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Jordan Rudess: We Want To Come To India

Dream Theater keyboardist talks about his solo project and bringing his band to India

Vinay Aravind Oct 22, 2012
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Jordan Rudess Photo: Vinay Aravind

Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess has just wrapped up a 14-month tour with the band and is in India for a week to teach at Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music [SAM], near Chennai. “The most important thing is to be comfortable with yourself and be chilled out,” says Rudess, to the students who have assembled at the SAM to attend the workshop that he is conducting alongside SAM President and guitar virtuoso R Prasanna. These aren’t empty words as Rudess appears completely relaxed, even at the end of a grueling day of teaching and performing, when he settles down on a piano stool in SAM’s Piano Lab for this chat.

What can we expect from Dream Theater next? A new album? Will we possibly see another cover album like those you did of Dark Side of the Moon?

Right now we’re just taking some time off, and I’ll be making a surprise technology presentation at the end of the month, which I haven’t told anyone about. After that I’ll settle at home and work on my solo album. I’ve kept November and December aside for that. And after that, probably in January or February, Dream Theater are going to get into a studio and start working on another album. Cover albums, I don’t know if we’ll ever be doing them again. It was Portnoy’s [Mike, former drummer] thing really, doing all those covers. He was the kind of guy, he knew so many songs, it was easy for him to say ”˜Oh look, let’s do Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast.’ He just knew all the songs!

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I’d planned to steer clear of Mike Portnoy since you’ve probably said everything you possibly can on the topic of his exit, but let me ask you this, what’s it like having Mike Mangini in the band?

He’s a great guy. He’s really funny! He’s so dedicated to what he does. He’s got great spirit, and we really have been enjoying having him on stage. It feels very unified. When people see us, it’s like all of a sudden the band is like this block of energy that seems very equal and very high, instead of more disjointed and that’s what we feel and obviously that’s what’s happening. It’s nice to have somebody who’s not occupying a lot of people’s minds in any way. In this case, Mangini is a musician much like we are. Luckily for us, it’s carried us to a higher musical level.

Is teaching something that you’re looking to be doing more of?

Not necessarily. This was fun to do. But I am more of a performer, an educator on some levels, an instrument designer, rather than just somebody who comes in and teaches classes. That’s not really who I am. But I’m happy to be here and happy to share what I know with the kids and give them some energy. I think it’s pretty cool that Prasanna started this place, it’s a great concept. My desire is to see maybe some more Indian music being taught here. I think it would be an amazing thing for people from the West to come to India to not only continue what they know, the western style of music, but to learn Indian music.

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In 2007, you told Chad Bowers of about.com that India is a place where Dream Theater would want to play. It’s been five years now and it hasn’t happened yet. What’s taking you so long? Is it a matter of logistics? Your good friends Iron Maiden have come thrice. Metallica has come and played, so what’s keeping Dream Theater away?

India is the kind of place where we have to take all our gear and kind of come in and do a full show or two and then fly out. I don’t know how it was for Iron Maiden or Metallica, but I know on our level, we just haven’t found the right parameters. Does it work into our touring schedule? Is there a promoter that wants us to come and is willing to make us feel secure financially, with the security, with the light and sound?  I don’t know if the guys bringing down Metallica can necessarily bring in Dream Theater. I think it’s probably a different level of production. All I know is that the parameters have not yet all fallen into place. But Dream Theater as a band and our management, we want to come here. We are not wondering if people will come for a Dream Theater show.

Check out the full interview in the November issue of ROLLING STONE INDIA

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