Mike Portnoy Photos

WHAT WAS IT LIKE RECORDING AN ALBUM AS COMPLEX AND MULTILAYERED AS IMAGES AND WORDS?
“Well, originally we thought we were going to put an EP out, but the label were like, ‘No, we can’t do that, there aren’t enough tracks and not enough time.’ So, we ended up canning that idea to do the full album. I think in terms ofthe unforeseen, it felt like [then-drummer] Mike Portnoy and David [Prater, producer] were butting heads a lot. And also, David had a bitterness towards [then-keyboard player] Kevin Moore, so there was a bit of tension going on there! I got along with him wonderfully and so did [guitarist] John Petrucci and [bassist] John Myung. Unfortunately, for the other two guys, it wasn’t as much fun!”

WHEN WAS THEMOMENT YOU REALISED YOUR BAND WERE ON COURSE TO STORM THE CHARTS?
“You have to remember we weren’t really thinking commercially – we only put out 2,000 copies of Images And Words initially! But, fortunately for us, what happened was Pull Me Under got released to college radio stations and their phones started lighting up like Christmas trees.The DJs were freaking out! Then national radio started catching wind of this, so they started playing the tracks, and before we knew it they were having the exact same reaction!”

Mike Portnoy Photos

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YOU BECAME UNLIKELY MTV HEROES THROUGH THE VIDEO, TOO…
“The label got in touch with us while we were on the road, and they said,‘The next gig is gonna be in Chicago, right? This is blowing up – we have to shoot a video!’ Boom, boom, boom, easy as that. It all happened fast, and after that the song went to the top of national radio, getting played about three times an hour! We were a bit confused because when we started touring, our first show was in front of 15 people. Then it became 50, and eventually 150,250, and so on.All because Pull Me Under blew up and put us on the map. It made us what we are today”

CONSIDERING HOW BIG YOU’VE BECOME, IT MUST ALMOST FEEL QUITE FUNNY WHENEVER YOU GET LABELLED ‘UNCOOL’, MUSTN’T IT?
“I think, regardless of what’s being said out there, it’s all fine.We live in a very perceptive industry.And the music we make is in our nature.We have been extremely fortunate in the fact that we have no boundaries in our music.We have the freedom to take it anywhere we want, to any genre, style or direction.That’s what has allowed us to maintain who we are over the years.”

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