Jessica Botelho’s Top 5 Concerts of 2011

#1 – Bon Jovi @ Various Venues

When I heard the false rumors a few weeks ago that Jon Bon Jovi died, one of the first thoughts that entered my mind was, “Thank God I saw Bon Jovi three times this year.” Of course, Captain Kid is alive and well and his band are among the top grossing acts of the year, landing the number two spot behind U2. I saw them with my brother’s girlfriend, Meghan, at the T.D. Banknorth Garden in Boston on March 1, the day before JBJ’s birthday, and the P.A. system went out at the beginning of the show. It was restored shortly after and the show ended up being a total blast. While we sat behind the stage, we had a great view of JBJ’s behind. Then, I saw them at the Mohegan Sun Arena a few days later on March 4 with my friend, Matt, and again, they were awesome. The third time was also at Mohegan Sun but they were sans Richie Sambora, as the King of Swing was in rehab for his alcohol issues. Nevertheless, the show was fantastic. The best part was the fact that they did different sets at the shows and I heard “Dry County,” and “Hey God,” songs I never saw them perform before, which is a treat when you’ve seen a band more than a dozen times.  It’s good to know JBJ is still making memories “These Days.” 😉

Bon Jovi

#2 – Hurtsmile @ Showcase Live in Foxboro, MA

I felt a special connection with vocalist Gary Cherone when I interviewed him during the summer because we chatted about his involvement with Van Halen and how he blew his voice out at a show I went to in 1998 at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, Mass. As a result, he said he sometimes feels unsettled prior to performing. In the article, I quoted him as saying, “That show comes up in my mind every time I play in Boston.” But when he performed at Showcase Live in Foxboro on July 22 with his new band HURTSMILE, which features his brother, Mark, on guitar, he nailed it. I went to the show with my brother, Ernie, and we were lucky enough to get backstage passes and meet Gary and Mark afterwards. Gary said he loved the interview and Mark re-posted our link to the story on his Facebook page. That was really awesome for me. \m/

Gary Cherone & Jessica Botelho

#3 – Motley Crue @ Various Venues

If you like standing and dancing at concerts like I do, I highly advise you don’t buy seats located on the top tier of the Mohegan Sun Area – spring for lower level seats. While it’s a great venue, the “High Rollers” are often given tickets top tier seats and they have no problem telling you to sit down. I’m not sure why anyone would want to sit at a Crue show but that’s what happened to me at the July 15 gig. Feeling disappointed, I spent decent money on another ticket for their second appearance at the Comcast Center on July 19, sat 15 rows from the stage and it was worth every cent. I went alone but met up with friends before and was treated to delicious steak tips in the parking lot AND made a few new friends. The New York Dolls and Poison started the show and needless to say it was “Nothing But a Good Time.” =)

Motley Crue

#4 – James Montgomery & Cory Bellucci @ Elk’s Lodge in Warwick, RI

I interviewed the Grammy-nominated blues vocalist and harmonica player for the Warwick Beacon, the newspaper I work for full-time, the night before Thanksgiving. We met at the home of Cory Bellucci, 15, a guitarist Montgomery recently took under his wing. To promote Bellucci’s career, they booked a gig at the Elk’s Lodge in Warwick, R.I. on Dec. 2 and I got the chance to go to the show with my buddy, Alan. Hearing Montgomery praise the article I wrote to the crowd made me feel like my heart grew wings and was fluttering around in my chest. ❤

James Montgomery, Jessica Botelho & Cory Bellucci

#5 – Dennis DeYoung @ Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford, MA

It’s always exceptionally awesome to see a musician perform after I interview them and going to the Dennis DeYoung show at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center on Nov. 18 was no exception. Watching him do “The Robot” to his hit song, “Mr. Roboto” was almost as awesome as watching him give his wife a love tap on her behind after he wished her happy birthday and presented her with red roses onstage. Of course, spending quality time with the co-owners of Limelight Magazine, Jason Kenney and Katie Botelho, as well as meeting DeYoung’s guitarist, August Zadra, was “The Best of Times.” 😉

Katie Botelho, August Zadra & Jessica Botelho
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Katie Botelho’s Top 5 Concerts of 2011

Please note that the shows I booked through JKB Management and Booking are not included on this list to keep everything objective.

