A Conversation with John Petrucci of Dream Theater
By Chris Loeffler |
Ernie Ball recently made a connection between Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci and Harmony Central, and we had the chance to ask John a few questions about his new album, Distance Over Time, between shows as he kicked off their 2019 tour on the West Coast.
Distance Over Time was just released… what does it mark for you in the progression of Dream Theater, instrumentally and conceptually?
This was an incredibly fun record to make. We all went away together to a remote location to hang out, write music, BBQ, bond and have bourbon together! There were no distractions so the entire band was completely immersed in the process. It was one of the most collective creative experiences weʼve had in a long time and represents a very rootsy, organic and probably the most ‘liveʼ sounding DT recording ever.
What did the songwriting process look like for Distance Over Time?
We entered the Yonderbarn studios in upstate NY basically with a clean slate. As aways, going in we do have a collection of ideas from soundcheck and I have riffs and progressions etc. Iʼve collected over the months to refer to. Those sometimes act as seeds or conduits to songs and we build from there. Everyone participated in the writing process and weʼd normally finish a song within a few days. It took about 3 weeks to write all of the material for the album.
What gear made it to the studio for Distance Over Time?
I used my JP EBMM Majesty 6 and 7 string guitars on the entire album as well as my JP6 EBMM baritone guitars all equipped with my signature DiMarzio pickups. The amp I used is my Mesa Boogie JP-2C. I also used my Dunlop JP95 wah pedal and JP picks and my tc electronic JP Dreamscape modulation pedal.
What are you taking on the road?
Basically, Iʼll be taking the exact gear that I used to record the album on the road! This tour will feature my new 2019 EBMM Majesty guitars equipped with my new DiMarzio Dreamcatcher and Rainmaker pickups.
Do you approach tone differently when performing live as opposed to recording?
Itʼs really the same mindset in both settings. In fact, my Boogie has all of the sounds I need in one amp so the exact settings I used in the studio transfer perfectly to the stage.
Describe the evolution of your relationship with Ernie Ball/Music Man.
It all started with a handshake between Sterling Ball and myself and has grown into an unbelievable creative and personal relationship with the entire Ball family that has been hugely successful for all of us! The amount of conversations and meetings weʼve had and the process of seeing through the many groundbreaking creative projects weʼve done together have all strengthened our relationship and helped us learn more about each other as artists and engineers and designers. It truly has been nothing short of amazing!
What can you tell me about the new Majesty?
The 2019 Majestyʼs are amongst the most stunning ever made! We tweaked the DiMarzio pickups to further accentuate the beauty and depth of the guitarʼs natural qualities. The all mahogany/maple shield versions are beautiful and sound rich and resonant. The Basswood versions in stealth black and colorchanging Kinetic Blue are focused and musical and for the first time on the Majesty with the Tiger Eye model, we have an alder version with a full maple top that has an unbelievably sweet top end and boatloads of tonal character.
How do you make better music?
Well, it doesnʼt hurt to be in a band with some of the best musicians on the planet! The key is to stay hungry and to continue to challenge yourself musically and technically and to set new creative goals. Complacency is the enemy!
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.