to focus more on avant-garde and electronic music. He often came to Dream Theater with musical pieces and melodies that, while they showed a wealth of talent, did not fit in with the band's sound. One such piece, "Space-Dye Vest" was put on the album in place of To Live Forever to appease Moore's changing tastes. The album was considerably longer than the first two, filling up an entire CD, with both To Live Forever and an instrumental piece, "Eve" not making the cut.
Shortly after the completion of Awake, Kevin Moore announced his intention to part from the band, leading to immediate personal friction between him and Portnoy, who felt that Moore's departure was badly timed, and left him out of the decision making process afterwards, leading Moore to critize the way the album was mixed, as the mix had no input from him. Moore would never re-unite with Dream Theater, despite being invited several times to appear at live shows, leading to more animosity between him and Portnoy, who felt increasingly insulted by Moore's dismissal of the band. Although the two would work together on a side project much later, OSI, Portnoy would later leave this project due to creative differences.
The album was released to critical success, though it received far less commercial success than its predecessor, although a single was released for "The Silent Man". A video was also shot for the song, directed by Portnoy, though it received virtually no airplay. Slightly more successful was the second single, "Lie", which the band recorded a performance video for without Kevin Moore. The album was still moderately successful, though its relatively poor returns compared to Images and Words led to friction with the record label, (now known as EastWest Records) who afterwords treated Dream Theater as a one-hit wonder. Fans, however, immediately took to the album, and it is considered to be one of their best albums by many fans.
The prospect of a tour proved difficult without a keyboardist, and without enough time to properly audition for the position, the band entered a scramble. One notable person who auditioned was Jens Johansson, who would go on to become a member of the power metal band Stratovarius. Johansson claimed that he was offered the keyboardist position, however Portnoy has denied this, stating that he auditioned, but was never offered anything. The band sought out keyboardist Jordan Rudess, who had come to their attention previously by beating Kevin Moore in a "best keyboardist" poll. Rudess agreed to audition, and he impressed the band greatly with both his prowess at playing keyboards as well as his usage of technology. Though he was offered the job, he turned it down, preferring a spot with The Dixie Dregs, as touring with them would better accommodate the family he was starting, though Rudess did play a single show with the band.
Having run out of time to properly audition keyboardists, Dream Theater hired former Alice Cooper and Kiss keyboardist Derek Sherinian as a temporary hired hand, though during the course of the tour for Awake, the band would decide to hire him full time, making him an official member of Dream Theater. According to Portnoy and Petrucci, Sherinian's personality changed after becoming a full member, going from quiet and reserved to an animated, over the top personality, showing off his humor and creativity at live shows and later on, in the studio.
The tour, though a success, proved to be difficult for James LaBrie, who while vacationing, ate some bad shellfish and suffered food poisoning, causing him to vomit profusely and rupture his vocal chords. Against medical advice to take at least a year off from singing, LaBrie toured anyway, damaging his voice further, causing it to not fully heal until around 2004.
Following the tour, Portnoy convinced the record label to allow the band to release the song A Change of Seasons as a separate EP, being the first thing to be recorded with Sherinian in the band. The song was slightly re-worked and expanded, with some lyrical changes and a new intro penned by Sherinian. The band debated what else to put on the EP, and even wrote some new songs, including a viciously worded tirade about Kevin Moore, "Raise The Knife", though eventually the band decided on including live version of cover songs recorded at a special covers-only show in London.
The recording of A Change of Seasons, however, proved to be difficult, as the label once again brought in David Prater to produce the album, possibly reasoning that it was a song left off of Images and Words, so it should share the producer, though Prater was warned not to clash with Portnoy and Petrucci and was told he would be fired if he attempted to use drum triggers. The second time around proved smoother for Portnoy and Petrucci, though Prater notoriously clashed with LaBrie, attempting to force him to sing the entire 25 minute song for each take, a conflict that almost came to blows at one point. Despite these issues, A Change of Seasons was released successfully, and the band even did a short tour to promote it.
"Falling Into Infinity" and record label issues (1996-1998)
Following the short tour to promote "A Change of Seasons", the band returned to the studio to write and record their fifth album, "Falling Into Infinity" however this proved difficult for the band as internal changes in the label led to most of the people they were used to dealing with being laid off. Dream Theater had written two CDs worth of material, though EastWest management refused to greenlight the album unless major changes were made. The band were forced to deal with not being able to do a double-album, having to cut several songs, "Speak To Me", "Cover My Eyes", "Where Are You Now?", "The Way It Used To Be" and the incomplete "Metropolis Pt 2". The band were also forced to work with an outside song-writer, Desmond Child, which led the band to feel that they were being forced to compromise too much musical integrity.
