Behind the scenes with new Dream Theater side-project The Jelly Jam
Dream Theater bass ace John Myung gets excited about his all-star side project The Jelly Jam, whose new album Profit is jam-packed with catchy prog rock
In a world of instant media, where fans can be bombarded with the hourly, trivial minutia of a musician’s life, it’s pleasantly reassuring to find that some characters retain a certain mystique. Dream Theater’s bassist John Myung is just such an anachronism, maintaining a palpable distance and dignity away from the 24/7 social media spotlight. Never throwing himself into the limelight and rarely interviewed, he has a reputation for being a private man and a deep thinker, and so it comes as a shock to find him in such an ebullient and verbose mood.
That excitement centres on a new album from The Jelly Jam, ostensibly a side project created by Myung alongside drummer Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs) and Kings X singer/guitarist Ty Tabor. They released their self‑titled debut album 14 years ago, and they blend accessible, 70s-influenced songs with a progressive quirkiness. However, on their latest release, Profit, there’s a commerciality that has the potential to appeal to the mass market. Given the enthusiasm that’s radiating down the phone line from his New York studio, it’s clearly a recording Myung is proud of.
“With this record it felt like the next logical step to up the level of promotion on it, and make the band a little more known to people out there,” he says. “At the moment, we’re a band who are in a really cool situation. I really just love music in general and to me, it’s all about resonance, so I’m open to many types of music. Does this music move me? Does it do anything to me? And pretty much in every genre, there are things done in certain ways where I can find an appreciation for it. It’s like that with lyric writing, where you can find a creative flux.”
The creative flux Myung refers to is what he describes as a stream of consciousness, when everything comes together to allow music to be easily made. It’s perhaps an ethereal concept, describing a condition of the mind where writers’ block is non-existent and ideas flow perfectly. Myung firmly believes that if you can achieve this state with the other members of a band, there’s the potential to create something special.