John Petrucci has admitted to SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation" that "The Astonishing", DREAM THEATER's wildly ambitious double concept LP, was criticized by some fans for being an overblown, self-indulgent exercise in excess.
"[The response] was very mixed," the guitarist said. "It was really mixed, which, quite honestly, I totally anticipated. First of all, that whole project was a three-year undertaking. The live show itself was like a year in the making. And we did a ballsy move by just only playing that show in its entirety, and that was it. It was a lot of music — two hours and 10 or 15 minutes' worth of music — [with a] full orchestra [and] a choir. It was based on a story that I wrote. A novel was written based on that, [and] a video game. It was so immersed in the story — everything had to do with that — that there was no question that it was gonna alienate certain people that weren't on board with it. And that's exactly what happened. So some people really were, 'This is the coolest thing ever' and got into it, got into the whole story and the theatrics. And some people were, like, 'Ehhh, I want normal DREAM THEATER.' So I get it. So that's kind of the way that went. But creatively, it was definitely the most intense and satisfying thing that I've ever done, just as somebody who loves to write and tell stories and play music."
Asked if he still "totally stands" behind "The Astonishing", three years after the album's release, Petrucci said: "Absolutely. The only thing I would have done a little bit differently… If I had a crystal ball, what I would have done was had the novel actually come out first, had people read the book and get into the story, and then do the tour, 'cause the tour was really, really an intense, incredible show with the production and everything, and then at the show had the CD on sale. Because so many people who came to the show told me that that was the most amazing thing they'd ever seen — they loved the whole experience. But just to listen to two hours and 10 minutes' worth of music, invest that time, without having any context of the show… So, that's what I would have done differently."
DREAM THEATER's 14th studio album, "Distance Over Time", will be released on February 22. The disc marks the first for the band's new label InsideOut Music. The artwork was created by long-time cover collaborator Hugh Syme (RUSH, IRON MAIDEN, STONE SOUR).
Singer James LaBrie recently told Australia's Heavy that the band approached "Distance Over Time" with the intention of making "a classic, heavy album in DREAM THEATER terms."
DREAM THEATER is planning to hit the road in support of the new album. The "Distance Over Time" tour of North America was recently announced and kicks off on March 20 in San Diego, California. The tour will run for seven weeks before wrapping up in Mexico City on May 4.