The band also faced internal strife, as James LaBrie sided with the label's decision that the album should be a a single CD, and John Petrucci was singled out to fly out to California to work on the song You Or Me with Desmond Child, the end result being the controversial song You Not Me. With Portnoy clashing with Petrucci, LaBrie and the label, this proved to be Dream Theater's most difficult album to date. Things got worse after its release, as it failed to garner the mainstream hits the label had been looking for, despite a single and video being released for Hollow Years, and many fans and Portnoy himself felt that the musical compromises made on the album took its toll on the finished product, though since then the album has gained appreciation from the fans.
The album is considered to be fairly dark, with subject material such as child abuse and religious persecution, and Portnoy's lyrics for "New Millenium", "Burning My Soul" and "Just Let Me Breathe" all reflecting frustration and anger with their label. The tour for the album proved trying to the band, particularly Portnoy, whose drinking habit, already pronounced, increased dramatically. The band managed to get through the tour thanks mostly to the presence of Sherinian, who served as a light-hearted counterpoint and was arguably considered to be the heart of the band at the time, leading them in doing unusual concert practices such as "Nightmare Cinema" where the band would switch instruments and "Nicky Lemons and The Migraine Brothers" where Sherinian would lead the band in a punk rock song for a fictional album Ugly American.
Feeling that he had compromised too much and the band had become somewhat of a joke, Portnoy announced his intention to quit, which would have effectively ended the band, though the rest of the band convinced him to finish out the tour and rethink his position. Portnoy eventually decided to give Dream Theater one last chance, but changes had to be made to their situation.
Following the tour, Dream Theater released their second live album, "Once in a LIVEtime", which ironically was a two-disc set, despite the label refusing to allow them to release one for the album itself. Once in A LIVEtime had a much rawer and "real" sound than its predecessor, though it is sometimes criticized for being too raw. The band also released a second home video "Five Years in A LIVEtime" featuring footage from various concerts from the Awake and Falling Into Infinity tours as well as more documentary footage and the videos for "The Silent Man", "Lie" and "Hollow Years"
"Scenes From a Memory" and the arrival of Jordan Rudess (1999-2001)
There would be many changes for the band after "Falling Into Infinity" and its tour, the first of which was Portnoy and Petrucci regaining musical and creative control over the band. The pair approached their management, claiming that the label would either leave them alone, or they would quit. The label agreed, possibly seeing how interfering with the band caused a negative reaction from fans, and that the band did best while left to their own devices.
The second major change would be a line-up change. After working with Jordan Rudess on a side project, Liquid Tension Experiment for two albums, Portnoy and Petrucci felt again that he was the perfect match for Dream Theater, and once again offered him the position, to which he accepted. This unfortunately left Derek Sherinian in a bad spot, as he had to be let go, despite not having done anything wrong and being a positive influence on the band through what is considered to be their darkest era. Sherinian, initially upset, has remained on good terms with Dream Theater, reuniting with them in 2004 for the 15th anniversary of "When Dream and Day Unite" to play as part of the encore. Sherinian has since used his short stint in Dream Theater as a launching pad to his own solo career, which has been successful.
Upon returning to the studio to write and record their sixth album, which would become "Scenes From a Memory", the band combined two ideas that had been kicking around for a while: The idea of doing a concept album, and the proposed sequel to "Metropolis", which had at one point been recorded in rehearsal form with Sherinian, but never completed. Expanding on the concept of Metropolis, and with Portnoy and Petrucci producing the album themselves, "Scenes From A Memory"'s release is considered to be among the very best from the band. Doing financially better than its predecessors (other than "Images and Words") and being received extremely well by the fans, it is often considered by many to be the band's best album. The band for the first time since their debut did not record any videos for the songs, though a single was released for Through Her Eyes.
The tour for Scenes From A Memory proved to be every bit as successful as the album, with the band performing the entire album in full at each show, with an increasingly complex and nuanced stage production. The tour culminated in a show at The Roseland Ballroom in New York City, the final time the band would perform the album in its entirety (saving for certain shows much later in South America) as well almost a full concert's worth of older material, including such fan favorites as A Change of Seasons and Learning to Live. The concert's legendary length led to Portnoy almost being rushed to the hospital after vomiting at the end of the show, though this length would become standard for the band's live shows for a few years after this. The show was filmed and taped and was subject of three releases. The first release was the band's 3rd home video Metropolis 2000 which only included the portion of the show where the band performed Scenes From A Memory, though a later DVD release would include several other songs as extras. The full concert would later be released on the band's next live album, "Live Scenes from New York", which contained CD-ROM footage of more video from the show. The entire show has never been released on video.
