Dream Theater is an American progressive metal band formed in 1985 under the name Majesty by John Petrucci, John Myung, and Mike Portnoy. Dream Theater is well noted for being one of the early progenitors of the progressive metal genre and they have become one of the most influential post-1970s progressive rock bands. The original members, Petrucci, Myung, and Portnoy, have strong influences from bands such as Rush, Yes, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, various speed metal bands, and even the glam metal of the day. This synthesis created a unique metal that was not traditional of the day: it had distorted guitars and fast riffing, but the music focused more on technical proficiency and precise execution than on heavy metal riffs. The band's music has focused on three main elements: metal, melody, and progressive roots.
The band's highest-selling album is the gold-selling Images and Words (1992), which reached No.61 on the Billboard 200 chart. Both the 1994 release Awake and their 2002 release Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence also entered the charts at No.32 and No.46 respectively and received mostly positive reviews. Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory was ranked number 95 on the October 2006 issue of Guitar World magazine's list of The greatest 100 guitar albums of all time. It is ranked as the 15th Greatest Concept Album (as of March 2003) by Classic Rock Magazine and as the number one all-time progressive album by Rolling Stone (as of July 2012). 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 U.S. Billboard 200 at No.19. As of 2011, Dream Theater has sold over 12 million records worldwide. The band's eleventh studio album, A Dramatic Turn of Events, was released on September 13, 2011. It entered the U.S. Billboard 200 at No.8, two positions lower than their previous release Black Clouds & Silver Linings which entered the Billboard 200 chart at No.6. The album is the band's first with drummer Mike Mangini, since Mike Portnoy's departure. On November 30, 2011, On the Backs of Angels, the first single released from A Dramatic Turn of Events, was nominated for a Grammy Award in the "Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance" category, marking the band's first ever Grammy nomination. On April 9, 2013, Images and Words won Loudwire's fan voted March Metal Madness for world's best metal album beating albums by Dio, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Megadeth and Metallica.
Formation and early years (1985–1990)
Dream Theater was formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1985 when guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, and drummer Mike Portnoy decided to form a band while attending the Berklee College of Music. The trio started by covering Rush and Iron Maiden songs in the rehearsal rooms at Berklee. Myung, Petrucci, and Portnoy joined together on the name Majesty for their newly formed group. The trio then set out to fill the remaining positions in the group. Petrucci asked his high school band-mate Kevin Moore to play the keyboards. After he accepted the position, another friend from home, Chris Collins, was recruited as lead vocalist after band members heard him sing a cover of "Queen of the Reich" by Queensrÿche. During this time, Portnoy, Petrucci, and Myung's hectic schedules forced them to abandon their studies to concentrate on their music. Moore also left his college, to concentrate on the band. 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. The initial run of 1,000 sold out within six months, and dubbed copies of the cassette became popular within the progressive metal scene. The Majesty Demos are still available in their original tape format today, despite being released officially on CD, through Mike Portnoy's YtseJam Records. In November 1986, after a few months of writing and performing together, Chris Collins was fired. After a year of trying to find a replacement, Charlie Dominici, who was far older and more experienced than anyone else in the band, successfully auditioned for the group. With the stability that Dominici's appointment brought to Majesty, they began to increase the number of shows played in the New York City area, gaining a considerable amount of exposure. Shortly after hiring Dominici, a Las Vegas group also named Majesty threatened legal action for intellectual property infringement related to the use of their name, so the band was forced to adopt a new moniker. Various possibilities were proposed and tested, among them Glasser, Magus, and M1, which were all rejected, though the band did go as Glasser for about a week, though fans reacted poorly to this decision. Eventually, Portnoy's father suggested the name Dream Theater, the name of a small theater he ran in Monterey, California, and the name stuck. Dream Theater adopted a logo, known as the Majesty symbol, which has appeared on the vast majority of their promotional material and on the front cover of every Dream Theater studio album. 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. In September 2010, a fan of Dream Theater discovered that all of the letters of DOMINICI fit together perfectly into the Majesty symbol. When Charlie heard this, he laughed and mentioned that "it only took them 25 years to figure out the Dominici Code!"
