Long Island Centurions
The opening chapter discusses the family and musical backgrounds of Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci, John Myung and Kevin Moore. It also covers their move to Berklee College and their subsequent decision to form a band called Majesty and leave college.
“Berklee was very jazz oriented,” says Mike. “In fact you’d walk up and down the hallways and see all these conservative jazz combos in rooms, then you’d walk by our room and we would be playing Iron Maiden’s ‘The Trooper’.”
Introduces Majesty’s first singer, Chris Collins and details the band’s first tentative steps on to the live scene in Long Island. Interviews detail the period and discuss in depth the reason behind Collins’ ultimate departure.
Chris Collins: “I loved blowing things up in those woods. I used to build pipe bombs using Magnum gunpowder, sulphur and magnesium fuses and used to blow the trees up. So yeah, you might say that I came from the other side of the tracks!”
Fearless Faith In Destiny
This chapter covers the search for both a singer and a suitable manager with interviews with all the major players of the time. It also introduces the band’s replacement singer, Charlie Dominici and investigates his past prior to joining Majesty. New interviews with label manager Steve Sinclair and former manager Andrew Ross.
Charlie Dominici: “They actually called my Dad into the psychology office because of my behaviour at school, and said ‘There’s nothing with him. The only time that he’s alright is when he’s cranking it to ten – he was born to rock.’ And it was true. It was all about making music because I had to. It came out of me like the way some people move their bowel – it had to come out and that was the way my music always was.”
Only A Matter Of Time
Discusses the band’s ultimate signing to the Mechanic record label, the recording and release of their debut When Dream And Day Unite. The name change to Dream Theater, the relative failure of that record and the band’s decision to sack Dominici are also covered. New interviews with Steve Sinclair add further clarification to this period.
Steve Sinclair: “For the record, contrary to the usual version of this story, Mechanic did not break one financial promise made to Dream Theater. I wanted to make a video. I would have risked every penny on this band to break them.”
The Canuck Cometh
This chapter delves into the band’s nightmare search for a replacement singer. Includes interviews with all those singers seriously considered for the post, with a new interview with John Hendricks. James LaBrie is introduced and his pre-Dream Theater background explained.
John Hendricks: “I think they were after the Geoff Tate approach, which wasn’t really what I was about. But I have to say that at the time, not getting into the band was a really big blow. It really caused me a lot of problems in that I lost a year of school and had to take a year out. I wish they had said something to me like ‘This might not work out. Take the risk but know that this might not happen.’ Then one thing led to another and I stopped singing.”
Face The Bitter Fight
Concentrates on the band signing to Atco Records, the record label’s plan to replace James LaBrie behind the band’s back with Robert Mason, and the explosive recording sessions for the Images And Words album with producer David Prater. Includes new interview with Robert Mason.
David Prater on Kevin Moore: “I was as mad at him as I’ve ever been in my life. I literally wanted to assault him, to make him feel as bad as he had made me feel. He was a rotten bastard then, and may be one now for all I know.”
The release of the Images And Words album, the success of the “Pull Me Under” single and the incident filled world tour that followed.
James LaBrie: “One of the boyfriends came in and told Mike to ‘Fuck off’ and Mike started to retaliate verbally. And the next thing I knew it was just one big brawl. We had a lighting director named Poop and he got a bottle over the head, and at that point all hell broke loose.”
Until The Circle Breaks
Details the writing process, release and tour for the Awake album. It also investigates the reasons behind Kevin Moore’s departure from the band, and the career threatening vocal injury sustained by James LaBrie. The chapter also looks at the background to Derek Sherinian joining the band as a replacement for Moore.
“It was a whole different scene,” smiles Derek Sherinian. “Before an Alice Cooper gig, he would hire strippers. Before we went on stage with Dream Theater, the guys would be practising to metronomes. That encapsulates it!”
Seize The Day
Looks at the background, recording and release of the A Change Of Seasons album. Includes details of the further battles between producer David Prater and the band.
David Prater on James LaBrie: “He’s also a big strong man with a fiery temperament who can easily intimidate a person who doesn’t know how to handle him. Kind of like a big horse. Once you gain their trust you can get a lot of work out of them. They can also kill you very easily.”
Lines In The Sand
The chapter looks at the volatile writing sessions for the Falling Into Infinity album, and the battles between the band and a record label who were forcing Dream Theater to produce a commercial album. It also covers the management problems the band encountered during this period.
Mike Portnoy: “All that kind of stuff was beating us up internally as well, and it was making me nuts. Suddenly I felt the control of the band slipping through my fingers and that everything the band had stood and fought for over all the years was just being thrown out of the window.”
Walking On Eggshells
The tour that followed the release of Falling Into Infinity was also fraught with difficulties and culminated in Mike Portnoy threatening to leave the band. It also details the internal moves that were needed to persuade him to remain a part of Dream Theater, as well as Derek Sherinian’s departure from the band.
Mike: “By the time we got to that fan club show in Holland I was basically quitting the band. The industry had chewed us up and spat us out.”
