Characters / Dream Theater

Current Members:

James LaBrie

The band's singer. Originally frontman for a (generic to the point of parody) Canadian Hair Metal band named Winter Rose, LaBrie joined the band in an hour of need and propelled them to success with their breakthrough album Images And Words. His vocal troubles in the mid-90s have made his voice somewhat divisive (primarily among metal fandom). Nevertheless, his voice is considered a crucial component of the band by many fans even in spite of the instrumental focus of the band.

  • Tenor Boy: In his youth, best demonstrated on Images And Words rather than Awake's lower, more aggressive and diverse vocals. His aging has since lowered him to a more dramatic tenor.
  • Canada, Eh?: Inevitably draws comments about his nationality.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Interviews and videos indicate that he is very much the wit of the band. Occasionally this creeps into his stage presence.
  • Grief Song: Penned the band's most notable examples, 'Disappear' and 'Vacant'.
  • Heroic R.R.O.D.: His extremely demanding vocal performances combined with intense vomiting during a food poisoning incident in 1994 led to his rupturing his vocal chords, making him an inconsistent live vocalist for much of the rest of his career. While fans are still divided over the extent of his recovery, he's generally been in much better shape since around the Octavarium tours (with the accompanying Score live DVD being considered something of a comeback for him).
  • Large Ham: Can dip into this in respects to his stage persona and what some consider 'over-singing'.
  • Metal Scream: Back in his youth he could easily give singers like Dickinson and Halford a run for their money in this regard. He can still pull off a few belters even these days.
  • One Steve Limit: Actually named Kevin James LaBrie but adopted his middle name as a stage name because there was already a Kevin (Kevin Moore) in the band at the time.
  • The Smart Guy: His interviews display a great deal of intelligence and perceptiveness, and he is the most well-spoken of the members.
  • Vocal Evolution: He started out with a clean high tenor, but starting with Awake he began to use lower-pitched, rougher vocals. Following his vocal injury, he lost a lot of his range, and began to sound more nasal, with a lot less of the high-pitched belting that he used in the Images and Words period. His voice has mostly recovered since the Octavarium tours, but it's noticeably softer (due to age and after-effects of his vocal injury), and he tends to use his lower range more.

John Petrucci

One of the two founding members left and probably the most widely recognized (due to his general popularity among the guitar community). Petrucci is perhaps the most frequently contributing composer and lyricist in the band, and his guitar virtuosics have attracted many fans outside the band's core prog and metal audiences, earning him a place in the same shred establishment as artists like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen.

  • Nice Guy: Mild-mannered, patient and devoutly religious. Petrucci's interviews are mainly noted for their cordiality and for avoiding conflict of any kind (in stark contrast to Mike Portnoy).
  • One John Limit: Averted as you'll see after one scroll.
  • The Hero: Closest thing the band has to a 'leader'. His bodybuilding activities also give him elements of The Big Guy.

John Myung

The other remaining founder, Myung's most immediately visible and reputed characteristic is his extremely quiet, introverted demeanor. He is also notoriously strict about practicing his instrument, with extensive warm-up and cool-down routines surrounding every show.

  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Dream Theater's first singer, Chris Collins, introduced Myung during a show as "from the jungles of Korea." Myung, born in Chicago, was not amused. Depending on the source, Myung either "berated and threatened" Collins or had to be physically restrained.
  • Hidden Depths: Though he rarely writes, Myung's lyrics tend to be very eloquent, poetic and emotional. He is also said by his friends and bandmates to be a better conversationalist than he lets on.
  • One John Limit: Averted, as you already knew.
  • Shrinking Violet
  • Silent Bob
  • The Chick: Not really the most involved member of the band, but his lyrics and bass playing introduce a certain calmness and lucidity to an often chaotic-sounding group.
  • The Stoic
  • The Quiet One

Jordan Rudess

Quite possibly THE most dazzlingly virtuosic member in a band of technically incredible performers, Jordan was classically trained at the prestigious Juilliard school of music from the age of 9 and went on to play keyboards for artists ranging from David Bowie to The Dixie Dregs before finally joining Dream Theater in time to participate in the creation of what is often considered their magnum opus.

  • Badass Baritone: Has a noticeably deep voice.
  • Child Prodigy: Enrolled in Juilliard at 9 and was performing Grieg's piano concertos by 14.
  • Cool Old Guy: The oldest and most experienced member of the band.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Beside employing some truly bizarre MIDI controllers, Rudess is known for his extensive use of iPads and iPhones in a musical context. He's generally the band's main source of strange sounds.
  • Impractical Musical Instrument Skills: With the recent advent of his rotating, tilting keyboard stand, he frequently plays the keyboard in highly impractical positions.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Unfairly maligned as the former by a substantial portion of the band's detractors and even fans; in reality, Rudess's non-solo parts are frequently very songwriting-oriented and his piano playing in particular tends to be strongly emotive.
  • Jewish and Nerdy: A Jewish-born, eccentric prog musician who obsesses over synth technology and music theory.
  • The Lancer: The band's second most prominent composer after Petrucci.

Mike Mangini

The band's current drummer and most recently inducted member. Has his own history drumming for such notables as Steve Vai and Annihilator, as well as a slew of 'world's fastest drummer' awards. Warmly received by the fanbase for his enthusiasm, humility and daunting technical prowess.

  • Adorkable: Very, very much.
  • American Accents: Seems to have a Boston edge to his.
  • Foreshadowing: Drummed on three of James Labrie's solo albums, a collaboration that would be renewed with his acceptance into DT.
  • Keet: He's notably very dynamic and upbeat compared to the rest of the members. It shows in live performances and sometimes in interviews.

Former members:

Mike Portnoy

A founding member of the band, and their former drummer, backing vocalist, main spokesman, and one of their primary songwriters and producers alongside John Petrucci. He left in 2010, in extremely divisive circumstances (put simply, Portnoy wanted to take a break from the band to work on side projects and the other members wanted to continue with the band). Since leaving, he has gone on to do session work with Avenged Sevenfold on their album Nightmare, joined the supergroup Adrenaline Mob with Russell Allen of Symphony X, John Moyer of Disturbed and guitarist Mike Orlando, and also in Neal Morse's project Flying Colours.

  • The Alcoholic: Formerly. The entire "Twelve-Step Suite" is about him coping with this, as is "The Mirror".
  • Badass Baritone: His backing vocals, which were a lot deeper than James LaBrie's.
  • Catch-Phrase: "Eat my ass and balls!"
  • Creator Breakdown: Many.
    • "The Mirror" and the Twelve-Step Suite ("The Glass Prison", "This Dying Soul", "The Root of All Evil", "Repentance" and "The Shattered Fortress"), which were all about his alcoholism and his subsequent experience in Alcoholics Anonymous.
    • "A Change of Seasons", about the death of his mother.
    • "Burning My Soul" and "Just Let Me Breathe", about the record company's Executive Meddling with Falling Into Infinity.
    • "Honor Thy Father", about his troubled relationship with his stepfather.
    • "Never Enough", about the band's Unpleasable Fanbase.
    • "The Best of Times", about the death of his father.
  • Guttural Growler: In "A Nightmare to Remember".
  • The Hero: The band's main spokesman and main songwriter when he was in the band, sharing this role with John Petrucci. Also overlapped with The Big Guy.
  • Impractical Musical Instrument Skills: His audience participation drum solos.
  • Jerk Ass: According to his detractors, who accuse him of out-of-control egotism, and of blaming the band for driving him away after he left to work on his own side projects. And that is all we will say about that.
  • Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things: He wrote "Never Enough" about this.