With their new name and band stability, Dream Theater concentrated on writing more material while playing more concerts in New York and in neighboring states. This eventually attracted the attention of Mechanic Records, a division of MCA. Dream Theater signed their first record contract with Mechanic on June 23, 1988 and set out to record their debut album. The band recorded the album at Kajem Victory Studios in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. Recording the basic tracks took about 10 days, and the entire album was completed in about 3 weeks. When Dream and Day Unite was released in 1989 to far less fanfare than the band had anticipated. Mechanic ended up breaking the majority of the financial promises they had made to Dream Theater prior to signing their contract, so the band was restricted to playing around New York City. The promotional tour for the album consisted of just five concerts, all of which were relatively local. Their first show was at Sundance in Bay Shore, New York opening for the classic rock power trio Zebra.
The Ytse Jam
Following Dominici's departure, Dream Theater fought successfully to be released from their contract with Mechanic, and set about auditioning singers and writing material for their next album. In their search for a new singer, they auditioned over 200 people, among them former Fates Warning front man John Arch. John ultimately decided that his personal commitments were more important and he opted not to join the band. In mid-1990, at a gig in New York, Dream Theater introduced Steve Stone as their new singer. They had successfully recorded demos with him, though he only performed one live show with them that ended up disastrous, and Stone was fired immediately. It was five months before Dream Theater played another show, this time all-instrumental (under the name YtseJam). Until 1991, the band remained focused in an attempt to hire another singer and writing additional music. It was during this period that they wrote the majority of what would become Images and Words (1992). In January 1991, James LaBrie, of glam metal band Winter Rose, was flown from Canada to New York for an audition. LaBrie jammed on three songs with the band, and was immediately hired to fill the vocalist position. For the next few months, the band returned to playing live shows (still mostly around NY), while working on vocal parts for the music written before acquiring LaBrie. Derek Shulman and Atco Records (now EastWest), a division of Elektra Records, signed Dream Theater to a seven album contract based on a three song demo (later made available as "The Atco Demos" through the Dream Theater fan club). The first album to be recorded under their new record contract was Images and Words (1992). For promotion, the label released a CD Single and video clip for the song "Another Day", but neither made significant commercial impact. The song "Pull Me Under", however, managed to garner a high level of radio airplay without any organized promotion from the band or their label. In response, ATCO produced a video clip for "Pull Me Under", which saw heavy rotation on MTV. A third video clip was produced for "Take the Time", but it was not nearly as successful as "Pull Me Under". The success of "Pull Me Under", combined with relentless touring throughout the U.S. and Japan, caused Images and Words to achieve gold record certification in the States and platinum status in Japan. A tour of Europe followed in 1993, which included a show at London's famed Marquee Club. The show was recorded and released as Live at the Marquee, Dream Theater's first official live album. Additionally, a video compilation of their Japanese concerts (mixed in with documentary-style footage of the off-stage portion of the tour) was released as Images and Words: Live in Tokyo.
Metropolis-Pt.I The Miracle And The Sleeper
The Middle Period (1994-1998)
Eager to work on fresh material, Dream Theater retreated to the studio in May 1994. Awake, Dream Theater's third studio album, was released on October 4, 1994 in a hail of controversy among fans. Shortly before the album was mixed, Moore announced to the rest of the band that he was simply no longer interested in touring, nor did he favor the style of music Dream Theater performed and would be quitting Dream Theater to concentrate on his own musical interests. As a result, the band had to scramble to find a replacement keyboardist before a tour could be considered. Jens Johansson, who would go on to become a member of Stratovarius, was among the biggest names to audition, however the band members were eager to fill the position with keyboardist Jordan Rudess. Portnoy and Petrucci had come across Rudess in Keyboard Magazine, where he was recognized as "best new talent" in the readers' poll. The two invited him to play a trial gig with the band at the Concrete Foundations Forum in Burbank, California. For the members of Dream Theater, the show went incredibly well, and Rudess was asked to fill the keyboardist position permanently, however Rudess opted to tour with The Dixie Dregs instead, since it granted him more personal latitude. Dream Theater hired fellow Berklee alumnus Derek Sherinian, who had previously toured and recorded with Alice Cooper and KISS, to fill in for the Awake promotional tour. By the conclusion of the tour, the band decided to take Sherinian on as Moore's full-time replacement.