Live Scenes From New York was infamously released on September 11th, 2001, which co-incided with terrorist attacks in New York City as well as Pennsylvania and Washington DC. This led the band to become uncomfortable with the cover art, which depicted the New York City skyline, including the now-destroyed towers of the World Trade Center, on a backdrop of flame. The band requested the album be recalled, though many copies got out, leading it to become somewhat of a collector's item for fans. The album was later released with altered cover art.
"Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" (2002-2003)
The band followed up this massive effort with another massive effort, their seventh album, "Six Degrees of Inner Turublence. Having creative freedom from their label and proving that their albums were financially viable without interference, the band got permission from the label (now known as Elektra) to do a double album, though it was originally not conceived to be one, and Portnoy was prepared (though reluctant) to cut the songs "Misunderstood" and "Disappear" from the album.
The album is mostly known for its title track, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence A 42 minute epic that remains to this day to be the band's longest track, with the second CD of the album being entirely dedicated to the one song, though it was released as 8 separate tracks, so fans could potentially skip to sections they wanted to hear. The song initially was going to be around 20 minutes long, but in writing ballooned up and necessitated a double album.
The album was fairly successful, getting a higher profile release than the previous two albums and charting fairly well, being the band's best selling album since Images and Words. Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence also marks the first time since the band's debut that no single was released, though several songs received radio edits. The tour following the album also proved to be a success with the band now regularly doing three-hour shows as well as incorporating covers of entire albums into certain shows, and doing a co-headlining tour with Queensryche, somewhat of a dream tour for many fans, though experiences on this tour and after have led to bad blood between Portnoy and Geoff Tate of Queensryche, and it is unlikely they will ever tour again, save for one planned show in Washington DC in 2009. Dream Theater were also featured on the DVD version of Queensryche's The Art of Live, playing two cover songs with Queensryche: "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd and "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who.
"Train of Thought" and "Live at Budokan"(2003-2004)
Returning to the studio for their seventh album, Dream Theater for the first time had a pre-conceived notion of what they wanted to create, a song-oriented album that would become "a classic metal album" along the lines of Master of Puppets and The Number of The Beast, two albums Dream Theater had covered on their previous tour. The band set aside three weeks of time to write the album prior to recording, making it an unusual approach for the band, who usually wrote in the studio while recording. The album was dubbed Train of Thought and is considered to be the darkest and heaviest Dream Theater album, even more so than Awake. The band faced some criticism for the heavy sound, with some fans wishing they would return to the sound of Images and Words, while other fans embraced the new sound, the rift in the fandom becoming a growing trend that would dog the band from then on. Portnoy considered releasing a single and video for the song As I Am though he decided against it in the end, citing that it wouldn't do much good
The band embarked on yet another world tour in support of the album, using the now-familiar An Evening With Dream Theater format, playing lengthy shows with a surprisingly sharp emphasis on changing setlists and incorporating cover songs. Early on in the tour, the band performed Train of Thought from start to finish in its entirety, the second album to be performed this way, though the band never repeated it with this album. The band also played a special show in Los Angeles to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the release of When Dream and Day Unite. In the second set, Portnoy announced that they would be doing something special, and the band performed that album in its entirety, making it the 3rd album to receive this treatment. The band was then joined on stage for the encore by Charlie Dominici who sang To Live Forever, his favorite Dream Theater song, and Derek Sherinian who assisted in keyboards on Metropolis. It is reported that Kevin Moore was invited to join them, but refused. The band would later release this portion of the show as When Dream and Day Reunite.
The tour culminated in a show at the Nippon Budokan Hall, the most famous concert venue in Asia, where many famous live albums had been recorded. The show recorded there was recorded for a live album, which was released in its entirety as Live at Budokan which was also released on DVD. The show is known for its high quality and the DVD version sold very high, being certified Platinum by the RIAA. The band planned to follow up the tour with a vacation. However, they jumped at an opportunity to open for the Progressive Rock band Yes on their 35th anniversary tour.
"Octavarium", Label change, Gigantour and "Score" (2005–2006)
Returning to record their eighth studio album, Dream Theater changed from using Bear Tracks Studio, where they had recorded their previous albums, to The Hit Factory in New York City, coincidentally being the last band to record there before it closed down. Unlike Train of Thought, which was written very quickly, the band spent quite some time on the album, which would be named Octavarium. The band once again did not have any pre-conceived notions of a musical concept, so it became a more traditional Dream Theater album, with many fans comparing it to Images and Words. The album was released to much success, outselling the previous albums (save for Images and Words) and garnering mostly positive reviews.
