Author Topic: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie  (Read 1144 times)

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Offline erwinrafael

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CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« on: December 14, 2017, 01:21:28 AM »
Haven't seen this posted in any of the threads (pardon me if it was already discussed):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nta4ZknXESI

Nice interview. Three points that really stuck with me:

- Dream Theater records all their shows including the soundchecks. I did not know that.
- The primary songwriters have always been Petrucci + the keyboard player
- I love seeing how James really still loves what he's doing. That part about doing things primarily for the money as the slippery slope to the end struck the right chord.

He's also quite funny.  :lol

Online noxon

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2017, 01:52:39 AM »
Well, DT soundchecks generally are quite boring. They're never full band, and its usually just one song they play through (the opener), and most of the time its not even the full song. As for the fact that everything is recorded - I thought that was well known by now. They've ALWAYS recorded everything. This fact saved the Fan Club DVD back in 2005 - cause the stereo mix we got from the soundboard at the time was just not good quality. And theres been a BUNCH of awesome bootlegs (official and unofficial), fan club cds etc that have been sourced from these recordings.

The most important CHANGE over the years have probably been in the ability to record everything on the fly as multitracks. It used to be that you needed a bus to do specific multitrack recording, nowadays its all digital and directly put into protools on the fly. Meaning they have everything recorded discreetly for posterity.

And while the idea of Petrucci and the keyboard player being the main writers isn't wrong per se, I do feel it's kinda trying to remove MP from the equation. There's absolutely NO doubt that MP contributed to the song writing - I myself have heard proofs through voice mail recordings of him humming riffs as a "note" to himself. And its caught on several of the behind the scenes footages on how he did contribute strongly to arrangements and such.
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Offline erwinrafael

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2017, 02:55:32 AM »
S they really have lots of live audio in their vault? Sorry, I did not know that, being in a Third World country and all.  :lol

Offline The Presence of Frenemies

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2017, 06:31:52 AM »
And while the idea of Petrucci and the keyboard player being the main writers isn't wrong per se, I do feel it's kinda trying to remove MP from the equation. There's absolutely NO doubt that MP contributed to the song writing - I myself have heard proofs through voice mail recordings of him humming riffs as a "note" to himself. And its caught on several of the behind the scenes footages on how he did contribute strongly to arrangements and such.

I feel it's the classic case of "the truth is somewhere in between." On one side you have MP going on about how he was the driving force, DT was his baby, etc. and so the natural response is "well, actually, here's all the stuff you didn't do." The idea that JP/JR were 100% responsible for music and MP only arranged is wrong, and so is the idea that MP's contributions dwarfed those of others. And each side is going to highlight the aspects they subjectively think are being lessened/ignored.
Yeah, I have no idea what the cakeless person in that analogy is meant to be eating. If he's got some sort of cake substitute, it should really have been worked into the narrative at some point. As it stands, the options are:

  • Hoard a cake just to stare blankly into its doughy edifice.
  • Make futile chewing motions with your mouth while starving to death.

Online Fritzinger

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2017, 06:41:21 AM »
Does anyone think that it was weird they used a Neal Morse song (with MP on it) as opening for a DT centered interview?
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Offline mikeyd23

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2017, 07:14:15 AM »
And while the idea of Petrucci and the keyboard player being the main writers isn't wrong per se, I do feel it's kinda trying to remove MP from the equation. There's absolutely NO doubt that MP contributed to the song writing - I myself have heard proofs through voice mail recordings of him humming riffs as a "note" to himself. And its caught on several of the behind the scenes footages on how he did contribute strongly to arrangements and such.

Nah, I think they'd be trying to remove him from the equation if they said that JP and the keys players were the only songwriters in the band. They aren't saying that, they are saying JP and now JR are the primary writers. Humming a note on your phone to come up with a riff doesn't necessarily make you a primary writer in a band. Being a big force in terms of arranging also doesn't make you a primary writer in the band. Being the most outspoken one can often make you look like a primary writer in the band though evidently.

