DREAM THEATER Guitarist JOHN PETRUCCI Talks Working With MIKE PORTNOY On New Solo Album - "I'm Really Happy That He Did It"

August 9, 2020, a month ago

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DREAM THEATER Guitarist JOHN PETRUCCI Talks Working With MIKE PORTNOY On New Solo Album - "I'm Really Happy That He Did It"

During a conversation with Ultimate Guitar's Justin Beckner, Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci talked about his upcoming sophomore solo album Terminal Velocity, which sees him reunite with Mike Portnoy for the first time since the drummer had left Dream Theater a decade ago.

Petrucci: "What was really cool about playing with him - and when I say playing 'with him,' it's a bit of a stretch because I had written and recorded all the music and did drum programming. Mike learned the album and played it to my tracks, so we didn't really play it 'together,' but what I like is that he made it sound like we played together. His playing is very lively and energetic and off the cuff and spirited. So even though he had to learn pre-existing songs and listen to the drum programming that me and my producer, Jimmy T. (Meslin) had done, he was still able to interpret it in his own way and I think it brought the songs to life.

When I listen to it now, I know how we did it - Dave recorded the bass at his studio in Florida, but it sounds like a trio playing together. Songs that have a lot of positive energy like 'Happy Song' or 'Terminal Velocity,' it sounds like we're kind of all jamming together and I like that. Mike brings that to the table. I think there are parts on the album where I add those twists - the Latin or blues or swing or metal - he can bring all of that to the table and do all that stuff. So that was really great. It was really fun having him on the album - I'm really happy that he did it."

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John Petrucci announces the forthcoming worldwide release of his second all-instrumental solo album, Terminal Velocity, the first solo album by the Dream Theater guitarist to be released in 15 years. The album will be released through The Orchard Music on his Sound Mind Music record label on all digital and streaming platforms on August 28th and 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.”

Pre-order the album here.

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"

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