Dream Theater’s John Petrucci on Grammy Nod, Chances of Winning + More
In our exclusive interview with Petrucci, the shredder tells us about how he learned of the Grammy nod for 'The Enemy Inside,' congratulating his fellow bandmates, reminiscing about going to junior high school with bassist John Myung + much more.
Check out our most recent chat with John Petrucci below:
Congratulations on your second Grammy nomination. How did you find out that you were nominated?
I was actually out with a bunch of friends. We were just hanging out for the holidays, we were out to dinner and it was pretty late. I got a text while we were out to dinner, so it was great timing. I was with my wife and good friends. We made a nice toast, it couldn’t have been a better night. The first time we got nominated was just unbelievable. To be nominated twice for two consecutive albums is just… I don’t know. It blows me away.
How does Dream Theater as a whole react to Grammy news? I spoke with Scott Ian a few days ago and he was telling me about Anthrax and how they haven't even really talked about it.
First of all, even getting a Grammy nomination is something that’s new for us. Our first one was for 'On the Backs of Angels,' our previous album. That was the first one ever. It took 25 years of a career or so before we got a Grammy nomination. Of course, we all were unbelievably happy and proud and got on the phone right away. The same with this one, just sharing the news with each other, congratulating each other. It’s a really, really cool type of recognition and the type of thing that for us hasn’t really been a normal occurrence. We’ve kind of been off the radar a bit for our entire career. We’ve built our career that way, which we have a lot to be thankful for because we did do it that way. So, when big news like this happens, the whole band shares it. Everybody is super psyched about it.
As you said, your first nod was for 'On the Backs of Angels.' That year, you were against Mastodon’s 'Curl the Burl,' Megadeth’s 'Public Enemy No. 1,' Sum 41's 'Blood in My Eyes' and Foo Fighters' 'White Limo,' which won the award. Looking back, who do you think deserved to win?
Foo Fighters deserved to win. They won. That’s what the academy voted and I’m really happy for them that they did. Obviously, a really successful evening for them. Didn’t they win like 5 or 6? It was a great, successful album for them and they deserve every part of it. It sounds cliche, but really, to be nominated is a great honor. Just to be in that circle of bands and to be recognized like that, it’s such a thrill. We went to the Grammys, we took all of our families and everything. The whole thing was just a blast. Obviously, it would be nice to win.
Your competition this year is pretty strong. You’ve got Black Sabbath's 'God Is Dead?,' Anthrax with their cover of AC/DC's 'T.N.T.,' Killswitch Engage's 'In Due Time' and then 'Room 24' by Volbeat featuring King Diamond. What do you think of your competition this year and how do you rate your chances?
It’s hard to say. Obviously, the competition is huge. You have huge names, great albums, great songs and really incredible bands. So, it’s anybody’s game. It’s hard. It’s difficult with names like that and bands like that. With the history of Sabbath and Anthrax, just all of those, they’re really cool. That’s the thing that sets us apart, possibly, is we’re coming from more of the progressive edge of the metal genre. So, that’s something to be said for prog music in the present and its influence in metal over the years. In means a lot to us. That’s going to be really hard to win, I’m sure. [Laughs]
In your opinion, not just of the Grammys, but of other award shows, do you think they really matter?
There’s successes you have in your career. For me, for example, as a guitar player, as somebody in a band putting out albums, the success that we have in our field and how we’re viewed by our fans; that type of success means more than anything to us. The Grammy recognition is cool, as well, because that’s something different. Now, here is a situation where your song or album is being considered and voted on by members of the Recording Academy. It’s all professional; a wide range of professionals in the music industry. So, it could be different engineers, producers, musicians and songwriters in that pool of people who are doing the same thing that you are doing and think enough of your music that among hundreds and hundreds of submissions to pick, they say, "Hey, that song is deserving." That has a really special meaning as well. It’s very cool, you feel a sense of honor and you're humbled by that, from people making that kind of choice.
When you look at your history, Dream Theater are one of those bands that’s always been very critically acclaimed. For you, the Grammys is a new type of critical acclaim. Do you ever get used to the amount and of praise that Dream Theater receives?
It’s always surprising. In fact, we talk about this a lot. For example, me and John Myung, we met when we were in middle school / junior high. We were teenagers, we’ve been playing together for so long. We have so much history and the band has been through so many different things together professionally and personally. We’ve seen our families grow up together. It’s a very private thing when you have these strong relationships with these guys, you’re writing music with these guys behind closed doors.
It’s a really personal and private career that all of a sudden gets exposed in a very public way as soon as you put music out, play live and everything else. The innocence of it never goes away. We still feel like we’re the same kids writing music in a basement. [Laughs] Next thing you know, there are people out there that appreciate it and want to see it and want to get it, and in the case of the Grammys, want to recognize it. It’s all very surreal, it’s a strange feeling. You never get used to that kind of praise. It keeps us pushing to do better. You want to do better, to keep upping our game. That’s what great about choosing music as a career, you can do that.