Offline Setlist Scotty

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2017, 11:55:59 AM »
The idea that JP/JR were 100% responsible for music and MP only arranged is wrong, and so is the idea that MP's contributions dwarfed those of others. And each side is going to highlight the aspects they subjectively think are being lessened/ignored.

They aren't saying that, they are saying JP and now JR are the primary writers. Humming a note on your phone to come up with a riff doesn't necessarily make you a primary writer in a band. Being a big force in terms of arranging also doesn't make you a primary writer in the band. Being the most outspoken one can often make you look like a primary writer in the band though evidently.

Here's the thing: when has MP *ever* claimed to be one of the primary songwriters in the band? Please reference an interview or a quote where he has said so, because as far as I can recall, and I've read hundreds of articles/interviews about DT, many with MP quotes, I don't remember a single occasion where he claimed to be a primary songwriter. He was primarily responsible for many other roles within the band (arranging of the songs, creating the setlists, working with an artist to create the artwork for an album, selecting the opening acts, etc.) but not a primary player in the songwriting itself, even though he certainly did contribute it, to a lesser degree.
As a basic rule, if you hate it, you must solely blame Portnoy. If it's good, then you must downplay MP's contribution to the band as not being important anyway, or claim he's just lying. It's the DTF way.

Offline mikeyd23

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2017, 12:00:42 PM »

They aren't saying that, they are saying JP and now JR are the primary writers. Humming a note on your phone to come up with a riff doesn't necessarily make you a primary writer in a band. Being a big force in terms of arranging also doesn't make you a primary writer in the band. Being the most outspoken one can often make you look like a primary writer in the band though evidently.

Here's the thing: when has MP *ever* claimed to be one of the primary songwriters in the band? Please reference an interview or a quote where he has said so, because as far as I can recall, and I've read hundreds of articles/interviews about DT, many with MP quotes, I don't remember a single occasion where he claimed to be a primary songwriter. He was primarily responsible for many other roles within the band (arranging of the songs, creating the setlists, working with an artist to create the artwork for an album, selecting the opening acts, etc.) but not a primary player in the songwriting itself, even though he certainly did contribute it, to a lesser degree.

Umm, I don't disagree with anything you are saying. Where did I say that MP claimed to be a primary songwriter? The last portion of my statement had more to do with a portion of the fan base and their view of things than it does MP.

Offline Setlist Scotty

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2017, 12:24:55 PM »

They aren't saying that, they are saying JP and now JR are the primary writers. Humming a note on your phone to come up with a riff doesn't necessarily make you a primary writer in a band. Being a big force in terms of arranging also doesn't make you a primary writer in the band. Being the most outspoken one can often make you look like a primary writer in the band though evidently.

Here's the thing: when has MP *ever* claimed to be one of the primary songwriters in the band? Please reference an interview or a quote where he has said so, because as far as I can recall, and I've read hundreds of articles/interviews about DT, many with MP quotes, I don't remember a single occasion where he claimed to be a primary songwriter. He was primarily responsible for many other roles within the band (arranging of the songs, creating the setlists, working with an artist to create the artwork for an album, selecting the opening acts, etc.) but not a primary player in the songwriting itself, even though he certainly did contribute it, to a lesser degree.

Umm, I don't disagree with anything you are saying. Where did I say that MP claimed to be a primary songwriter? The last portion of my statement had more to do with a portion of the fan base and their view of things than it does MP.
I didn't say that you did. If you notice, I also quoted TPoF, where he directly implied that this was the case. I included your quote because from my perspective (and the fact that you sometimes seem to be overly critical of MP), it appeared like you were indirectly implying that MP was at fault for spreading that fallacy.
As a basic rule, if you hate it, you must solely blame Portnoy. If it's good, then you must downplay MP's contribution to the band as not being important anyway, or claim he's just lying. It's the DTF way.

