If I had to pick a favorite band of all time, it would be Rush.
As a teenager, I was already familiar with the group and its albums like Moving Pictures and Signals. But once I discovered 2112, it opened me up to this whole concept that rock music could be bigger than just a tune - that it could be used as a vehicle to tell a story or to transport you to some other world.
The idea of a big piece like that being broken down into numbered sections like they were chapters in a book was just unbelievable to me, and it's a technique that I continue to use to this day.
I have so much respect for [Rush drummer] Neil Peart, especially as a lyricist. And 2112 was the first time I heard something where, lyrically, it didn't have to just be about the typical rock and roll topics, that it could be about something more heady or esoteric, something that makes you think. That really influenced me as a lyricist.
I was also blown away by how a three-piece band could sound so majestic and huge and play in a style that's inherently rock and roll yet still pushes the boundaries of what they're doing musically - this idea of being experimental, using different time signatures and not really being concerned about song length and traditional constraints. I can't tell you how huge of an impact that had on me. 2112 basically set the course for my musical career and how I approached Dream Theater.