#1 – Sully Erna @ Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford, MA

I liked everything about this show. I loved all of the songs he played and the ambience on stage was simply amazing. It made you feel like you were in another world. And, of course, meeting him before the show was a plus!

Sully Erna & Katie Botelho

#2 – Kiss @ Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH

I loved the whole experience of this show. Seeing everyone dressed up and having their faces painted, including myself, made me feel like a kid again. All the energy and props they used on stage made it more than just a concert. It was total entertainment from beginning to end.

Katie Botelho as Paul Stanley

#3 – Blondie @ Wilbur Theater in Boston, MA

This show was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Being so close to the stage where I felt like I was actually on stage was something else. Seeing someone like her performing that close was simply amazing to say the least.

Katie Botelho and Deborah Harry

#4 – Pink Floyd Experience @ Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford, MA

This show seemed to put me in a different state of mind. All the visuals really put the show together. Hearing all the music that I grew up with my brother and such made it truly a special experience. And the flying pig at the end was just awesome. It topped the whole show off.

The Flying Pig

#5 – Dennis DeYoung @ Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford, MA

Even though Dennis DeYoung is number 5, I really enjoyed this show. DeYoung had such great personality on stage and his voice was amazing. The only reason why this one is last is because it didn’t have the visuals like the others had. Still a great show and I would definitely see him again. I also appreciate his guitarist letting us take a photo with him and our managing editor, Jessica Botelho.

Katie Botelho, August Zadra & Jessica Botelho

‘TH1RT3EN’ far from unlucky number for Megadeth

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Business is good for the heavy metal band Megadeth because fans are sweating bullets for their thirteenth studio album appropriately titled “TH1RT3EN.”

Guitarist Chris Broderick, the former guitarist for the band Jag Panzer who replaced Glen Drover in Megadeth nearly four years ago, said he is pleased by the reaction of fans and critics alike. Still, he thinks it’s too soon to have the right to go insane about the feedback.

“I always wait until a little time has passed but I’m really happy that people are receiving it very well,” he said.

The album marks the last the band will make under Roadrunner Records and is the second in their history to hit stores on Nov. 1, as 1994’s “Youthanasia” was also released on that date. They are set to be killing it on the road with Motorhead, Volbeat and Lacuna Coil for Gigantour, the critically acclaimed package festival they founded in 2005, which is the same tour name Broderick made his live debut with Megadeth on Feb. 4, 2008.

They will make stops in New England states such as Connecticut and Massachusetts and they will also perform in nearby New York.

While he doesn’t have a favorite place to gig, he said he enjoys playing for fans that are “over the top” and “very vocal” when he’s on stage.

“At the same time, there are fans that like to sit back and listen and that’s nice, as well,” said Broderick. Either way he said, “I can’t wait to go on tour. We’ll be doing four or five songs from the CD.”

According to Broderick, the CD came together “quite quickly” and they composed some of the material while on tour for the band’s last studio album “Endgame.” They worked with producer John Karkazis, better known as Johnny K, who previously worked with Disturbed, Sevendust, Machine Head and Staind, among others.

“He’s concerned about the whole aspect of the song and that’s really his strong point,” said Broderick. “It was really cool to work with him.”

In addition to “TH1RT3EN,” Broderick also recorded guitar parts on “Endgame” shortly after he came onboard. He thinks the new album is more diverse.

“‘Endgame,’ with the exception of a song or two, was pretty in your face,” Broderick said. “‘Thirteen’ pulls from ‘Endgame’ but also from every other Megadeth CD.”

In terms of guitar riffs, he enjoys tracks “Sudden Death” and “Never Dead” best. “Never Dead” can be heard in a trailer for the fantasy action video game of the same name. With the record business not being what it used to be, Broderick feels having their song in a video game is an alternative avenue to reach new fans.

“It’s a great way to get advertising for your music,” he said. “The video game almost gives the song an infinite number of music videos.”