Offline mikeyd23

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2017, 12:30:22 PM »

I didn't say that you did. If you notice, I also quoted TPoF, where he directly implied that this was the case. I included your quote because from my perspective (and the fact that you sometimes seem to be overly critical of MP), it appeared like you were indirectly implying that MP was at fault for spreading that fallacy.

Gotcha. Honestly, I think it has more to do with the fan base assuming things because Mike was so front-facing. I don't think that's Mike's fault at all, I think that's just his personality.

Offline bosk1

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2017, 12:49:36 PM »
Well, DT soundchecks generally are quite boring. They're never full band, and its usually just one song they play through (the opener), and most of the time its not even the full song.

Yeah, I don't think most people realize that.  That has been the case for the soundchecks I have seen anyway.  Not sure if it was much different in earlier years.

And while the idea of Petrucci and the keyboard player being the main writers isn't wrong per se, I do feel it's kinda trying to remove MP from the equation.

I don't think that is what James was saying at all.  That segment of the interview was pretty long and detailed, and I thought he did a really good job of explaining how the process works, and it was consistent with my understanding as well.  What he said was that, in large part because the guitar and keyboard are compositional instruments, what USUALLY happens is that the guitar player and keyboard player are the PRIMARY (but not only) contributors in the writing process, but others will also frequently bring in riffs, melodies, or other ideas, or will suggest riffs, melodies, or other ideas when they are together writing, going through the ideas, and putting it all together.  I don't think he minimized Mike's or anyone else's contributions at all when you listen to his full explanation.  He mentioned several times in that discussion that others usually bring in a lot of ideas as well.

The only difference, which he didn't bring up here because it wasn't asked about, was that with The Astonishing, ALL the ideas came from John and Jordan because John wanted to do it differently with that album.

Does anyone think that it was weird they used a Neal Morse song (with MP on it) as opening for a DT centered interview?

At first I did.  Then I realized that it likely didn't have to do with THIS particular interview, but was their intro music that they use for all their interview pieces for whatever band. 
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Offline The Presence of Frenemies

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2017, 02:41:11 PM »

They aren't saying that, they are saying JP and now JR are the primary writers. Humming a note on your phone to come up with a riff doesn't necessarily make you a primary writer in a band. Being a big force in terms of arranging also doesn't make you a primary writer in the band. Being the most outspoken one can often make you look like a primary writer in the band though evidently.

Here's the thing: when has MP *ever* claimed to be one of the primary songwriters in the band? Please reference an interview or a quote where he has said so, because as far as I can recall, and I've read hundreds of articles/interviews about DT, many with MP quotes, I don't remember a single occasion where he claimed to be a primary songwriter. He was primarily responsible for many other roles within the band (arranging of the songs, creating the setlists, working with an artist to create the artwork for an album, selecting the opening acts, etc.) but not a primary player in the songwriting itself, even though he certainly did contribute it, to a lesser degree.

Umm, I don't disagree with anything you are saying. Where did I say that MP claimed to be a primary songwriter? The last portion of my statement had more to do with a portion of the fan base and their view of things than it does MP.
I didn't say that you did. If you notice, I also quoted TPoF, where he directly implied that this was the case. I included your quote because from my perspective (and the fact that you sometimes seem to be overly critical of MP), it appeared like you were indirectly implying that MP was at fault for spreading that fallacy.

