Mike Portnoy and Dream Theater have indefinitely parted ways. However, this came as a surprise to the rest of the band. In this very raw and revealing interview, vocalist James LaBrie discusses the future of Dream Theater, including a new record to work on and auditioning sessions for the replacement drummer.
Click here to read an excerpt from the interview.
Here is a few clips from the interview, which can be read in full here.
When Mike Portnoy, who’s always done a lot of side projects, went out to do the Avenged Sevenfold record, did you sense that anything might be different with him? That things were different and that things were gonna change?
No, not at all. I mean, Mike had mentioned that the Rev, Avenged Sevenfold’s drummer, [the late James Owen Sullivan], was heavily influenced by Mike and that it was the rest of the guys’ decision to want to honor his memory by bringing, you know, obviously in his main influence as far as drumming. So we said, “Yeah, you know. That’s a great opportunity and we’re not gonna stop you.” I mean, obviously we all make our decisions and do what we feel is something that is a professional and sound decision, and that’s exactly what it was. At that point it was all about him going there, recording the album. Initially it was just for him to record the album, and then it was maybe a few months later that he said, “The guys have asked me if I would tour with them.”
Did that feel a little strange?
At that point it kinda felt a little weird, like, “Hey, wait a minute, our drummer’s gonna be drumming with somebody else?” Not that he hasn’t done that; he’s done that in the past. Other projects and jammed with other various musicians here and there, which is cool. So you have to put it into perspective and realize it for what it was. But there was no indication that he was unhappy with who and what Dream Theater is or represents at this current point in our lives or career. It just came about that we were enlightened to that mindset when we had our meeting in New York, which was originally scheduled for what we were going to be doing with the next album and what it was about and when we were gonna tour again. So it was only at that point that we really… it was a shock. You know, it was kinda like, “What? [laughs]. What did you just say?”
I think it’s unfortunate. You know, I just did an interview the other day and obviously my words were taken outta context. One of the questions was, “Are you sad?” and I said, “I’m not sad.” And, you know, in retrospect, yeah. Should I have answered it so brashly? Maybe not, but basically, what I was trying to say is, “You know, I think it’s unfortunate that he left and that this is where he is. But at the same time, we as Dream Theater and as a band, we have to think of our current situation and what our options are and our only option that we want is that we have to move onward and upward.”
You know, I think it’s really unfortunate that he left. I think I could’ve been clearer by saying, “Am I sad? Well, I felt bad about it when it went down,” but I can’t linger in that ‘cause life just doesn’t exist like that. It doesn’t afford those luxuries to wallow in our sorrow and not do anything about it, right? And unfortunately too many people just kinda misconstrued my words and said, “Oh, shit, he’s insensitive, he doesn’t care.” Bullshit, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. I care about the man dearly.
Maybe hurt might’ve been a little more accurate?
Yeah, absolutely. But, hey, obviously when you’re in this industry that’s what it’s all about. It’s controversy and it’s people twisting your words and it’s rumor and it’s circumspect and it’s all that shit. So, whatever, you gotta take it with a grain of salt and move forward.
James, is it too early to talk about a replacement at this point?
Absolutely it is. I can tell you this much: in a couple of weeks we’re gonna start auditioning. We have the drummers coming in and basically, yeah, it all looks incredible; it’s all good. You know, it’s just a matter of doing that process and then coming out on the other side and making the announcement, but that hasn’t happened yet.