In 1983, the year frontman Dave Mustaine founded Megadeth, the band probably never envisioned their music would be in a video game nearly 30 years later. For Broderick, he never thought he’d end up playing lead guitar for them.

“It’s such an honor to be able to play with such an awesome band,” he said. “I grew up following them and to be on stage with the guys is pretty amazing.”

But Mustaine said he thinks of Broderick as the greatest guitarist Megadeth has ever had and compared meeting Broderick to Ozzy Osbourne fusing with Randy Rhodes. Hearing that, Broderick said, is humbling and terrifying at the same time.

“It’s great that he thinks that of me but it’s like, ‘Wow. I have to live up to that,’” he said.

“The funny thing is the first year and a half that I was playing with Megadeth I never really had time to think about the position I’ve been in. Only now have I been able to relax and step back and feel comfortable with what I’m doing.”

Celebrate the holidays with Lou Gramm, Mickey Thomas & Eddie Money

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

NEW BEDFORD – It isn’t every day that three music icons take the stage to perform classic holiday favorites. But Eddie Money, Lou Gramm and Mickey Thomas fans will get the opportunity to have themselves a merry little Christmas with a side of rock and roll this Saturday, Dec. 3, as the singers will bring joy to the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford for the Jingle Bell Rock tour.

In addition to opening and closing the show as a trio, they will also play their own hit songs individually.

“Eddie did a holiday tour last year and thought it would be fun to take the concept and expand upon it,” said Thomas, who fronts Starship. “Eddie is such a great entertainer and sax player and it doesn’t get any better than Lou as a vocalist. It’s a unique experience to be able to go out and perform with them.”

Gramm, the former lead singer of Foreigner, agreed and said he is excited because he enjoys the holiday season, as well as New Bedford. Previously to joining Foreigner, he played in the band Black Sheep, which often gigged in the area.

“We were regulars there for a few years and met a lot of good people,” said Gramm. “I have an affinity for it.”

For the show, he said he is looking forward to performing “Jukebox Hero,” “Midnight Blue,” “I Want To Know What Love Is,” and “Hot Blooded,” as well as holiday hits like “Jingle Bell Rock,” and “Mary, Did You Know?”

Thomas is set to sing “Winter Wonderland” in the style of Annie Lennox, Elvis Presley’s, “It’s Christmas Time Pretty Baby,” and “Silent Night.” He’ll perform Starship songs “Jane,” “Sara,” “We Built This City,” and “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” which he originally recorded with The Elvin Bishop Band in 1976.

“We might do ‘Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now,’ if we have time,” he said.

Thomas and Gramm anticipate the show will help people get into the Christmas spirit. For Thomas, his favorite thing about celebrating the holidays is cooking and being with loved ones.

“I enjoy getting the family together because I have to travel so much that there’s nothing I like better than being in the kitchen whipping up an exciting meal with some good wine and a football game,” said Thomas, whose specialty is seafood and okra gumbo. “That’s the happiest time for me.”

Gramm feels the same and said it’s a great time to catch up with family and old friends. He especially likes the camaraderie everyone gets into if they are appreciating Christmas “the way it was meant to be.”

“You put differences aside and celebrate the birth of the Lord,” he said.

Of course, they’ve each made wish lists for Santa. In fact, Thomas is confident he will be getting a set of golf clubs this year, as well as a few films. Action and adventure flicks such as “Scarface,” “Goodfellas,” the “Indiana Jones” trilogy and the “Godfather” movies are his favorites.

“I’ve been golfing for 25 years and it’s one of the few things that I can do to leave everything that I’ve been worrying about behind,” said Thomas. “You can empty your head. And I love watching movies almost as much as cooking so hopefully I’ll be getting some DVDs.”

Gramm is keeping his fingers crossed for a new pair of glasses, as the pair he has is in rough shape.

“One side is broken to the point where it’s taped on,” he said with a laugh.

He’s also hinting around for a set of new tires for his’68 Camaro Super Sport, one of his four muscle cars.

