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Interview: Jordan Rudess

Rock Stars...

I have known for a fact that creativity is an uncontrollable state of mind, and there's one musician that can easily prove my statement. In the foyer of Saint Giles' Hotel in London I met Jordan Rudess - Dream Theater's approachable keyboard player. In a very friendly and relaxing atmosphere, I managed to get as much information as possible regarding his latest solo album - Rhythm of Time”, the release of some music publications that he's involved with and also his future plans with Dream Theater.

Hi Jordan. It's really nice to be able to finally meet you in person. Before starting to talk about your latest album - Rhythm of Time, I would like to get to know you a bit better. Tell me, how did your long-term relationship with music start?

Jordan: Well, let's see - it started when I was very young. When I was seven years old, in second grade school, I used to go to the second grade classroom to play the piano that we had there sitting in the corner. One day the second grade teacher called up my mom and said - your son is playing very nicely, we really appreciate his music”, and my mother said - what do you mean – we don't have a piano!” and my teacher said - well, he does play the piano, and he plays quite nicely”.

You mean to tell me that you actually started playing the piano without any previous experience or lessons?

Jordan: Yes, I was just about to tell you about it. I was picking up chords and melodies that I was listening to, so even though I made no lessons, my mother said - well, since he plays the piano, we may as well buy one”. So, she actually went out and found a little piano for the house, she bought it for me and she started me on piano lessons. So there was this teacher that would come around the house every once a week, that was teaching the kids pretty standard material. After a while, the teacher started to come over to my house for free, not only to teach me standard material, but to also show me different chords and to teach me how to use different chords and techniques that I was previously unaware of.

That went on for about a year, until somebody that knew more things about music told my mother - your son is a very talented musician, he's learning things so fast. What are you going to do with him? My mother didn't know what to say, and that person said - why don't you get him to a music school?” We had some various connections at the time – my mother knew a very serious teacher who was Hungarian and her son ended up in the Guy Lombardo band – Guy Lombardo is the leader of an old Jazz Band – and she was still pissed off about the fact that her son, who was a Julliard student, had taken a different path. So, she took me on - she started teaching me everything, giving me a kick under the table every time I played the wrong note. She was very serious about teaching me the piano – she was making me ready in order to go to Julliard.

When I was nine years old, that was the beginning of the Julliard training for me. I went there; I had to audition playing things like Bach and Chopin, and I was finally accepted there. My whole childhood I was a very serious classical pianist – I played in many competitions, recitals, I did a little bit of stuff for the radio and television and generally had a much focused life. I was practising three to five hours a day on the piano, and all that remained the same until I was about seventeen years old. That's when I was seriously introduced to Rock music. I was always listening to the Beatles and playing pop songs, but it wasn't before I listened to bands like Emerson Lake & Palmer that I realised that this was the music that I really liked…

(At this point Karl Demata, who's doing the promotion for many labels including Magna Carta and Nuclear Blast, was kind enough to bring us some water. Jordan seized the opportunity to ask him - what's on the menu today?” and the interview had to be interrupted for a short laughing session)

(laughs) so I started to listen to all this stuff like ELP and Genesis and Pink Floyd, and my head started to spin a little bit more, mostly because I have been a young composer with a short experience at the time, and even now when I listen to all these progressive bands with songs in which the piano plays such an important role, I think wow! These bands had the typical rock sound, but there's so much classical music inside these songs, and that was really amazing for me. That was a very crucial point, when I really had to decide what I want to do with my life. I was about to graduate, and I had a free college tuition at Julliard. My parents and my teacher wanted me to go to the Julliard School of Music to continue my education on a college level, and I was like - oh, I don't really know, I need to decide about all this now”.

I auditioned again and I got accepted with a scholarship and a very amazing teacher. I stayed in Julliard for about a year, and then I decided that I had enough. I told myself - I want to play in a Rock Band, do drugs, be rebellious and a bit crazy. I did all that outside the house, but my mother was really anxious about my musical career. She didn't want me to hang out in town with kids and do all sorts of stuff. I was nineteen at the time – I would play radio shows, or music with people on acid where afterwards they would be like - hey man, these were excellent tunes man, thank you for playing with us” and things like that. At that point, I took a very serious right turn from Julliard. Julliard was doing stuff traditionally, but I was also interested in turning the knobs and making weird sounds – spacing out. But then, after I calmed down a little bit and the rebellious attitude was fading away, I got more into the Rock thing.

