Guitarist for Dream Theater.
John speaks with us about his early years as a musician, touring, his solo record “Suspended Animation” and more.
August 1, 2005
Guitarhoo!: Who were your earlier influences and why?
John Petrucci: Early on AC/DC, Iron Maiden, simple but catchy. As I advanced as a player I got into The Dregs, Steve Morse, Allan Holdsworth, Al Di Meola, SRV, Rush, Yes. The music has to catch your ear. All of these bands did this to me.
G!: You studied at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Did you find this to be a great place for your musical experimentation and what did you learn most while being there?
JP: It was great! I went right out of high school. There was lots of music with other players from other states and countries. It was a cool local scene. The best thing was that’s where we met John Myung.
G!: It is known that during your Berklee days you and your friends started a band called “Majesty” and you managed to sell 1000 copies of your 4 song demo. Is there any advice you can share with new bands who use the internet as a form of promotion to get their music out there?
JP: Use The Internet. It’s a way to get people from all over the world to hear your music and that’s great. It’s real people. Lot’s of people to appreciate your music.
G!: Is it different playing with Kevin Moore, Derek Sherinian, and Jordan Rudess and how does each affect the way you react to the song?
JP: All of those guys are different and play a big role in the interaction between the harmonies and trade offs.
Jordan, is more classical, Classical music is his forte,
Derek, is more of a Jazz / Fusion player,
Kevin, we grew up together playing Yes, Rush , Kansas, all those songs by those bands.
G!: Liquid Tension Experiment, that stuff was great! What are some of your best memories of those records? Anything hilarious to share?
JP: It was cool just being together for a week recording! Special moment; During the second record my daughter was born, that was special, and 3 Minute Warning, Tony Levin said if we did not start playing in 3 minutes he was leaving.
G!: You’ve just released your solo cd “Suspended Animation”. Is there a single track you are particularly proud of?
JP: All are different . Depends on the day, “Tunnel Vision” and “Damage Control” are different for me.
G!: “Jaws of Life” is nuts! What kind of frame of mind did you get into when writing that piece?
JP: That was when I was doing prep for the first G3 tour I did. Joe and Steve are great players and super people. I wanted to be different, more prog, metalish and rock.
G!: “Wishful Thinking” has beautiful melodies and displays your control over dynamics and sensitivety. At the tail end of the song, you display your blazing and impeccable picking chops! What do you find is the most challenging aspect to performing a song like this?
JP: Doing that song is a lot of fun to play. It’s not real technical, it’s fast but a fun fast. This song is about being in the moment.
G!: On this record you took on the role of producer as well. How did you enjoy this experience and looking back at when you started this project, as a producer and writer, did the record come out as you originally conceived it to be or did it take on a shape of it’s own after a while?
JP: It turned out like I hoped, but there is always room for improvement.
G!: As you head off to the G3 Tour in Japan, are there any new tricks or scary ideas you’re gonna unleash?
JP: Not really any tricks. Jamming with Joe And Steve causes me to play differently than I do in DT
G!: During the previous G3 tour, did you ever feel pushed buy Vai or Satch or was the jamming pretty simple stuff?
JP: Sometimes, but it’s all in fun. It’s always fun with those guys!
John live on the G3 tour with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai
G!: Marty Friedman was there during the filming for the jams. What was it like to jam with Marty, and will he make it to the DVD?
JP: It was awesome, G3’s first time in Japan. Marty was there. It was great to jam with him. I do not think he will be on the DVD.
G!: On this G3 tour coming up are you pretty much using you DT rig? The Road Kings and Lone Star’s? And are your amps tweaked at all from stock amps?
JP: I have been using Mesa stuff since the beginning. They have been very nice to me. I am using the Lonestar 100’s for clean and the Road Kings for the dirt. They are stock.
G!: Your signature Ernie Ball guitar is amazing. The feel of the neck and body is incredible and the pickups are superb. How much input did you have on it’s construction?
JP: I had a lot of input. They sent some prototypes, but it was not until I went to the factory that the body shape contour and the neck profile and the whole new bridge all fel into place.
John’s Music Man Signature Guitar
G!: Are there any pedals or secret weapons you can not live with out?
JP: It’s pretty basic; the Music Man guitars, the Mesa Boogie amps. As far as a secret weapon the TC Electronics 2290.
G!: If you could be a Simpson character who would it be and why?
JP: Homer. Everybody has a little bit of Homer in ’em
G!: Are there any up and coming guitar players we should be on the look out for?
JP: Rusty Cooley. He is a great player and a cool guy.
G!: Will you be touring for both your cd “Suspended Animation” and the new DT record or one at a time?
JP: I would like to tour eventually for the solo record, no plans so far. Dream Theater goes on tour pretty soon, so maybe after that.
G!: What are some of your hobbies and interests when you take time away from music?
JP: Spend time with my family. You know, everyday family stuff.
G!: Is there any advice you’d like to pass onto aspiring musicians?
JP: Practice, practice, practice. Always write music. Experiment, play with others, that gives you experience playing. Do as much playing as you can.
G!: John, thanks for taking the time out for this, we all look forward to your future projects! Keep on rockin’
JP: Thanks for having me.
Interview © 2005 Guitarhoo!
John on the web