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James LaBrie's technique in the early-mid 90 and his food accident

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colin040
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As Dream Theater fans might know, James LaBrie apparently got a food accident in the 1994. He suffered from food poisioning which caused him to throw up and apparently ruptured his vocal chords. His voice wouldn't feel ''normal'' till 2002 or so. That's what he said, atleast.

Now, is this REALLY the reason his voice went downhill? From what I recall the early 90's James either sang his stuff improvied with high CLEAN notes that came off easy or a while later (starting in late 92-early 93, not sure) with improvised high notes AND rasp. His voice would crack, become hoarse and at times he'd sound shitty out of tune. His voice would just be painful to hear at times.

Could it be that had he sung his material just as it was in the studio (clean, no improvised higher notes on top), his voice wouldn't have been as damaged? To me it seems easy to blame his damage on some food accident or whatsnot. Now I'm not saying that didn't happen, but wasn't that just an excuse for the damage his did to himself by abusing his voice?

Thoughts? :)

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Sure!

''The Killing Hand'', which sounded absolutely fantastic on the Live at the Marquee LaBrie's vocals sounds pretty painful to me here.

Not as bad, but not as good as the studio version I'd say (though the soundquality aint great either)

Here his voice sounds still strong, but you can hear he's not as natural as in 1992 with the higher notes. The explosive highs on ''Pull me Under'' and ''Take The Time'' come off tired to me.

These links were the ones I had to think of right away. I'm sure there's plenty if of more examples, though. Haven't listened to old DT in a while so yeah.

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most (but not all) professional rock singers that have grueling tour schedules are going to run into some kind of issue sooner or later.

rock singing is risky......there's just no other way to say it. it puts a lot of stress on the voice by it's very nature...aggressive and loud.

it comes with the territory. singing in the studio is one thing, singing live is a whole other ball game.

the voice is a part of the human body and it changes over time.

he worked with, maybe still does, jaime vendera.

met labrie many years ago and he was such a nice guy.... so d.t.e......

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What Bob says.

I have been reading the memoirs of Rex Brown, the bass player from Pantera. Many is the time, on tour, where they changed the set list, depending on how Phil's voice was doing.

It's so easy to sit here at a keyboard and judge some singer who managed 4 hours of sleep and a meal of cold McNuggets before getting to the stage in the later half of a 300 date tour in a venue with rolling clouds of pot smoke from the audience and say, "he lost it."

However, some "vocal issues" are excuses to cancel a tour to stave off total bankruptcy. Twisted Sister did it. As grunge became the darling child of record companies and music promoters, TS records were dipping in sales and the tour was crashing hard. So, Dee claimed he had nodules and had to have surgery. No such thing. Dee is classically trained as a countertenor.

Nonetheless, he had to remain quiet for six weeks to complete the illusion that he was recovering from surgery.

I read it in his memoirs, "Shut Up and Give Me the Mic!" So, don't take my word for it, read it for yourself. (I have a bad habit of reading about what successful people do in the hopes that I may be successful. So far, I have not proven that method correct, money-wise. :mad: )

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And so I actually listened to the links.

The first one is a more commercial sound, kind of balladic and way softer than "Pull Me Under" ever was. Useless trivia to follow:

According to what I have read in the book on 4 decades of the progression of metal, DT has always been driven by the need to make each new album sound different than the last, hence, the shifting fan base.

Second clip, recorded on a cheap cell phone. In an odd venue where the vocal mic is overshadowed by the room and the other mics. Not a fair comparison.

Third clip. He may have been tired. See my previous post.

I get it, for I was raised to not worship any man, singer or whatever. So, why the need to dethrone LaBrie? For that necessitated putting him on a throne, in the first place. And why do that?

He's just a working joe from Canada. I guarantee we have all had an "off" night. We just didn't have someone capturing us on some shaky camera phone with a mic that is narrower than my wedding band and saying "he lost it."

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Fair enough. I was just wondering what you guys opinion are. Chances are some of the older people might have seen DT back then, but ofcourse that's hardly proof and I really doubt someone actually knew LaBrie. :lol:

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Some of these voice cracks are just James being tired from singing too much, sometimes he might have been too lazy practising his technique. In that first link, he doesn't sound too bad for a live recording at all, I think. He might make a mistake or two but he does lots of high singing that he seem to be able to handle. As far as his rasp goes, it might have been him just being in the mood for giving a bit more extra energy and if you do that for long enough time, the rasp tends to "stick" to your voice, especially on high notes. But I and lots of people really dig raspy singing so were just headbanging here.

Perhaps you could be more specific and point at places in those clips you think he messed up?

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Yeah, you know I'm not so sure what to think about the whole situation. During the Awake tour, even shortly after this supposedly catastrophic vocal injury, he's sounding pretty good! His voice cracks here and there, but could that not be just the rigors of touring on a heavier repertoire? He claims it took a good decade for his voice to come back, but I do not hear any signs of vocal damage on the subsequent records. That show they did in NYC in the early 2000s, he sings songs like Metropolis Pt 1 and Innocence Faded really well.

In recent years, he claims to be singing better than ever, but the live recordings prove that to be false. His tone has way too much twang. Where it used to be open and beautiful sounding, now he sounds "witchy."

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Well, I hope I didn't come off as overly critical. He does seem like a nice guy, and as Bob said, the rigors of rock touring (esp with DT's long sets and demanding repetoire) will exhaust even the best of the best - of which James certainly is! I appreciate how open he is about vocal technique - many pro singers seem to guard their "secrets" closely. I definitely wouldn't say that he "abused" his voice or had lazy technique. I give him all the credit in the world. Touring is tough, and JL has been at it a long time. He probably really did suffer some type of injury in 94. It's just that as he tells it, (he barfed and let out the highest note he ever hit and bam, no voice) the story comes off as a bit of a tall tale. But if that's his story.... ;)

My subjective opinion in listening to him is that his tone has become too nasal/twangy in recent years. No idea if this is a byproduct of working with JV or not, but the timing seems about right.