Like mikey, I also didn't mean to imply that MP himself directly said certain things. He certainly never said he wrote all the music or anything close to that. But he did and does (understandably) emphasize all of his creative contributions, whether they directly have to do with coming up with riffs, etc. or not. Combine that with the amount of interaction he has and it's easy for the naive listener to come away from many of his statements thinking that MP was really the main guy. It's not like he himself (when he was in the band) took a lot of care to emphasize that JP and JR write the majority of the music. So, not a shot at Mike. I just think it's understandable that the DT guys feel like his statements aren't telling the whole story, and thus they emphasize the parts they feel he glosses over. And likewise, Mike does the same with the parts he feels the other guys gloss over.
Yeah, I have no idea what the cakeless person in that analogy is meant to be eating. If he's got some sort of cake substitute, it should really have been worked into the narrative at some point. As it stands, the options are:

  • Hoard a cake just to stare blankly into its doughy edifice.
  • Make futile chewing motions with your mouth while starving to death.

Offline Madman Shepherd

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2017, 04:00:49 PM »

They aren't saying that, they are saying JP and now JR are the primary writers. Humming a note on your phone to come up with a riff doesn't necessarily make you a primary writer in a band. Being a big force in terms of arranging also doesn't make you a primary writer in the band. Being the most outspoken one can often make you look like a primary writer in the band though evidently.

Here's the thing: when has MP *ever* claimed to be one of the primary songwriters in the band? Please reference an interview or a quote where he has said so, because as far as I can recall, and I've read hundreds of articles/interviews about DT, many with MP quotes, I don't remember a single occasion where he claimed to be a primary songwriter. He was primarily responsible for many other roles within the band (arranging of the songs, creating the setlists, working with an artist to create the artwork for an album, selecting the opening acts, etc.) but not a primary player in the songwriting itself, even though he certainly did contribute it, to a lesser degree.

Umm, I don't disagree with anything you are saying. Where did I say that MP claimed to be a primary songwriter? The last portion of my statement had more to do with a portion of the fan base and their view of things than it does MP.
I didn't say that you did. If you notice, I also quoted TPoF, where he directly implied that this was the case. I included your quote because from my perspective (and the fact that you sometimes seem to be overly critical of MP), it appeared like you were indirectly implying that MP was at fault for spreading that fallacy.

Like mikey, I also didn't mean to imply that MP himself directly said certain things. He certainly never said he wrote all the music or anything close to that. But he did and does (understandably) emphasize all of his creative contributions, whether they directly have to do with coming up with riffs, etc. or not. Combine that with the amount of interaction he has and it's easy for the naive listener to come away from many of his statements thinking that MP was really the main guy. It's not like he himself (when he was in the band) took a lot of care to emphasize that JP and JR write the majority of the music. So, not a shot at Mike. I just think it's understandable that the DT guys feel like his statements aren't telling the whole story, and thus they emphasize the parts they feel he glosses over. And likewise, Mike does the same with the parts he feels the other guys gloss over.

On that same token, I think people in general overstate Mike's role as "the arranger" as if John and Jordan come up with riffs and are clueless what to do with them.  I don't doubt Mike plays a significant role in the arrangement of the songs but he's probably not more than 1/3 of the puzzle.

Offline Setlist Scotty

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2017, 04:10:19 PM »
Like mikey, I also didn't mean to imply that MP himself directly said certain things. He certainly never said he wrote all the music or anything close to that. But he did and does (understandably) emphasize all of his creative contributions, whether they directly have to do with coming up with riffs, etc. or not. Combine that with the amount of interaction he has and it's easy for the naive listener to come away from many of his statements thinking that MP was really the main guy. It's not like he himself (when he was in the band) took a lot of care to emphasize that JP and JR write the majority of the music. So, not a shot at Mike. I just think it's understandable that the DT guys feel like his statements aren't telling the whole story, and thus they emphasize the parts they feel he glosses over. And likewise, Mike does the same with the parts he feels the other guys gloss over.
Understood.   :tup