Octavarium became somewhat known for its numerical concept, with a great deal of the music, lyrics and packaging revolving around the number eight (the number of albums the band has released) and the number 5 (the number of members in Dream Theater). The album, including packaging, had dozens of "nuggets" as Portnoy called them, references to 8 and 5, which fans delighted in finding and picking apart. This led to some fans looking for nuggets in older Dream Theater songs at Portnoy's prompting, finding them in such songs as In The Name of God.
Octavarium also ended their contractual obligations to their label (which now fell under the umbrella of Atlantic Records), leading fans to speculate whether or not the band would renew their contract, or if not, where they would go. The band decided not to sign with atlantic again, citing better offers and wanting to start fresh after some of the bad experiences they had in the past. Portnoy stated that their initial deal seemed great at the time, but fifteen years later he realized it was a poor decision, citing a 7-album deal as being almost unheard of. Many fans assumed Dream Theater would sign with Rhino Records whom had released some of Dream Theater's live albums and DVDs. However, the band eventually made the announcement that they would be signing with Roadrunner Records a mainstream label known for signing metal bands.
Following the album, Dream Theater embarked on a co-headlining tour with Megadeth entitled Gigantour. Support acts included BobaFlex, Dry Kill Logic, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Symphony X, Nevermore and Fear Factory. Dream Theater dropped out of the tour near the end, and were replaced with Anthrax. The Montreal date was filmed and taped for a CD and DVD with Dream Theater performing the songs The Glass Prison and Panic Attack as well as Cemetery Gates filmed at a different show, which showed up as an extra on the DVD version. Gigantour would return twice more with Megadeth headlining, though Dream Theater would not participate.
The band then embarked on a world tour supporting Octavarium, announcing that the last date would be a special show at Radio City Music Hall to commemorate the band's 20th anniversary, with Portnoy promising "a big surprise", which led to a lot of fan speculation. The show, which was filmed and taped, was notable for the second half, in which the band were joined on stage by an orchestra, which LaBrie dubbed The Octavarium Orchestra. The concert ended with slight controversy for the band, as they traditionally returned to the stage after the encore to thank the fans, bringing them three minutes over the venue's strict curfew, which imposed them with a $30,000 USD fine, which was graciously payed by Roadrunner Records.
The concert was eventually released as Score, which was also released a DVD, following the formula from Live at Budokan. The live album sold exceptionally well, especially the DVD version, which once again went platinum. The band then took a vacation, opting to spend time with their families rather than go back to work on another album.
"Systematic Chaos", "Progressive Nation", "Chaos in Motion" and "Greatest Hit" (2007-2008)
Dream Theater's decision to sign with Roadrunner turned out very well for the band, as their next album, Systematic Chaos received a great deal of advance marketing from the label, leading it to be the first Dream Theater album to chart in the top 20 initially, and the highest charting Dream Theater album ever. The album, very much a follow-up to Octavarium, once again contains a mix of different sounds and influences, with the band going into the studio "fresh". The album received very favorable reviews, with many citing it as their best release yet and that the band seemed much more focused than on previous efforts.
Roadrunners efforts to promote the band continued with a music video for Constant Motion which became the band's most successful video since Pull Me Under, though no single was released. The band later released a single for Forsaken, the band's first and so far only animated video, with a storyline based on Petrucci's lyrics. The single was released digitally, a first for the band, over such music services as iTunes.
The band embarked on another world tour, this time bringing along two opening acts, Redemption and Into Eternity, citing the fact that doing three hour shows tired them out too quickly, as well as a desire to showcase upcoming progressive metal bands. This thinking led Portnoy to the creation of Progressive Nation a North American package tour led by Dream Theater with support acts Opeth, 3 and Between The Buried and Me. Footage from various shows and documentary footage was used for the next home video, Chaos in Motion, which, to the chagrin of many fans, was not released separately on CD, with only a quickly snapped up special edition containing the audio tracks.
The band also released their first compilation album, Greatest Hit (...and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) a two-disc compilation of songs, with the title being a tongue in cheek reference to Pull Me Under's success, and the band being mostly underground since then. The release was known for its cover art by Hugh Syne as well as the first commercial release of To Live Forever and remixes of the three singles from Images and Words.
