Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mike Portnoy leaves Dream Theater


Wednesday September 8th 2010

I am about to write something I never imagined I'd ever write:

After 25 years, I have decided to leave Dream Theater....the band I founded, led and truly loved for a quarter of a century.

To many people this will come as a complete shock, and will also likely be misunderstood by some, but please believe me that it is not a hasty is something I have struggled with for the last year or so....

After having had such amazing experiences playing with Hail, Transatlantic and Avenged Sevenfold this past year, I have sadly come to the conclusion that I have recently had more fun and better personal relations with these other projects than I have for a while now in Dream Theater...

Please don't misinterpret me, I love the DT guys dearly and have a long history, friendship and bond that runs incredibly deep with's just that I think we are in serious need of a little break...

Dream Theater was always my baby...and I nurtured that baby every single day and waking moment of my life since 1985...24/7, 365...never taking time off from DT's never-ending responsibilities (even when the band was "off" between cycles)...working overtime and way beyond the call of duty that most sane people ever would do for a band...

But I've come to the conclusion that the DT machine was starting to burn me out...and I really needed a break from the band in order to save my relationship with the other members and keep my DT spirit hungry and inspired.

We have been on an endless write/record/tour cycle for almost 20 years now (of which I have overseen EVERY aspect without a break) and while a few months apart from each other here & there over the years has been much needed and helpful, I honestly hoped the band could simply agree with me to taking a bit of a "hiatus" to recharge our batteries and "save me from ourselves"...

Sadly, in discussing this with the guys, they determined they do not share my feelings and have decided to continue without me rather than take a breather...I even offered to do some occasional work throughout 2011 against my initial wishes, but it was not to be...

While it truly hurts for me to even think of a Dream Theater without Mike Portnoy (hell, my father named the band!!), I do not want to stand in their I have decided to sacrifice myself and simply leave the band so as to not hold them back against their wishes....

Strangely enough, I just read an interview that I recently did that asked me about the future of DT and I talked about "always following your heart and being true to yourself"...sadly I must say that at this particular moment, my heart is not with Dream Theater...and I would simply be "going through the motions", and would honestly NOT be true to myself if I stayed for the sake of obligation without taking the break I felt I needed.

I wish the guys the best and hope the music and legacy we created together is enjoyed by fans for decades to come...I am proud of every album we made, every song we wrote and every show we played....

I'm sorry to all the disappointed DT fans around the world...I really tried to salvage the situation and make it work...I honestly just wanted a break (not a split)...but happiness cannot be forced, it needs to come from within....

You DT fans are the greatest fans in the world and as you all know, I have always busted my ass for you guys and I hope that you will stay with me on my future musical journey, wherever it may lead me....(and as you all know my work ethic, there will surely be no shortage of future MP projects!)

Your fearless ex-leader and drummer,

"Move on be brave, don't weep at my grave, because I am no longer here...
But please never let your memory of me disappear...."
--- The Spirit Carries On

okay, while this is immediate, this feels more like something that'll be remembered for awhile. Unless/until he comes back to the band at some point. 2, 3 5, even 10 years from now.

And 1 thought that crossed my mind is I could write what would or may end up in the Dream Theater Music Essential, in here. But we'll see.

I uh, really have found this as hard to believe as most anything in recent years. As I posted on facebook and some of the forums including, had this happened around the SFAM or 6DOIT period..and of course when he was supposedly rather close to quitting shortly after FII came out, it probably would sting a lot worse than it does now.

Because from a purely musical standpoint, Dream Theater's music, while I still enjoy it, isn't as much of a passion for me to listen to regularly, as it once was. However, I still check out their new music, and have hope that the interest I once had with it could come close if not return.

And of course seeing them live is still a regular ritual. I still promote their shows as much as I can when they come to town, etc.

But that all being said, I'll still follow what they do without Mike himself.

However, there's no question I've always seen Mike as the pivotal part of the band. He's the fan within the band. He's the progger and the Metal-head and the musical sponge that at times brought things to their music I really appreciated.

Now his controlling nature and OCD kind of seemed a bit overwhelming, and the truth is as a longtime fan, I certainly have been curious what the band might be like with some of the other members doing more. Namely John Myung. But JM I guess hasn't wanted to, at least the way the band was functioning.

So certainly there's part of me that sees this as potentially a really good thing to find out how different they become.

But part of me feels almost like the band is done. Or it just won't seem right to think of them without Mike.

Now on the Avenged Sevenfold bickering on many of the forums and comments on stories online. It's natural to think that he left due to wanting to focus on working with them and the other projects as he states there. But 1st off, A7X haven't said he's their permanent drummer, nor has Mike even said he'd be interested in creating that kind of music (he didn't really do much if any of the writing on Nightmare anyway).

But maybe what pisses me off is all the hatred toward A7X. First off, A7X are NOT A FUCKING POP BAND. JEEZUS. I'm rather sick to death seeing so many uninformed, awful characterizations of their music. THEY'RE PROG FOR FUCK'S SAKE! If people can't hear that in their music, they really need to get a better idea of what technical or progrock-influenced music CAN AND DOES SOUND LIKE. They use syncopation, odd time signatures, varied dynamics and themes along with complex vocal harmonies. =/= POP or POP PUNK SCENESTER GARBAGE.

I guess it wouldn't be such a big deal, but it just bugs me to read the comments about it over and over. And the truth is, I am a fan, but it's not like I'm a HUGE fan or anything. Nightmare is okay, but will it be high on my year-end list? not likely. But is it good to see a band who has some musicianship show up on the Billboard charts? hell yes! It's about fucking time actually.

But the thing is, Mike may never play on another album of theirs again. All these posts are concluding that he will. People just love to gossip and assume shit.

