Mail-intervju - Rich Wilson, författare
Det kom att dröja mer än 20 år efter Dream Theaters bildande innan någon kom på idén att skriva en biografi om bandet. Förklaringen står säkert att finna i gruppens ganska modesta framtoning och utan uppenbara snaskiga skandaler att luta sig emot är risken för skrivkramp stor. Rich Wilson har dock, mot alla odds, lyckats knåpa ihop en riktigt spännande historia om ett band som, 20 år efter starten, fortfarande växer och hittar ny publik.
Vem är då denna Rich Wilson och varför i hela världen väljer han att skriva en bok om Dream Theater? De frågorna förblev oss övermäktiga så vi lät författaren själv svara på dem.
Congratulations on the book! It´s great! Can you tell us a little about who you are and why you decided to write a book about Dream Theater?
Thanks - I am glad you liked it. I'm a freelance rock writer, living in England. I've written for a number of magazines, including Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Record Collector. I guess the reason why I wanted to write the book was because I have been a fan of theirs for years (since their first album) and I thought there was a story to tell. Also for me to write a book it would have to be a about a band that I loved otherwise it wouldn't be much fun! So Dream Theater were the obvious choice.
You must have spent quite some time interviewing the bandmembers. Can you tell us something about each member that maybe the standard fan doesn´t know.
The thing that comes across about them all is that they're all great guys. Believe me, that is a rarity in this business! I guess Mike is the obsessive fan, who just loves everything about being in a band, collects everything he can. John P is another perfectionist but this is usually in terms of his gear and how it is set up. John Myung has a very firm handshake that could crush bones! Jordan just loves to play music and is a very funny guy. And James used to fight people!
Since producer David Prater seems like a prick, what was your personal impression of him?
I actually really like David. When you are putting together a book, the last thing you want is someone who doesn't have any interesting opinions. As you have read, David has strong opinions on a lot of things, which from my point of view was perfect. I know his opinions have upset a few people, but I do think they all added to the colour of the book.
My only complaint with the book is that I think some periods gets a lot more attention than others. Many pages are dedicated to the formation of the band and the road up to the first album while the most recent albums get less attention. Does this mirror your personal interests in the different periods?
No, not at all. I guess the earlier years were concentrated on because that is the period that people would know the least about. Plus once the band get onto the writing-recording-touring cycle the story does become less interesting. On more recent albums the band have been very settled with no internal battles, or fights with producers, so basically there is far less to talk about.
One of the "scoops" of the book was the fact that singer James LaBrie almost was fired from the band a few years ago. Since this wasn´t common knowledge, was he comfortable talking about it?
Yes, he was. Admittedly I had spoken to Mike and John Petrucci about it first, so when it came to speaking with James, it made it easier for him to talk about it. But I am sure it was hard for him to remember that period of his life, much like it was hard for Mike to recall events in his past - such as his drink and drug problems and the death of his mother. I also think that period when James was under threat was the last great internal "battle" and things have - on the surface at least - settled down.
According to recent interviews the vibe in the band seems pretty good at the moment and they don´t show any sign of stopping anytime soon. Is that your impression as well after conducting these interviews? What´s your prediction of DT´s future based on your interviews?
I hope so and I would agree that the vibe in the band is good. It is of course hard to really know what is going on inside a band, as even though I spent hours talking to them, I never really became part of the band's inner circle. So who knows? These things all tend to come out later, but certainly I know Mike thinks that the vibe in the band is the best it has ever been. As for the future, it will be very intersting. For the first time in a long time, they are attracting younger fans to gigs, who I guess all must love the "Systematic Chaos" album. It will be fascinating to see if these fans stick around, and if the band continue in the same musical vein to ensure that they do.
The only keyperson who wasn´t interviewed for the book was of course former keyboardist Kevin Moore. How does it feel, as an author putting your heart and soul into this book, to have ONE person ruining the possibilities for the book to be absolutely complete? Did you even get a hold of him?
Yes, we exchanged emails. Kevin basically wished me luck with the project but said he didn't want to get involved. Of course that is frustrating but there is no way of forcing him to do it. But I haven't totally given up. It is just a shame that he passed on the one opportunity he has had to set the record straight. Still, I've not given up on interviewing him one day!
What´s your personal opinion about Dream Theaters progress over the years in terms of music? Which are your favourite and least favourite albums?
I guess we all have to have favourites, and for me I really loved "When Dream And Day Unite", "Scenes From A Memory" and to a slightly lesser degree "Octavarium". Of all their albums, the one I play the least is "Systematic Chaos". I do love the music but I'm probably getting too old for some of the fantasy lyrics about "dark masters". But the one good thing is that DT have never repeated a formula, so I'm really looking forward to their next album. And I think that is the key to their progress. They have always created fresh music which has gradually expanded their fanbase who tend to stick with the band. That success is solely due to their hard work and musicianship, which from their point of view must be very satisfying. But I think they will continue to grow and, for better or worse, we will be getting used to seeing them perform stadium/ arena gigs instead of theatres.
The response to the book has been overwhelming. Do you have any plans to do anything more DT-related in the future?
Yes, I've been pleased with the response. We are talking at the moment about releasing an updated version of the book (just the "Words" book with a few photos in it) in time for the US tour this summer, with perhaps another hardback being available on general release later in 2008. There is also talk of an Italian language version. So I guess DT will keep me busy for some time to come!