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In July 1992 Dream Theater released their second full-length, Images and Words. The album — their first with new singer James LaBrie teaming with the virtuosic crew of guitarist John Petrucci, keyboardist Kevin Moore, bassist John Myung and drummer Mike Portnoy — was a straight-up prog-metal opus that catapulted the band to international fame.
Much of the album's hype was generated by its hit single "Pull Me Under" — an emotive ripper that broke into the Top 10 of Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, received significant MTV play and would later find new life as a fan favorite in the Guitar Hero World Tour game. Three decades since its release, Images and Words still ranks as Dream Theater's most commercially successful album and continues to garner critical accolades. (Guitar World listed it among the top guitar albums of 1992 and Rolling Stone picked it as one of the 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time).
Images and Words — which is showcased on Dream Theater's new live record, The Lost Not Forgotten Archives - Images & Words, Live in Japan, 2017 — is also a pivotal record for many of our favorite players, including Periphery leader Misha Mansoor.
Below, Mansoor tells how discovering Dream Theater "absolutely changed my life," recounts his attempts to "become John Petrucci" and more.
TELL US THE STORY ABOUT HOW YOU FIRST DISCOVERED DREAM THEATER.
MISHA MANSOOR I had a friend who told me to check out [1999's Metropolis Pt. 2:] Scenes From a Memory and he lent me not only the CD but a DVD of the live performance. That absolutely changed my life, I wasn't aware of musicianship at this level, and that DVD proved that they could actually perform it live as well.
DREAM THEATER'S 1992 ALBUM IMAGES AND WORDS IS WIDELY REGARDED AS A PROG-METAL CLASSIC. TELL US THE STORY ABOUT THE FIRST TIME YOU HEARD IT.
I heard it as I was becoming a Dream Theater fan. In some ways it definitely sounded like an earlier work of theirs, but it still had that ambition and passion as well as their tasteful technical mastery of their instruments. I remember hearing the "Under a Glass Moon" solo and thinking that was the pinnacle of soloing, and that I absolutely had to learn it!
WHAT DOES THAT ALBUM MEAN TO YOU NOW?
It represents a significant shift in my approach and view of music. It definitely started a new chapter for me, both in the music I was listening to as well as what I was trying to learn on both guitar and drums!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DREAM THEATER ALBUM?
Scenes From a Memory. It was my introduction — it blew me away then and it still holds up just as well today. Super ambitious concept album, and it also solidified the lineup that they held for a very long time. Songs like "The Dance of Eternity" just seemed to push the envelope of what musicians could do. All I could think was, How do they even remember how to play all of this craziness? Phenomenal album.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE DREAM THEATER SONG?
It's hard to pick one, let's go with "A Change of Seasons" [from the 1995 EP of the same name]. It was my first exposure to a song that was that long, and they made it feel like it was a lot shorter than it was. Definitely a game changer. Also, it was almost surreal to see them play it as an encore when I saw them live for the first time at Massey Hall in Toronto!
WHAT ELSE DO YOU REMEMBER FROM YOUR FIRST TIME SEEING DREAM THEATER LIVE?
I saw them for the first time in Massey Hall in Toronto when I was going to University of Toronto. It was an incredible-sounding venue, and they put on such a phenomenal show. I believe it was in support of the Train of Thought album. They played everything so perfectly it was kind of astonishing, and the sound was so clear you could hear all the detail. This really set the bar for what a great live band should sound like. This was one of their "Evening With" shows, so they must have played for two-and-a-half hours and then they did "A Change of Seasons" as an encore. That show was unreal.
HOW, IF AT ALL, DID DREAM THEATER — OR ANY OF THE BAND MEMBERS INDIVIDUALLY — INFLUENCE YOUR OWN CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT?
I literally just tried to become John Petrucci. I learned as many of his riffs and solos as I could. I had hoped that maybe it would make me as proficient a player as he was, but it obviously didn't. Same with Mike Portnoy and drumming. Still I ended up learning quite a lot from Dream Theater in that sense.
PERIPHERY HAVE TOURED WITH DREAM THEATER. WHAT MEMORIES STAND OUT FROM THAT EXPERIENCE?
Periphery toured with them close to a decade ago, it was an amazing experience and a bit of a trial by fire as we were still learning a lot about touring and tour etiquette. We learned a lot of important lessons, and it was also a wonderful opportunity for the band. They were incredibly gracious hosts, and very sweet and kind to us. Being able to watch their show every night was the icing on the cake.
DO YOU REGULARLY GO BACK AND LISTEN TO DREAM THEATER? OR DO THEY REPRESENT A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME IN YOUR HISTORY?
I go through phases of listening to their stuff. It's definitely a bit of a nostalgic thing for me at this point, and I will always hold those earlier albums dear as they really do mean a lot to me.