“I’ve been driving it more and more lately and the tires have seen the last of the road,” he said. “I’ve been into muscle cars since before I was old enough to drive. My dad used to take me with him when it was time for us to get another car and we would window shop and he taught me about the high performance cars.”

But before Santa and his reindeer lavish them with gifts, they will share their holiday cheer with New Bedford. If the tour is a success, they said they would be more than willing to carry the tradition on next year.

“If this works out we’ll definitely be doing Jingle Bell Rock again,” said Thomas. “We might even expand upon it even more.”

Thomas said Starship frequently performs private shows at which his “singer buddies” Mike Reno of Loverboy; Bobby Kimball of Toto; Jimi Jamison of Survivor; John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band join him on stage. He’s thinking about bringing some of those guys on board next year, as he is fond of touring.

“In the early days, I just wanted to be in the studio all the time,” said Thomas. “Now, I enjoy being on stage and connecting with audiences.”

In the future, Thomas said Starship will be releasing a new album in February or March, which follows his recent solo recording of all cover songs, “Marauder”, while Gramm said he and the Lou Gramm Band will be putting out an album by spring. Their latest effort, which came out in 2009, was a self-titled Christian rock recording.

“This one will be straight rock,” Gramm said.

The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center’s box office is located at 684 Purchase Street, New Bedford, Mass. Tickets are priced at $69.50, $64.50, $55, and $48. Box Office Hours: M-F 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and one hour before each performance. For more information, visit http://www.zeiterion.org.

Jingle Bell Rock

‘Come Sail Away’ with Dennis DeYoung

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Former Styx member and songwriter Dennis DeYoung looked into his “Crystal Ball” and said he predicts his Nov. 18 show at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford will not disappoint even the band’s biggest fans. He plans on playing classics like “Come Sail Away,” “Babe,” and “Lady” as well as “Renegade” and “Too Much Time on My Hands,” two songs he didn’t sing on with Styx.

“We’re going to be doing all the songs the fans want to hear and give them something that’s just short of a reunion, which they’ve been clamoring for the last 10 years,” he said. “In the years that I was on the road, I was only doing the songs that I sang so we’re weeding out some of those. If you miss this show you’re missing out.”

With Styx, which had five top-ten albums in the 1970s and early 1980s, DeYoung wrote songs that serve as the soundtrack for a generation of people. Today, many of his hits continue to be played on the radio.

“I had no idea it was going to happen,” said DeYoung. “During the time, you don’t think your records will still be enjoyed 30 or 40 years later. When you’re doing it, you’re just trying to get to the next record or the next tour.”

Nevertheless, DeYoung is grateful. He feels humbled that he has been able to perform for the last four decades.

“When I started out there weren’t any rock stars in the world that were 64-years-old,” he said. “Audiences my age love nostalgia and they want to remember being 18. They’re the ones that allow us the privilege of playing these shows and it has been the greatest joy.”

While many bands are playing some of their classic albums in their entirety from start to finish, DeYoung doesn’t think it’s the best idea. He said he hasn’t considered it because he doesn’t believe his fans would enjoy it.

“If I were to do that, a lot of songs would be left out that people really want to hear,” said DeYoung. “I have to be pragmatic and perform the songs people love.”

With the addition of bassist Craig Carter and guitarist August Zadra to his band in 2010, DeYoung said he is able to recreate the sound of Styx, as both musicians are also vocalists. This, he said, was intentional.

“I purposely put this together to make that sound,” said DeYoung. “Together, we form a harmony that is unmistakably like the harmonies you heard on those records. You could put three great singers in a room and they still won’t sound like that.”

After a friend suggested Carter to DeYoung, Carter sent DeYoung a demo, which impressed him. It wasn’t long before the bassist was enlisted.

DeYoung then recruited Zadra after his son Matthew woke him up at 12:30 a.m. one morning and told him to check out a YouTube video he discovered online of Zadra singing “Blue Collar Man” in a Styx tribute band called Mother of Pearl. He said he knew he found the missing ingredient.

