John Petrucci on 'Dream Theater:' 'We Wanter to Really Distinguish the Bass'

"Let's get John Myung out there," says guitarist John Petrucci while discussing production aspects of the new album.

Ultimate Guitar

As Dream Theater's new, self-titled record is about to drop next Tuesday (September 24), guitarist John Petrucci took some time to discuss some of the album's production aspects. Seeing that the effort was streamed in full prior to official release, Petrucci was asked by I Heart Guitar Blog to talk about bass guitar's more prominent position on each of the new tracks. As the guitarist said, making the bass one of the record's focal points was somewhat of a big idea. "It's difficult in our band because the guitar takes up a lot of room, the drums are busy, keyboards are just so wide and varied in tone and range, and it's sometimes hard for the bass," John said. "And a lot of time the bass is doubling the guitar, and especially with the seven-string it can be hard to differentiate. "So this time we really, really wanted to say 'Let’s get John Myung out there. Let's really distinguish the bass.' There were two ways we did that. The main way is just the talent of [studio engineer] Richard Chycki in the way he recorded John's bass, because I've never heard it sound like that. Rich worked with Rush a lot so he knew exactly how to get that Geddy Lee, out-front sound. And he did it magically." Petrucci didn't hesitate in praising the bass sound. "The bass has never sounded this good. And then the second way was to leave room in the arrangements. You'll notice a few times where the bass is on its own or the rhythm guitars drop out or there's no keyboards and it's just guitar, bass and drums. By doing that arrangement-wise we left more room for the bass to fill out. And I love it.

"Some of my favorite moments on the album to listen to are those bass moments, and it's great to hear John out front like that." Interestingly enough, the guitarist then reminisced the early days, saying, "When we were really young and going to Berklee that's the way he used to sound! He used to be almost a lead bass player. And if you listen to our really early demos the bass was crankin'. It was so loud! And it hasn't been that way in a long time, so it's kinda fun!" Did you get to check out the new album? What do you think of the bass lines? Let us know in the comments.