I joined a band called Speedway Boulevard, which was a Rock band with a tiny little bit of a progressive element to it – that was in 1980 I think. We spent a year in the studio, I think I got 50 dollars a week to be in that studio, and I was really happy about it as a young kid. We made an album for Epic Records and I the time I thought that that was it - I would become famous. Of course, in typical fashion after the release of the album we spited up, and two weeks later… it was gone. That's when I started to understand everything about the music industry thing and I thought - I don't really want to play this game”. I went back into the studio, I wanted to do other things, I think that I got a job playing the piano in some bars and hotels. In the meanwhile I continued to compose things on the piano and the synthesizers, and there were a lot of people saying - hey man, you should really be in a band with me”, but I was always feeling like I am the child from Julliard and I was watching all these people coming from the other side of the street that wanted to play music with me and make me part of their world. Well I kind of was and I wasn't, you know what I mean?

I was playing Rock music at the time, but I didn't know what I was doing with it. The first thing that I did that was quite career-oriented was the fact that I started to work with Korg. Through Korg I met a lot of people – I started to get recognised through magazines and receiving a lot of attention. I had a lot offers as well – I worked with Carl Palmer, Steve Morse, Vinnie Moore and various other musicians that helped my career to start moving a little bit forward. I hope that with all that I have covered your question, right? (laughs).

Jordan Rudess

Was that before or after you were awarded the 'Best New Talent' by the Keyboard Magazine reader's pole in 1994?

Jordan: Oh, that was after my collaboration with Vinnie Moore. That award was actually the reason why Dream Theater initially called me about eleven years ago, to do the job as a keyboard player. Of course I didn't accept back then, but that was the reason why they called me.

You are going to have to let me ask some questions now, ‘cause I need to justify my job as a music journalist here (laughs)

Jordan: Ok, it's our turn (laughs).

Talking about this 'Best New Talent' award - Do you believe that this specific achievement gave you all the necessary confidence in order to work with all these very talented musicians, such as David Bowie, Terry Bozzio and Steve Morse?

Jordan: It was a very nice thing that has happened to me, but it wasn't anything more than just an award. It certainly helped, since Dream Theater were looking through the magazine and gave me a call because I was featured in it.

Which one of these musicians has been the most enjoyable to work with, the one who's personality and style has been the one closest to yours and who's knowledge and experience has helped you become a better musician?

Jordan: Which are my options again? (laughs). I mean, working with Rod Morgenstein was a great experience, but even before that, working with the Dregs…I learned a lot from Steve Morse, even if he doesn't know it, just by hanging around with him and being a part of his band for the tour that I was on. I learned a lot from other musicians in general. I'm really thankful for whenever I get the opportunity to work with other musicians. Working with the Paul Winter Consort was a tremendous experience. Paul Winter is a very famous guy in the New Age/Jazz world. He taught me a lot of stuff and I'm really grateful for that. These are a few people that gave me some inspiration there.

Since you just mentioned Steve Morse, how do you find his evolution as a musician as a member of Deep Purple?

Jordan: Well, it's very interesting to me. He is such a talented musician - I have always been a fan of his work, even before I joined his band. Then I watched the transition happening when he joined Deep Purple. I was there when Roger Glover and the manager of Deep Purple came to check him out. I remember that they came to see him a couple of nights in the clubs where we were playing at. He can do anything – I think that he can do things much further that just being a member of Deep Purple. He continues doing his solo albums that are always very interesting to listen to.

Jordan Rudess

In 1999 you became a member of the Dream Theater family. I was about to ask you whether your participation in the Liquid Tension Experiment project was the thing that made them become interested in you, but I guess that you already named the reason that generated their interest in you.