Kevin Moore

The original keyboardist of Dream Theater and the first member to join the band after its formation by Petrucci, Portnoy, and Myung. Kevin Moore had been friends with the core band members since childhood, and was hired almost immediately after the band's was started. He saw the band reach its height of mainstream popularity with the release of Images and Words and the single "Pull Me Under", but began to fall out with the other band members during the grueling world tour for the album, and under circumstances that are still hotly debated, abruptly left the band after finishing the recording of their third album, Awake. Moore has a more restrained approach to musicianship than either Derek Sherinian and Jordan Rudess, and his lyrics and songwriting had a more emotional, mystical bent than theirs.

  • Anti-Love Song: "Light Fuse And Get Away" and "Space-Dye Vest"
  • As the Good Book Says...: His lyrics were stuffed with Biblical allusions and Christian imagery, and he designed the "Sacred Heart" emblem that appears on anything associated with Images and Words.
  • Creator Breakdown: His contributions to Awake strongly suggest he was working out some serious issues at the time.
  • Creative Differences: Until Mike Portnoy left, Moore was the only DT alumnus (who appeared on an official recording) who refused to play any reunion concerts or associate with the band.
  • The Cynic: Just watch Live in Tokyo or read his lyrics.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • The Heart
  • Heavy Mithril: "Pull Me Under",
  • Jerk Ass: Mike Portnoy accused him of being this after working with him again in Jim Matheos' project Office of Strategic Influence, but Mike Portnoy being Mike Portnoy, this is probably best taken with a grain of salt.
  • Pretty Boy: He used to look fine.
  • Rockstar Song: "Only a Matter of Time"
  • Sampling: Moore's songs, both in Dream Theater and solo, tends to heavily employ sampling, especially from movies and TV series. Notable instances of this in Dream Theater are "Space-Dye Vest" (which samples A Room With A View, news commentary of the OJ Simpson low-speed chase, The Conan O'Brien Show, and the Canadian series The Fifth Estate) "6:00" (which samples a film adaptation of James Joyce's short story "The Dead") and "Take the Time" (which samples Frank Zappa saying "wait a minute..." from "Dancin' Fool").
  • Technician vs. Performer: The Performer to Rudess' Technician. Nowhere near as skilled technically but with a much less ostentatious style.

Charlie Dominici

While not the first singer Dream Theater had (that honor goes to Chris Collins), Dominici was the first singer to appear on a Dream Theater record, singing on their debut album When Dream and Day Unite in 1989. However, his not-particularly-metal singing style was not a good fit for Dream Theater and he left the band shortly after the album's release. He has appeared a few times for reunion shows since his departure.

  • Cool Old Guy: Dominici was almost 40 when When Dream and Day Unite was recorded, and the oldest person ever to be in Dream Theater.
  • Creative Differences: His tenure with Dream Theater was doomed almost from the beginning. Mike Portnoy compared him to "having Billy Joel singing in Queensryche". Unlike Kevin Moore, however, there were no hard feelings about his departure.
    It was a lot of fun but many times I was uncomfortable because it never really was my band and I am an “alpha” type just like Mike Portnoy. We had a lot of differences of opinion and along with other reasons I eventually went on my own way.
  • '80s Hair: And how!
  • Older Than He Looks: He's now 64, but looks about twenty years younger.
  • The Pete Best
  • Start My Own: Many years after leaving the band, he started his own prog-metal band called Dominici. The band is near-universally unknown by all but hardcore Dream Theater fans, but those that have listened tend to enjoy the music.

Derek Sherinian

Chosen as the band's keyboardist after Moore walked out before the Awake tour was due to begin, he was known for his multi-instrumental skills and sense of humour that the band credited with keeping them grounded during the difficult, Executive Meddling-plagued recording of Falling Into Infinity. He spearheaded live tradition of having the band members all switch instruments and perform as "Nightmare Cinema", usually covering either Deep Purple's "Perfect Strangers" or Ozzy Osbourne's "Suicide Solution". Sherinian also fronted a similar joke band, "Nicky Lemons and the Migraine Brothers", which would usually perform a Punk Rock song called "I Don't Like You". This tradition ended when he was replaced by Rudess.