64 comments sorted by best / new / date

    After a 28 years career you think it's time to distinguish the bass... what the fsfbgvshjdlgvdvfvyombpxmld?!?!?! 28 years!!!!
    John Myung is a beast player, it's a pity he's not so easy to hear.
    John Myung is all over Awake... One of the reasons that album is the masterpiece that it is. God I love Awake
    sinForge xJp
    Awake was also LaBrie's high-point. I'm not saying he hasn't done a phenomenal job recovering his voice in the past 15 years. He has. BUT let's be real. He was a monster on Awake. His breath support is amazing. His vibrato. Just. Even if he didn't screw his voice up, I doubt he could ever replicate his performance on Awake.
    They played Caught in a Web at the Vancouver show (Dramatic Tour) and it sounded pretty spot on, although I was disappointed when he didn't double the "Does this voice the wounds of your soul?" parts. Also it looks like 60 will be on Live at Luna Park so we'll see how he sounds on that!
    His tone on Awake is just....I don't even know. It's great that on this album and ADTOE I can finally hear him without having to like "search' for the bass. Especially seeing as he's a boss musician.
    Exactly! Why the hell It's taken this long to finally do this is truly baffling and maybe even a testament to the overpowering nature of the rest of the guys when compared to 'feeble Myung'.
    Really like this album and Black Clouds!
    Black Clouds is really starting to grow on me, to be honest. Didn't like it the first few times I listened to it (and I still don't like the Count), but some of the first tracks I really like (Nightmare, Rite, Wither, Shattered Fortress). I am a big proponent of DT's simple, heavy songs as well as their big proggy stuff.
    Tiago Sa
    I think the count of tuscany is one of their best tracks... But that's just me.
    definetly one of their best. I specially enjoyed the instrumental the intro and the outro. Great lyrics, but the pre choruses were kinda weird. "LET ME INTRODUCE, MY BRO-THAAR" "ALL THE FINEST WINES" those parts
    Definitely; in my experience, this is a pretty prevailing opinion! I guess I just need to give it a few more listens.
    aaahh the count of tuscany is so awesome. the stand out lyrics are weird, but if you read them all and take it as a whole, they totally fit with the song. black clouds is my favorite, but i haven't heard this on yet. can't wait
    The Count is the only song on that album I really LOVE...and even then it's still not a favorite. I thought BC&SL was disappointing
    Musically it's fine, but lyrics such as ANTR and TCOT are just uninspired. They're like Rebecca Black deep.
    Just one of the reasons why this is the best DT album in a long time.
    "We Wanter to Really Distinguish the Bass" are they making fun of the bassist cause he is asian?
    I agree that this was one of their strongest releases. "And John said, "Let there be Bass," and then there was bass."
    The fact that there are two Johns in the band, and the article refers to them on a first-name-basis confuses the hell outta me.
    One of their best albums yet. Can't wait to see the new material live. Hopefully they don't have an opening band this time around. Worst idea ever.
    I've seen that this next tour is going to be in the "an evening with Dream Theater" format. Expect to see lots of loger songs they usually don't play!
    I met my current girlfriend in a big group that was waiting outside the arena for Trivium to get off the stage, at the Vancouver night of the ADTOE tour. I'm probably going to get some hate for that
    Loving the new album. I'm also happy UG started reporting on DT more. Its cool to hear stuff about one of my favorite bands for a change instead of the usual "what Axl Rose ate for breakfast" and "Courtney calls someone a ****" for the 100th time.
    Yes, now it's "what Mike Portnoy ate for breakfast" and "James Labrie calls him a ****" for the 100th time. In all honesty I'm glad DT is getting more limelight now as well.
    I haven't listened to the new record yet, but I'm excited about it from what I read here and from the fact that it's the first record with the new drummer really getting involved in the writing processs. On a side note, I may get some flames for this, but is there anyone else that didn't like "Falling Into Infinity" when it first came out eons ago that feels it has actually aged really well?
    Masta' Exploda'
    Falling Into Infinity just gets better each time i listen to it! Probably because it sounds really unique, while still being coherent with other DT releases.
    FII had some really cool stuff on it. I love Derek's contributions on songs like Lines In The Sand and Trial Of Tears. I think one of the reasons fans dislike that album is because Portnoy constantly criticised it. But I can totally understand where he's coming from; bad things happen when labels interfere with their artists' creative process. It really shows on some of the poppier songs but they wrote Just Let Me Breathe as a retaliation so it's not all bad.
    I haven't listened to the new record yet, but I'm excited about it from what I read here and from the fact that it's the first record with the new drummer really getting involved in the writing processs. On a side note, I may get some flames for this, but is there anyone else that didn't like "Falling Into Infinity" when it first came out eons ago that feels it has actually aged really well?
    Agent 00Awesome
    Go check out the album dude! Its got some great stuff on it. And yes, I actually like Falling Into Infinity quite a bit lately. Its something different from Dream Theater's other stuff, ya know?
    The mix on this album is killer. Prominent drums guitar and bass, no more Jordan (even though we love him) dominating the tracks with his keyboards. Glad they went this direction.
    I too, noticed the presence of the bass! Really nice to give him the room in the mix that he deserves!
    "'It's difficult in our band because the guitar takes up a lot of room, ...' John said." This is fake! John Myung never says ANYTHING xD Love the new album!
    Other John speaking. PS I've heard him speak! Though they may just video him mouthing the words and add someone else's voice.
    Never understood the fanboyism of Dream Theater. The only DT in my mind is Dark Tranquility.
    Just finished listening to the album. My first impression:Fucking great. I really loved the bass and the guitar tone was awesome. Labrie´s vocals were really powerful on this one. And the drumming...Mangini really showed what he´s made of. Yes,I admit,I´m a fanboy.
    Got my deluxe edition at home already.. In the Netherlands the release was too early somehow, you don't hear me complaining tho!
    This article put a huge smile on my face. I picked up bass a decade ago after seeing Budokan. I bought his Yamaha bass, actually. Petrucci is so right- in the early years the bass had such a commanding presence (listen to A Fortune in Lies and my favorite, Only A Matter of Time!) I was just listening to Systematic Chaos and it took twenty minutes of tweaking equalizers just to hear the cool stuff he's doing (like the beginning of ItPoE or the ending instrumental section of The Ministry of Lost Souls Myung, you magnificent bastard.