Jordan: Yeah, yeah - well what happened is that when they originally asked me to join the group eleven years ago, I was also asked to join the Dixie Dregs, and I also had this job with the instrument company. Most importantly, my wife and I had just had our first child, and that's why I said no to them. Kevin Moore had just left the band, they had just finished the - Awake” album and they needed a new Keyboard player. I agreed to make one gig with them, a very important gig called the Foundations Forum. I did that gig and it was all cool, the vibe was great but I didn't want to do the job as a keyboard player in the band. Quite some time after that, I got the offer to participate in the - Liquid Tension Experiment” – that was a band with Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci from Dream Theater and Tony Levin, and I thought - wow, this is cool”. I mean I didn't get to join Dream Theater, but I was working with some of the main guys in the band anyway.

We ended up making two albums together as this, and even though it was a side project for them, believe me when I say that it was a very well-focused effort. After the second Liquid Tension Experiment album we had so much experience working together, composing music together, that we all saw something really brewing there. I saw Portnoy and Petrucci talking about stuff and I thought - Hm, something is happening here”. So then, they re-approached me and asked me again - you know, we've been working for some time together and we have a good vibe with you. What do you think if we asked you again, if you would become member of Dream Theater, would you join?” and I then said - Well, I think so, it's a very good time to join now” (laughs). So, we started a very good working relationship soon after Liquid Tension was over, I was in the studio with the next group which featured John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy and this other bass player who didn't look at all like Tony Levin, but was equally good, and also this quite long-haired singer who wasn't in the studio at the time but he eventually came to record his vocals for the album (laughs).

Well, I believe that it's finally time to talk about your new solo album (laughs).

Jordan: Oh well, did we reach that point after all, or are we out of time? (laughs)

The 'Rhythm of Time', was recorded a few weeks before the beginning of the Dream Theater tour for the promotion of the album - Train of Thought”. Why did you decide to record a solo album in that specific moment in time – are you one of those musicians who perform better under pressure?

Jordan: Well, I think that I perform well under pressure. I have always been able to create a lot of music quickly when there is a time limit on it. This particular album was created this way because there was such a limited time window for me to do it in. I really wanted to record another solo album. I had so much creativity, so much inspiration from my previous experiences that was building, and it was really necessary for me to get it out, to say something as a musician. I didn't know if I would be able to do it, but I knew that it had to be done! I also knew that I had an obligation to do it at some point in the near future at that time. I was out for a walk with my wife who was a producer in the theatre, and used to work with young people and getting shows done quickly and she told me in a very brave way - you know what, go into the studio, turn off your phones, and turn off your e-mail. I will make sure that you will have food every day, so just record this album…Do it!” I thought - well, it's really easy for you to say do it” (laughs).

It's really great though the fact that you had her support with that thing.

Jordan: Yes, great to have her support and for her to tell me 'do it' (laughs) - you just go and do it! (laughs). So we finished that walk and I said: - you know what, if you're willing to have me go away again touring with Dream Theater and all – if you can handle that, well yes I'll do it”. I didn't really know how much music I would get done but I thought that I would record as much music as possible at that specific time. I was in the studio for two or three days and I realised that I could do it. I looked at the schedule and the producer part of my mind came into play. I knew that I had a certain amount of time to mix, certain amount of time to compose and certain amount of time to get all the other musician coordinated. I thought - I'd better finish this – I'd better get it done”.

So, I started working really intensely and not getting enough sleep and not really communicating with anybody – just going for it. So after two or three days I started to feel like I was really getting there, all my equipment was working nicely. I just got a G5 computer which was working well, things were working… I started composing music fast and it was all happening. I then started to send some of my recordings to Rod Morgenstein who's a drummer, recordings to Daniel J., the guitar player that I used on this album. They were hearing the music right after I had finished composing it - they would hear the music and they had to learn it. So, I wasn't picking up the phone but I was getting all these phone calls form Rod Morgenstein saying - how did you come up with such a thing, this stuff is crazy”, and after I finished recording the last song, I gave him a call saying - sorry that I didn't get back to you, what are your questions”? It was a crazy fourteen days but it works for me. I got a lot done, and I believe that it was a very productive compositional experience.

What criteria did you usein order to work with these specific musicians for the creation of - Rhythm of Time”?

