DREAM THEATER vocalist James LaBrie recently spoke with France's OUI FM. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the group's new album, "Distance Over Time":
James: "We feel great about it. I think it's a great display of DREAM THEATER getting in and making definitely a heavier album, and songs that are extremely hard-driven, very concise, very spirited. There's a simplicity to it that really just speaks loudly of being driven by melodic sense, by being in the same room together, feeding off of each other's energy. I think it really had a lot to do with creating this great hard rock/heavy rock album."
On the writing process for the album:
James: "It's very natural and easy for us to, at any given moment throughout the process of writing the song, say, 'Okay, right here, we can take off and go off on a six-minute progressive interlude and go absolutely crazy,' which we have done throughout our career. But I think whenever something like that was happening with this album, the red flag would be thrown on the field, and we were like, 'No, no, no. Remember — let's just keep it going straight. Let's just keep moving forward. Let's save that.' There's a little bit of that in tracks like 'Falling Into The Light' or 'Pale Blue Dot'. 'At Wit's End' is very cool. 'SN2'... That's still there. You still have your progressive side, or the more deeper side of DREAM THEATER, but we really just wanted to focus on, 'Let's make these songs something that's very focused and concentrated and rock-driven, in the sense of getting in and out and making a very powerful statement."
On the stark contrast between "Distance Over Time" and the group's 2016 conceptual double-album, "The Astonishing":
James: "When you're coming off an album like 'The Astonishing' — two hours plus, a rock opera, opus — I think it's just, like, a natural progression for us to say, 'How does a band usually form?'... You meet in a room. You're all together. It's that vibe, that energy that starts to create who and what you are musically. With that being said, this was what was so advantageous to us — being in a remote location, being in the room together, being a more collaborative effort, and saying to ourselves, 'Let's just write a great heavy rock album.'"
On his contributions to the new album:
James: "Music-wise? Not a lot. I would always be involved in the sense [of] hearing things go down, [and] if I didn't like something, I would make suggestions — 'You know what? I'm hearing this,' or, 'What you guys are doing there, I'm not necessarily... I don't know, guys. It's not hitting me right.' I'm very vocal, but predominantly speaking, my involvement always starts with vocal melodies, and in this case, lyrics. You've got to remember, you're in a room [with] four other guys with their instruments, and things are just flying at an alarming rate. It's like a locomotive flying down the track, and it's stopping for no one. I only speak and I only get involved when it's necessary. To me, it's not a matter of, 'Oh, I've got to be a part of this to be part of this.'"
On the band's 1999 concept album, "Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory", which they will perform in its entirety on their upcoming world tour:
James: "It's still relevant. I think that if anyone is just discovering it now, they would feel that it still fits nicely and beautifully in today's musical environment. It was our first concept album; it was our first album with Jordan [Rudess]; it was a very pivotal moment for DREAM THEATER, because at that point, we were coming off the 'Falling Into Infinity' album and tour, and there was a lot of friction internally [and] externally. There were too many people trying to steer the ship, so to speak, so going into what became 'Scenes From A Memory' was, 'We've got to do it on our own terms. Everyone else, stay out of it. You'll get it when it's finished.' It was a tour de force album for us, because it was us just being who and what we were — 'Let us be who we are, and if it works, great. If it doesn't work, then we only have ourselves to blame.' Fortunately, it was a huge album for us. It was received extremely well critically and extremely well by our fans worldwide. It was a big moment. I've always referred to it as our second chapter — it was a whole new beginning for us."
DREAM THEATER's 14th studio album, "Distance Over Time", will be released on February 22. The disc, which marks the band's first for their new label InsideOut Music, was produced by guitarist John Petrucci, mixed by Ben Grosse and mastered by Tom Baker.