Lifting Shadows Off A Book

Interview with Rich Wilson, author of Dream Theater's first biography


By the end of 2007, there will the very first biography of the band Dream Theater, hands down one of THE most known progressive metal-bands, in the shelves of hopefully thousands of fans. Here's a short glimpse of what the author, Rich Wilson, intended to do with his book:



Rich, before we go more into detail, please introduce yourself to the reader.  Who are you, what is your profession etc. . In what way are you connected to the music scene?


Of course. I’m a freelance rock journalist living near Manchester in England. I’ve written for a number of music magazines in the UK and US over the last ten years, including Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Record Collector, Discoveries etc. The Dream Theater book is my first.


When was the first time you stumbled over the name Dream Theater?


I have been a long-time fan of the band. In fact I was lucky enough to love the band from the first album after I heard a track from ‘When Dream And Day Unite’ on UK radio at the end of 1988. I still love that first album, and I remember spending ages trying to find a copy on import back in 1989. I must admit, I lost track of them after ‘Awake’ but when I heard ‘Scenes From A Memory’ that brought back my love for the band and I’ve been hooked ever since.


Then there must be the day when you thought “what about writing a book about them?” When did you start writing and when did you finish?


Yes. I was actually interviewing Mike Portnoy for Classic Rock magazine, and he mentioned that he had just finished reading a book on Marillion. I said to him back then in 2003 that Dream Theater deserved a book on them, and he agreed. I few months later I thought that I might actually start to write one. So I started interviewing various people in June 2004, and then began interviews with the band themselves in November 2004. The book was pretty much finished in the summer of 2006 but problems with publishers meant a delay until now. The book should be out before the end of 2007.


How did you get in contact with the band?


I already had Mike’s email address, and Mike put me in contact with the rest of the guys in the band as well as some people who played imporant roles in the band’s development – such as managers, producers etc. But I tracked most of the people down by just using that old favourite, Google.


Did you make interviews with all the bandmembers, recent and former? Who was the most pleasant, who gave you the most valuable information?


Yes, I have interviewed every current member of the band, as well as virtually all the past members such as Derek Sherinian, Charlie Dominici and even those who auditioned for the band before they gave James LaBrie the singer’s job – such as Steve Stone, John Arch and Chris Cintron. The one exception was Kevin Moore, who politely declined my request for an interview. As for who as the most pleasant? Well, the thing about Dream Theater is that without exception, they are all really great and nice guys. Of all of them though, Mike bore the brunt of the interviews, and I spoke to him for over ten hours in total, and there are over 40 C90 cassette tapes here that I recorded all  the interviews on – so as you can see it is a very detailed book!


Is the whole book in interview form or are there “real” chapters?

The book is in chapter form with a lot of narrative. Though there are of course of lot of quotes from the band throughout the text. It is also extremely detailed and there are about 140,000 words which is about twice the length of the average rock biography.


What can a Dream Theater – Fan expect from your book? Dream Theater does not seem to me as a band with that typical “Sex, Drugs & Rock’n’Roll” image – or am I wrong?


Well, you are kind of wrong. Certainly they aren’t your typical metal band and they are far from being like Motley Crue! But they have had their fair share of drugs and drink issues. Plus there have been internal band fighting and friction. But even for the most hard core Dream Theater fans, there will be things in here that they will have had no idea about. In fact there were a few things I found out that even the band didn’t know about. So I don‘t think the fans will be disappointed. But really it just covers the story of the band from the start of their career until the present day, with no holds barred.


What were some of the most interesting stories you heard about the band during your work on the book? Come on, hammer some out… ;)


OK. Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out all the details as these are long stories, but a few examples are James LaBrie and Mike nearly fighting each other, James and producer David Prater threatening each other in the studio, Mike and John Petrucci not talking for months on one of the tours, the record label trying to replace James LaBrie without the band knowing, a drunken bar brawl involving all the band, Mike’s battle with cocaine and drink. So there are just a few snippets to keep you all interested!


Are there other bands from the Progressive Metal-scene you also like?


I come from more of a progressive rock background than prog metal. But I admire a lot of Queensryche’s music and Symphony X.


I know that this project took a long time for its completion. But do you already have other plans for the next book? Maybe Fates Warning, he he… ?


Fates Warning? I reckon that would sell two copies! But they are another great band and I did enjoy the albums they did with John Arch. As for the next book? I really have no idea. I need to get this one out of the way and published, recharge my batteries and then see what happens.


Anything else to add? Now it’s the time to make some ads…


Just to say that if you are a fan of Dream Theater you’ll love this. It comes in the form of two books as this is the „Images And Words“ limited edition. One book contains the text and the other is filled with photos and memorabilia. Oh, and the band have provided a CD of rare material which will come free with the books. So yeah, that should make the fans happy. But I will say that the ONLY place you can buy this is via the dedicated website at www.dreamtheaterbook.com. You can register your interest now and we expect to start taking orders in the next few weeks.


© Michael Kohsiek 2007