Jordan: My criteria - I wanted to work with really amazing soloists. I have composed music that I wanted to be supported by artists who would put their very soul and imagination to it. I remember that while recording some of that stuff, I thought - Steve Morse would be great on that” or - Joey Satriani would be awesome on this”. First of all, I had to pick up which guys I knew, and then which guys I didn't know but I would really like them to play with me. I didn't really know Greg Howe, but I heard his playing and I think that he's a great musician. I knew one of the people at Magna Carta who knew Greg and gave me his telephone number. I then gave him a call and I said - Hi Greg, this is Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater. I got this music and I would like you to play on it if you like”. So he said - Well, I've heard of Dream Theater and it sounds very interesting – send it to me, and we'll talk”. He listened to the music and he said - that's cool, let's do it”. Satriani toured with Dream Theater a few summers ago. We became friendly and when I asked him to participate in the album he said - ok, let's do it”. With Vinnie Moore I had previously worked on the - Time Odyssey” album. We then said that we would gladly work together again one day, and when that day came he agreed.

The amazing thing was that all these guys were able to work with us within this time frame. That was two weeks after I had finished my parts, that they had to add their parts into the music. Miraculously, everyone was into it and they made it possible. Then, I had to find a really good singer to do the vocals for two of the compositions that I made. I chose Kip Winger from the band Winger, and that happened at the very last minute. I was planning to sing these songs myself, but then I had a conversation with Danielle, my wife, and we thought that if I sing these songs it would be fine, but everyone would be talking about how strange it is for Jordan Rudess to be doing the singing. People would be wondering about how I can sing all of the sudden. I thought about it and I decided that I really didn't want to spend my time reading articles about how Jordan Rudess' singing is.

I called Rod Morgenstein who is my friend, to see what he makes of all this. While I was dialling his number, I was thinking of Kipp Winger, because Rod was in the band Winger, and I know Kipp, so these things would start coming to my mind, so I said - what about Kipp – do you think that he'll be interested in singing on this thing?” We only had a couple of days and that thing really had to happen now. Rod said - well, I don't know. Here's his telephone number – call him”. I called Kipp and he said - Hey Jordan, what's up?” I explained to him that I was in this situation where I wanted someone to help me with some vocal parts, and asked him if he were interested. He went - yes, totally – I want to do it. I will be back in my studio in Nashville tomorrow”, he was in California when I called him, - and I'll gladly do it”. I was really surprised – I was glad that he said yes, but I didn't expect him to be able to do it so quickly. He asked me to e-mail him the tracks that I had prepared so as to load them in and do the vocals.

So that's what he did, he sang them beautifully, sent them back and that was it - the vocals were done. When the time of the mixing was approaching I was starting to collect all the music from the people who were involved in this project. The two people that recorded with me were Rod Morgenstein on the drums, and this new guitar player called Daniel J., a new young talent that I discovered.

I really enjoy it when I see a musician so excited about his new work, and about having discovered a new talent!

Jordan: Well, yes I am! I have been listening to a lot of CDs from young artists that I normally receive through the mail. When he sent me his stuff, I put it on, I listened to it and I really liked it. He wrote the music, he sang and he played all the instruments like the guitar, the bass and the drums. I thought that this kid was really talented, and he was only 21 years old. I called him back on the phone and I said - You are a very talented kid, let's meet and get together”. He came to my house, we had lunch. He told me that his family had just moved from Israel one and a half to two years ago, and he just came in order to make everything happen. I also met his father, who's also a musician and I have to say that they are both wonderful people. I decided that I really wanted to do something to help this kid – I didn't know at first exactly what, but I would invite him to meet John Petrucci whom he really wanted to meet, or to concerts that he wanted to attend.

When the album idea came up, I said - Ah, ok, I want to invite Daniel to play the guitar on my album”. I called him up – he's a huge Dream Theater fan, and I asked him if he wanted to play on my album. He said - Oh, my god, that would be amazing Jordan, thank you”. That's how things happened, and Daniel played on my record. Since then, I played on his record – he just completed his album. This is a nice relationship that I have with this young talent. I'm happy to help him out a little bit, and also happy to have his talent on my music. That's the story.

Jordan, I believe that you're still promoting the American Dream

Jordan: There you go, you said it right (laughs).

What inspired you to write this album, and how easy was it to escape the 'Dream Theater' web?