This chapter looks into the background of Sherinian’s replacement, Jordan Rudess, the writing sessions, recording and touring of the Scenes From A Memory album.
“I came off the stage and I was talking to Chris Jericho, the WWE wrestler, who was there,” recounts James. “So I’m getting ready to go back on and I saw all these police and fire marshals. This cop grabs me and said ‘You’re not going back on there, we’re pulling the power.’ I was like ‘What? Fuck off! I’m the singer!’ But he just said ‘Hey man, I’m telling you right now you aren’t going anywhere on that stage again!’ So I was there behind these cops, I couldn’t go on the stage, the band were looking for me and Chris Jericho goes ‘Do you want any help?’ I was thinking ‘I’d love it man, why don’t you just kill these guys for me!’ But I told him not to get involved!”
Discusses Mike’s battle with drink and drug addiction, the recording of the Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence album. It also looks into the background and causes of the band’s threat to sack singer James LaBrie.
“So we had a big sit down with him – which was almost like a shape-up or ship-out kind of meeting,” remembers Mike. “We told him our concerns. So we decided to talk about the things that he can help, such as his presentation on stage. Another thing that bothered us was that he would always credit himself as a songwriter, and do interviews and talk about the songwriting process, when the reality was that he was never even there. It bothered us and there was resentment that he would kind of bullshit the fans like that.”
“Balls ‘N’ Chunk”
The chapter looks into the writing, recording sessions and tour for the Train Of Thought album. It also covers the feud with fellow prog-metal band Queensrÿche.
“Those lyrics were directly inspired by some of the mumblings going on backstage on that tour with Queensrÿche,” reveals Mike. “And especially their new guitar player Mike Stone. He would make comments like those [referring to Tate’s Classic Rock interview]. He would be giving John Petrucci tips. This is coming from a hired gun who hasn’t done anything in his career, and he’s giving John tips? I find that to be the most insulting thing I’ve ever heard.”
The Octavarium album followed, and the writing, recording and touring of the album – including the memorable anniversary performance at the Radio City Music Hall, are all covered in detail.
Jordan Rudess: “Mike does it to himself. He’s such a madman. He wants to play these long sets and then it’s so tiring. I actually heard a hint the other day that maybe we would shorten things a little bit and I was like ‘Thank you!’ This man is finally coming to reason. I’ve always been of the thinking that it’s too much for the audience as well – or maybe I’m just getting old. I don’t know. I know there are fans out there that want more and more songs, but when you’re presenting music at that kind of intensity and volume, I think it gets to be too much after a couple of hours.”
Focus Here, Focus There
Delves into the band’s much welcomed change of record label, as well as looking at the making of the Systematic Chaos album.
Mike Portnoy: “So we knew when we hit the road for Octavarium that we were on our own because there was no way in hell we were going to sign for them [Atlantic Records]. They didn’t want to go out of their way and market an album when they knew it was an album that was basically our swansong with them. Those fucking assholes basically put out the album, let us go and at that point we basically wanted nothing to do with them any more.”
The Best Of Times
This all new chapter contains an extremely detailed look into the writing sessions of the Black Clouds & Silver Linings album, explaining how the band work in the studio, how songs are created and pieced together. It also discusses the meanings behind the songs with all new interviews with the members of Dream Theater. It also gets to grips with contentious subjects such as the use of heavier, “cookie monster” style vocals.
John Petrucci on the story behind the lyrics for “The Count Of Tuscany”: “They were like ‘Do you want to go and see our chapel?’ So we go to this little chapel and there was this mummified saint in there behind the glass. I don’t know if you have ever heard of that? It’s so freaking weird. It was like a mummy which was the size of a child and it looked like it was dressed in royal robes with a crown and a black face. It was very weird and creepy. Then we went into the cellar, down the winding stairs in the dark and you don’t know what’s going to be in the next room. It was like ‘Go into the corner of that room and stick you head in that barrel!’ Then there was one room that had these massive floor-to-ceiling barrels. He was explaining how during the war, the soldiers would come in and hide in the barrels, but that they never escaped. It was like ‘Are they still in the barrel?!’”
The Shattered Fortress
Dealing with the issues surrounding the departure of founding member Mike Portnoy and his replacement in Mike Mangini.
“It totally fits and I feel like he’s one of us,” says John Petrucci of Mangini. “There’s a certain kind of person. We’re all east coast guys of a certain attitude and temperament and he just fits right in. There’s the Berklee connection, he knows the metal thing, he has the chops and plays with great feel and sensitivity when it’s needed. He’s into the craft of his instrument, still practices and is into getting better. He just fits right in and he’s a guy that you feel you’ve known for so long.”
This chapter covers the writing and recording of their first album with new member Mike Mangini, A Dramatic Turn Of Events.
“It’s funny and I was thinking about some of our albums and when you reach a turning point and something changes,” says John Petrucci. “Maybe there’s a new member who comes in, you get a bit of a perspective change and there’s a little bit of a shift. It freshens things. You might not even know that it’s happening but you start to think a little bit differently. It’s not like you’re just coming back to work. There’s a different sort of energy that’s in the room.”