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To illustrate what everyone is saying, I have the same issue when recording. It is basically vocal fatigue. In the title track of my CD, "Book of Shadows", one of the first times I attempted to record it, I sang the entire song on one track, then sang the harmony track immediately afterward. Keep in mind the chorus is rather long and gets sung twice in a row towards the end of the song. I then went to record a 3rd track, which was a note a third higher than the high note. This note is very high. After singing those 2 tracks, I absolutely could not reach that note.

I took a half hour break, drank some hot tea and rested. I then went to sing it and nailed the note.

Singing difficult passages wears out the voice especially when performing long songs and sets. Not much time for the voice to rest between.

It's a challenge for anybody, even the most seasoned vocalist out there.

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Singing difficult passages wears out the voice especially when performing long songs and sets. Not much time for the voice to rest between.

It's a challenge for anybody, even the most seasoned vocalist out there.

Right on. It doesn't matter if you are using perfect technique - the voice can get fatigued.

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Fair enough. I was just wondering what you guys opinion are. Chances are some of the older people might have seen DT back then, but ofcourse that's hardly proof and I really doubt someone actually knew LaBrie. :lol:

I did see them back in the early 90's and James did struggle on a lot of the high notes. I often wondered why that was. He was classically trained. He didn't scream. Maybe he didn't have enough stamina back then? I've seen them so many times after that, and he got better and better, to the point where he just didn't falter anymore. I always thought that he just didn't have the stamina back then, and that he eventually got stronger in a healthy way. Which is quite the opposite of most Rock Singers whose voices degrade over the years.

The food problem would make perfect sense to what I witnessed. And if true, answers one of my long time questions.

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I believe this is simply a matter of catching him on off nights. Dream Theater's music is so complex, one might think it was performed by computers, but they are indeed human and prone to imperfection at times like anyone else. We're also talking about some of the hardest workers in the business. If they're not working on something Dream Theater related, they're all working on a gazillion other projects and touring their asses off.

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stamina......it has to built up over time....just like working out...ever notice with weight training, the more fit you get, the faster you recoup between sets?

lou gramm said in his new book, the touring schedule was so grueling he had to beg their manager for a rest.

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Yeah, you know I'm not so sure what to think about the whole situation. During the Awake tour, even shortly after this supposedly catastrophic vocal injury, he's sounding pretty good! His voice cracks here and there, but could that not be just the rigors of touring on a heavier repertoire? He claims it took a good decade for his voice to come back, but I do not hear any signs of vocal damage on the subsequent records. That show they did in NYC in the early 2000s, he sings songs like Metropolis Pt 1 and Innocence Faded really well.

In recent years, he claims to be singing better than ever, but the live recordings prove that to be false. His tone has way too much twang. Where it used to be open and beautiful sounding, now he sounds "witchy."

"An evening with Dream Theater" - I was there. Was a fantastic show! He didn't miss a note when I saw them. AND ,they played for like 5 hours.

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"An evening with Dream Theater" - I was there. Was a fantastic show! He didn't miss a note when I saw them. AND ,they played for like 5 hours.

Amen, brother Keith. And for those who want to share a file of an off night, please, absolutely, walk in the shoes of someone like LaBrie. Show me you doing this better.

Crap, that sounds confrontational. It's just so easy to pass judgement on others when you have not walked in their shoes. Or, the bane of the modern digital age, where anyone can capture you on an off night and it is preserved forever, in perpetuity. There has been no singer that has been absolutely flawless every single night.

In my book of interviews with opera singers, even they will tell you the voice is dfferent every night and these are people that trained for 10 to 20 years before getting premiere roles.

Even one of my favorite singers, Ronnie James Dio, I bet he has had some nights where his voice would just not cooperate. But it was not recorded. So, timing and luck have an impact. :)

We had a rather heated discussion about Steve Perry and some off nights he had and everyone jumped to his defense. The inhuman touring schedule. The state of the art of equipment, etc.

Ya'll don't suppose that LaBrie and other singers run into the same problems, do ya? Nah, that would be like, being fair and understanding and stuff like that.

What was I thinking?

:D

Had to get off my soapbox as I was getting some splinters ....

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I find that if I take a few weeks break from singing live on a regular basis, my singing technique and stamina gets worse. Then it seems to come back if I increase the frequency of my live performances. But really, singing live seems to be the best way to develop your singing technique, although you surely need to train at home, too. It's just that singing live is such a stamina test.

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Steve Perry did have a notable drop in performance rowns, the whole thing on that thread was the "nasality" witch hunting which is just non-sense and installing fear about it on a technique forum is the worse possible thing, since the coupling of oral/nasal resonance is a very important part of managing (not releasing) the tensions that causes the "primo passaggio" to be there.

We can all take guesses on what happened to Perry, Labrie, or Dio, it will be just guessing. Food accident or not, what does this changes for us? Labrie did change the way he sings now, notably, and he said that one of the things that got him back was training, thats what is there for us to learn and use, the rest is just gossip and small talk...

I personaly dont like how either Perry or Labrie sang, specially Labrie. But I dont have any doubt about his competence, and in some songs I just cant help liking too :P.

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I think we can all agree, or at least I will, regardless of range or technique, he still gives 150% every time he sings and performs.

LaBrie, that is.

That's for sure. That, and he seems to get better as time goes on, which defy's the typical rock singer's progress.

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