Keyboard solo / The Mirror
Once again finding themselves with a new member, Dream Theater did not immediately start working on new material. Fans around the world, united on the YtseJam Mailing List (the most popular form of communication between Dream Theater fans at that point), had started placing pressure on the band to officially release the song "A Change of Seasons". It had been written in 1989 and was intended to be a part of Images and Words, but at almost 17 minutes, it was deemed too long for studio placement. However, the band did perform it live on occasion while continuing to revise it in the years leading up to 1995. The petition was successful, and the group entered BearTracks Studios in New York in May 1995 to rewrite and record the 23-minute song with Sherinian contributing significantly to the final product. To disseminate "A Change of Seasons", the band released it as an EP along with a collection of cover songs recorded live at a show they played at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London earlier that year. After a short run of small concerts to promote A Change of Seasons, Dream Theater took a break for a few months. To keep busy, however, the band released a special Christmas CD through their official fan club, consisting of rare live tracks recorded during the band's early years. They continued releasing a new CD each Christmas until 2005. Also during the break the individual members set out to write compositions for their upcoming collaborative writing sessions. Meanwhile, there were several changes at EastWest, and Dream Theater's main contact within the label was fired. As a result, the new team at the company were unaccustomed to the relationship Dream Theater had with former EastWest personnel, and they pressured them to write an album that was more accessible. In mid-1997, they entered the studio to write their next album. In addition to pressuring the band to adopt a more mainstream sound, EastWest recruited writer/producer Desmond Child to work with Petrucci on polishing the lyrics to his song "You or Me". The whole band substantially reworked the music to the song, and it appeared on the album as "You Not Me" with a chorus that was barely reminiscent of the original. Child also had a noticeable impact on the album, with a shift towards compositions that were less complex and more radio-friendly. The band wrote almost two CDs worth of material, including a 20-minute-long follow-up to the Images and Words song "Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper". The label, however, did not allow the release of a double album because it felt that a 140-minute record would not be digestible by the general public. James LaBrie also felt that the CD should be a single disc. The unused songs were later released in the Ytsejam Records release The Falling into Infinity Demos. The material that made it onto the album proper was released as Falling into Infinity (1997), which received a mixed reception from fans who were more familiar with the band's earlier sound. While the album was moderately progressive-sounding, tracks such as "Hollow Years" and "You Not Me" prompted some to believe it was the dawn of a new, mainstream-sounding Dream Theater. Overall, the album was both a critical and commercial disappointment. Although Portnoy did not speak out publicly at the time, many years later, in the 2004 DVD commentary for 5 Years in a Livetime, he revealed that he had been so discouraged during this period he'd considered disbanding Dream Theater altogether. During the European leg of the Touring into Infinity world tour, two shows were recorded for a live album entitled Once in a LIVEtime, in France and The Netherlands. The album was released at around the same time as the video 5 Years in a Livetime, which chronicled the time from when Kevin Moore left the band up to the Falling into Infinity promotional tour.
Addition of Jordan Rudess (1999-2010)
In 1997, Magna Carta Records' Mike Varney invited Portnoy to assemble a progressive supergroup to work on an album, which would become the first in a long string of side-projects for the members of Dream Theater. The lineup consisted of Portnoy on drums, Petrucci on guitar, Tony Levin on bass, and keyboardist Jordan Rudess, who had finished with the Dixie Dregs. The band assumed the name Liquid Tension Experiment, and would act as a medium through which Portnoy and Petrucci could once again court Rudess to join Dream Theater. In 1999, he accepted an offer to become the third full-time Dream Theater keyboardist, replacing Sherinian. With yet another new member, Dream Theater entered BearTracks Studio once again to write and record their next album. As a result of an ultimatum from Portnoy, the label gave the band complete creative control. The follow-up to "Metropolis Part 1", which was written during the Falling Into Infinity sessions (but not used on that album), was taken off the shelf for reworking. They decided to expand the 20-minute song into a complete concept album, with a story revolving around themes such as reincarnation, murder and betrayal. In 1999, Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory was released to high critical acclaim, being lauded as the band's masterpiece, despite only reaching No. 73 on the US album chart. A massive world tour followed recording the album, taking over a year to complete, by far their largest to that point. The concerts reflected the theatrical aspect of the album. They played the entire Scenes From a Memory album from start to finish, with a video screen on the back wall of the stage showing a narrative companion to the story of the album. In addition to playing the album in its entirety, the band also played a second set of Dream Theater songs, as well as a few covers and improvisations of old Dream Theater material. For one extra special show, at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City, actors were hired to play characters in the story, and a gospel choir was enlisted to perform in some sections of the performance. This show, the last North American date of the tour, was recorded for the band's first DVD release. After many technical delays, the DVD, titled Metropolis 2000, was released in early 2001. Shortly after, the band announced that an audio version of the concert, with the entire four-hour long set-list (some of which had to be cut from the DVD to save space), would be released. The cover for the CD version of the concert, titled Live Scenes from New York, depicted one of Dream Theater's early logos (the Images and Words-era burning heart, modeled on the Sacred Heart of Christ) modified to show an apple (as in "Big Apple") instead of the heart, and the New York skyline, including the twin towers of the World Trade Center, in the flame above it. In an unfortunate coincidence, the album was released on the same date as the September 11 attacks. The album was quickly recalled by the band and was re-released with revised artwork later, though some copies were sold, and have since become rare collectors items for fans.
