Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Interview with John Myung and Ty Tabor

Gitarre&Bass magazine 12/1998 (Germany)

Question:
John and Ty, even though there is a new Dream Theater opus as well as a new King's X album out there, you two are touring through the lands giving interviews on Platypus. Is there some kind of change of priorities going on?

John Myung:
(laughs) yeah definitely, now we're starting our second career. No, jokes aside: We all felt like having a lot of fun trying something different to Dream Theater. So we sat together with some friends looking for what would be the result. After a few weeks we had so much material, enough for a whole album.

Ty Tabor:
Still King's X is where I'm in. That's not the reason for Platypus. We do take the new band seriously and want to promote it. We were really surprised about the positive reactions. Of course this keeps the thing going.

Question:
So not the end of DT and King's X. Even though after OIAL the contract with Atlantic seems like history for DT?

John Myung:
No, OIAL has nothing to do with a possible end of the contract. We were touring for eight months for FII and felt like it was time for real DT - live - album. So we recorded the last show in Paris and it was a very good show giving us the feeling we had done it right.

Question:
Which musical differences are there between Platypus on the one hand and DT and KX on the other?

Ty Tabor:
Whenever you put musicians together, the result will be different. It's always the combination of different characters leading to something unique. Of course everyone of us has his own musical fingerprints. Platypus is just a new painting. None of us knew what this picture would look like if we did something together. It all happened while jamming. We were surprised and it was really fun. There is a lot of 70s influences, the groove, the vibes. All our influences flow into Platypus.

Question:
And why the 70s? Is this the thing you grew up on?

Ty Tabor:
Yes, especially the stuff from the early 70s. I remember looking forward to come home from school and tuning into the radio. It was the era of album-rock, a very special phase of music. Yesterday I've been listening to Jeff Beck's 'Blow by Blow' and I found out I still love it. This style of music was the reason for me to start playing guitar.

John Myung:
My favourites are Jethro Tull, Rush, Genesis. They all were very popular those times.

Question:
In your songs there also are influences from Deep Purple, some early Yes, even funk a la Stevie Wonder! Does every song reflect each one's preferences or are there any similarities?

Ty Tabor:
I think that the basic idea of each songs reflects the preferences of the one coming up with it. But when we started working on it, we all put our ideas into it. We all added our visions what the song should sound like, which direction we should take. We all love the whole bandwidth from intelligently arranged progressice rock to straight mainstream, and everything in between.

Question:
We've forgotten to mention the Beatles! Ty, your vocal work always is said to be Beatles orientated. Accidently?

Ty Tabor:
No, not at all! The Beatles are the ones having the biggest influence on me. They opened my senses when I was a little boy. I didnt like too much of the stuff, but when I heard the Beatles I was gone. They did ingenious songs. I am a big John Lennon fan, his voice, his phraisng, the way he chooses songs, the way he plays the guitar. Same with George Harrison. I adore him as a guitarist. Most of the people are unaware of his talent. His playing blows me away.

John Myung:
I've had a lot of Beatles records as well. Especially the early ones and their best of's. I was singing their songs at home even at times when i studied violin and had lots of other stuff in mind, the Beatles were always there. They definitely are one of the reasons for me starting to play bass.

Question:
May I ask you how old you are?

Ty Tabor:
I'm 37.

John Myung:
31.

Question:
But this means the Beatles era was before your time, doesnt it?

Ty Tabor:
Well, i was sort of 'precocious'. With nine years I already owned some 300 records and was a big music fan. I really was shocked, when the Beatles split up. I can clearly remember the first single I consciously noticed, it was 'I wanna hold your hand'. I wanted to have it and begged my Ma to buy it.

My babysitter had a huge Beatles collection and he always had to bring them along when he had to look after me. I was sitting in front of the stereo listening to his records. Really was a cool job for him (laughs): all he had to do was bring along his records and i was occupied til my parents arrived at home again.

Question:
John, the idea about the project was originally yours. You contacted the others.

John Myung:
Yes indeed, I did a lot phoning and writing letters. I've had so many tunes on my taperecorder that were waiting to be released. The time has come, so I asked Derek and the others...

Question:
I don't wonder about asking Derek, nor Ty, but how the hell did you come up with Rod Morgenstein?

John Myung:
Rod lives just round the corner. We sometimes met talking about each others projects and in August 97 I first asked him if he was interested and in Februar 98 he was into Platypus.

Ty Tabor:
Well you are not the first to ask about that. Rod seemed the perfect man for this. The Dixie Dregs are legends, I've always been mad about their stuff. Big influence as well. I was happy like a little boy when John told me that Rod's into it. He's coming from a different rock era, also with a different style. But thats what I found so exciting about it. It gave me the possibilty to find a different approach to some songs. He's really brilliant. And a cool guy with a perfect character.

Question:
What is the athmosphere like when you are jamming?

John Myung: Nothing special, quite usual. Creative and concentrated, not knowing what would be the result. Of course it was a new situation, cos we didnt know each other well, but this changed fast.

Ty Tabor:
Yeah, it's always new and exciting even with KX to work on new ideas. But it was even more exciting starting with Platypus. We were not sure about each others visions or how we would get along. But it was very funny. I enjoyed it a lot.

Question:
How was it for you, Ty, playing with a keyboarder. It must be some kind of revelation playing with Derek. Will it have some influences on your work in KX ?

