Interview With Jordan Rudess
[MuzikMan] Although I am sure there were many important events in your life Jordan, can you remember one specific thing that happened that changed your life forever and helped to get you where you are today?
Jordan Rudess The first time I heard Patrick Moraz playing Mini Moog on the "Refugee" album I knew I had to get a Mini Moog and learn to solo like that! My focus completely went into getting that instrument at that point!
[MuzikMan] Can you tell me about your developing years at Juilliard Music School and what served (or whom) as your inspiration during that time?
Jordan Rudess I was studying at Juilliard from the time I was 9 years old. My childhood musical education was very formal and complete. I was playing concerts and recitals and there was a strong competitive situation between students going on. My main inspiration was from composers like Chopin and Liszt. My favorite pianists were Ashkenazy and Pollini.
[MuzikMan] What were your feelings at the time you were invited to join Dream Theater? Was it just a matter of course and just another part of your career that was moving in another direction or did you know that things would change drastically?
Jordan Rudess For me the chance to work with DT was a big opportunity. I knew that they had a good following and that joining them would change my world! I definitely did not take the move lightly. There is a lot of travelling involved and dedication, so I needed to really consider it.
[MuzikMan] I am curious to know what it was like for you working with David Bowie. He must be very particular about the way things are done during the recording process. Would you consider him as an influence?
Jordan Rudess He certainly has a lot of very established ideas! It was interesting to work with someone like that who is so articulate with their ideas. Sometimes his description for what he wanted from me would be a verbal journey into far away lands!! I always liked his music in the past although I never owned any of his records.
[MuzikMan] Is Dream Theater in process of recording a new album? If so when do you expect it to be released?
Jordan Rudess DT will start up again in March 2003 and work for 4 or 5 months on our new album. It should be released in late 2003 and then we should be touring by January 2004.
[MuzikMan] Can you tell me about the overseas tour, and what some of the highlights and experiences are that you will always remember? What was different about playing to audiences outside the band's home base?
Jordan Rudess Well, each country we go to has a distinct personality all its own. Audiences can be very memorable as well for us because they have a great deal of energy. An example would be in Italy were very often you will hear the entire audience singing in full voice along with all the melodies. Even the ones that are not sung! It’s an incredible sound!! Playing in Bulgaria on the last tour was interesting. We were doing a sound check and the bass drum was leaking through the building. The people outside would chant and roar every time they heard the boom of the bass drum during the check!
[MuzikMan] Can you explain how your keyboards are setup and how the swivel configuration idea came about? In addition, what kind of equipment do you prefer and what are the technical specifications necessary for each show, and how does it differ depending on the venue you are playing?
Jordan Rudess I use one keyboard for a controller. I decided before the last tour that I needed to have movement in my performance and standing in one spot would not work for me. The thought of using more than one keyboard came to me but that is an old school approach. I like the clean look and feel of using one powerful controller such as my Kurzweil 2600. My standbuilder Patrick, [who is] from Holland, built me two stands for the last tour that rotate 360 degrees. They function pretty much the same although they have very different looks! In my rack, I have equipment by Korg as well. I use a Triton rack and a Karma keyboard, which is off to the side of my rig controlled via MIDI. Terry Fox was my tech on the last tour and did a great job making sure everything was wired and ready for every show!
[MuzikMan] Who are some of your favorite bands currently recording?
Jordan Rudess Porcupine Tree, Autechre, Flower Kings, Aphex Twin
[MuzikMan] Successful bands reach such lofty heights and then everyone becomes a star in their own right, solo projects come out, supergroups are formed, then it all falls apart -- can you see this happening with Dream Theater?
Jordan Rudess It is hard to say what will happen in the future. I guess as long as we enjoy the process and feel we are productive with continued inspiration working together - all will continue on course. Life has many changes so anything is possible, of course. Far be it from me to predict the future though, especially when it concerns five guys with very different lives!
[MuzikMan] The "4NYC" solo album was a very personal project for you, and a dedication to the families of the terrible tragedy in New York City. Can you give specifics on how that all came about and how it has affected other people’s lives?
Jordan Rudess Well I needed to do something to help in that situation. It took a bit of thinking to decide what was appropriate. My wife is a producer at the theater in which we did the event, which enabled us to put it together very quickly. Through the power of the Internet, we advertised and managed to raise 12 thousand dollars in one evening for charity. Now the CD is available on Magna Carta Records and a portion of the proceeds goes to Seeds of Peace.
[MuzikMan] In closing … what lies ahead for solo projects and other music related work for Jordan Rudess?
Jordan Rudess Right now, I am getting geared up for a new DT album. Things I look forward to doing aside from that include finishing the RPM 2 album with Rod Morgenstein, and working on my follow up to "Feeding the Wheel." I am also devoting a certain amount of time into exploring graphics and video for DT’s multi media future as well as following an interest in film composing.