Jordan: Well, I believe that I am a very established composer. Dream Theater is one of my passions and my main job right now, but as far as escaping from a musical point of view, no problem! I have a million of ideas that need to come out musically, and even one album that I just did is really not enough. It was cool to come out of the Dream Theater world for a while and do this one, because I have created some very interesting heavy sounds for the new album. - Train of Thought” is a really Heavy and Metal album for which I have created all these cool distorted keyboard sounds, and I thought that if I could take the experience of this heavy album, and all the sounds that I made for it and bring it in to my world, I could then extract what I want to use from that sound and I could also put my classical, Fusion and Jazz influences together and create my own music.

I've got more information even now than ever before about the Dream Theater sound. I've contributed more to Dream Theater, and I've learned more from them. So, as far as using Dream Theater as a basis for moving away from them, this is even more powerful. I feel really good about doing that, and I realise that the core audience for this album will primarily be Dream Theater fans who would like to check out what Jordan Rudess does by himself, but I mean, think about it… Some of the Dream Theater fans don't have a clue as to how much music I actually contribute to the band, but when they hear this, maybe if they're smart they will start to get a grasp of that, but even if they're not, they will probably just like the music. They will definitely detect the Dream Theater influences, but they will also go for a ride on other musical journeys that don't exist in the Dream Theater domain.

Jordan Rudess

It seems that you're equally interested in creating both melodic and technical compositions. If you had to choose over the two, which style would you be more willing to use?

Jordan: As a musician, I have trouble separating the two ideas. To me a musician having a great technique means that he's able to express himself. From my point of view, I like to be able to play fast, and I work on it, but I also want to play slow, so there's no possibility of creating something more technical or more musical – it's all one thing. I understand if you say - that guy over there, he's music is all about technique”. I believe that this is the thing that a lot of people are saying about Dream Theater too. I know that we have been found guilty of playing quite a lot of complicated themes before, but we also compose beautiful slow music. It's about the music – technique is about the music!

If you were to choose one song of the album for a video, which one would that be, and how would you picture a Jordan Rudess video?

Jordan: I haven't considered doing a video, although I'm very interested in visual stuff. When Dream Theater started to do their visual shows, and use all the effects that I was very involved in – choices of what kind of technology to use and pick up the software that create all these space images.

Last time you played in London, I had the gut feeling that you were the one who was coordinating those images that we all saw on the big video screens.

Jordan: In the beginning, when I joined the band in the - Scenes from a Memory” album, I started showing them the technology that would enable them to do it. Nowadays we have a lot of digital video clips and stuff like that, so it's come a long way and it kind of got out of my hands…anyway, I'm interested in a video and I was always interested in playing the keyboard, and actually having the keyboard control visual elements, like playing a chord and having a circle change colours, or playing up scale and having a box turn! If I had a video for one of these instrumental songs, it would be very much about visual effects, better than something so definite as having people doing something. I would definitely have this kind of cool, trippy three dimensional graphics spinning or something – a Pink Floyd kind of thing.

Do you then believe that videos are a good way of promoting music, or not? Would you be interested to make one in the near future?

Jordan: Well, our band is interested only in producing videos of us playing live, with some cool behind the scenes footage. We're not interested in making an MTV video. We had a lot of success with our - Live Scenes from New York” video, which went gold, and that's very exciting for us. Now, we have another one coming out, which is - Live at Budokan”, which will be really cool. We feel that this is the way to present ourselves, not spending so much money on making a single video. Going back to what I said earlier, I would like the idea of making a video where my keyboard will control the video in real time. That would have been really interesting – a keyboard projecting three-dimensional images on a screen.

I understand that the whole studio process was recorded for a future DVD release.

Jordan: For the new album? No, I actually didn't do that. There's actually a video that will be part of the limited edition of the CD, in which you will have a video of me talking about the music of the new album, playing a little bit, but that's all.

We would assume that being a member of such an open-minded band like Dream Theater would give you enough liberty in order to express yourself as a musician. Should the fact that you're recording a solo album put any strange thoughts in our minds? Which are the parts of your creativity that you feel cannot be expressed through Dream Theater?

