Mike Portnoy discusses The Winery Dogs and much more
A legend is one who has lived an earthly life after having achieved divine success. He achieves more than he sought to. And there are men like Mike Portnoy, who has achieved and seen everything that is there for a musician to achieve and see. Thus, we call him a living legend. Mike Portnoy needs no introduction; he is one of the greatest drummers of all time and was the founding member of progressive band Dream Theater and a member of many projects like Liquid Tension Experiment, Flying Colors, Transatlantic, Adrenaline Mob, The Winery Dogs and many more. He grew up in New York where his interest in music grew at a very young age, leading him to become a self-taught drummer. Soon he earned himself a scholarship to study music at Berkley and that was where his life began.
Currently on The Winery Dogs Tour, Metalholic staffer and Metal Wani’s Editor-in-chief Owais ‘Vitek’ Nabi and writers Srishti Das and Sina AG had a chat with Mike Portnoy as he was gearing up to set the stage on fire at Denver, Colorado. Mike spoke in depth about his work with his various bands like The Winery Dogs, Transatlantic and Flying Colors. He also talks about his regrets with Dream Theater. He discusses why he uses the sticks upside down and also talks about stick techniques. Portnoy talks about his dedication to his fans, their loyalty and support to him along with his social media presence to stay connected to them. He talks about his career as a drummer and how he feels he has achieved almost everything he wanted to and will die a very happy and content man.
Read part of the interview below, then listen to the full interview at the bottom of the article. Check out our previous 2012 interview with Mike Portnoy here.
The Winery Dogs’ debut album is an exemplary and much appreciated revisit to the golden era of classic rock. Now we all know the mainstream rock bands out there who continue churning out forgettable hard-knockers and sweeter-than-honey ballads. I will always find solace in the fact that you guys have reconnected us to those glorious days of true rock n’ roll.
That’s a style of music that has always been a part of me, no matter what I’ve done in my life. I grew up with the music in the 60’s and the 70’s with bands like Led Zeppelin. That’s the side of me that’s constant. No matter what, if I’m playing in a progressive band or a metal band that musical background, the beginnings and the origins is always going to be the blueprint that everything was based on after. Once I got together with Billy Sheehan and Richie Kotzen, it was the natural direction for us to go down.
I know that you’ve heard this for many times, “Oh Mike, You changed my life”, how do you see it? I mean you just say “Thank you” or do these words make you think in-depth about the things you have done, lives you have changed.
I have a lot of gratitude for this career that I never imagined. I feel very blessed that I’m able to do what I do for a living. I’ve had people who have actually appreciated people get behind me. It’s been a dream here. I appreciate that I have such a strong fan base that doesn’t follow me because of a single band; they follow me because of me. They follow everything I do with different bands. I know what it is to be a fan because I am one the same way. I have Frank Zappa’s moustache tattooed on my leg. So, I know what it’s like to have a hero and really follow someone’s musical career. I appreciate that I have that effect on other people. It means a lot to me.
You’ve changed so many lives, but has a fan ever inspired you? If yes, what has that ‘crazy Mike Portnoy fan’ brought in your life as an inspiring musician?
I do what I do because I’m a fan, I think I go at all lengths with the fans. I do all the hard work that I do and put in all the extra time, effort and energy into every single thing that I do because I’m trying to give, give and give back to the fans. I don’t necessarily do it for myself; I do it for the fans. I see other bands that aren’t so fan friendly; don’t give that much time and energy to their fans. I don’t understand it because to me I give it all to my fans because I kind of know what they want. I try to satisfy them, the way I would want my favorite bands to satisfy me.
Recently Geoff Tate and other members of Queensryche settled the long pending case. They had to balance it out and Geoff Tate took the rights to Operation Mindcrime 1 and 2. Just out of curiousity, would you have preferred to take the rights for your Twelve-step Suite or would you just let it go with the guys at Dream Theater?
I’m not allowed to discuss the terms of my split with Dream Theater. However, I will say that I kind of regret did I didn’t retain exclusive rights to at least those five songs to be played on entirely. Because, that was my baby and my idea and my concept. You know, I still would like to perform it one day and I hope to either way with or without Dream Theater. I still hope to one day do it, I am entitled to do it, and I hope that they would not do it without me. That would be pretty disrespectful. It was a set to such personal songs in my life, based on my life and the struggles. So, I kind of wish I retained my rights. Unfortunately the business issues that went down between Dream Theater and me.