LaBrie in 2012
|Birth name||Kevin James LaBrie|
|Born||May 5, 1963|
Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada
|Associated acts||Dream Theater, Winter Rose, Ayreon, MullMuzzler, True Symphonic Rockestra, Sebastian Bach, Fates Warning, Shadow Gallery, Explorers Club, Trent Gardner, Henning Pauly, Frameshift, Tim Donahue|
Kevin James LaBrie (born May 5, 1963) is a Canadian vocalist and songwriter, who is best known as the lead singer of the American progressive metal band Dream Theater, which he has fronted since 1991.
Kevin James LaBrie was born in Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada and started playing drums at age 5. By his mid-teens, he was a member of several bands as a front man that attempted singing and/or drumming. He stopped playing drums at age 17 and in 1981, at age 18, he moved to Toronto.
LaBrie joined Coney Hatch in 1986 when they were attempting a new lineup. The band recorded a number of demonstration tapes in their rehearsal studio and performed live in Ontario clubs for several months. When their record company (Anthem) expressed their disapproval of the lineup, the band replaced LaBrie with Phil Naro in one last ditched attempt at forging ahead without Carl Dixon. That lineup was to be short lived as well.
Soon after parting ways with Coney Hatch, LaBrie became the vocalist for the glam metal band Winter Rose. The group also included Richard Chycki on guitar and bass, Randy Cooke on drums, and Sebastian Bach on vocals. Chycki had also worked with Bach under the band names Sebastian and Hope. The band recorded a series of demos through 1988 and 1989 with guest musicians Bruce Dies and Rob Laidlaw. The tracks were commercially released in 1989 as a self-titled album by Inside Out Music. All the songs on the album were written by Richard Chycki and James LaBrie, except two which Richard Chycki wrote alone.
In 1990, LaBrie learned that American progressive metal band Dream Theater was looking for a new singer, so he submitted a tape and was quickly flown to New York for a full audition. The trial went well, and he was chosen ahead of 200 other hopefuls to fill the full-time vocalist position in that band.
LaBrie has since had a significant impact on the vocal melodies on each Dream Theater album, but until recently has had little input on the instrumentation of Dream Theater's music - 2011's A Dramatic Turn of Events features LaBrie in the music credits on three songs. To date he has written or co-written lyrics for at least one song on eight of the twelve albums Dream Theater has released with him in the band, Images and Words, Black Clouds & Silver Linings, Dream Theater and The Astonishing containing none of them.
Asked by Prog-Sphere.com what is his favorite Dream Theater song to play live, James says "The favorite song for me is Scarred, I love performing that live. And... well, Octavarium, that whole freakin’ thing."
In an interview from Beyond The Dark Horizon on June 12, 2010, James LaBrie stated that his next solo album entitled Static Impulse, is in the mixing stages and will contain 12 tracks. James stated "It's very heavy and I'm really excited."
On July 27, 2010 it was announced on Dream Theater's website that Static Impulse would be released on September 27, 2010 through InsideOut Music. It features longtime collaborator Matt Guillory on keyboards, Marco Sfogli ("Elements of Persuasion") on guitars, Peter Wildoer from DARKANE on drums/screaming vocals, and Ray Riendeau on bass.
James LaBrie stated "The release of Static Impulse is one that the whole band is psyched about. This is modern metal and as heavy and relevant as any other band out there going in a similar musical direction. There are riffs that will blow your head off and melodies both musically and vocally that are hypnotic. Get in the driver's seat and let the ears bleed. Enjoy and see you out there with a tour to follow up and support this release."
In 2011's interview for Prog-Sphere.com, LaBrie stated that the US tour got cancelled, saying "Because it was so disorganized last time. That's why I basically said, 'You don't have the visas yet. Where we're at this point, by the time you get the visas processed, we're gonna have one rehearsal and then we're gonna go out.' And I said, 'I'm not doing that.'"
In July 2013, LaBrie's album Impermanent Resonance was released.
Throughout his career with Dream Theater, LaBrie has lent his voice to many other artists' records as well as tribute albums. In 1991, not long after joining Dream Theater (and before ever appearing on a Dream Theater recording), he sang background vocals on the song "Life in Still Water" on Fates Warning's Parallels album. He has appeared on many Trent Gardner releases (including Leonardo: The Absolute Man and Explorer's Club), as well as appearing on albums by such artists as Shadow Gallery, Tim Donahue and Frameshift.
LaBrie provided the lead vocals for the main character in the rock opera album The Human Equation by Ayreon; in 2015, he reprised his role for a live version, The Theater Equation. He was also featured as the character "The Historian" in the album The Source.
LaBrie is also a featured vocalist on Henning Pauly's "Babysteps" project released in 2006; LaBrie plays the role of the arrogant doctor.
Since 2004, LaBrie has been working with the True Symphonic Rockestra project, along with Thomas Dewald, Vladimir Grishko, Dirk Ulrich, Christoph Wansleben, Sandro Martinez, Paul Mayland, Marvin Philippi, and Igor Marin. Their album, Concerto In True Minor - 3 Rock Tenors was released on iTunes and for download on Amazon on March 28, 2008 by Brainworx and Marinsound.
In 2016 LaBrie was the special guest on the Last Union debut album firstly meant to be named "Most Beautiful Day". He sang in three songs: "President Evil", "Taken" and "A Place In Heaven". Eventually the album was called "Twelve" and finally released on December 21, 2018. "Twelve" was written and pieced together over a two-and-a-half year period.
James had said in many older interviews that he was Christian, and actively practiced the religion. However, in 2005 he revealed that he's since strayed from organized religion, and now considers himself "a more spiritual-directed person."
His musical inspiration comes from many different genres, including such artists as Sebastian Bach, Aerosmith, Don Dokken, Metallica, The Doors, Ludwig van Beethoven, Nat King Cole, Queen, Sting, and Muse whose inspiration, according to LaBrie, is shown on Dream Theater's album, Octavarium. LaBrie lists Freddie Mercury as his "all-time favorite" singer, and also admires such singers as Steve Perry, Lou Gramm, Rob Halford, Steven Tyler, Robert Plant, and Jeff Buckley, among others.
LaBrie is widely known for his lyric tenor style singing voice. He was voted by fans to #15 on MusicRadar's "The greatest vocalists of all time" in 2010. During his career with Dream Theater, LaBrie's singing voice has received both praise and criticism. In response to detractors of his vocal abilities, LaBrie has said, "These people are pathetic and need to move on. I say get a life and maybe work on making your life a better one instead of thinking the answer lies in cutting someone else up to raise your miserable spirit."
On December 29, 1994, while vacationing in Cuba, LaBrie was stricken with a severe case of food poisoning from contaminated shrimp and while vomiting, he ruptured his vocal cords. He saw three throat specialists who all said there was nothing they could do except have him rest his voice as much as possible. However, on January 12, 1995, against doctor's orders, he was on the Waking Up the World Tour in Japan promoting Dream Theater's Awake album with his voice far from normal. LaBrie has said he did not feel vocally "normal" until at least 2002. He has also said that this era was a very hard time for him as a singer, and depression as a result caused him to consider departing from the band, although his bandmates supported him and urged him to stay. After the World Tourbulence tour, he discovered that his voice had fully returned. He said that his voice was fully healed by time and training. However, while speaking to Greg Prato of Songfacts in 2019, LaBrie explained how the incident affected his vocal range. "So, instead of hitting D's and E's and F-sharps and all that stuff, I was able to hit C, C-sharp, and D. But I had to really watch it. I have hit F notes here and there, but I have to really watch it. But that was probably the darkest moment in my life, for sure."