"Black Clouds & Silver Linings" (2009 - 2010), Mike Portnoy's Departure and Mike Mangini as the new drummer
Mike Portnoy announced on June 2nd, 2008 that the band would be entering the studio to record a new album. They recorded the album from October 7th, 2008 to February 27th, 2009 at Avatar Studios on New York City. The album, which is titled Black Clouds & Silver Linings, was released on June 23th, 2009. in addition to the standard CD, the album is available on vinyl LP, as well as a 3-disc Special Edition CD that includes the full album, a CD of instrumental mixes of the album and a CD of six cover songs, "Stargazer", "Tenement Funster/Flick of the Wrist/Lily of the Valley", "Odyssey", "Take Your Fingers From My Hair", "Larks' Tongues in Aspic - Part II", and "To Tame A Land".
When announcing news of the album's progress on his forum, Mike Portnoy described the album as "A DT album with A Change of Seasons, Octavarium, Learning to Live, Pull Me Under and The Glass Prison....all on one album..." Jordan Rudess later added, "...We've been entering into the Gothic domain quite a bit on this album."
The first single, A Rite of Passage was released for download on Roadrunner's website on May 11th, 2009, as well as a video for the song, the band's first performance in a conceptual video since Hollow Years, and the second single, Wither, was released on September 15th, 2009, and the video on December 4th, which depicts several shots of the band in rehearsals or on trasport
On May 1, Mike Portnoy spoke to Metal Hammer about Black Clouds & Silver Linings for their podcast saying that while The Shattered Fortress was the last in a series of songs about his 12 Steps recovery from alcoholism, The Best of Times "is a real heavy personal subject about my dad who passed away during the making of the album," adding, "He was battling cancer throughout its making."
The band has also announced a second Progressive Nation tour, including the tour's first performances in Europe. Opeth, Bigelf and Unexpect supported Dream Theater in Europe, while Zappa Plays Zappa, Pain of Salvation and Beardfish opened the North American leg. During this tour, Dream Theater's keyboardist Jordan Rudess was documenting various things from their everyday life, such as their daily "meet and greet" with the fans. Rudess filmed the events with his iPhone and posted the clips on his YouTube channel. Videos from the earlier North American tour can be found on this channel as well.
Mike Portnoy and Dream Theater announced on On September 8th, 2010 that Mike had left the band after 25 years, since the band's conception. According to Mike, he felt that the band needed to go on a hiatus, but the rest of Dream Theater didn't feel the same way and decided to continue without Mike rather than take a break. Because of this decision, Portnoy decided he would leave Dream Theater.
Auditions to find a new drummer began in October in New York city, where seven world-class drummers (Mike Mangini, Derek Roddy, Thomas Lang, Virgil Donati, Marco Minnemann, Aquiles Priester, and Peter Wildoer) auditioned to replace Mike Portnoy. On November 5, the drummer was chosen and in April 2011 it was revealed publicly that Mike Mangini was chosen. The auditions were released as a three-part YouTube documentary called The Spirit Carries On, also released as a DVD on the special edition of A Dramatic Turn of Events .
"A Dramatic Turn of Events" (2011 - 2012)
Dream Theater recorded their 11th studio album, "A Dramatic Turn of Events", in Cove City Sound Studios in Glen Cove, New York from January 3rd to June 28th, 2011. It was released on September 12th 2011. The album was written entirely without Mike Mangini, and the parts were written with a drum machine. Jordan Rudess and John Myung contributed much more to the music writing than they had in recent years, with LaBrie writing lyrics for Far From Heaven, Myung co-writing with Petrucci lyrics forBreaking All Illusions, the first time since Fatal Tragedy in Scenes From a Memory that he had done so. All other lyrics were written by Petrucci. The title of the album was inspired by the recurring lyrical themes about events that changed the course of history, notably the Libyan civial war. The lead single, On the Backs of Angels, was released on June 29th, 2011, on September 14th a music video was released, and on January 26th, 2012, a lyric video for the second single, Build Me Up, Break Me Down was released on Loudwire.
Petrucci felt he had a responsibility to fans following Portnoy's departure, and so some songs on the album have specific purposes. For example, On the Backs of Angels was a throwback to Dream Theater's signature sound, the heavy Build Me Up, Break Me Down was used to contrast the progressive aspects of the album, Outcry served as the album's anthem, Breaking All Illusions was an epic song that challenged traditional songwriting methods, and the closing track Beneath the Surface was the ballad.
