John Petrucci Shares If He Felt Threatened By Nirvana And Pearl Jam

Elifnaz Yuksel

Dream Theater’s John Petrucci discussed the rapid change in music genres and the rise of grunge during the ’80s and ’90s in an interview with KillerGuitarRigs. It was asked Petrucci whether Dream Theater was ever intimidated by Nirvana or Pearl Jam, and he answered:

“We really didn’t know what to expect from our career, you know what I mean? We were just young guys, we put out one record before ‘Images and Words’ which was the one that you’re talking about that was in ’92 when Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains and all that stuff was huge on the radio.”

John mentioned that the band was somewhat introverted during that time:

“We were just kind of in our own bubble. We weren’t thinking about how we could change our sound to adapt to the new stuff. We’re just, like, in our own little world, writing these songs. And we hadn’t really had any commercial success yet. So we were just doing what we did.”

The guitarist argued that Dream Theater’s unique stance might have positively affected their fame:

“To be honest, having commercial success at that time was just a crazy thing to have happened. Like you said, given that radio climate, our stuff just… Maybe that was part of the reason why it had some success because it really was so different from all that other music at that time when the most popular rock music was coming from Pearl Jam or Alice in Chains or Nirvana.”

In a 2017 interview, when asked about ‘Images and Words,‘ he said:

“Well, we had no idea that it would end up doing what it did for us — basically launch our touring and international career as a band. That’s really what it did. We had no idea, no. In fact, we didn’t even write songs, really, that had that potential in that atmosphere, because all the things that were being played on the radio sounded nothing like Dream Theater, so we didn’t really think we had a chance. They were playing Nirvana and Pearl Jam.”

In 2022, Petrucci used Kurt Cobain as an example while discussing the impact of musical education on a musical career, stating:

“They are people who write great music and are great at what they do, or were, in the case of Kurt Cobain. But I’ve also seen where people who take the path where maybe they have that gift like I was describing, and then they go to school, and it changes a bit. It could change for the positive or the negative. I think it’s a difficult question to answer because I think it depends on the person.

If I take my own experience, going to Berklee College of Music and learning more about music and music theory helped open my mind, and it helped to give me more options as a player to grab from. But when I create music, what I try to do is still approach it from that raw, primal beginning.”

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