Strange Déjà Vu / Through My Words / Fatal Tragedy
|Original cover - Revised cover|
The Dance Of Eternity
Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence: III War Inside My Head / IV The Test That Stumped Them All / V Goodnight Kiss
During 2003, Dream Theater entered the studio to write and record another album. Since Scenes from a Memory was written and recorded simultaneously in the studio, in the spirit of change, the band took a different approach by setting aside three weeks for writing prior to recording. In the middle of the recording sessions for the album, a special tour with two other progressive metal bands, Queensrÿche and Fates Warning, was undertaken in North America. The "Escape from the Studio American tour", as it was referred to in Dream Theater's promotional material, featured Queensrÿche and Dream Theater as co-headlining acts with Fates Warning performing supporting act duties. As a finale for each concert there was an extended encore in which both Dream Theater and Queensrÿche performed together on stage simultaneously, often playing cover songs. At the completion of the tour, Dream Theater returned to the studio to finish the recording of their seventh album, Train of Thought (2003), the follow-up to sixth double disc album Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. They concentrated more on writing a great song-oriented album, a mindset inspired by covering Master of Puppets and Number of the Beast on their previous concert tour. As a result, the more straightforward metal sound of those two albums seemed to creep into Train of Thought. The album was a critical success, but it alienated a fair proportion of Dream Theater's fans who preferred traditional progressive rock. Regardless, it seemed to expand Dream Theater's fan base into new territory, capturing many more metal fans. Another world tour followed, during which Dream Theater performed support act duties for one of their major influences, Yes. A modest North American tour was completed by the two bands, after which Dream Theater continued to tour the world with their so-called "An Evening With Dream Theater" shows. Their next move was to release another live CD/DVD combination, this time recorded at the famous Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan on their Train of Thought World Tour. Live at Budokan was released on October 5, 2004.
As I Am
Stream of Consciousness
In The Presence of Enemies Pt.1
The Dark Eternal Night
A Rite of Passage
Mike Portnoy's Departure (2010-present)
On 8 September 2010, Mike Portnoy announced that he would be leaving Dream Theater, citing better relationships in other projects, burnout, and his desire for a break as reasons. Elaborating on the situation for MusicRadar, John Petrucci revealed that originally, Portnoy did not want to leave the band; he only wanted to take a five-year break. He eventually dropped this number to around one year. Only after the rest of the band rejected his proposal did Portnoy decide to quit. After Portnoy left Dream Theater, relationships between him and his former bandmates became strained. In February 2011, Portnoy complained that no one from the band was returning his calls and e-mails. Tensions became especially high when Portnoy called James LaBrie "disrespectful" for comments LaBrie made during an interview, stating that Dream Theater were "not sad at all" that Portnoy was no longer a band member. As of July 12, 2011, LaBrie has not remained in touch with Portnoy. At one point, false reports surfaced that Portnoy had sued Dream Theater. However, later Portnoy commented that both Petrucci and Rudess were the only members that stayed in touch with him. A little more than a month after Portnoy's departure, Dream Theater began auditioning for a new drummer in New York city. The drummers invited to audition were Mike Mangini, Derek Roddy, Thomas Lang, Virgil Donati, Marco Minnemann, Aquiles Priester, and Peter Wildoer. The candidates were notified whether they had been chosen on November 5; however, the results of the audition were not made public until April 2011 via a three-part YouTube documentary series called The Spirit Carries On. In the last episode of the series, it was revealed that Mike Mangini was the drummer selected. Dream Theater entered Cove City Sound Studios to begin working on a new album on January 3, 2011. Writing was completed on March 2 and done without Mangini. On April 14, LaBrie began tracking vocals and by June 28, the album's mixing and mastering by Andy Wallace were finished. Released worldwide on September 12 and in the United States on September 13, A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011) debuted at number one in some countries and attained the eighth position on the Billboard 200, the band's second ever top ten debut position on that chart after Black Clouds & Silver Linings. Although the album received mixed reviews, it won numerous awards from music publications and its lead single, "On the Backs of Angels", was nominated for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance at the 2012 Grammy Awards, representing the band's first ever Grammy nomination. Dream Theater kicked off their tour in support of A Dramatic Turn of Events on July 4, 2011 in Rome, Italy. The second leg of the tour took place in North America, where the band headlined with Trivium. After a short break to conclude 2011, the band returned to Europe with Periphery, to Asia with Andy McKee, to North America with Crimson Projekct and then to South America for the final leg of the tour. On August 19 and 20, they filmed two shows at Luna Park in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a live Blu-ray release set for release in May 2013. The tour concluded on September 1 in Brasília, Brazil.
