Nita Strauss: Why Dream Theater Pictures and Words Are My Musical “Safe Place”

Revolver Teamed Up With Dream Theater For Exclusive 2LP Cobalt Vinyl editing of their new live album, The Lost Not Forgotten Archives – Images & Words, Live in Japan, 2017. Quantities are extremely limited – order your copy now before they’re gone!

In July 1992, Dream Theater released its second feature film, Images and words. The album – their first with new vocalist James LaBrie teaming up with the virtuoso team of guitarist John Petrucci, keyboardist Kevin Moore, bassist John Myung and drummer Mike Portnoy – was a prog-metal opus that propelled the band internationally renowned.

Much of the hype for the album was generated by its hit hit “Pull Me Under” – an emotional ripper that broke into the Top 10 of Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock, received a major MTV play and would later find new life as a fan favorite in the Guitar Hero World Tour Game. Two decades since its release, Images and words continues to rank as Dream Theater’s most commercially successful album and continues to garner critical acclaim. (Guitar world ranked it as one of the best guitar albums of 1992 and Rolling stone chose it as one of the 100 greatest metal albums of all time).

Video of Dream Theater – Pull Me Under (Live in Japan 2017)

Images and words – which is featured on Dream Theater’s new live record, The Lost Not Forgotten Archives – Pictures and words, Live in Japan, 2017 – is also an essential record for many of our favorite players, including super shredder and Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss.

Below, Strauss recounts the captivating moment she discovered Dream Theater, explains how Images and words influenced her own guitar playing and revealed the song which was so “cool” that she used her lyrics as the MySpace title.

DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME YOU HEARED DREAM THEATER?
NITA STRAUSS The first time I heard Dream Theater was the [1994] album Awake. I listened to it from start to finish, without interruption, without saying a word. I was totally fascinated by the way the instruments played together. After being so blown away by Awake, I scrambled to get my hands on more music from Dream Theater, and Images and words was the next album I had. I wasn’t sure what to expect after enjoying my first taste of progressive metal so much, I was almost afraid that the next album I would hear would be a disappointment. It was the opposite! And totally solidified my Dream Theater fandom.

WHAT DOES THIS ALBUM MEAN TO YOU NOW?
Images and words is almost like a safe place for me musically. Somewhere I can listen and be transported to my early years when I was so excited and inspired by music.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SONG ON IMAGES AND WORDS?
It would have to be a draw between “Metropolis – Part I: The Miracle and the Sleeper” or “Under a Glass Moon”. I’ve also always thought “Learning to Live” was one of the coolest lyrical songs from the Dream Theater. It was even my MySpace title: “The way your heart beats makes all the difference in learning for life.”

Metropolis Video – Part I: “The Miracle and the Sleeper”

JOHN PETRUCCI IS A MONSTER GUITARIST. HOW, IF ANY, HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR OWN CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT OR THE WAY YOU THINK OF PLAYING MUSIC?
John Petrucci was, and still is, one of my big influences. He’s such a technician and he shows that technical side in every song. There’s no Dream Theater song you go to, “The song is cool, but the guitar is boring.” His guitar playing is always creative and interesting. I like this.

HAVE YOU EVER MEET PETRUCCI?
Sometimes! More recently, Dream Theater and Alice [Cooper] performed a show together in Mexico City. It was one of those festivals where there were two stages, and Dream Theater was the headliner; we were headlining each other. I spent all the time I should have warmed up and stretched… to the side of the stage with John’s awesome tech watching their set. John came over and chatted with us between songs for a few minutes and my Dream Theater nerd was just blissful. Then I had to sprint to the next stage after and do our own show! [Laughs]

DID YOU LEARN ANY TRICKS WATCHING DREAM THEATER LIVE?
I have seen them so many times. I think the first one was at The Grove in Anaheim. I love watching this level of musicality live. It always makes me want to come home and train, but in the best possible way.

DO YOU GO BACK REGULARLY AND LISTEN TO DREAM THEATER? OR DO THEY REPRESENT A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME IN YOUR HISTORY?
I listen to them quite regularly. When I want familiarity – but I also want to be inspired – Dream Theater is my favorite jam.


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