Nicole Million of Simcoe.com recently conducted an interview with vocalist James LaBrie of progressive metal giants DREAM THEATER. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
On being nominated for a Grammy Award alongside FOO FIGHTERS, MASTODON, MEGADETH and SUM 41:
LaBrie: “It’s the feather in our cap to be in that category with those nominees.”
“I was really taken aback. I just never thought that it was in the cards for us because our music tends to be left wing — it’s not your typical music, [but] it’s an amazing feeling and we’re hoping for the best possible result and that is to win it.”
“It will be an educational process for a lot of people who are going to ask, ‘Who are these guys?’ We’ve sold 12 million albums, but there are still a lot of people who don’t know we exist because we’re not the typical band that’s on radio, MTV or MuchMusic.”
On how he always knew he wanted a career in music:
LaBrie: “From the age of five, I was singing around the house. I grew up in a musical family. My father was always singing and was in barbershop quartets. We had a piano and a stereo and, if the radio wasn’t on, then records were being played.
“Being a singer out in front of a band, and seeing guys like Robert Plant and Steven Tyler, hearing bands like PINK FLOYD and RUSH — which was a huge influence — I knew then. . . I always knew it was definitely going to be rock ‘n’ roll…. I knew I wanted to have a combination of players that were great players and who could do epic or progressive music.”
On joining DREAM THEATER after several years playing in Toronto bands:
LaBrie: “When DREAM THEATER came around, it was hard for me to believe that these guys, (who were) only 22 years old, were playing like this. That was exactly where they wanted to go with the music — progressive hard rock angle — and that pretty much sold me as soon as I heard them.”
On how the song “Pull Me Under” from DREAM THEATER’s 1992 “Images And Words” album helped cement the group in the hearts and minds of progressive rock fans across the world:
LaBrie: “It gave us a strong foothold and allowed us to be in the business as long as we have been. We’ve kept progressing, and I think what’s been the godsend for us is we have an incredibly strong fan base around the world. Anybody that comes on board with DREAM THEATER stays. They’re committed.”
On continuing to live in Midland, Ontario, Canada all these years:
LaBrie: “My wife (and I) found ourselves coming up to Midland every weekend to get together with friends and family, so we thought it doesn’t really matter where I live. We met at Midland Secondary School and we’ve been married 22 years and were together nine years before that. We both grew up here and knew we wanted to be back in this area.”
“My wife is very real, independent and strong, and she keeps everything in perspective for me. For the longest time, I could walk around here and nobody would even know I was in a rock ‘n’ roll band. It definitely is something that keeps life a little more simple.”
On separating James LaBrie the rock star and Kevin LaBrie the father, husband and “normal guy”:
LaBrie: “I live in two worlds. I live in the rock ‘n’ roll world where I go out on stage in front of thousands of people and it’s very surreal. Then I come home and it becomes the real world for me. I am able to switch back and forth. It’s like anyone else — doing a job, but doing a job I thoroughly love.”
Read the entire interview from Simcoe.com.