Earlier this week, guitarist John Petrucci and Dream Theater announced a new series of North American dates, the “Along For The Ride” tour.
Following a set of European shows that begin early in January, a coast-to-coast run picks up on March 20 in Toronto and continues on through the end of April before wrapping up in Guadalajara, Mexico. The tour can also be labeled “An Evening with Dream Theater” because there will be no opening acts.
Petrucci and the band also have more reason to celebrate. The band recently earned their second Grammy nomination, this time for Best Metal Performance for the single “The Enemy Inside” from their self-titled 2013 album, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hard Rock Albums chart.
The album also came in at No. 2 in Guitar World's guide to the 30 best albums of 2013.
Petrucci recently gave me the lowdown on the new tour as well, Dream Theater's Grammy nomination on his current setup.
GUITAR WORLD: What can you tell us about the Along For The Ride Tour?
Our goal is to create the ultimate Dream Theater experience for our fans and give them a chance to step into our world for three hours to share in our music. The cool thing about our fans is that they're not just passive concert goers. They're all really into it and are singing along to every song. They're the perfect audiences to play for, and we're excited to have more time to play and deliver an exciting, powerful show.
What else can fans expect?
We always try to make every tour that we do exciting for both us and our fans, some of whom have been with us for a very long time. For this tour, we're going to have a new stage set and will also be playing some music that we've never played live before.
What's your live setup going to be like?
For this tour, it's going to be fairly simple. I'm using Mesa Boogie equipment, as I have since I started, and am also going back to using the Triaxis and 2:90 Power Amp. I'm playing through 1x12 Rectifier speakers with Vintage 30's, which deliver a more direct, focused sound.
I’ve also got a Fractal Axe-FX tube processor doing all of the effects along with a Dunlop Rack Wah and a few pedals for fun. There's also a cool MIDI pedal board made by RJM that I'll be taking out for the first time that I'm excited about. Overall, it's a rig that does everything but is much smaller than anything I've ever brought out before. It's pretty amazing.
What does it mean for you and the band to have been nominated for a Grammy?
Amazing. It’s one thing to be recognized by your peers over the course of your career, but the Grammy is something else altogether. You have the Recording Academy, along with a huge cross-section of producers, writers, engineers and musicians from all different musical genres and backgrounds who are making a decision. It's an amazing feeling.
Did you know when you were writing "The Enemy Inside" that you'd be writing about PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)?
Initially, I didn't. When we write, we always write the music first. So there wasn't really a song topic associated with it. But once the music was written, it was just crying out for that topic. Especially with all of the global and social conversations that were going on around the time we were in the studio recording. It's a really high-energy song that almost makes you feel a little bit anxious and nervous. As I got more into it and started researching, something I do when I write lyrics to get accurate imagery, I felt it was a powerful subject and something that needed to be talked about.
What inspired you to pick up a guitar in the first place?
One thing I remember very vividly was having this reoccurring dream where I was standing on stage playing guitar. Even today, I can still picture it. I also remember growing up in suburban Long Island where everyone in the neighborhood played. It was a very musical environment and I quickly got hooked. I found that it was something I could do, and as my ability got better, the more and more I got into it. As a teenager, I'd often play for six hours a day. I couldn't get enough of it.
Who were some of your influences?
I'll never forget when I heard Steve Morse and the Dixie Dregs for the first time. I was just blown away, and it changed my whole approach to guitar. Then there's Al Di Meola. Hearing him for the first time was also unbelievable. I was also a huge Rush and Yes fan, so Alex Lifeson and Steve Howe. The list goes on and on. There are so many great players.
Dream Theater on Tour 2014:
15 Oporto, PT Coliseu Do Porto
16 Madrid, ES Palacio Vistalegre
17 Pamplona, ES Anaitasuna
18 Barcelona, ES St. Jordi Club
20 Milan, IT Mediolanum Forum
21 Florence, IT Obihall
22 Rome, IT Palalottomatica
23 Padova, IT Geox Theatre
25 Vienna, AT Gasometer
26 Munich, DE Zenith
27 Zürich, CH Volkshaus Zürich
29 Prague, CZ Tipsport Arena
30 Ludwigsburg, DE Arena
31 Paris, FR Zenith
1 Offenbach, DE Stadthalle
3 Zagreb, HR Cibona
4 Ljubljana, SI Small Tivoli
5 Katowice, PL Spodek Hall
7 Bamberg, DE Brose Arena
8 Deinze, Be Brielpoort
9 Hannover, DE Swiss Life Hall
10 Saarbrucken, DE Saarlandhalle
12 Lille, FR Aeronef Club
13 Manchester, UK O2 Apollo Manchester
14 London, UK Wembley Arena
15 Wolverhampton, UK Wolverhampton Civic Hall
17 Amsterdam, NL Heineken Music Hall
18 Dusseldorf, DE Mitsubishi Electric Halle
20 Copenhagen, DK Falkoner Theatre
21 Oslo, NO Spektrum Arena ANS
22 Stockholm, SE Annexet
24 Helsinki, FI Ice Hall
26 St Petersburg, RU Yubileyniy Sport Palace
28 Moscow, RU Stadium Live
2 Vilnius, LT Siemens Arena
20 Toronto, ON Massey Hall
21 Montreal, QC Bell Center
25 Boston, MA Opera House
27 Upper Darby, PA Tower Theatre
28 New York, NY Hammerstein Ballroom
1 Washington, DC Lincoln Theater
2 Pittsburgh, PA The Palace
4 Detroit, MI Fillmore
5 Chicago, IL Chicago Theatre
6 Milwaukee, WI Pabst Theater
8 Minneapolis, MN Burnsville Performing Arts Center
9 Kansas City, MO Uptown Theater
10 Denver, CO Paramount
12 Vancouver, BC Queen Elizabeth Theatre
15 Salem, OR Elsinore Theatre
17 San Francisco, CA The Warfield
18 Riverside, CA Fox PAC
19 Los Angeles, CA The Orpheum
23 Mexico City, MX Arena Ciudad De Mexico
25 Monterrey, MX Arena Monterrey
26 Guadalajara, MX Auditorio Telmex
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.