James LaBrie is probably best known for his work as the vocalist for the progressive rock band Dream Theater. Outside of his work with Dream Theater, James is also a successful solo artist. Together with keyboardist Matt Guillory, James has released a new solo album titled “Impermanent Resonance” and Media Mikes had the chance to recently to speak with both of the guys about what it was like working on the album.
Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about the new album “Impermanent Resonance”?
Matt Guillory: The album is a continuation of what we establish with the “Elements of Persuasion” album and more so with the “Static Impulse” album. With the new album we tried to make everything more heavy and melodic. We really wanted to push the melodic side of things by strengthening the hooks and melodies. I also believe that “Impermanent Resonance” is a much more dynamic and diverse.
AL: At what point of the writing/recording process James do you bring in your lyrics?
James LaBrie: There are two ways that we go about things. Matt will often approach things by writing lyrics or subject matter ahead of time prior to the music being written. He also works the more traditional way as well in that you craft the lyrics to fit the melody. That is the way in which I will usually write. I like everything to be established. It’s much easier for me to wrap things around a preconceived melody. The process can sometimes take 3 different stages in that I may present an idea to Matt and he takes what he wants from there. Matt is the main composer so he is the one creating where the song is going to go. The 3rd stage is one where we bring in other writers to collaborate with. On the new album we brought in Peter Wichers to help with a few songs. We have a few different ways in which we write.
AL: Is this also the way that your work when writing material for Dream Theater?
JL: Yes. We use three different stages when it comes to the Dream Theater material. Things may come out of jams we do during sound checks. Other times we all just sit down in the studio and start showing each other ideas we have stored on our iphones. A lot of the material really is created through our interactions with one another and bouncing those ideas back and forth.
AL: Matt for you what was it like bringing in outside writers?
MG: It was really seamless. We have done this before in the past but things went really great this time around. Bringing in Peter Wichers was great. His contribution with riff writing and ideas for verses was a very nice collaboration.
AL: Do each of you try to bring in a finished product before presenting to the other guys or is it more of a collaborative effort during the creating process?
MG: Before I present something to anyone else I try and get it pretty well developed. Most of my ideas start as vocal melodies that I then build everything else around. I try to have things pretty solid before sending the song out. From there it becomes more about tweaking the song.
JL: When Matt and I decide that it’s the right time to start putting together ideas for another album we do like to feel like we are starting fresh. We want to basically have a new canvas to paint on. I think it is always important for Matt and me to feel that we are representing ourselves musically with what we are creating. It’s definitely a combination of things.
AL: Did having the same line up for this album and the last album makes things easier from a writing/recording standpoint?
MG: Absolutely. It was really cool to do another record with the same line up. I love consistency. I think it’s cool how everyone has their own unique identity as a player that they bring to the table. It makes things really special. Everyone is such a high caliber musician that it made things super easy. I feel very fortunate to be working with such a great group of people.
AL: Are there plans to tour in support of the album?
JL: I think ultimately we want to do a tour that would be considered extensive. I think the immediate situation is that I have an obligation to Dream Theater and we start a world tour come January. This band that Matt and I have is one that has to be a little more patient. Everyone is behind wanting to tour the album but that won’t probably start to become a reality until the Dream Theater to conclude. We are definitely going to do a tour and try to get into as many areas as possible.
AL: With both of you having other priorities is it hard to put something like this on the back burner because of those commitments?
MG: It is for me. When I poor my heart and soul into something that is what I want to do. I have to try and stay focused. Working that way is better for me even though at times I feel like I have bitten off more than I can chew. This is so important to me and I want to make it the best it can be.
JL: The same stands for me. Dream Theater is my main gig but this thing Matt and I have is something that has developed over 14 years. We are both very much committed to it. I think every time there is a release it shows that it is in fact a priority for us. This is something we are both dedicated to as we realize that you are only as good as your last outing. It is something that fortunately we are able to let things develop. We feel this release is complete and probably our best album to date.