John Petrucci: Why I Want Zero Labrie's Vocals in My Monitors During Shows

Dream Theater guitarist explains his headphone mix during gigs.

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John Petrucci: Why I Want Zero Labrie's Vocals in My Monitors During Shows
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John Petrucci was asked by Rick Beato about his headphone mix during Dream Theater gigs, to which he replied (transcribed by UG):

"My headphone mix is unbelievable.

"It sounds like the CD mix I guess, but the guitar is just slightly higher above. I can hear everything unbelievably clear, it's really powerful.

"And here's the shocker - I have no vocals in my mix. So, it's like an instrumental Dream Theater mix with the guitar louder.

"And the reason I don't have vocals is not because I don't love the way that James [LaBrie] sings, it's that he is walking around stage with a live microphone.

"Wherever he goes it's gonna pick up the drums, the audience, whatever...

"When that mic is open, all this additional ambience [gets in the mix]. When you shut that off, it closes up. It's like studio - that's the reason I do that, I want this big defined sound.

"And it just sounds so heavy and so good. I wish everybody could listen to my mix. I wish I could hand it out to the audience. It's really a great sound."

40 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Leybick
    Now if they could just release some of that material without the vocals they might be on to something
    Shadow-Michel
    They have a few instrumental songs on the albums, also liquid tension experiment is as close to Dream Theater instrumental as you can get.
    702octopus
    Not true... Spend a couple minutes on youtube... Almost all the demo records Mike released off his Ytse Jam label are uploaded on there.. And almost all of the recordings are intrumental... They may not be mixed and mastered but they sound good enough if the intrumental tracks are what ur after
    Jacobk4n3
    The real question would be to ask if his douchey Affliction shirts and jeans with rhinestones on the ass cheeks grant him extra playability. I'm willing to make that sacrifice and walk around looking like a overly-confident twice divorced dad if it'll make me play better.
    travislausch
    Plus, I've heard that James' unamplified voice is incredibly loud, like loud enough that Petrucci can hear it over his in-ears when James is nearby.
    HugoPan
    the guy has a very potent voice indeed. how he sounds may be a matter of taste but you sure don't get this sound projection without propper training and skill.
    the_bi99man
    I can confirm that. Petrucci said it himself, and I've heard it myself, right in front of the stage.
    fromzero
    I wish I could hear what's in his mix with the guitars turned up and no vocals. That's the Dream Theater live album I'd buy.
    KaleviHagqvist
    I thought it was LaBrie's squeaky little bitch-voice but apparently I was wrong. Well we all make mistakes, just like dream theater hiring this fool
    the_bi99man
    Yeah, hiring him only immediately lead to their most commercially and critically successful era, and solidified a core lineup that has defined the modern prog metal genre, released a dozen or so successful albums, and tours the world constantly, playing sold out arena shows in front of thousands of passionate fans who sing along with every word. But yeah, I'm sure they regret ever meeting him every time they read a scathing comment from some random nobody on youtube or UG.
    Ijon_Tichy
    Dunno man, that comment might be a little harsh, but if I'd have to single out one main reason why Dream Theater is pretty much unlistenable for me, it would've been LaBrie's vocals.
    BlackRose93
    Understandably. I was shocked the first time I heard LaBrie too, but give it a chance and he might grow on you. I know he did on me! And for all the shit he gets, LaBrie has the rare gift of having an instantly recognizable voice.
    nathandavis87
    Kinda like Rush's singer. Great music terrible vocals and lyrics. Still respect the heck out of both bands.
    PuckMugger
    I actually like Geddy's vocals and the especially love Rush's lyrics...my God, Rush's lyrics are the best!
    nathandavis87
    I find them incredibly cheesy from what I have heard.
    Shadow-Michel
    Not giving Portnoy his break and continuing after he left was the biggest mistake, there are a few good songs on the last 3 albums but in general they are shit
    HugoPan
    And I reallly never got it why they did this. they all have solo carreers and could take some time off as well just fine.
    ivonahora
    Ikr, Petrucci's always like "I've already written the material for my new album, it's just a matter of finding the time", and it's been like that for like 5 years or so. Suspended Animation came out like 12 years ago. If they'd listened to Portnoy we'd have another Petrucci album, maybe 2 Rudess albums, some new LaBrie and their drums would still sound organic.
    HugoPan
    and that's a pity reall. Suspended Animation was a fucking masterpiece.
    EnChains
    Ikr the awkward vocals have turned me off every time I get into the band.
    travislausch
    If you heard the audition tapes that other vocalists sent DT before Images and Words, then heard the same song sung by LaBrie after his food-poisoning incident (seriously, go look up "Don't Look Past Me" and the audition versions of the same song), you'd get in a heartbeat why they picked LaBrie.
    nathandavis87
    Seriously how does food poisoning effect your singing unless he destroyed his throat by melting it with acid.
    jdgunstream
    Labrie had food poisoning so bad and vomited so violently that he tore his vocal chords. He thanked the band for their time together and told them he understood they had to find a new singer. The band mates refused to find a new singer. They soldiered through some very rough performances and over time and a lot of work on Labrie's part, he got his voice back. Labrie is like Jon Anderson. You either love him or hate him. I love Labrie's voice and think DT is one of the top bands of all time. Cheers.
    nathandavis87
    Wow O have way more respect for them then. Both for Labrie willing to sacrifice himself and the band in general for pushing on. Mad respect.
    the_bi99man
    Yeah, you can really tell his voice was hurting in live shows around the late 90s. Pretty sure A Change of Seasons was the last thing recorded before it, and he's downright incredible on that song. They managed to make him sound very good on albums while he was still hurting live, studio magic I'm sure, but he got it back and then some eventually. I seem to remember reading somewhere that Labrie said he didn't feel he had his full range back until like Train of Thought or Octavarium, I think. Having seen them live twice in the last two years, I can assure you, he sounds AMAZING these days.