According to Jordan Rudess in an interview, he said the band underwent a musical change, re-evaluating and restructuring "who we are and what we do." In an interview for The Mirror, Petrucci said the album,"tells a story... not literally but emotionally" and likened the experience to a "roller coaster ride." and LaBrie said that, musically, the was melodically driven. Many people, including Rich Wilson in the Dream Theater biography Lifting Shadows, say that the album is "spiritually reminiscient" of past albums like Images and Words and Scenes From a Memory. Thiago Campos, a Brazilian musician and leader of a Dream Theater cover band on YouTube, went a step further saying that certain songs are structurally similar to counterparts on Images and Words, for example the lead single, On the Backs of Angels, is almost structurally identical to the lead single from Images and Words, Pull Me Under.
"Dream Theater" (2013 - present), Live at Luna Park
Dream Theater started writing for their 12th studio album during the A Dramatic Tour of Events in April 2012. They recorded the album in Cove City Sound Studios from January to May 2013, where they recorded their previous album. On June 6th, it was announced that the album would be self-titled, and released on September 24th, 2013. On that date, an "in studio" video of the new album was released to their page, where John Petrucci talks about the guitar tone on this album sounding like, "a rich piece of chocolate cake - multilayered, rich, satisfying, with a lot of body and depth, but just the right amount of icing on top." The album's first single, "The Enemy Inside", was made available for streaming by USA Today on August 5th. Its second single, "Along for the Ride", was made available for streaming on September 9th. On September 16th, Rolling Stone premiered the album on its website, offering a free stream of the full album for a week leading to its release. Dream Theater was their first album where their new drummer, Mike Mangini was entirely included in the songwriting process from the start. The band announced that it will include an instrumental, the first time since Stream of Consciousness in Train of Thought in 2003. All songs were given working titles during production, like previous albums. Dream Theater is available in a wide range of distinctive versions, like with previous albums, including standard and special edition CDs, 180 Gram Vinyl double LP and a Limited Edition Box Set.
The live album Live at Luna Park was be released on November 5th, 2013, and was recorded over two nights at Luna Park Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 19th and 20th, 2012. It was the first live Dream Theater recording to feature Mike Mangini since Portnoy's departure in 2010, and all songs played over the two nights are available in the album.
Logo and imagery
Despite the band being forced to change their name, Dream Theater adopted a custom logo (known as "The Majesty Symbol") and wordmark which has appeared on the vast majority of their promotional material and on the front cover of every Dream Theater studio album, and most other releases. The Majesty symbol is derived from Mary Queen of Scots' mark, which was re-worked by Charlie Dominici for use on the album artwork for "When Dream and Day Unite". It consists of a capital Phi, a capital Mu, and a capital Lambda.
Throughout their career, Dream Theater's live shows have gradually become bigger, longer, and more diverse. The most obvious example of this is their rotational set list policy. That is, every single night of every tour has its set list devised by Portnoy using a meticulous process that ensures its uniqueness. Factors such as set lists from previous cities are taken into account to ensure that people who see Dream Theater multiple times within the same area will not see the same songs performed twice, and even the set list from the last time the band was in a particular city is taken into account for the benefit of fans who see the band on successive tours.
For this to be possible, the band prepares to play the majority of its catalogue at any performance, depending on what Portnoy decides to program for that night. This process also requires the employment of a complex lighting system to load pre-configured lighting cues based on the individual songs.
The band's full world tours, since "Six Degrees of inner Turbulence", have predominantly been so-called An Evening With Dream Theater tours, in which the band performs for at least three hours with an intermission and no opening act. The show that was recorded for "Live Scenes From New York" was nearly four hours in length, and resulted in Portnoy almost being hospitalized after acquiring severe food poisoning from the food he ate after the show.
There is also a significant amount of humor, casualness, and improvisation attached to a Dream Theater concert. In the midst of "A Change of Seasons" it is quite common for themes such as those for Major League Baseball and "The Simpsons" to be quoted, and Rudess routinely modifies his solo section in the song and others, often playing the ragtime section of When the Water Breaks from "Liquid Tension Experiment 2". Several songs included on "Once in a LIVETime" include snippets of others' pieces, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" and Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee." Other quotations include "Mary Had a Little Lamb" during "Endless Sacrifice" on the Gigantour, a calliope-inspired break between verses of "Under a Glass Moon", a quote of "Don't Cry for Me", Argentina's main melody played by Petrucci while performing the intro solo of "Through Her Eyes" in Buenos Aires, the Turkish March at a concert in Istanbul, and the opening riff of Rush's "A Passage to Bangkok" at a show in Bangkok, Thailand. On the "20th Anniversary World Tour" Rudess has even thrown in a short "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" theme in a break during "Endless Sacrifice".