“The video was six years old and I didn’t know that but when I saw it I said, ‘Wow,’” DeYoung said. “The rest, as they say, is history.”

But it can’t be forgotten that DeYoung not only brings his vocals to the mix, he also contributes his keyboard skills. His main influences are John Lord of Deep Purple, Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, plus Jimmy Smith, who DeYoung described as the Jimi Hendrix of organ playing.

“I took accordion lessons for eight years before switching to organ so the way I play is like accordion playing,” he said. “I think that’s what makes it unique.”

Another aspect that puts him in a distinctive category is the fact that he’s a successful musician who has been married for 41 years. His wife Suzanne joins him on tour.

However, she doesn’t hang out in the audience or backstage. Instead, she gets up there with him and sings.

“A lot of people wonder why Paul McCartney had Linda on the stage. Do you want to know the answer to that?” said DeYoung. “He needed her there because being on the road is like being in the Twilight Zone. You’re here, there and everyone.”

DeYoung said they’ve been able to sustain their relationship by staying committed to one another. He referenced a quote made by George Harrison’s wife Olivia in Martin Scorsese’s “Living in the Material World,” an HBO documentary about the former Beatle, to illustrate his point.

“When she was asked what kept them together she said, ‘We didn’t get divorced,’” DeYoung said. “When she said that I thought, ‘there has never been a better answer to that question.’ I don’t think there’s any magic. There’s no potion. It’s easy to give up and I guess there are plenty of good reasons to get divorced but there are also many stupid reasons.”

Prior to becoming a professional musician, DeYoung was a music teacher at an elementary school in Chicago. At the time, he and Suzanne had one child. Now, the couple have two children, Carrie Ann, 40, and Matthew, 31, who joined them on the road in their youth. Like Suzanne, Matthew still takes part in the fun, as he operates the lighting for his father’s shows.

“I’m happy that he chose a position that allows him to be creative and make sure the lights are on his old man,” he said.

At the moment, DeYoung plans to put out a DVD/CD of the acoustic show he performs with his band. He also continues to write music.

“I just wrote a couple songs that I think are pretty good,” he said. “I wrote them with a couple artists in mind and I think it’d be great if there was someone who could give them to the right audience.”

Carl Palmer solo tour comes to the Narrows

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

FALL RIVER – Using classical music as his main vehicle, Carl Palmer, former drummer of progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP), is performing instrumental rearrangements of classic ELP songs as part of a power trio for his most recent solo tour called “Pictures at an Exhibition.” On Oct. 22, he will be playing the 22-minute song of the same name, plus unique adaptations by classical composers, at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River.

“We have quite a comprehensive set list and will play for an hour and fifty minutes,” said Palmer. “We are doing a classic piece called, ‘Welcome Back, My Friends, to the Show That Never Ends,’ and ‘Tarkus.’”

They will also perform “Fanfare for the Common Man,” by American composer Aaron Copland, as well as “Nut Rocker,” a song by the instrumental ensemble B. Bumble and the Stingers, which was inspired by “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, The Nutcracker, and covered by ELP.

By exchanging the synthesizer for guitar, Palmer said he thinks the music “stands on its own,” making it difficult to compare to ELP. He also believes guitar is a much better fit for him and holds guitarists in high regards.

“I didn’t really want to work with keyboards again and I wanted it to be as original as I could make it,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think it works incredibly well. It’s all about getting the right players because techniques of the guitar have really advanced compared to keyboards. The technology of keyboards has advanced, but the players are the same as they’ve always been. Guitar players have just improved immensely. They are really the leaders in musical expression. You can have two guitar players, give them the same guitar and they will both sound completely different. If you do that with two keyboard players, they’ll sound the same. That’s just the way it is.”

Palmer said finding the right musicians to tour with is important. Guitarist Paul Bielatowicz and bassist Simon Fitzpatrick join him.

“Paul has been with me for seven years now and Simon has been around since June 2010,” he said. “In England, we have lots of academies and institutes, so if you’re looking for a particular style of player there are many places to find them. I’ve got quite a few friends at various colleges in England, and I called them up and asked them who they had for students that were graduating that would like to come out with me and my band. The standards are so high at the schools that I can usually narrow it down to find the musicians I need.”

