Australia’s Heavy magazine recently conducted an interview with keyboardist Jordan Rudess of progressive metal giants DREAM THEATER about his “From Bach To Rock” three-continent solo piano tour. You can listen to the entire chat via the Spreakr widget below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the idea behind “From Bach To Rock”:
Jordan: “I wanted to go out and do solo piano things. I mean, I’ve played the piano — that’s how I got started with music. It’s probably my home base and the way I perhaps express myself the best. So, I just started to think that I wanted to go out and do these shows, then, my wife, Danielle, is a theater producer and I was talking to her about this idea and her perspective was, ‘You’ve got to do more than just go out and play music. You have to have some kind of concept behind it which would be interesting.’ We kind of put together this plan of taking people on a musician’s journey, which is my journey. We call it ‘From Bach To Rock: A Musician’s Journey’. It’s basically a show that takes people from the beginnings, my beginnings as a young classical pianist going to Juilliard [School] as a little kid, nine years old and discovering rock music with THE BEATLES and progressive music and then, finally, leading up to LIQUID TENSION [EXPERIMENT] and DREAM THEATER. It’s a chance for me to play some DREAM THEATER songs on the piano and do some of the ballads and also cover some of the proggier stuff in a cool, different solo piano way. And, part of the show is musical, obviously, but the other part is taking people through the story and talking. It’s especially fun because I’ve toured around the world for so many years with DREAM THEATER and other bands, but I’ve never had the opportunity to go as a good example, to Australia, to really tell the story, tell the personal story and be with people and be my musical self and to kind of let it all be on display, if you will and have a great time interacting with people, telling stories, playing music. It seems to be, in all of the places I’ve played, in Europe and the States, it’s a really fun show to do. People are really responsive. They’re very responsive to my piano music, I find. It’s really cool to see.”
On how he chose songs to perform on the tour:
Jordan: “As far as picking tracks from DREAM THEATER, there’s certain ones that sound better on the piano than other ones. A lot of times, a ballad will be easier to express on the piano than one of the prog things. That said, I do tell people I do a rousing version of ‘A Dance Of Eternity’, which is off ‘Scenes From A Memory’. I do a piano arrangement of that which I think really worked out well and is a trip to play. It’s fun; it’s hard. Everything from the ballads to that and obviously, with this whole journey, there’s a lot of other music, too. There’s a period of time in the show where I pay tribute to the prog music that was most influential. I do a medley of KING CRIMSON and YES and GENESIS and maybe throw in some PINK FLOYD if you’re lucky. I just look at the catalog of what’s available, what flows on the piano, what was really meaningful to me, then I make the selection from there.”
On how he transitioned from Juilliard to playing heavier and proggier music:
Jordan: “My mother was also quite upset. She used to always say, ‘But you used to play Chopin so well.’ She didn’t understand the change and she didn’t really respect it. It wasn’t until later years when I started to have success that she saw that I was still a quality musician that could play a lot of different things. She didn’t really understand the whole rock thing. It took a bunch of years for me to show her that yes, I was changing styles, but I also still could play any kind of music and I was doing stuff that was respectable and I’m going to have a really good career. I think when she realized that it’s really hard to make it as a musician and the fact I was having a really good career with what I do in music, she backed off a little bit.”
“From Bach To Rock” will begin on November 12 with performances in Japan, Taipei and Singapore, followed by seven shows in Australia and New Zealand and five shows in Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Many of the venues are offering VIP packages which will provide fans with an intimate experience with Rudess at the piano.