Occasionally, a member of the audience is picked at random to perform on stage, an example of which can be seen during Portnoy's drum solo on the Live at Budokan DVD. There have also been many impromptu renditions of "Happy Birthday" when a member of the band or crew has a birthday corresponding to a tour date, which normally results in a birthday cake being thrown at the subject.
Perhaps the best example of Dream Theater's unpredictable concert structure is that during Derek Sherinian's time with the band. at selected shows the band members all swapped instruments and performed an encore as the fictitious band dubbed Nightmare Cinema. They usually performed a cover of Deep Purple's Perfect Strangers, and, on one occasion, Ozzy Osbourne's "Suicide Solution." at some shows, Sherinian, Petrucci and Portnoy would take the stage together under the name "Nicky Lemons and the Migraine Brothers". Sherinian, wearing a feather boa and novelty sunglasses, would perform a pop-punk song entitled "I Don't Like You" with Petrucci and Portnoy backing. in Chaos in Motion tour in several concerts before Trial of Tears Portnoy and Petrucci would change positions and play Van Halen's Eruption.
Dream Theater's largest audience as a headlining act was 20,000 in Santiago, Chile on December 6, 2005. This was during their first tour of South American countries other than Brazil (which they had visited in 1997 and 1998).
In the Score and Chaos in Motion DVDs, an animation has accompanied certain parts of the songs, showing the band playing along to the music as cartoon characters. On the Score DVD, during the song Octavarium, the band is seen performing in an octagonal shaped maze. As the animation continues Jordan Rudess spontaneously turns into Santa Claus and John Petrucci catches fire. in The Dark Eternal Night from the Chaos in Motion DVD, the band battles against a monster by shooting fireballs from guitars, throwing drum sticks, and screaming.
While Jordan Rudess is playing a keyboard solo, John Petrucci and John Myung often stand in front of or next to each other, for theatrical effect.
Mike Portnoy started an YtseJam Records series in response to Dream Theater fans' affinity for live versions of their concerts. Dream Theater is one of the most actively bootlegged bands in the progressive metal genre. Since their very first shows in New York as Majesty, fans have recorded almost every single show that Dream Theater have played (occasionally there are three or four versions of a single concert), and some very elaborate and professional recordings have been released.
However, not every member in the band condones the release of Dream Theater bootlegs. Portnoy is the most pro-bootlegging member, since he was an avid collector of many bootlegs in his younger days and keeps his own personal archive of Dream Theater material in his basement. Petrucci and LaBrie have voiced opposition to people recording their concerts. Petrucci takes issue with bootleggers because he prefers audience members to concentrate on the musicians on stage, and not the level adjustments on their recording device. LaBrie, on the other hand, argues that bootlegging takes ownership and control over Dream Theater's performances away from the band themselves and into the hands of the public. Myung has expressed mild opposition to bootlegging, but in some interviews has mentioned that he does not particularly take great issue with it.
Dream Theater have released a series of official bootlegs, demos and other rarities through YtseJam Records, headed by Portnoy. They include demos the band put out before official albums, as well as many live shows, including shows where the band has covered a particular album. Albums covered include Dark Side of the Moon, Made in Japan, Master of Puppets, and The Number of the Beast.
- Main article: List of Cover Songs Done By Dream Theater
Dream Theater has been known for covering other artists' work throughout their career. They took this practice to a new level during the promotional tour for Six Degrees of inner Turbulence. At three special gigs, one each in Barcelona, Chicago and New York City, they covered Metallica's Master of Puppets album in its entirety after a full set of Dream Theater material. This came as a surprise to fans, as there was no sign that this was to occur, other than it being announced that the gigs involved, which were on the second night of a two-night stand in each city, would be "extra special". This tradition can most likely be traced back to one of Mike Portnoy's favorite bands, Phish, who began a series of performing "musical costumes" of entire albums from other artists each Halloween beginning in 1994. Portnoy devised this "album cover" as the first in a series of gigs to be played as tributes to bands that had been influential in the formation and development of Dream Theater. The covers set divided many fans who attended the shows, with some people saying that they went to a Dream Theater concert to see original music and not another artist's work. Others, however, said that it was a bonus and not a replacement for a normal Dream Theater concert, since an ordinary gig had been played the night before.