Ty Tabor:
No, you have to take a completely different approach to it. I know that in Platypus we have the possibilty to work with new sounds coming from the keyboard. Completely different to KX, but still very enjoyable.

Question:
Conceptional or for the sound you use?

Ty Tabor:
Both. You're playing differently and chose a sound that goes along with the keys. You start to think, where is my place in this song? What do I have to do to be there yet not to dominate it? I liked that challenge. But i would never change the trio formation of KX cos i can put a lot on my playing there. Playing in a trio is an enourmous challenge for every musician.

Question:
John you are playing sixstring basses for years and some time ago you started playing a chapman stick. A lot of changes for your style?

John Myung:
With the stick you have to start from the scratch. It's a completely new style to handle the instrument, a new way of musical expression, that also has an influence on your writing. But it hasn't changed anything in the way I'm thinking as a bassist. I still feel responsible for a homogeneous interaction with the drums. I didn't have the time yet to conquer all the possibilities the stick offers you. I have had a very natural attitude to the stick and know how to create different sounds. It's exciting for me to learn a new instrument, it changes my point of view, and this is very good for musicians from time to time.

Question:
And would you say the stick does have big influences on your songwriting?

John Myung:
No, I don't believe so. Both, bass and stick, are just tools, the idea emerges in your mind. The stick is cool for chords and basslines, but this also goes for the sixstring, just that the result is different. Basically it's just different tools.

Question:
And which of them do you prefer right now?

John Myung:
This depends on the situation of course, but i still see myself as a bass player. With six strings you do have enough varieties.

Question:
How many basses do you have?

John Myung:
Not too many, five or six. Mainly sixstrings, but also one or two fourstrings. I have a wonderful fourstring Music Man. But I'm going to get some more basses in the near future.

Question:
That means you don't have any fivestrings?

John Myung:
No, I went directly from four to sixstrings. I've just finished work with Yamaha on a custom model, which willl be produced as a signature model at the end of the year. I am looking forward to that.

Question:
Ty which changes have you been going through the last years?

Ty Tabor:
The biggest difference between now and the time in the middle of the 90s is, that I enjoy playing guitar again. Three or four years ago I was really burned out. It was during the recording of 'Dogman'. I was totally fucked up with all the business stuff, the troubles we've had with the management. I lost interest in everything and didn't touch the guitar for a year. It was pakced in the case, I didn't want to see it, hell beware touch it. I did a lot of Motocross back then. Now I've gained back the fun, also through Platypus and the work with people like Greg Bissonette and Carmine Appice. I'd almost given up. Now - especially with Platypus - I suddenly enjoy it again developing my style, learn new techniques, create new sounds. I believe that I was also working professionally four years ago, but now I also have the old creativity, I am having fun playing!

Question:
Did the fact that you was so down also have to do with the management that booked you for completely misplaced tours, like the ones with AC/DC and Iron Maiden, whose fans were not what I'd call tolerant.

Ty Tabor:
I think your impression is like that, because you've only seen the German shows. In Paris, in England, everywhere outside Germany actually, the reactions from the fans were quite positive. They told us that Paris has the most challenging crowd. But they even wanted to have encores there. Even though our music is another genre, I found our shows with AC/DC and Iron Maiden were very good. The album sales increased in every city we were playing. This shows how positive the reactions have been. In Germany things were different, actually. Everytime we crossed the border to Germany it was like entering a new world. To come back to your Question: we can't hold the management responsible for everything that goes wrong. They did their best and we couldn't refuse every tour they were suggesting.

Question:
John do you know the feeling of being burned out as well?

John Myung:
No, not really. Of course every tour, every concert is different. There are good evenings, bad evenings. Same goes for the tours.

Question:
What are you doing to stay in physical shape?

John Myung:
Eating good and balanced, sleep a lot, live healthy. Especially sleeping a lot and regularly. But right now I'm in a rather tired mood. I'm looking forward to October when I can concentrate on my playing and my band again.

Ty Tabor:
In KX we've changed our philosophy on touring. We've come to the point where we got tired of traveling around. We said, let's tour less, stay at home more often, to regain strength. You're getting oder! I'm not as powerful as I was in my mid twenties. I'm married and have children, the perspectives change automatically.

Question:
And do you have problems with returning to 'normal life' after long tours?

Ty Tabor:
Yes, it kicks you from one world to another. I hate being away from home, cos I love being with my family. But I know how much I do love music and how important it is for me as well, that I am doing this. My wife knows this as well. At times she comes along at tours but only until she has enough of it. Touring is very special, there are other circumstances to live with, miserable circumstances, a hard existence. Most of the people don't know how good it is to be able to sleep in your own bed every evening. Even if it's just a mattress on the floor, still it's your home. If you haven't seen your bed for too long you go insane. Coming back home feels like heaven then. You have to learn again being a private person. On tour you're in the public eye all of the time, from the moment you get out of the bus people keep staring at you. You can't even have dinner at a restaurant, cos there will be some fans waiting for the show. Everyone is asking you something, you're never alone. And if you return at home after all this psychological stress, it's a radical change.

John Myung:
My wife joined me for the whole tour with Deep Purple in the states. It was fun, because me, unlike Ty, I have my private life on tour as well. I'll walk around with my wife doing some sightseeing or we just seperate from the others. This makes living on the road much easier. Else I couldn't stand this life.

Interview printed in the German Gitarre&Bass magazine 12/98. Freely translated into English by Dryheat. So excuse me for all the grammar and the vocabulary that went wrong!