I still remember that moment when a friend of mine gave me a cassette with “A Change of Seasons” back in 1995 and I played it on the stereo at home. I was mesmerised by what I heard. It took some time to process it because it was something entirely new and I haven’t heard such music before. This album is still one of my top favourite albums by Dream Theater. What I did then was to go and get every album they had and listen to them like crazy. Then another friend showed me the music video of “Lie” and I was standing there with my jaw on the floor, knowing that I want to play progressive rock/metal and to get a 7-string guitar (which I also wanted because of Steve Vai, of course). I kept learning everything I could – riffs, solos, chord progressions, odd time signatures – it was like an endless sea of possibilities in music. At one point you’ve got a metal riff, then you run into a dramatic melodic chorus, then a jazzy part, a keyboard solo, psychedelic parts, impossible unisons and weird chords… basically everything that I wanted to excel in but somehow I could never mix it all together. This is the story of how Dream Theater became one of my top favourite bands ever. They became a reference of where I am heading with my guitar playing and composing despite that it looked completely untouchable.
Then one day I was told that Dream Theater will come in Sofia after a couple of months and probably there is a chance for them having opening acts. I didn’t need any more reasons to update my EPK and send it. During the coming months, I kept having nightmares to remember (pun intended) of me playing with them and failing spectacularly, or forgetting my stage clothes, or my guitar, or getting late for my appearance… Then I got the approval and I lost my speaking ability. Just imagine all the years of worshipping a band and suddenly you’ve got the chance to open for them… I can’t deny that the coming months were some of the most stressful periods in my life at all but this gave me the energy and the focus needed to practise until my fingers hurt.
Then the day came, my heart was pounding and I was all shaking even on the soundcheck. Everything was happening like in a dream. The evening was arriving inevitably and then the moment came – I was there on the stage, again like in a dream. The piano intro starts and I don’t hear it very well for some reason. Then I hit the first chord and… I realise that I hear nothing else but my guitar, very, very loud. That’s the moment I saw my music career crumbling down like a house of cards and falling into infinity. How am I supposed to play such music without hearing the band at all…?!? My nightmares were about to come true and this frightened me like I’ve been chased by mad cannibals. Fortunately, I got myself together and started walking around the stage, hoping that the rest of the stage monitors emit something more useful and this is what saved my life.
Luckily, I’ve got video material from this concert that was edited by my drummer and great friend Victor Alexandrov and yours truly, so there you go: