Recently Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie and guitarist John Petrucci was asked by Download Japan to share the best advice they ever received, and not surprisingly, both men were forthcoming and humbled by their past learnings.
"The best piece of advice I've ever received was from my father, and he said 'respect others and you'll have that back,'" LaBrie said. "So what you put out is what you get back. And also be true to yourself and just be real. I think people that are grounded are inspirational. And that's the way that I've gone through life — is just keeping it real, being respectful and being cool. Period."
Petrucci's response was more technical, but just as inspiring and thoughtful as what LaBrie shared.
"As far as advice, I'll, I guess, approach it from a musical front," said the Grammy-winning guitarist. "There was a teacher in high school that told me about the metronome, and it was the first time a musician suggested I practice using a metronome; I'd never done that before. And it was the greatest piece of musical advice because I still do it. And what it did is it helped me to kind of be able to play things eventually that I couldn't play starting out. And playing to a metronome was a great, great piece of advice that I'll never forget.
"And then the other piece is another piece of musical advice. As a guitar player, one of the things, for me, that was really helpful when I was growing up and learning is I played with a lot of people. John Myung (Dream Theater bassist) and I, and Kevin Moore, our original keyboard player, we grew up on Long Island in New York, and everybody played. There were tons of bands and stuff. And I would just go from house to house and do Grateful Dead jam sessions and Hendrix, and then go to this guy's house who was into the Scorpions and metal, and then we'd go to this drummer's house and we'd just do scale sessions and rhythms. Then John and I would get together and learn every Iron Maiden song ever written. So playing with other musicians is a really great way to develop yourself as a player. It's not just about staying at home and shredding by yourself. Music is meant to be shared, and it's great getting that experience playing with other people. So I really, really suggest that you do that, if you're not already."
As a native of Long Island, I can attest to one thing: growing up, heavy metal and the Grateful Dead were ubiquitous, and I'm a hell of a better man because of that! And—I've always been proud of Dream Theater being from that wacky old island down state of New York. Petrucci isn't kidding when he says there were tons of bands from the area, but the best always found a way to shine through, for the most part.
This year, Dream Theater won their first-ever Grammy (seriously?!) in the category of "Best Metal Performance" for the track "The Alien" off their latest LP, A View From the Top of the World. You can watch the full interview with LaBrie and Petrucci below.