Because he respects music as an art form, he agreed to be featured in “The Solo,” a 35-minute film that portrays the drum solo as a work of physical art. Acclaimed U.K. filmmaker Andrew Cross asked him to be part of the project last year.

During its run in U.K. art museums, it received rave reviews from art and film critics. It just made its U.S. premiere on Oct. 8 at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum as part of their Legends Series programming.

“Cross is a fan of mine and approached me saying, ‘Would you like to make an art film of you playing the drums, doing things you wouldn’t normally do in a concert environment?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I’d like to look at that,’” Palmer said. “I have various solos that could be filmed and mean much more on film than at an actual concert just because of the content of the solo, so we got together and made the film. It went very well.”

Additionally, he recently launched a new iTunes mobile application, Play Carl Palmer’s Drums, which was developed by Dynamic Websites. Designed for iPods, iPads and iPhones, the application allows users to download Palmer’s drum kit so they can use their fingers to play along to music through their iTunes program. It includes rare Palmer archives and instant updates from his site.

The application was originally featured on his website nearly five years ago. After it was removed, fans let him know they wanted it back.

“We had people request it so this time we released it as something you can put right on your phone, rather than having to go to my site like you did years ago to play the drums,” he said.

To further please his fans, he holds a meet-and-greet session after each show to give them a chance to introduce themselves to him. He takes pleasure in meeting them for a handshake or autograph.

“Not only do I enjoy playing concerts, I like going out and saying hi to the people,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing to do. It’s a big movement because over the years VIP tickets, golden circle tickets and general meet-and-greets have gotten more and more popular. Of course, there’s a financial aspect to it because I usually sign autographs near the merchandise but people have an opportunity to get the added bonus of me being there to sign it for them. It’s a way for me to say thank you to them. If they don’t buy anything I still sign their stuff and take pictures with everyone.”

While he believes the demand for meet-and-greets are at a high, he doesn’t feel that the progressive rock movement that ELP was a huge part of in the ’70s will ever be as popular as it once was. He enjoys the English band Porcupine Tree and the first album by Mars Volta, but thinks the genre won’t make a comeback.

“The music will always be there, but I don’t think the popularity it had in the ’70s will return now,” he said. “But, there will always be the odd breakthrough band that will exist and carry on, that’s for sure.”

After he wraps up the tour at the end of the month, Palmer will head to England to start a 10-day tour. In early 2012, he hopes to make a new album with the band Asia that also features John Wetton, Geoff Downes and Steve Howe, and tour later in the year for the bands’ 30th anniversary.

“I’ve played in Asia for the last six years and we did roughly six or seven tours of North America in that time,” said Palmer. “I try to make sure I’m fit and healthy as an individual to make it as professional as we can. I prepare myself mentally and from a health point of view, as well. The art of playing encourages me because I want to go out and see if I can do it better. It’s a continuous circle and I have fun doing it. I love what I do. If you enjoy doing something, you’ll do it, but the fact that I enjoy it allows me to carry on doing it and have fun with it.”

The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River. Tickets are $48 advance and $53 day of show. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ncfta.org.

Carl Palmer

Dream Theater: Keeping the “Dream” alive

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

When drummer Mike Portnoy made his departure from Dream Theater more than a year ago, many diehard fans of the progressive metal band thought it was a nightmare. But, with the addition of Mike Mangini on drums in April, plus last month’s release of their 11th studio recording, “A Dramatic Turn of Events,” fans seem to be resting well, as the album opened at No. 8 on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts.

After gigging throughout Europe this summer, the new lineup just began a North American tour. On Oct. 10, they will take the stage at the Orpheum Theater in Boston, Mangini’s hometown. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess, who joined the band in 1999, predicts an energetic performance.

“There will be a lot of people out there to see Mangini play so I think it’s going to be a really fun show,” Rudess said.  “It’s always great to play in Boston, especially since some of the guys went to the Berklee College of Music. We have a beautiful stage set up and new music so we’re really excited.”

