ABOUT DREAM THEATER
Dream Theater began under the name Majesty and was formed in 1985 by John Petrucci, John Myung, and Mike Portnoy while they were studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. They began by performing covers of Rush and Iron Maiden songs in rehearsals, but soon realized that they had a future together as a band. The trio began a search for more band members and soon dropped out of Berklee to concentrate on their music as a group. They added keyboardist Kevin Moore and lead singer Chris Collins to the ensemble and they spent the first few months of 1986 performing around New York City.
During their time of performing around New York City in early-1986, the band recorded a collection of demos, called The Majesty Demos. The November, Collins was asked to leave the band and was replaced by Charlie Dominici. With Dominici as frontman, the band found more stable footing and they became increasingly popular as they started to play more and more shows.
Not long after Dominici was hired, the group was forced to change its name from Majesty due to threat of being taken to court for copyright infringement by a Las Vegas band of the same name. After many suggestions, including Glasser, Magus, and M1, the group settled on Dream Theater.
1988-1990: When Dream and Day Unite
The change of line-up and name marked a new chapter for the band, who began writing more material whilst continuing to perform in New York and further afield. Mechanic Records, a subsidiary of MCA, took interest in the group, who subsequently signed to the label in June 1988.
Their debut album, When Dream and Day Unite, was released in March of the following year. The album generated less attention from the industry than either the band or the label hoped, leading to Mechanic breaking their contract and Dream Theater only being able to afford a small promotional tour for the album of five local shows.
Tensions in the band began to run high and during the short run of shows, Dominici was let go from the band due to creative differences, leaving them without a lead singer until 1990.
1991-1993: Addition of James La Brie and Images and Words
A time of turbulence followed for the band, as they fought to get released from their contract with MCA and began the search for a new vocalist. Having auditioned over 200 singers (including former Fates Warning frontman John Arch), they settled on Steve Stone, who was introduced as their new frontman on June 9, 1990. However, his time with the band was short-lived and although he recorded several demos with the band, his performance at his debut gig was poorly received by the audience and led to him being fired from the group. Although it would be six months until they found another singer, the band’s remaining members spent their time writing what would go on to become Images and Words (1992).
Kevin James La Brie, of glam metal band Winter Rose, became Dream Theater’s lead singer in January 1991, having sent the band a demo tape that stopped them in their tracks. After coming on board, La Brie decided to go by his middle name to avoid confusion with Kevin Moore. The band resumed playing live, but with their new frontman. They piqued the interest of Derek Shulman and Atco Records (now East West), a division of Elektra Records, who signed them to a seven-album record deal.
Images and Words was released on July 7, 1992. The album’s three singles - "Pull Me Under", "Take the Time", and "Another Day" – all hit the Top 30 of Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, with "Pull Me Under" reaching number 10. This was helped by the lead single gaining airplay and its video steady rotation on MTV. The album itself peaked at number two on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart and number 61 on the Billboard 200. The album went gold in the US and platinum in Japan, when they recorded their shows and released a compilation of footage from their performances as Images and Words: Live in Tokyo. They also released their first official live album, Live at the Marquee, which was a recording of their show and London’s Marquee Club.
1994-1995: Awake and Kevin Moore’s departure
Awake, the group’s third studio album, was released in October 1994 and was the final album to feature Kevin Moore, who left the group during the recording of the album to pursue his own musical path. The album peaked at number 32 on the Billboard 200 and launched three singles: "Lie", "Caught in a Web" and "The Silent Man".
After the album’s release and Moore’s departure, the band set about finding a replacement so that they could tour. They invited Jordan Rudess to join the band (after auditioning many performers once more, including Yngwie Malmsteen/Dio/Stradivarius keyboardist Jens Johansson), but he declined in favor of touring with The Dixie Dregs. They took on Derek Sherinian (who had played for Alice Cooper and KISS) as a temporary replacement initially, in order to perform during their Waking Up the World Tour, but he soon became a permanent member.
1995-1998: A Change of Seasons and Falling into Infinity
Reticent to work on new material straight away, having only just found a replacement member, the band found themselves under pressure to release the 17-minute song "A Change of Seasons," which was originally planned to appear on Images and Words. In May of 1995, the band entered the studio to work on the track, which was recorded and now stands at 23 minutes long. It was released as part of the EP A Change of Seasons, which also contained live covers that had been performed at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London, England in January of 1995. That winter, they also released a Christmas CD, which became an annual tradition for the next decade, with them releasing a new Christmas album each year.
Falling into Infinity, the band’s fourth studio album, was released on September 23, 1997 and reached number 52 on the Billboard 200. The record was angled toward a more mainstream sound for the group, although they had previously written almost two CDs worth of material (including a 20-minute follow-up to "Metropolis–Part I: The Miracle and the Sleeper"), which was rejected by the label and was later released as The Falling into Infinity Demos.
1999-2000: Line-up changes and Metropolis Pt 2: Scenes from a Memory
Changes occurred for Dream Theater after their Falling into Infinity Tour – firstly, the band secured reassurance from the label that they would have more creative control over their output, after receiving mixed feedback from fans about Falling into Infinity. They also experienced a line-up change when Joey Rudess, who had worked on two albums with Portnoy and Petrucci as part of their side-project Liquid Tension Experiment, was asked to join the band as its keyboard player. Rudess had impressed them over the previous two years and had proven himself to have good chemistry with the band, however, his addition to the band meant the departure of Sherinian, who had not expected to leave.
The musical result of these changes was the concept album Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory, which was released to high critical acclaim. It was named by Jordan Blum of PopMatters as "the greatest progressive metal work of all time" and in 2012, it ranked at number one on Rolling Stone’s "Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time" poll.
The album was followed by the large and theatrical Metropolis 2000 Tour, which lasted for over a year and culminated at a show at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City, where the album was performed with a gospel choir for some sections and actors were hired to perform dramatized parts of the album’s story live. The Roseland show was filmed and released as the band's first DVD release Metropolis 2000: Scenes from New York in early-2001. The release went on to be certified gold in November 2002.
2001-2004: Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and Train of Thought
The band released its sixth studio album, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, in January 2002. It is a double album and an example of how the band was free to be more experimental without label interference. It features five 7-13 minute long tracks on the first disc and the second is solely dedicated to the 42-minute epic and title track Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence.
After touring with Queensryche in 2003, they set about recording their seventh album, Train of Thought. Whilst on tour, they had performed heavier material (they covered Metallica’s albums Master of Puppets and Number of the Beast) and fan reaction was strong inspiring them to opt for a heavier, darker sound for the album. The album was released in November 2003 and was well-received by fans and critics alike.
Images and Words: Live in Tokyo/5 Years in a Livetime, a DVD re-release of the band’s first two live videos, was released in June 2004 and was certified platinum in 2006.
Whilst on the Train of Thought Tour, the band performed at the famous Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan, a recording was made and the live CD/DVD Live at Budokan was released on October 5, 2004, and was certified Platinum in the US on January 26, 2005.
Dream Theater’s eighth studio album, Octavarium, was released in June 2005 and was the band’s final release of their seven-album deal with Atlantic Records. A return to their older style, the album garnered critical acclaim and mixed reviews from fans and peaked in the top five in the Finnish, Italian, and Swedish charts, and in the top ten in the Dutch, Japanese, and Norwegian charts.
The band celebrated its 20th anniversary on the Octivarium Tour, which was an extensive world tour that spanned throughout 2005 and 2006. The tour concluded with a show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on April 1, 2006, which was recorded for a CD/DVD called Score that was released that August. By October, it became the band’s third live DVD released to be certified platinum in the US.
2006-2008: Systematic Chaos and Greatest Hit (...And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs)
After a break from touring and recording, the band returned in June 2007 with their follow-up to Octavarium, Systematic Chaos – their first album with Roadrunner Records. The album peaked in the top twenty in eight countries and at number 19 on the Billboard 200, making it their first Top 20 hit and their highest-charting album at that point.
They followed with the Chaos in Motion World Tour, which lasted over a year and included dates in 35 countries, wrapping up in 2008. On April 1, 2008, the band released a two-disc compilation album titled Greatest Hit (...And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs). The album contains three-song re-mixes from Dream Theater’s second album, Images and Words, five edited versions of previously released songs, and a track from a single B-side.
Later in the year, the band embarked upon the Progressive Nation 2008 tour, which saw them performing at smaller venues and visiting cities that they had either never played before or not visited in years.
September 2008 saw the release of a live DVD featuring songs recorded at several of the shows they’d played during the Chaos in Motion Tour, called Chaos in Motion 2007-2008.
2008-2011: Black Clouds and Silver Linings, Mike Portnoy’s departure and the arrival of Mike Mangini
Black Clouds and Silver Linings was released in June 2009. The band’s tenth studio album, it won a 2009 Metal Storm Award for Best Progressive Metal Album. It debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 (their first Top 10 album on the chart) and also hit the Top 10 in 13 other countries, including Finland and Hungary, where it reached the number one spot.
A second Progressive Nation tour followed with legs in both the US and Europe. After the tour ended, the band went into the studio to record "Raw Dog" – a brand new instrumental track for inclusion on the God of War III soundtrack EP God of War: Blood & Metal.
On September 8, 2011, Mike Portnoy announced that he would be leaving Dream Theater after 25 years. Portnoy had petitioned the band to embark on a hiatus, but the other members did not feel the same way. They decided to move on without him, rather than take a break from touring and recording.
In New York, seven world-class drummers auditioned to be Portnoy’s replacement: Mike Mangini, Derek Roddy, Thomas Lang, Virgil Donati, Marco Minnemann, Aquiles Priester, and Peter Wildoer. The auditions were filmed and made into a three-part YouTube documentary series called The Spirit Carries On. The successful drummer, Mike Mangini, was told of his success in November 2010 and the results of the audition were made public in April 2011, when the series was released.
2011-2012: A Dramatic Turn of Events
A Dramatic Turn of Events, the band’s 11th album, was recorded in the first half of 2011. Released that September, it debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200 and charted at number one in several countries. The album also earned the band their first Grammy Award nomination for "On the Backs of Angels", which was nominated for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance. The release was supported by the world tour A Dramatic Tour of Events. Two of the tour’s performances at Luna Park, Buenos Ares, Argentina were recorded for Live at Luna Park – a live DVD that was released in November 2013.
2013-2014: Dream Theater
The band’s self-titled twelfth studio album was written during A Dramatic Tour of Events and released in September 2013. The band’s third consecutive Top 10 album, it debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200 and earned them their second consecutive Grammy Award nomination for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for the song "The Event". It also hit the Top 10 in 11 countries.
The following July, the band released a box set that contained all their albums from Images and Words to A Dramatic Turn of Events, called The Studio Albums 1992-2011.
Breaking the Fourth Wall, Dream Theater’s eighth live album and film was recorded live from The Boston Opera House on March 25, 2014, and was released that September. The Along for the Ride Tour, which promoted the band’s self-titled album, concluded on October 30, 2014.
2015-2017: The Astonishing and Images and Words anniversary tour
The majority of 2015 was spent recording the band’s thirteenth album, The Astonishing, which was released in February 2016. A concept album, outlining the story of a dystopian future, the record debuted in the top ten of nine countries and became the first Dream Theater album to reach number one on the US Billboard Rock Chart. It also debuted at number 11 on the Billboard 200. The band toured the album for the rest of 2016 and in 2017, embarked on another tour, titled Images, Words & Beyond, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Images and Words.
2017-2019: Distance Over Time and Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory anniversary tour
2017 marked a new chapter for Dream Theater who signed a long-term, worldwide deal with Sony Music. They released their fourteen studio album with the label in February 2019, having spent the previous year writing the album. Distance Over Time received universal acclaim from critics and is the band's most successful album chart-wise to date, taking Top 10 positions in 19 countries (including reaching the top spot in Germany and Switzerland). The band supported the album’s release with a tour that also celebrated the 25th anniversary of Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory.
2020-present: A View from the Top of the World and Lost Not Forgotten Archives
It was revealed by Metal Addicts in April 2020 that Dream Theater was working on their fifteenth studio album for release in 2021. That August, Petrucci released his first solo album in 15 years, working with former bandmate Mike Portnoy, who played drums on the record.
November 27, 2020, saw the release of the band’s ninth live album, Distant Memories – Live in London, recorded at Hammersmith Apollo in 2019. Four days later, they followed with the release of the single "The Holiday Spirit Carries On", which is a medley of holiday songs played in a progressive metal style that was released exclusively through Bandcamp. On January 30, 2021, they held a special streaming event called Images, Words & Beyond Live in Japan, which was an online broadcast of a concert from the band's 2017 tour that had been originally recorded for Japanese television.
The Lost Not Forgotten Archives, a collection of albums including previously unreleased archival material, every Ytsejam Records release on CD, vinyl, and digital formats, and the second set of the Images, Words & Beyond Live in Japan concert, was announced by the band on May 5, 2021.
On July 26, 2021, Dream Theater teased the release of their new album, A View from the Top of the World. The names of the album’s seven tracks have been revealed, along with their run times, and the album’s first single, "The Alien", was released in August 2021. The album is slated for release on October 22, 2021.