Lost not Forgotten
Writing for Dream Theater's twelfth studio album commenced on the A Dramatic Turn of Events tour. During soundchecks, the band would jam and record their ideas, and John Petrucci would bring in material he wrote independently. Following the conclusion of the tour, the band took a break but continued writing. They reconvened in early 2013 to enter the studio. In July 2012, Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory was listed as the number one all-time progressive album by a Rolling Stone readers' poll, beating 2112 by Rush and Close to the Edge by Yes. In December 2012, Dream Theater re-signed with Roadrunner Records; the band soon began recording a new album as part of the new agreement. The band commented: “Roadrunner's dedication and commitment to Dream Theater has been evident to all of us from the very beginning, and is consistent in all departments and on all levels, right on through to the top. Roadrunner is a record label that is not only great at what they do but who truly understand what Dream Theater is all about as well as the amazing people who support us all around the world whom we proudly call our fans. They are a record company we relate to as an organization firmly rooted in its ideals and mission, while always pushing the envelope in an effort to keep things moving ever forward. We’ve reached many career defining milestones while at Roadrunner and are all incredibly pumped in anticipation of our continued future together!”. On 1 February 2013, the band's seventh live album, Live at Luna Park, was announced. In a YouTube Q&A with the band members, John Myung has confirmed that he'll be contributing lyrics again for the new album and that there will be a new instrumental for the band, the first instrumental to appear on a Dream Theater studio album since "Stream of Consciousness" from Train of Thought, the instrumental "Raw Dog" composed for the God of War III "Blood & Metal" EP, released in 2010, notwithstanding. He also stated that the new album may see a release date of late summer or early September. In another YouTube Q&A with the band, John Petrucci has announced the twelfth studio album is completed in recording and will be released in late summer, also that the band will begin touring again in 2014, taking a much needed break from the constant summer tours. On June 6, 2013, a pop-up message was revealed while entering the official website, which prompts the release date: September 24th, 2013. That same day, the official Dream Theater Twitter account announced that the album will be an eponymous release, Dream Theater's first self-titled album. Dream Theater started mixing on June 10 and concluded on June 28, 2013. The band officially released their album on September 24, along with a music video for their leading single from the album, "The Enemy Inside". The album sold around 34,000 copies in the first week to land at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart, making it the bands third consecutive top 10 album. On December 7, 2013, Dream Theater announced that "The Enemy Inside" had been nominated for a Grammy Award in the "Best Metal Performance" category, the band's second Grammy-nomination.
False Awakening Suite
The band is well known for the technical proficiency of its members, who have won many awards from music instruction magazines. James LaBrie, who was chosen ahead of 200 other hopefuls to fill the full-time vocalist position in Dream Theater, was placed No.15 on MusicRadar's "The greatest vocalists of all time" in 2010.
Jordan Rudess is considered to be one of the greatest keyboard players of all time by many publications like MusicRadar.
Former drummer Mike Portnoy has won 26 awards from Modern Drummer magazine and is also the second youngest person (at the age of 37) to be inducted into the Rock Drummer Hall of Fame.
His replacement Mike Mangini has also previously set 5 World's Fastest Drummer (WFD) records.
When Dream and Day Unite (1989)
Images and Words (1992)
Falling into Infinity (1997)
Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory (1999)
Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (2002)
Train of Thought (2003)
Systematic Chaos (2007)
Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)
A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011)
Dream Theater (2013)
Dream Theater (2013)