James LaBrie Releases Fifth Solo Record
The Dream Theater vocalist and his songwriting partner Matt Guillory on their brand new release
James LaBrie is very clear that his self-titled project is not just about him ”“ and he ensures that everyone else is as clear. “Aside from my name being used here ”“ and that’s where it begins and ends ”“ this is a band on its own,” says the vocalist betÂter known for fronting progressive metal titans Dream Theater. “This [band] is much bigger. It’s not about James LaBrie.”
The third James LaBrie solo album, Impermanent Resonance, released in AuÂgust, is certainly not a Dream Theater reÂcord. “The way I look at it, both bands have their own musical identities,” says LaBrie. “The only reason it makes sense for me to be doing this in the first place, is that I’m able to work with somebody like Matt [Guillory] who writes from a differÂent angle musically.”
LaBrie and Guillory’s partÂnership goes back to 1999, when LaBrie released his first solo album outside of Dream Theater. Record label obligaÂtions meant that he couldn’t use his name as the name of the project and MullMuzzler was the name he settled on. That first album, Keep It To Yourself, was followed up in 2001 by James LaBrie’s MullMuzzler 2. In 2005 came Elements of Persuasion under the name James LaBÂrie, followed by Static Impulse in 2010. Guillory now wears the multiple hats of producer, songwriter and keyboardist in the band that is rounded off by Marco SfoÂgli on guitars, Peter Wildoer on drums and Ray Riendeau on bass.
On the new album, the track “DesÂtined to Burn” has shades of groove metal. “Back on the Ground” could have been a bouncy pop track, if it weren’t for those heavy guitar riffs. Elsewhere on the album, one can hear traces of djent, metÂalcore and ballad-y rock. “What’s realÂly cool on this album ”“ and not that it hasn’t been present on the other albums ”“ is the soundscape of it,” says LaBrie. “It’s very atmospheric.” Matt Guillory, longtime LaBrie songwriting collaboraÂtor and producer on Impermanent ResoÂnance agrees that this album is the most diverse stylistically.
The vocalist’s hectic recording and touring schedule with Dream Theater also means that Guillory starts work on the songwriting part first, before LaBÂrie steps in. “My approach to songwriting these days is to start with a vocal melody and build the song around it,” says GuilÂlory. “In this band, it’s really important to emphasize and highlight the vocals, beÂcause James has such an amazing voice. So I spend quite a bit of time developing the vocal melodies and making sure they are as strong, as catchy, as memorable as possible.”
When it comes to writing lyrics, LaBÂrie and Guillory bring two completely different writing styles to the songwritÂing table. “Matt is much more personal and introspective. Mine are more obserÂvational. So I think that really creates a great global perspective of how we are inÂfluenced and affected as human beings,” says LaBrie.
Explaining the title of the album, LaBÂrie says that while the new record is not a concept album, the name “Impermanent Resonance” seemed appropriate. “We are constantly challenged in life and the only way you can really embrace happiness is if you’ve gone through difficulty,” he says. “And despite all the challenges, nothing really lasts forever,” Guillory chips in. “That’s what I get from the “ImpermaÂnent” in the title.”
While LaBrie and Guillory wish to take Impermanent Resonance out on tour, the duo will have to wait until Dream Theater wraps up their upcoming tour. The new self-titled Dream Theater album released on September 24th and the band will kick off a world tour early 2014 and LaBrie hopes India will be on the itinerary this time. “I would realÂly love to get in there with Dream TheÂater which would also open the doors for Matt and I to bring our band over there when it comes time to tour the solo band,” he says.
StreamÂ Impermanent ResonanceÂ by James LaBrie hereÂ
This article appeared in the October 2013 issue of ROLLING STONE India.