Drummer Mike Portnoy (DREAM THEATER, AVENGED SEVENFOLD, ADRENALINE MOB) was interviewed on the latest episode of VH1 Classic‘s “That Metal Show”, which premiered on Saturday, October 8. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
On what led to his departure from DREAM THEATER:
“The quick Reader’s Digest version is, like any musician will tell you, being in a band like being in a marriage, but actually, being in a band is like four marriages — you’re not married to one person, you’re married to four people. So, like [with] any marriage, you go through bumps. I’ll just say that I think we could have used a break. ‘Cause 25 years without a break is a long time. I can’t name any bands that have been together 25 years — boom, boom, boom, write-record-tour, write-record-tour — without taking a break. And I love the [other] guys [in DREAM THEATER] — we’re brothers — and it was really hard for me to even suggest it. But I love the baby — DREAM THEATER is my baby, it’s my child — but sometimes a marriage stays together for the sake of the child and not necessarily for the sake of the relationship. I’ll always love the baby; I guess I kind of fell out of love with a couple of the wives. But I just wanna say that I didn’t wanna leave the band. I said, ‘Look, 25 years is a long time. Let’s just take a year or two and then come back together.’ The fans would be excited, we would be refreshed. And they didn’t wanna wait. So I either had to go unwillingly and start [work on] the next [DREAM THEATER] record or step aside.”
On whether his involvement with AVENGED SEVENFOLD played a role in his decision to leave DREAM THEATER:
“No. Well, that could have played into [the other members of DREAM THEATER] not wanting to wait anymore, but the fact of the matter is when I was playing with AVENGED, DREAM THEATER had just finished up 14 months [of touring], and after a 14-month tour, we’ll always take a few months off. But I was talking about a year or so. And AVENGED played no part in my decision. To be completely honest, I had been thinking about it for awhile. And the writing was kind of on the wall, internally. There were two moments of clarity for me that happened before this went down that I knew maybe it was time for a break. One was I was out one night in New York with you guys [referring to ‘That Metal Show’ hosts Eddie Trunk, Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson. — Ed.]. I was out when FOZZY played. We were out, we went and saw [FOZZY singer Chris] Jericho, our good friend, and the AVENGED guys were there with us that night, and the ANTHRAX guys were there, and Vinnie Paul [PANTERA, HELLYEAH drummer] was there, we went out for dinner with Jericho and Bumblefoot [GUNS N’ ROSES guitarist], the ZO2 guys… I remember going for dinner with all these guys — you guys and Jericho and the ANTHRAX guys. I looked around and I said [to myself], ‘None of the DREAM THEATER guys really know any of these people who are, like, my best friends.’ And I was, like, ‘Man, I guess I’ve really grown apart. I have a whole different circle that I move in.’ And the other moment was, it was the very last show of the DREAM THEATER tour, we were in Tokyo. We had just spent 14 months on the road. It was the last show of the tour and we had a band and crew dinner at the hotel after the show. And we were all feeling sentimental — it’s the end of the run; the band and the crew, everyone’s tight — and without naming names, one of the bandmembers showed up to dinner with headphones and iPod and sat at the entire dinner listening to his iPod rather than socializing with us. And I said to myself, ‘Something’s gotta change.’ I thought the band needed a shakeup, I just didn’t think it was gonna be removing myself that was gonna do it.”
On whether there is any chance at all of him going back to DREAM THEATER one day:
“Yeah. Whether or not that will happen, I don’t know. It’s up to them, really. I would absolutely love to be reunited with the guys in a couple of years, but you know, who knows what’s gonna happen with them right now?! So, really, it’s up to them and where they go. In the meantime, I really don’t want people to think that I’m lingering on this; I’m only answering it because you’ve asked me. . . It’s been difficult for me to even talk about this. And people think… ’cause there’ll be Blabbermouth headlines… I’ll pour out my heart and soul trying to explain this so people understand, and yet these web sites will reduce it to a shocking blurb and just trying to strike up controversy. The reality is, this is a heartbreaking thing for me and I miss and love those guys, and that was my band for 25 years. So it’s a hard thing for me to stand and see [them carrying on] without me. I used to joke with those guys all the time. I was like, ‘Guys, if I die in a plane crash, don’t go on without me. Don’t say, ‘He would have wanted us to continue.” I used to say, ‘That’s basically saying, ‘Well, he’s completely replaceable.” So I used to joke about that all the time. So now when I see a DREAM THEATER without me, I’ve gotta be honest — it breaks my heart. There’s the Blabbermouth blurb right there. Oh, God, I’m doomed. Oh, man.”
DREAM THEATER‘s first album with new drummer Mike Mangini (STEVE VAI, ANNIHILATOR, EXTREME), “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”, sold 36,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to enter The Billboard 200 chart at position No. 8. The band’s previous CD, 2009’s “Black Clouds Silver Linings”, opened with 40,000 units to land at No. 6. This was roughly in line with the first-week tally registered by its predecessor, “Systematic Chaos”, which shifted 36,000 copies in 2007 to enter the chart at No. 19. 2005’s “Octavarium” premiered with 27,000 copies to debut at No. 36.