On the next leg of the tour they covered Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast and received a similar reaction to Master of Puppets, although it was already known that a cover was to be performed that night because the tour itinerary included two successive gigs in a single city. On October 11, 2005, Dream Theater covered Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Dream Theater's official webpage stated that the second sets of the second nights in Amsterdam, London, Buenos Aires, São Paulo and Tokyo (October 11, October 25, December 4, December 11 and January 13 respectively), and also the second set of the January 15 show in Osaka, would be a classic album covered in its entirety. Dark Side of the Moon was played again on October 25 in London. However, in Buenos Aires (December 4) and São Paulo (December 11) the 'classic album' played was Dream Theater's own Scenes from a Memory, to make up for not having visited Argentina and Brazil in their Metropolis 2000 tour. On January 13, 2006 (Tokyo) and on the 15th (Osaka), Dream Theater covered Deep Purple's live album Made in Japan.
In 2009, Dream Theater released Uncovered 2003 - 2005, a compilation of lots of previously unreleased cover songs recorded from 2003 - 2005, featuring bands such as Black Sabbath, Pantera, Queen, Yes and Led Zeppelin. The Special Edition of Black Clouds and Silver Linings includes a CD of cover songs originally by Rainbow, Queen, The Dixie Dregs, Zebra, King Crimson and Iron Maiden. They were made available on Amazon by May 19.
- Main article: Dream Theater discography
- When Dream and Day Unite (1989)
- Images and Words (1992)
- Awake (1994)
- Falling Into Infinity (1997)
- Scenes from a Memory (1999)
- Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (2002)
- Train of Thought (2003)
- Octavarium (2005)
- Systematic Chaos (2007)
- Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)
- A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011)
- Dream Theater (2013)
In addition to the above official albums, the members of Dream Theater, past and present, have contributed to hundreds of bootleg albums, both official and unofficial, side projects, collaborations with other artists, and guest appearances.
- James LaBrie - Lead vocals, Percussion (1991-present)
- John Myung - Bass guitar, Chapman stick (1986-present)
- John Petrucci - Guitars, Backing vocals (1986-present)
- Jordan Rudess - Keyboards, Continuum, Lap steel guitar (1999-present)
- Mike Mangini - Drums, Percussion (2010-present)
- Chris Collins - Lead vocals (1986-1987)
- Charlie Dominici - Lead vocals (1987-1989)
- Steve Stone - Lead vocals (1990) (One show only)
- Kevin Moore - Keyboards (1986-1995)
- Derek Sherinian - Keyboards, Backing vocals (1995-1999)
- Mike Portnoy - Drums, Percussion, Backing vocals (1986-2010)
Awards and certificates
- RIAA gold and platinum certification
- Images and Words (Gold) - February 2, 1995
- Metropolis 2000: Live Scenes From New York (Gold) - November 8, 2002
- Live at Budokan (DVD) (Platinum) - January 26, 2005
- Live in Tokyo/5 Years in a Livetime (Platinum) - March 22, 2006
- Score (DVD) (Platinum) - October 11, 2006
- Keyboard Magazine
Jordan Rudess was awarded the following 'Keyboard Magazine Reader's Poll award':
- Best New Talent (1994)
- Burrn magazine's best keyboards player of the year (2007)
- Modern Drummer
Mike Portnoy won the following Modern Drummer magazine Reader's Poll awards:
- Best Up & Coming Talent (1994)
- Best Progressive Rock Drummer (1995-2006)
- Best Recorded Performance (1995 for Awake, 1996 for A Change of Seasons, 1998 for Falling Into Infinity, 2000 for Metropolis, Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory, 2002 for Six Degrees of inner Turbulence, and 2007 for Score)
- Best Clinician (2000, 2002)
- Best Educational Video/DVD (2000, 2002)
- Hall of Fame inductee (2004)
- Guitar World
The album Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory was ranked #95 on the magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time.
- Total Guitar
John Petrucci won Guitarist of the year award (2007).
- Other recognitions
- at Dream Theater's Salt Lake City show, Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. signed a proclamation making July 30, 2007 "Dream Theater Day".
- in December 2007, Dream Theater was chosen as Xbox Live's artist of the month.
- Dream Theater's music video "Constant Motion" was voted second in the Headbanger's Ball 2007 competition.
- Dream Theater's music video "Forsaken" was voted fifth in the Headbanger's Ball 2008 competition.
- Dream Theater's song "Panic Attack" off of their album Octavarium is featured in the video game Rock Band 2.
- Since August 12, 2008 (Xbox 360) and August 14, 2008 (PS3), Dream Theater's song "Constant Motion" has been available for download for Rock Band. For the first month, it was available for a promotional price equivalent to $0.99 USD, but later reverted to a normal $1.99 cost for Rock Band downloadable content.
- The song "Pull Me Under" from the album Images and Words is also featured on Guitar Hero: World Tour.