I spoke with Derek Sherinian about his departure from Dream Theater, the Platypus project, and his upcoming solo album. Here are the relevant excerpts.
So how did Platypus originate?
Platypus was originally John Myung's idea. He asked me to get involved with it and he brought in Ty Tabor. I wasn't familiar with Ty, but I think he's extremely talented. Rod Morgenstein... I've admired for many years. He is one of my favourite musicians. John brought up Rod's name and we decided to go with him. I was very star struck working with these great musicians.
How would you describe your song writing/recording process?
What's amazing about this album is that we wrote and recorded it in a two week period. Each member basically had some song ideas they brought in and worked on the arrangement and found something that suited all of us.
Can you tell me about your solo album?
It will be released on July 13th and it's called Planet X. It features Tony Franklin on bass, Virgil Donati on drums. and Brett Garsed on guitars. It's all instrumental---very progressive and very heavy. We recorded the album in my 24 track studio. We start mixing today and I'm very excited about it. It's so heavy, it's got heavy keyboard sounds, distorted organs and leads. I took about four months to write and record it.
Are there any plans for a tour of the U.S.?
We would love to to do it, if some promoters came up and offered the opportunity to us.
Why do you think it's difficult for progressive rock to become popular in the mainstream?
The mainstream people have generally shorter attention spans and like simpler things they can lock on to. Progressive rock is more of a complex art form; few people are going to like it.
What's your favourite music?
I love all kinds of music and it changes day to day...
Who would you cite as influences?
I love Jeff Beck, Allan Holdsworth, Al Dimeola, ... guitar is one of my favourite instruments. I think it is a very expressive instrument and all the personality nuances come out. I do play a little bit of guitar. In terms of keyboard influences, Elton John, Jon Lord a little bit, a bunch of different people.
When Wakeman left Yes in 1997, there were stories concerning you as a possible replacement. Can you shed some clarification on this matter?
What happened a couple of years when that fiasco happened was that I was touring Europe with Dream Theater. And there was an answering machine message that Rick Wakeman was not doing the tour and they were looking for someone to replace him. No one from Yes had ever approached me. And that got somehow turned into this rumour.
How do you feel about the whole dream theatre situation?
I feel that bands change members all the time. They had a distinct vision of where they want to take the band and I have no hard feelings. The last four years have been very good for me and I've had a lot of good opportunities. I don't want to get into a negative thing because I don't have any bad feelings.. Jordan is a friend of mine and he's an amazing keyboard player and I'm sure they'll do great with him.
What are your future plans and where do you see yourself in the year 2000?
In this business you never know what's going to happen. I'm negotiating with a guitar legend (whose name I can't disclose) who has asked me to work with him. I plan to keep making music. Another Platypus record is on the works and I'll also be working with Alice Cooper in the fall. For more info, check out my web page at <http://www.dereksherinian.com>.