Jordan: There are a lot of parts of my creativity that I cannot express, and there are plenty of others that I can. This would have happened if I was a member of any band, but it might as well be Dream Theater. They are one of the most creative bands in the world, and I'm very satisfied to be able to play with them. But as a musician, I do a lot of different things, and some of these things are not part of the Dream Theater world – that's fine with them, and it's also fine with me. I believe that everybody understands at this point who I am as a musician, what I need to say, what my interests are and I don't think that anyone should be scared about it. It is a very natural thing for me to do, and I plan on doing that a lot in the future.

I have to admit that I would really be scared if you chose not to create any music outside Dream Theater. That wouldn't be healthy.

Jordan: (laughs) Thank you very much for that comment.

You are responsible for both the lyrics and the music of the album. What's the story behind the lyrics of this album? Do you believe that your ability to create lyrics is as good as our song-writing?

Jordan: Oh, you make me think that I should have given that job to someone else too (laughs).

No, I'm not disappointed at all!

Jordan: Well, even when I was a young kid I was always into poetry. At that early stage I made my first attempts at writing short poems. Then I started to write lyrics as well. I wrote the lyrics on my first solo album. Then I let it go for a while. It was the time when I joined Dream Theater that there was no space for me to write lyrics, since they wanted to write the lyrics themselves. When it came to making this album, I was originally thinking of doing the singing myself, so I wrote the lyrics for both the songs. I had a really good time, I sat there and it took me a little while to get started, but I really enjoyed coming up with all these lyrics and as far as I'm concerned, they end up being really good. As far as what they're about, they are two songs. One is really a poetic view of my past. It's nothing definite, just a poetic way of expressing all these things that I have been through so far. - Tear Before the Rain” is a bit more about something – that about the idea of being able to cry and let all the emotions out and experience that. The title itself is giving you the right idea. I was really thinking about that, what it takes to let go like that, and I wanted to write a song about it.

I assume that Kip Winger managed to give that exact feeling to the song that you wanted to achieve in the first place?

Jordan: When I listen to it, I feel satisfied. It's really nice – he did a really good job.

Kip comes from a totally different music back round, that's why I was a bit weary before I listened to the song.

Jordan: Kip is a very unknown talent. People used to think that he didn't even put the bass in Winger – he's not only a good bass player, but he's also a very good guitarist. He can also play some keyboards, and he composes stuff. There are all kinds of stuff that people don't know about him. He sings high, and he sings low. He's a really good singer, and I know that, so I decided to let him do the vocals for this album, and again his singing in - Tear Before the Rain” is amazing.

You are about to perform live alongside Yes on this forthcoming tour. How does it feel to be able to share the same stage with them?

Jordan: It's really amazing, amazing! Yes is one of my very favourite bands in my whole life. It feels amazing. I'm a little nervous, a little excited, pleased…I have a lot of different emotions about sharing the same stage with Yes. Rick Wakeman is going to have something like fourteen keyboards on stage, and I will have only one, but It's fine cause I'm on a rotating stand and it's really cool…I'm just blown away by it – I'm very flattered that we've been asked to join them, I think that it's great.

What are your plans of promoting this new album? Would it be possible for us to see you performing those songs live?

Jordan: Everybody is asking me that question, and it's a really good one. I played a little bit of the album in Italy, when I was doing a solo concert, I did a few songs, and I will do it again in New York. I would really like to come back after the Dream Theater recording is done and play some of the - Rhythm of Time” live, because I think that it deserves to be a little bit supported with live concerts. I'm starting to consider it and think of how I'll be able to do it. When I get home, I will begin to organise it.

That's a really good idea actually.

Jordan: Maybe sometime in March or April I will come over here and perform it live.

You have quite recently toured the US with two of my most favourite bands, Queensryche and Fates Warning. When I recently interviewed Scott Rockenfield (Queensryche's drummer), I asked him the same question that I'm asking you know: will the European audiences be lucky enough to see those three bands sharing the same stage in the near future?

Jordan: I guess that if we were offered something like this, we would have seriously considered doing it. Certainly if it's going to be like the Yes thing – we got such a great response and I believe that it's going to work really fine. I think that we're open to that idea – there re certain bands with whom we would definitely enjoy doing such a thing. We would love for instance to go out with Rush and do such a thing in Europe, so to answer your question…yes, this will always be a possibility. We actually toured with Queensryche this past summer.