On that same token, I think people in general overstate Mike's role as "the arranger" as if John and Jordan come up with riffs and are clueless what to do with them.  I don't doubt Mike plays a significant role in the arrangement of the songs but he's probably not more than 1/3 of the puzzle.
While I certainly wouldn't discount JP and JR's abilities to arrange songs, while MP was in the band, it does appear that MP probably did more of the arranging than the other two. How much is up for debate since there's not a lot of concrete evidence to base it on, but I'd wager it's more than just 1/3. When you look at how he was the one who constructed the medleys the band played (especially the Instrumedley), that he was probably behind most of The Shattered Fortress song (in a way, a medley of sorts) as well as the involvement the song arrangement of the other bands he's a part of, I think it's reasonable to believe that he had a more significant role in song arranging than any of the other guys.
As a basic rule, if you hate it, you must solely blame Portnoy. If it's good, then you must downplay MP's contribution to the band as not being important anyway, or claim he's just lying. It's the DTF way.

Offline Madman Shepherd

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2017, 08:05:17 PM »
Good few examples you got there.  Dream Theater has over 100 other songs though. 

Offline Moor

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2017, 03:00:03 AM »
Does anyone think that it was weird they used a Neal Morse song (with MP on it) as opening for a DT centered interview?

it is like "Somebody came to my signing today wearing a 'Dramatic Turn Of Events' shirt....REALLY???"  :lol

Offline Mladen

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2017, 04:31:28 AM »
"Seriously, dude? You couldn't play any of the Neal Morse songs from DT w/MP era?"  :lol

Online Peter Mc

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2017, 05:50:57 AM »
Good few examples you got there.  Dream Theater has over 100 other songs though.

Many of which were produced by MP/JP and, in that role, I have no doubt he would be heavily involved in shaping the song even if he was not a main composer.  You can clearly hear the difference since he left.  It still sounds like Dream Theater and still has plenty of metal riffing but there has definitely been a shift away from more straight ahead rock/metal songs, with crazy prog solos crowbarred in, to more intricate melodic prog metal songs like in their early days.

Lets not also forget that, in Dream Theater, it is usually the case that the person who writes the lyrics also writes the vocal melodies and Mike became the 2nd main lyricist in the band after Kevin Moore left.  This means that he may not have composed all the backing tracks but he was responsible for the melody you're singing along to in the songs he wrote lyrics to.

Offline mikeyd23

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2017, 08:51:35 AM »
I think it's also worth noting that by the time MP left, a lot of fans had started to feel that the arrangements in DT songs had gotten stale. I think they've done a really good job with arrangements since MP's departure.

Offline KevShmev

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2017, 09:14:11 AM »
I think it's also worth noting that by the time MP left, a lot of fans had started to feel that the arrangements in DT songs had gotten stale. I think they've done a really good job with arrangements since MP's departure.

Very true. And it seems like on the last three albums that the arrangements have been less herky-jerky, more natural and more concise, which definitely makes me think that Portnoy was the driving force behind the "let's bounce from idea to idea at the drop of a hat for no reason whatsoever" kind of arrangement, which I think is proven when you consider that medleys were always his forte and live medleys by their very nature are not meant to be natural and concise.

Offline mikeyd23

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2017, 09:20:14 AM »
I think it's also worth noting that by the time MP left, a lot of fans had started to feel that the arrangements in DT songs had gotten stale. I think they've done a really good job with arrangements since MP's departure.

Very true. And it seems like on the last three albums that the arrangements have been less herky-jerky, more natural and more concise, which definitely makes me think that Portnoy was the driving force behind the "let's bounce from idea to idea at the drop of a hat for no reason whatsoever" kind of arrangement, which I think is proven when you consider that medleys were always his forte and live medleys by their very nature are not meant to be natural and concise.

I think I'd agree with that, I had the whole guitar solo, keys solo, guitar solo, keys solo, unison, out - structure in mind as well. That seemed to be an overly reoccurring theme in their arrangement structure through to BC&SL that we don't see as much now.

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2017, 09:44:18 AM »
I think it's also worth noting that by the time MP left, a lot of fans had started to feel that the arrangements in DT songs had gotten stale. I think they've done a really good job with arrangements since MP's departure.

