DREAM THEATER Guitarist JOHN PETRUCCI Looks Back On Recording New Solo Album With Drummer MIKE PORTNOY And Bassist DAVE LARUE (Video)

September 8, 2020, 16 days ago

news john petrucci mike portnoy dave larue riff notes

DREAM THEATER Guitarist JOHN PETRUCCI Looks Back On Recording New Solo Album With Drummer MIKE PORTNOY And Bassist DAVE LARUE (Video)

In a new interview with Sweetwater, Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci discussed the making his new instrumental solo album, Terminal Velocity. Bassist Dave LaRue is also part of the chat. Check it out below.

On recording with Mike Portnoy and Dave LaRue:

Petrucci: "Mike doesn't live that far from me in NY, so he was able to actually come to my studio and track his drums in person. So after I'd written the music, tracked all the guitars, we actually programmed drums as well, I played bass, so the songs existed as actual songs, and I started sending them to Dave. I sent them to Mike, he basically learned them, but he asked me, 'Hey, do you want me to play this exactly the way you have programmed?' I was like, 'No, I want you to do your thing.' He's like, 'Good, because I'm not really that kind of a drummer.' He likes to do things kind of more instinctually; he's always been that way. And I said, 'Absolutely, 100%, bring that to the table.' So he came in and started tracking.

"Dave had started working on a couple of songs simultaneously, but as we were tracking drums, and if there were things in that there that Mike did, I would let Dave know. 'Hey, see if you can catch that. Mike changed the feel there, he's doing more of a triplet thing. Can you catch that fill?'. We did that a bunch of times."

LaRue: "At that point, it became apparent that I should wait for Mike to do the tracks. So as Mike would finish tracks, the new drum tracks would show up in my box, so I would load them into the session and then work with what the real, final drums were going to be. That saved a lot of time, although as John said, on a couple of the early tunes, we made a few revisions to match some of the cool things that mike had thrown in. John was like, 'Oh, he does this cool fill, throw something in.' So we changed a few things, but that made it apparent that we might as well just wait. The pace I was working at, Mike was moving right along, so I was like, 'OK, send them to me and I'll follow those up,' and that saved us a lot of time and revisions."

Petrucci: "One of the concerns I had was that because I tracked all the real guitars in a session to a click, there really wasn't any room for Mike in this case to kind of like push and pull and do any sort of ebb and flow thing, which he likes to do as a drummer; I know that from experience. But somehow, just the way that he tracked, it kind of like felt like... between him doing that, Dave responding to what he was doing, it sounds like a trio playing together to me, it doesn't sound like it was recorded the way that I'm describing."

Terminal Velocity, the first solo album by the Dream Theater guitarist to be released in 15 years. The album was released through The Orchard Music on his Sound Mind Music record label on all digital and streaming platforms on August 28th. It will be available on CD and Vinyl on October 30.

Terminal Velocity was written and produced by John Petrucci, recorded by James ‘Jimmy T’ Meslin and mixed and mastered by Andy Sneap (Judas Priest, Killswitch Engage, Arch Enemy). The artwork was created by Sean M. Smith at Echo Designlab (Stone Sour, Hollywood Undead, In This Moment).

The album sees the return of bassist Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs, Flying Colors) who played on John’s debut solo album and subsequent G3 tours, as well as, an eagerly anticipated reunion with former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy (Transatlantic, Winery Dogs, Sons Of Apollo). “It was awesome bringing Dave back to play bass on this album. He is just such a monster player who can handle anything you throw at him with tastefulness and unmatched musicality. His melodic approach to bass lines along with impeccable technique and groove for days really stands out on these tunes.”

Portnoy’s appearance on Terminal Velocity marks the first recording of the guitarist and his former bandmate in over a decade and the first since Portnoy left the band in 2010. “Having Mike play drums on this record was really special for me and he did an absolutely incredible job navigating the various styles and technical challenges my music presented in the way that only he can do. It was very cathartic for the both of us, I think, to be playing music together again after all these years and it really felt great! Mike’s spirited, intuitive and energetic playing truly helped to elevate these new songs to a level that I couldn’t be happier with.”

The video for “Terminal Velocity” can be seen below. John Petrucci on the track and video: “Terminal Velocity was actually the first new song that I wrote for the album when I entered the studio in March of this year. It stemmed from one of the many ideas and seeds that I had collected over the past several years. I literally began with the opening motif and built the rest of song from there. I think it’s a great lead-off single and nicely represents a few of the different stylistic sides of this record that I wanted to explore as a guitar player; The melodic/thematic side, the riffing side, and the shred side.

“Mike and Dave both did an amazing job bringing this song to life as well, with all of the energy that they injected when recording their performances.

“The video was created by Wayne Joyner who made all of the promotional videos for Dream Theater’s Distance Over Time album as well as all of the 2019/2020 DT live tour visuals including all of the updated Scenes From A Memory video content. The tracking footage of me, Dave and Mike in the studio has a play-through sort of vibe while Wayne did his magic adding amazing 3-D graphics and special visual effects to help tell a story. I think the end result is a really unique and engaging video that captures the song's energy and definitely does the first single justice. Really excited for people to see and hear this!”

In the beginning of March 2020 while the COVID-19 global pandemic was unrelentingly reeking it’s havoc on the world and especially NY, John started working on the music that would make up Terminal Velocity at the DT Headquarters on Long Island with engineer Jimmy T at the helm. “All DT touring for the rest of the year was either being cancelled or postponed and even though I had already planned on starting the project this Spring, I suddenly found myself with many unanticipated months at home. Jimmy T and I would head into the DTHQ 5 days week for about 2 and a half months and, as I wrote and constructed the new tunes, he was right there capturing it all and turning it into a record. Initially, we programmed drums and shared bass playing responsibilities just to get the ideas to a place where they sounded like completed and cohesive songs but we always anticipating that ‘work in progress’ drums and bass would eventually be replaced.”

The nine songs on Terminal Velocity showcase John’s affinity for writing tightly-weaved guitar instrumental powerhouses that feature everything from monster riff breaks to passion-filled melodic themes worthy of film soundtracks, to all-out shred extravaganzas that leave the listener feeling like they just stepped off of a thrilling musical roller coaster ride. “Much like the songs on my first solo album, Suspended Animation, I wanted the new tunes to really showcase what I’m all about as a player and to give an up-to-date depiction of where I am musically and how I like to express myself on the instrument. It’s about capturing the attitude of the performances and of course as always, very much about capturing the tone that I’ve worked so hard over the years to develop and refine.”

Although a few of the songs that make up Terminal Velocity were actually written quite a long time ago and even played live but never properly recorded, over half the album’s content is new music that John created while in the studio during the quarantine. “I believe that making this record when I did really helped me to maintain a sense of stability and normalcy during such a crazy time in our history.” “It was encouraging for me and my family to embrace something so hopeful and positive as we faced a very uncertain future in the music industry and in the world and for that, I am truly grateful for having music be such a big part of my life.”

Limited colored 2LP vinyl (clear & black metallic and metallic silver & black) signed by John Petrucci, as well as signed CD digipaks (limited to 200 copies) will be exclusively available at Newbury Comics and can be ordered here.


"Terminal Velocity"
"The Oddfather"
"Happy Song"
"Out Of The Blue"
"Glassy-Eyed Zombies"
"The Way Things Fall"
"Snake In My Boot"
"Temple Of Circadia"

Featured Audio

ENSLAVED - "Urjotun" (Nuclear Blast)

ENSLAVED - "Urjotun" (Nuclear Blast)

Latest Reviews