MIKE PORTNOY Talks How His Mother's Death Influenced DREAM THEATER's Formation - "It Was Almost Like She Traded Her Life For Me To Have This Life And This Path"
August 8, 2021, 2 years ago
Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante recently hosted a Modern Drummer Instagram Live chat with drum legend Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs, Transatlantic, Neal Morse Band, ex-Dream Theater). Check it out below.
On the formation of Dream Theater
Portnoy: "My mom died a year earlier in a plane crash. She was in a plane crash in '84 when I was a senior in high school, and she didn't want me to go to Berklee, she wanted me to go to a traditional college and maybe just major in music. She was really not a fan of me going to Berklee, but when she tragically passed away I was free to make my own decision and I really wanted to go to Berklee, so I ended up going. And sure enough, that's how I met those guys and that's how we formed Dream Theater. And I often think about - if my mom had lived, which would have been incredible - my life would be so completely different. But not only my life; John Petrucci's (guitar) and John Myung's (bass) lives would probably be different. We would have never met. We would have never met our wives because the three of us married three girls from the band Meanstreak. So wouldn't have met our wives because we met Meanstreak because I was going to a different school, and we wouldn't have had our kids. None of this would have ever happened had my mom lived. So, often I think about that, it was almost like she traded her life for me to have this life and this path."
NMB (Neal Morse Band) will release their fourth studio album, Innocence & Danger, on August 27. Portnoy has uploaded drum, vox & perc cam for the song "Bird On A Wire".
The band has released a video for the song, "Bird On A Wire", which can be seen below:
A "making of" trailer for the Innocence & Danger documentary included with the album has also been issued:
With NMB’s previous two releases being concept albums, it’s perhaps remarkable that Innocence & Danger is a series of unrelated songs, but drummer Mike Portnoy says, “After two sprawling back to back double concept albums in a row, it was refreshing to get back to writing a collection of unrelated individual songs in the vein of our first album.”
Indeed, making this album came easy to the band; while the initial inspiration came particularly from Bill Hubauer (keyboards) and Randy George (bass), the ideas flowed from everybody from there on, as George recalls: “I am excited about the level of collaboration that we achieved on this one. We even went in with a lot of ideas that weren’t necessarily developed, and I think in the end we have something that represents the best of everybody in the band.”
In fact - like its two acclaimed predecessors - Innocence & Danger is a double album by inspiration, rather than design, as Portnoy explains: “As much as we wanted to try and keep it to a single album after having just done two double albums, we wrote so much material that we found ourselves with our third double album in a row! That’s pretty prog!”
There is also plenty in Innocence & Danger to excite those prog fans who have a thirst for epics, as Neal Morse explains: “There's one half hour epic and another that's about 20 minutes long. I really didn't realise that they were that long when we were recording them, which I guess is great because if a movie is really good, you don't realise that it's three hours long! But there are also some shorter songs: some have poppier elements, some are heavier and some have three part acoustic sections. I’m excited about all of it, really.”
The album will be released as a Limited 2CD+DVD Digipak (featuring a Making Of documentary), 3LP+2CD Boxset, Standard 2CD Jewelcase & Digital Album, featuring artwork by Thomas Ewerhard (Transatlantic). Pre-order here.
CD 1 (Innocence):
"Do It All Again"
"Bird On A Wire"
"Your Place In The Sun"
"Another Story To Tell"
"The Way It Had To Be"
"Not Afraid Pt. 1"
"Bridge Over Troubled Water"
CD 2 (Danger):
"Not Afraid Pt. 2"
"Beyond The Years"
"Do It All Again" video:
The Neal Morse Band (now NMB) was formed in 2012, featuring long-time collaborators Neal Morse (vocals, keyboards and guitars), Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals) and Randy George (bass), as well as Bill Hubauer (keyboards, vocals) and Eric Gillette (guitars, vocals). The band’s first album, The Grand Experiment, showed both a freshness and maturity that was further developed in 2016’s The Similitude Of A Dream, 2019’s The Great Adventure and 2021’s Innocence & Danger.