Very true. And it seems like on the last three albums that the arrangements have been less herky-jerky, more natural and more concise, which definitely makes me think that Portnoy was the driving force behind the "let's bounce from idea to idea at the drop of a hat for no reason whatsoever" kind of arrangement, which I think is proven when you consider that medleys were always his forte and live medleys by their very nature are not meant to be natural and concise.

I think I'd agree with that, I had the whole guitar solo, keys solo, guitar solo, keys solo, unison, out - structure in mind as well. That seemed to be an overly reoccurring theme in their arrangement structure through to BC&SL that we don't see as much now.

I think I mentioned this in another thread, but around the time MP left, one of the most common debates among DT fans was whether the band was soloing in their songs too much. It was like the triple-double in basketball: A completely over-discussed, over-dissected topic. These days, it's a non-starter. The band's songwriting has become much more concise, at least in my opinion. Rarely do you hear anyone complain about them overdoing it anymore.
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Offline Madman Shepherd

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2017, 10:33:49 AM »
I think by sheer virtue of writing riffs you automatically become the arranger unless you literally play a few notes and rely in other people putting together a  concise idea for you. Honestly I was probably being generous by saying Portnoy was 1/3 responsible for the arrangements. If he comes in and says "let's put this section here and go back to this section before the chorus" then sure it's important but that would only make him maybe 15% responsible for the arrangement. I'm sure at other times he had a much bigger hand in the arrangement as well.

Check out the SoA studio diary. Opus seems like he played a very big part in the arrangment. There are other songs that he, to his credit, admits were mostly finished by the time he even got to the studio.

Offline bosk1

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2017, 10:57:45 AM »
But Mike wrote 81% of the songs.
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Offline Evai

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #24 on: December 15, 2017, 11:03:34 AM »
Arrangement can also mean 'I wrote the drum parts'
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Offline The Presence of Frenemies

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Re: CC Rock Interview with James LaBrie
« Reply #25 on: December 15, 2017, 07:01:36 PM »
I think it's also worth noting that by the time MP left, a lot of fans had started to feel that the arrangements in DT songs had gotten stale. I think they've done a really good job with arrangements since MP's departure.

Very true. And it seems like on the last three albums that the arrangements have been less herky-jerky, more natural and more concise, which definitely makes me think that Portnoy was the driving force behind the "let's bounce from idea to idea at the drop of a hat for no reason whatsoever" kind of arrangement, which I think is proven when you consider that medleys were always his forte and live medleys by their very nature are not meant to be natural and concise.

I think I'd agree with that, I had the whole guitar solo, keys solo, guitar solo, keys solo, unison, out - structure in mind as well. That seemed to be an overly reoccurring theme in their arrangement structure through to BC&SL that we don't see as much now.

I think I mentioned this in another thread, but around the time MP left, one of the most common debates among DT fans was whether the band was soloing in their songs too much. It was like the triple-double in basketball: A completely over-discussed, over-dissected topic. These days, it's a non-starter. The band's songwriting has become much more concise, at least in my opinion. Rarely do you hear anyone complain about them overdoing it anymore.

The jury's still out for me on that part. ADTOE had several songs with that verse-chorus-verse-chorus-long wild instrumental-verse-chorus format. DT12 seems to have been a conscious attempt to pull runtimes back a la 8V, and obviously TA is something completely different. So certainly things have been shaken up, but I'm not sure the band's default has changed. It's like how on SC, they consciously went in with a blank slate--if they did that again, I wonder how much the arrangements would go back toward that style. Then again, the fact that they have approached the last two albums very much without a blank slate in itself says a lot, I suppose.
Yeah, I have no idea what the cakeless person in that analogy is meant to be eating. If he's got some sort of cake substitute, it should really have been worked into the narrative at some point. As it stands, the options are:

  • Hoard a cake just to stare blankly into its doughy edifice.
  • Make futile chewing motions with your mouth while starving to death.