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Fedor Tot speaks with Dream Theater’s lead singer James LaBrie about their latest tour and album.

Do you guys like touring Wales and the UK?

Absolutely! As far as Wales, we haven’t been there in quite some time, so we’re actually looking forward to that. We’ve always had loyal fans in the UK for years since we started playing there in ’92/’93, so it’s always been an amazing experience.

Although, the very first time we came into Cardiff, I went out for a walk, checking out your town, and I got lost. I couldn’t figure out how to get back to the hotel. So I bumped into this guy, and I said “hey man, listen, I’m not from around here, this is my first time in England and I can’t find my way back”, and he said to me “well that’s your f*king problem right there! You’re not in England. You’re in WALES!” [laughs].

You’re touring Images and Words in full after 25 years, how different has the reaction been amongst the fans been from then to now?

I would say it’s pretty much the same. Obviously you have quite the collection of fans out front every night that were there when we were doing it 25 years ago. At the same time, there’s a lot of new fans that have never seen all of those songs being played in their entirety within one night. I think it still resonates quite strongly with fans around the world and the proof is in the fact that the rooms are packed and we’re seeing quite the reaction when we kick off that set with ‘Pull Me Under’. It’s a very iconic album for the band and a lot of fans are very excited about witnessing it 25 years down the road. Obviously ‘Pull Me Under’ was a big part of that because it was a huge hit, but beyond that I think the album stands up on its own with everything else that followed.

Have you ‘found’ things in Images and Words that maybe you didn’t notice first time around?

It’s interesting you say that. We’ve sat around as a band and thought about the way we wrote music back then, the whole chordal progressions that we used and had adopted at that point. It’s kind of a reminder of where we were compositionally speaking…you start to recall where we were at that point as a band, what was inspiring us, where was the headspace that created those songs. The way the human mind works, once you internalise something and let it reside within you for a while, those are the things that naturally come out in a new way.

Your last album, The Astonishing was an extended-length concept album. How challenging was it to write so much music?

in today’s musical environment, it was a very bold statement for a band to release a double album concept album that’s over two hours long. But a band like ourselves and with our fans, they understand who we are, so it’s not really that big a surprise to them that we would do something like that. I think maybe the content and the progression of it would have been for some a little difficult to digest; to a certain degree it did polarise our fans, but I think that’s what makes us who we are. It’s not about playing things safe, we’ve always gone outside the box. The Astonishing was something we’d been discussing for a few years, about going back and doing another conceptual album. [The last one] was in ’99 when we released Scenes from a Memory. It was a huge undertaking, but musically and artistically it was very rewarding.

What’s next for Dream Theater (and for yourself)?

We’ll be supporting the 25th anniversary until December 2017, and by that point we’ll want to take some time off. At some point in 2018 we’re going to start working on a new album. Also at this point, I’ve begun to write another solo album with Matt Guillory, so I’m hoping to have that done by this Fall and have that released.

Dream Theater, Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Sat 22 Apr. Tickets: £32.50. Info: 029 2022 4488 /

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