Burgers With Petrucci
Hearsay Gastro Lounge, Houston, TX
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - food unifies people. I've found in all my years of living, that I've gotten to know people better over a meal than over anything else. Whether that's drinking, jamming, banging, hanging - food does this magical thing to people who are sharing that same experience. What I love about food in a situation of hanging out, it is that the people involved are sharing the same experience together. Food is a requirement of living, it's a base need - so when you can make the food something great, with people that are great - you're in for a great time.
About 3/4's through the Dream Theater support tour, we began getting a lot bro-sier with the dudes in the band. I shared with John that I am massively in to food and that I needed to show him "my" world on this tour. John Petrucci has always been one of my favorite guitarists on earth, so I figured it would be a nice way to show my appreciation for his influence.
To backtrack. When I was about 16 or so, I picked up "Rock Discipline" - JP's VHS instructional. This has to be the most intensive guitar-instructional I have ever seen. This VHS (now a DVD, obviously) covers all the bases of warming up, technique (broken down into category), brief bits on theory and chord-building - I'm telling you - this thing is my Bible as far as guitar playing goes. To this very day, every Trivium show - I warm up to the (now memorized) warm up section, the chromatic 4-finger exercise and the sextuplet run exercise. When anyone asks me "how to get better at guitar" I say: "Buy a metronome and John Petrucci's Rock Discipline."
Dream Theater's influence on me as a song writer is pretty obvious on Trivium's progg-ier bits as well ("The Crusade," "Shogun," etc.). I remember coming home daily from high school, eating my mom's home-made Ramen with Soy-cured Beef and watching Dream Theater's "Metropolis Pt.2: Live." So whenever I hear that album, I think of Ramen and "String Beef."
Fast forward back to the Houston-date. Me and JP had the plan to meet up at a place of my choosing; I used all my research-y bits to locate the Hearsay Gastro Lounge. Houston was tricky to find food in my normal fashion, and you can imagine - I was pretty damn nervous to go somewhere I hadn't pre-tasted to bring one of my heroes to. I decided to go in a few minutes early before Petrucci came in to scope the place out… to do my "Heafy-visual test of New American." Hearsay was perfect visually. All the things I wanna see in a true New American spot. High ceilings, exposed brick - my heart was all a-flutter. I scoped the menu and I knew instantly we were golden.
When John came in, we finally were able to chat all the good things that touring musicians get to chat with each other. Not to make it sound like an exclusive club… but it really is a pleasure when you meet a fellow touring musician who holds the same principles, shares a similar mindset to "the life", and just gets where you're at (because they've been there too). We exchanged road-stories and compared gear preferences, picked each others brains a bit on musical influence and began the feast…
Both of us were goin' the same route: The Byrd. Angus Beef, Applewood Bacon, Cheddar, Mozzarella, Onions, Jalapenos, Fried Egg, Avocado, Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo, Tomato, Sweet Bun, Mac and Four Cheese. A freakin' culinary mouthful. Our waitress informed me earlier that The Byrd was named after one of their young, late employees who devised this behemoth-burger before his untimely passing. This burger is one heck of a tribute I must say… me and John were stoked on this thing.
I was excited that at that point, JP mentioned he hadn't had a burger with a fried egg… and you know me and those fried eggs laid atop meat. Everything in the burger went well together. You always know that egg, bacon and ground beef are going to go well; the jalapenos added that right amount of kick, the avocado cooled that kick down. Granted, mustard, mayo and ketchup may have been a lot… but that's the way Byrd meant The Byrd to be. Gourmet Mac and Four Cheese? Yes please. We scarfed down the towers of decadence and were both pleasantly stuffed.
If you look back at that first sentence - here was proof once again; before this meal - the two of us were acquaintance-musicians on tour together, and afterwards? Well - I am happy to say we're friends still to this day, exchanging favorite bands, spots to eat… at the end of the tour even, John gave me… gave me one of his guitars. I almost fainted. Without a doubt - that was one of the greatest things anyone's ever given me. That guitar is one of the best playing guitars in my collection - and one that I guard with all my being. I've already written tons of new material on the guitar for the next Trivium album, and the lessons I received on the tour have advanced my playing to a further level. That gift and this friendship again are those little things that, if I told 16 year old Matt Heafy about it all - he'd tell me I was full o shit.
Life is definitely amazing sometimes.