So, this leads me to what Mike may do next. Personally, I hope he takes the needed time off just to spend time with his family and pursue some other interests. Maybe film? or maybe another NEW project? Maybe it'll be Metal? Maybe with Jim Matheos?, although Fates Warning could be busier in 2011, but it wouldn't surprise me if Jim would consider working with Mike again.

Or maybe another Transatlantic album?..or LTE?

I guess it doesn't matter, I'll want to check it out. His side projects have actually been more my thing really since Train of Thought and especially after.

And Dream Theater, well obviously they will be working on their next album with a different drummer. Who? a laundry list of names could happen, and many of them could be totally off. But I guess it depends on if they want a drummer just for now, or more of someone to contribute creatively and hopefully full-time. Because there's many session guys that you'd think might work well. Even someone from another band who will in fact be on a break this Winter. I guess the idea of Gavin Harrison in that respect might actually be possible. And he's worked with Jordan of course.

Personally, I'd love for someone like Mark Zonder to help them out, but I wonder a bit about how crazy he'd be about that. That might sound like "Musical Drummers" from prog metal bands. Mark's not going to be playing on the new Fates Warning record I guess, as that has been given to Bobby Jarzombek.

Another name that just came to mind is Paul Craddick, formerly of Enchant. I suppose that quote I love to take about prog bands and his view on Dream Theater, might not make him too interested, but who knows, maybe he has a good relationship with JP and JM from when they opened for them back in the day? Or Nick D'Virgilio who has a history knowing both DT and Enchant. And NDV is an obvious name, but last we heard, he was pretty busy moving to Montreal to do Cirque Du Soleil. But if there's 1 name who I probably wouldn't question would do it, it'd be him given his track record and relationship with the guys in Dream Theater.

Martin Lopez, Sean Reinert, Pat Mastelotto, Thomas Lang, Gene Hoglan, Bill Bruford, Mike Mangini, Simon Phillips, Terry Bozzio, Virgil Donati, Dennis Chambers
..I mean there are a lot of names who may audition or be asked.

And I suppose it's that along with some potential differences in their process of making music which still adds to the intrigue. Will they demo before recording? Will they bring in an outside producer? Will they try some of the songs out live before recording?

Another thing that some folks posted, I think on is how much more visible commercially will they get? Mike certainly had a lot to do with getting their name out there. Especially in the Metal world, which ever since them signing to Road Runner, they've shifted more and more towards being regarded as a Metal band. And none of the other guys in the band are all that into the modern metal as Mike is. However, they have influenced a ton of the modern metal and technical-death-metal/technical-metal bands in the last decade namely. With Mike gone, their music itself and how they are promoted might change. Which in some ways might be a good thing. But if they go more back to being largely thought-of and promoted as progressive rock, some of the touring venues and promotion levels they get may not last to where they are now. I'm not saying for their next album, but in a few years.

Another point here is while this does come as a shock and it was and still is hard to believe, of course this has happened to many other bands. Yes namely, or Spock's Beard of course. Which in some ways it may kill Mike enough that if the band desires for him to come back, he likely will. But there are no guarantees and that could be many years from now even if it does happen.

But it should at least be a learning experience for both Mike and the band, even some 25 years in. Kevin Moore's departure was, so was Derek Sherinian's, and I'd expect this will as well.

Mike's sort of been like that guy I knew who I always assumed would be around. Like the guy who I knew growing up. Although some of his activities, namely some of the stuff he posts online, almost read as a bit younger than he is. And more so in recent years, But even back in the day with his AOL and commercial products use. I'm not sure if that's the best way to describe it or him. His Hero's of the Day I've always enjoyed and a lot of his posts and how he ran his forum (for the most part). His posts there. But recently, like on twitter/facebook he does seem a little different. Younger almost. Maybe his kids are helping him with the words he uses? :p

I've still always wanted just to spend 30 minutes or an hour just hanging out with him. It's always been a brief 5-10mins with 15 or 20 people near the buses outside. Not on a human level, but more of a rockstar-to-fan level. He's a normal guy in a lot of ways. And I'd be lying if I didn't consider that I owe him and his taste in music along with film/tv to a point, to what mine is. And that is rather important to me. I think that is part of why I've always connected with him. It goes back to pretty much the point I knew who Dream Theater was in May of 1995 and how much they became iconic to me beyond just their music itself.

And that's why on many levels this is rather hard to grasp. But maybe it is in many ways learning a lot more about who he is, and who he is now.

I will say, apparently with his tactful departure statement, having read 1 or 2 comments, there likely is more behind the reasons for this. I think all of the members are respectful to each other, and their family members. But Mike's personality is probably the strongest. Down the road, some of the reasons that may not be in writing now could come out. I just hope it's not uglier than we'd like to know about.

Maybe now they'll finally find their way onto Behind the Music, lol.

Press Release
To all of our loyal fans and friends: It is with
profound sadness -- regret -- we announce that Mike
Portnoy, our lifelong drummer and friend, has
decided to leave Dream Theater. Mike's stature in
the band has meant the world to all of us
professionally, musically, and personally over the
years. There is no dispute: Mike has been a major
force within this band.

While it is true that Mike is choosing to pursue other
ventures and challenges, we can assure you
that Dream Theater will continue to move forward
with the same intensity -- and in the same musical
tradition -- that you have all helped make so
successful, and which is truly gratifying to us.
Fans and friends: File this episode under "Black
Clouds and Silver Linings."As planned, we begin
recording our newest album in January 2011, and
we'll follow that with a full-on world tour. "The Spirit
Carries On."

All of us in Dream Theater wholeheartedly wish Mike
the best on his musical journey. We have had a long
and meaningful career together. It is our true hope
that he finds all he is looking for, and that he
achieves the happiness he deserves. He will be