There’s been a lot of crazy headlines this year, but few top the announcement this past October that Mike Portnoy would be back behind the drum kit for Dream Theater. It was something most people — Portnoy included — thought impossible after 13 years away from the band he helped start.
In the weeks that followed, one big question remained: how did this even happen in the first place? You’ll remember that Dream Theater had completely moved on from Portnoy and had a killer drummer take his place with their hiring of Mike Mangini. In his first on-camera interview since the announcement, Portnoy sat down with Drumeo to share exactly how it all went down and revealed that it all came down to family.
“It’s been thirteen years and I think time heals all wounds, as the expression goes. It’s been many years now of rekindling my relationships with the guys, starting with John Petrucci.
His wife and my wife were in a band together even before we knew our wives, our kids have grown up together, my daughter and John Petrucci’s daughter shared an apartment together in New York for the last 5 years…the families were still close, so John and I inevitably reconnected on a personal level.”
Thanks to that rekindled friendship, Portnoy and Petrucci famously worked on some side projects over the COVID lockdown. After working together on Petrucci’s solo project and a Liquid Tension Experiment album with Jordan Rudess also involved, Petrucci said things just started working themselves out.
And while he’d reformed bonds with Petrucci and Rudess, Portnoy said it was his meeting with vocalist James LaBrie that really caused more than a decade of bullshit to dissipate.
“I think the final piece was me reconnecting with James LaBrie, because James and I hadn’t spoken in over a decade. I went to see Dream Theater play in New York around 2022 and that was my first time seeing James in over a decade…within five seconds of seeing each other it was huge, kisses…and it was like any of the drama and bullshit that happened during all of those years of the split, it just melted away immediately.
“With James and I buddying up again, it kind of just began to seem like an inevitability. It wasn’t ever in either of our plans to eventually reunite. In fact, if you would’ve asked me this five years ago, I probably wouldn’t have put money on it. But with the developments of everything…it just seems like we’re in the right place and the right time at this stage of our lives.
“All those years of Dream Theater…we were in our 20s and 30s and 40s. And here we are – most of us in our 50s and some of the members in their 60s – and it just seems like life is too short to not be with the people you love and play the music that is part of your life and your heart and soul.”
With the reunion now cemented and plans for a new album set, there’s a lot to get excited about if you’re a Dream Theater fan. Portnoy said there are plans to tour together again and that the thought of being on stage in that capacity was “what I’m most excited for.”
To find out more about his return to the band, including his feelings about Mangini and what the dynamic will be within Dream Theater now that Portnoy’s back, definitely check out Drumeo’s interview with the man below.
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