Dream Theater’s James LaBrie: Being progressive is never uncool

Dream Theater's James LaBrie
Dream Theater's James LaBrie (Image credit: Frank Hoensch/Redferns - Getty)

Dream Theater’s James LaBrie told Metal Hammer earlier this year that being labelled a progressive rock band is something which should never be considered as uncool.

The vocalist was speaking to the magazine ahead of the launch of their 14th studio album Distance Over Time.

He said: “I am aware that the words, ‘Dream Theater are uncool because they’re prog’ are being spoken, but Dream Theater are more than prog rock. We have so many layers to our music. It’s prog, it’s metal, it’s jazz fusion, it’s pop – it’s a conglomerate of many, many different styles of music. 

“We push the envelope all the time. We’re unpredictable. We’re not doing that to blow your minds, it’s not about that – we do things on our terms because that’s how we operate as a unit. 

“When I hear or read, ‘Dream Theater are uncool,’ I go, ‘Fair enough, you’re just not one of these people that appreciates our approach and direction. And that’s fine, you don’t have to.’ 

“People call us a progressive rock band, but you can’t conclude what Dream Theater are based on one song or one album.”

LaBrie went on to speak about not being afraid to cause controversy when it comes to music, saying: “We knew going into our 13th album, The Astonishing, that it was going to demand a lot of open-mindedness from our fans. We knew there was going to be controversy. 

“It’s a two-hour rock opera opus, so not everyone’s going to be into something so theatrical and fantastical. You’re asking a lot of people for them to lose themselves in that kind of an album, so it wasn’t necessarily a shock to the band that it polarised our fans. 

"But it was an album that had to be made and, I think, for the kind of album we wanted, we did a phenomenal job. It is something I will always stand behind and be proud of, but it definitely put a division in our fanbase.”

However, he went on to say: “Distance Over Time is more classic Dream Theater, with both the progressive and the metal sides. It strikes down the middle of the field and I think it’ll unite all of our fans.”

Dream Theater will head out on tour across Europe over the coming weeks, kicking off in Amsterdam on January 11.

Find a full list of their 2020 dates below.

Dream Theater: Distance Over Time

Dream Theater: Distance Over Time
Dream Theater return with their 14th studio album and the follow-up to 2016's The Astonishing. It includes the tracks Untethered Angel, Fall Into The Light, Paralyzed and Barstool Warrior.

Dream Theater 2020 tour dates
Jan 11: Amsterdam AFAS Live, Netherlands
Jan 12: Oberhausen Turbinenhalle 1, Germany
Jan 14: Stockholm Cirkus, Sweden
Jan 15: Stockholm Cirkus, Sweden
Jan 17: Helsinki Icehall, Finland
Jan 18: Oulu Teatri Oulu, Finland
Jan 20: Trondheim Spektrum, Norway
Jan 21: Oslo Spektrum, Norway
Jan 23: Hamburg Sporthalle, Germany
Jan 24: Helsingor Kulturvaerftet Hal 14, Denmark
Jan 26: Paris Seine Musicale, France
Jan 27: Lyon Halle Tony Garnier, France
Jan 29: Barcelona St Jordi Club, Spain
Jan 31: Madrid Wizink Center, Spain
Feb 01: Porto Gondomar Pavilion, Portugal
Feb 02: Lisbon Campo Pequeno, Portugal
Feb 05: Ludwigsburgc MHP Arena, Germany
Feb 06: Frankfurt Jahrhunderthalle, Germany
Feb 08: Budapest Arena, Hungary
Feb 09: Munich Zenith, Germany
Feb 11: Rome Palazzo dello Sport, Italy
Feb 12: Milan Mediolanum Forum, Italy
Feb 14: Zurich Samsung Hall, Switzerland
Feb 15: Prague Tipsport Arena, Czech Republic
Feb 16: Wroclaw Orbita Hall, Poland
Feb 18: Hannover Swizz Life, Germany
Feb 21: London Eventim Apollo, UK
Feb 23: Glasgow SEC Armadillo, UK

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.