“Growing up, I was introduced to the music of Miles Davis, Nat King Cole and the Glenn Miller Band by my father," says Dream Theater frontman James LaBrie. "My siblings turned me on to Yes, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and then, of course, I discovered Rush and Queen. I always bounced around musically."
Although it might be widely assumed that LaBrie, one of progressive rock's most compelling singers, might spend his days and nights listening to Gentle Giant bootlegs, he says that his music collection is a broad mix of styles. "Right now, I’m listening to Two Door Cinema Club, Young The Giant and Need To Breathe," he says. "None of those acts sound anything like what I do. I really think that staying open-minded is important in so many ways, but especially when it comes to making your own music."
As legions of prog-metal fans across the globe no doubt know, Dream Theater is set to release a self-titled new album on 24 September, but last month LaBrie issued his third solo album, Impermanent Resonance, which he describes as "metal-backboned but also very pop. The solo stuff is concise and straightforward – the songs aren’t normally any more than four or five minutes. It’s very different from what I do in Dream Theater in that the songs are shaped around the vocals."
On the following pages, LaBrie runs down his not-so-guilty-pleasures, five artists who would never figure into progressive rock playlists, but in one way or another, even subconsciously, they're part of the singer's music-making process. "Even if it's just a spirit or a mood, what you listen to comes out in what you do," he says. "It all seeps into your musical identify, and I think that's pretty cool."
As for a really good time, LaBrie just might fire up some Duran Duran and Michael Bublé (just two of his choices) with a particular snack-food favorite: chips and dip. "That's my big weakness," he says with a laugh. "Popcorn and Smarties is good, too, but chips and dip gets me every time."