Rudess said their rehearsal process was “intense,” but believes the band is as solid as always. He is pleased that fans have taken a liking to Mangini.

“They are responding to him in such a great way,” said Rudess. “He’s an awesome drummer and he’s really funny. We’re unified and working together so it’s been a good thing. What’s interesting is that at this point it feels good to know that we’ve survived that change really well. We’re feeling really strong.”

In fact, Rudess said the alteration allowed them to figure out what “makes them tick” musically. It gave them the opportunity to think about “who they are as a band” and motivated them to compose new material.

“There’s a lot of positivity and good music coming from it,” said Rudess. “We wanted to create a very melodic, harmonic, progressive album and withdraw from the angry-style metal that we did in some of the last albums. We had a vision of what we were aiming for and the reaction from fans has been awesome. We care what the fans think and we want them to be happy.”

Not only are the fans ecstatic, Rudess is thrilled the album is getting so much favorable attention. He feels “lucky” it’s a big hit.

“It’s awesome,” said Rudess. “You look at the numbers on the charts all around the world and it’s number one in many countries. We’re nothing like what’s happening in the pop music world and it’s really amazing to be able to get that kind of response from across the globe. The world generally doesn’t support musicians that aren’t doing the commercial thing. It’s an encouragement to keep on doing what we’re doing.”

In addition to their latest album earning top slots on the charts, their video for “On The Backs of Angels” is the number one most-streamed video on Yahoo! Music for the week of Oct. 1. Rudess said he doesn’t have a favorite of the nine tracks, rather, his preference changes depending upon his mood. Yet, he mentioned “Outcry,” and “Breaking All Illusions” as gems. The songs are the album’s lengthiest recordings with “Outcry” at 11-and-a-half minutes and “Breaking All Illusions” lasting a minute more.

But this should come to no surprise to fans, as the band is widely known for longer pieces of music, not to mention intricate time signatures.

“If the music is building and progressing and the ideas are flowing, the music turns into what some people would describe as epic songs,” said Rudess. “There are no time limits on our songs when we are writing. We have a lot of respect for compositional space, especially with this last album where we didn’t have a drummer in the room. We would work on something and then go from there.”

They began writing for “A Dramatic Turn of Events” in January at Cove City Sound Studios in New York. Despite rumors that Mangini’s drum parts were written for him, Rudess said that wasn’t the case. He was still able to incorporate a few ideas.

“We created something to fill in the space to be like a guide for us, but Mangini knew where the accents were and what we were thinking,” said Rudess. “He looked at what we came up with and added his own parts to make it work.”

Rudess, along with John Petrucci, Dream Theater’s guitarist, crafted a majority of the arrangements. They bounced ideas off one another, as vocalist James LaBrie and bassist John Myung collaborated.

“We were totally comfortable composing this album,” said Rudess. “We usually write our music together in the studio and it comes out of a few different methods. We’ll come up with something and all start playing it and say, ‘Wow. That sounds cool.’ Then, we’ll talk about the direction we are looking for with the song and just bang it out. A lot of it was John and I doing that type of process. We were going back and forth where he would play something and inspire me and then I would inspire him. A lot of times he’d say, ‘I have this cool, chunky riff. What kind of theme can you put with it? Do your Jordan thing.’ That’s how it happens.”

The album was produced by Petrucci and mixed and mastered by acclaimed studio engineer, Andy Wallace, who has worked with Paul McCartney, Prince, and Bruce Springsteen, to name just a few.

On October 18, Eagle Rock Entertainment will release “Live at Budokan,” the band’s first Blu-Ray release. Filmed at Tokyo’s Budokan Hall in April 2004 in support of their 2003 album, “Train Of Thought,” the 18-song concert is more than four hours of music, plus bonus features that include a documentary and solos from each member.

After they wrap up their North American tour at the end of the month, the band will visit South America, Oceania, Asia, and again head to Europe in 2012. Rudess said the band is optimistic about the future.

“We’re looking forward to continuing Dream Theater.”

Dream Theater

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