Was this the specific period which is captured on video in Queensryche's latest DVD - The Art of Live”? I really enjoyed seeing you guys performing a classic song like - Comfortably Numb” together.

Jordan: I have to say that it was pretty cool. I was never a Queensryche fan quite honestly – the rest of the guys in the band are quite fond of them. I only heard a couple of songs from them, but Dream Theater were constantly talking about them when I joined the group – they used to listen to a lot of their stuff when they were younger and they like them, so I said - let me borrow an album to see what they're like”. For me it wasn't like the thing with Yes – I wasn't going to go on tour with a band that I know so well, since I had only listened to a couple of songs, but the whole experience was really good, especially for the rest of the band.

I can still remember John Petrucci wearing a Queensryche t-shirt during the photo sessions for the - When Dream and Day Unite” album…anyway…where do you enjoy performing the most, in Europe or in the States?

Jordan: In general? I think that some of our European audiences are more passionate about it, so for instance, when we're going to Greece people are quite crazy and strong about our music. Also when we visit places like Italy or Holland the response is fantastic. There are places in Europe where people are probably a step beyond that anywhere else. Back home, when we play cities like New York or L.A…Dream Theater is a very lucky band in the sense that there are a lot of places that we go to where we're really appreciated. I have to say that the biggest responses we receive are in Europe.

Which is the most memorable moment in your career so far?

Jordan: The most memorable moments as far as playing live goes are always in my home town. My family is there and it feels so exciting and it definitely turns me on. Also the time when we played in New York – I can still remember the crowd being so excited.

You are also going to release two books in 2004?

Jordan: Oh, thank you very much for that! I have three instructional things to talk about. The first book is a Dream Theater keyboard anthology. I've been asking for a while now about Warner Brothers putting out a book for Keyboard players of all the cool Dream Theater keyboard-based songs, and they've been telling me no, because I don't believe that they have a keyboard department in the Rock area of Warner.

After a couple of years of asking about this, finally I had a conversation with the guy there and I said - I'm getting requests – people really want this…there is a market out there”. This was the guitar guy, who said - Jordan, you know what? – let's do this!” We don't have a keyboard department but I listened to what you said and I want to do this with you”.

I have a great transcriber that I work with on the EMI magazine articles and online conservatory stuff that I kind of put to this project, so it happened and it's going to be released this summer – a wonderful really accurate book of some of the Dream Theater music that has a lot of keyboard parts in it. I think that it's going to be a great release – people are going to be really happy! That's one book.

The other is called - Total Keyboard Wizardry”, and it's put out by Cherry Lane publishing, which is distributed by Hal Leonard, and it's my first instructional book – a big book that comes with an audio DVD and covers many topics like harmony/melody techniques, rhythms and all that stuff.

This book is also coming out this summer, and, finally, I have an online ‘conservatory'. It's an area that you can get to through my website, and it's a whole instructional site. It features hundreds of files of text, midi files, MP3 files and it has all the expected kinds of keyboard stuff on it. There is also a section with keyboard theory, another one on rhythm and a separate one for drumming.

I'm expanding into other areas so people can also learn about other things. In the future, I plan on inviting some guest artists, so that Steve Morse can come and do a presentation on my online ‘conservatory'. I'm very excited about it – it's been working for a couple of years now but now it's finally ready to work as I want it to.

What are we to expect from Jordan Rudess in the near future? What are you going to do after you get fed up playing in a band?

Jordan: Hopefully I'll be playing some keyboard concerts or piano concerts. As long as I can move my fingers, I think that you can expect some kind of musical output. It doesn't have to be Rock – it could be something gentle and mellow, but it's going to be something!

Well, I kind of covered all the questions that I had prepared for you Jordan.

Jordan: Thanks, these were really good questions

How about a message to our subscribers then, and also the people who are going to read this interview?

Jordan: What would I like to tell them -that I'm very excited to be offering some new cool music. I'm also very grateful for all the support and that I also hope to see everybody in a town near them soon – to talk and meet them in person.


Interview © 2004 John Stefanis

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