"Well, isn't it for the honor of God, Aunt Kate?"
"I know all about the honor of God, Mary Jane."

John Myung - Bass Player Magazine (8/2005)

John Myung On Revisiting Your Roots

By Kevin Owens | August 2005

For 20 years now, John Myung’s expressive, technically dramatic bass lines have bolstered Dream Theater’s extravagant brand of heavy prog-rock. The quintet’s eighth studio release, Octavarium, finds the band taking a more “accessible” tack without compromising any of its signature musical complexity—the title track is 24 minutes long—and experimenting with some lighter material and shorter compositions.

How was the songwriting process different this time around?
For Train of Thought [Elektra, 2003], everything was written and demo’d before we went into the studio. This time, the material was written and recorded as it developed in the studio. The process was different for each song, but we would typically start playing something, and it would eventually evolve into something else. When it seemed like an idea was starting to take shape, we’d work it out.

Did you employ any new techniques on Octavarium?
On “These Walls,” I experimented with a pick for the first time, and that opened up an entirely new playing style to me. I don’t think I will ever give up playing fingerstyle, but I’ve definitely taken to the guitar-like quality you get from using a pick. It gives a clean, crunchy attack that sounds great on bass. Pickstyle playing is something that I’ve really come to appreciate, and I want to put some time into becoming more proficient at it.

How did you push yourself creatively on this album?
My bass philosophy has evolved to where I now see the importance of staying in touch with music I grew up with, as well as with new music, and trying to balance the two worlds. It’s interesting trying to find the common thread that connects the two, and then creating something new from that. It’s good to identify what’s going on in the music you loved as a kid, because that’s what becomes the substance for your creativity. If you’re in touch with those things, you’re more aware of the building blocks, and you’ll be better able to direct that creativity and give it form.
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