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Big lineup change is in Dream Theater's rearview mirror now

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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It took Dream theater 24 years and a dozen studio albums to release one that only bore the band's name.

And that wasn't because the five group members couldn't come up with any other ideas, according to guitarist Petrucci.

"Months before we got in the studio we were saying it might be the time, at this point in our career, to really make a collection of songs that were, like, the quintessential Dream Theater and call the album 'Dream Theater,' " explains Petrucci, who's also the group's producer and chief lyricist. "We wanted it to be a strong, powerful collection and have something we could point people towards if they wanted to know who Dream Theater is right now.

"It's definitely a lofty idea. We do try to set the bar high, and if we make it, we make it. We certainly do our best to get there, but for us I think it's actually really helpful. I know you can say you're setting yourself up for failure if it's too lofty, but for us it sets us on a very focused mission and it puts all the guys on the same page."

The "Dream Theater" album, which debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 after its September release, also serves notice that the group is indeed alive and well after the 2010 departure of original drummer Mike Portnoy. His replacement, Mike Mangini, makes significant contributions to the new album after coming on board for 2011's "A Dramatic Turn of Events," and Petrucci feels the results bode well for Dream Theater's future.

"It's always tough when a band member leaves, especially in (Portnoy's) case after 25 years, you know?" the guitarist says. "It took a lot of unified effort to get us past that and to this point. Fortunately we approached it moving forward and keeping positive, which is the best way.

"And fortunately all the decisions we made were the right ones, so when you get to this point you do feel this sense of great relief."

Dream Theater performs Friday, April 4, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20-$50. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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