Mike Portnoy: 'I'm the Dave Grohl of Prog'

"It's not something you can become, I was just born that way," the drummer explains.

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Known as one of the busiest guys in music, Mike Portnoy recently compared himself to Dave Grohl in terms of being a workaholic and constantly keeping up with a hectic schedule.

Jokingly asked by Examiner on whether he's "slacking off" during April, a seemingly obligation-free month for Mike, the drummer replied, "I am the living definition of it. I am the Dave Grohl of Prog."

"I need to be busy and I need to have my hand in a million things," Portnoy explained. "It's just my nature. It's not something you can become. I was just born that way. I was always obsessive-compulsive, and even all those years in Dream Theater, I just had to do everything and have my hands in every single aspect of being in a band.

"I'm a workaholic and I need to play with as many different people, doing as many different things as I can, and taking advantage of life while I have it," Mike concluded.

At the moment, Portnoy's main focus is on Winery Dogs, a supergroup project featuring bass virtuoso Billy Sheehan and guitarist/singer Richie Kotzen. "As soon as the three of us got together, we immediately established that we didn't want this to be some instrumental wankfest," he stressed.

"This was something that was going to be song-oriented and vocal-oriented, and something that moved us that way," the drummer further explained. "I think that's where we're all at and we're all on the same page. Richie's been doing that for so long now, but Billy and I have always been associated with a million notes and technique and stuff like that. Yet the two of us are such fans of a good song and three-part vocal harmonies, so we were really looking to do something in that vein, and that was always the calling card for this band."

The band's self-titled debut saw its release in July 2013 via Loud and Proud Records, debuting at No. 27 on the Billboard 200 chart.

95 comments sorted by best / new / date

    bangbang!!
    Sorry, Mike, but you're not in NEARLY enough UG articles to justify that claim.
    travislausch
    I dunno, as far as prog musicians go, does it really look like MP has any competition?
    SofaKingMatthew
    Most of Mike Portnoy's competition comes from the fact that, personally, he is a ****ing douche bag.
    TheLiberation
    What? He definitely doesn't have an easy character, but there's literally no grounds whatsoever to call him a douchebag.
    Charlie4
    Mike Mangini does not stand back an inch to Portnoy. Also, true greatness isn't flaunted because it's evident. No one needs to tell John Petrucci where he stands in prog. \m/
    Dannym95
    I'm the Dave Mustaine of the UG comment section. Because occasionally I pop up with the same old stuff, bellend this bellend that.
    TheLiberation
    You need to have a few dozen conspiracy theories and follow a new ideology every few years, though.
    Craziork
    I feel like Dave tend to attract other musicians when on the other hand Mike has been rejected by many.Anyway, they're both drummer! That's their main common thing.
    Rojam
    "I need to be busy and I need to have my hand in a million things," I vaguely remember him saying something about needing a break when he left Dream Theater...
    LeperDog
    The Systematic Chaos DVD features also had him talking about how he's "not one of the guys that hates touring. Most musicians dread it but I really enjoy it." One album later he "needs a break cuz of touring burnout." Get your shit together Mike.
    KatyPerrysTits
    Didn't he leave DT because he though they were always too busy?
    mop10893
    Not exactly. He felt they needed to take a break as Dream Theater. Not as musicians. They all have side projects and solo projects (except for John Myung I believe) and Mike felt it was best to take a break from each other for a few years, focus on other projects to change their musical thinking, and then have a glorious reunion where it felt fresh and new again.
    dee_zotti
    Dave Grohl would be the first to admit that there have been a lot of other drummers that have had a bigger influence in the rock genre than he has, and a lot of people would agree. So what status does that give MP?
    mattjamesrenn
    I don't think anyone here has ever claimed that grohl is the greatest or most influential, just that he plays purely fun stuff he enjoys, focuses on songs and is an all-round awesome dude.
    FooCards
    Down vote me all you want. Don't give a ****. Just came here to say Mike Portnoy sucks dick for free. He doesn't have one band that can touch Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, or anything Dave has ever done. Portnoy will never be in the class of Dave Grohl ever.
    mop10893
    I would say Dream Theater is far and above all of those bands combined. But different strokes for different folks. I tend to lean towards more technical and complex music.
    wafflesyrup
    I won't bother down voting you but I will say that I don't even like dream theater or portnoy (matter of fact I downright dislike them) and I feel your point is bull shit. Your Foo Fighters and the like don't hold a candle to the "class" of musicianship presented by portnoy and crew.
    GenerationKILL
    Dave Grohl didn't leave his band Foo Fighters to go drum for Avenged Sevenfold though. Portnoy had a mid-life crisis when that happened. He thought he'd be "in" with a younger, hotter band finally. Turns out, A7X thought the whole thing was weird and awkward. I'm glad they found a drummer that fit them better.
    TomWhaley
    However, as an Avenged fan, it was pretty exciting to see them with Portnoy behind the kit for a couple of months! Even if it was under incredibly unfortunate circumstances... but yeah, not a relationship that was meant to last.
    mop10893
    Mike never was supposed to be the permanent drummer for Sevenfold. They never saw it that way and neither did he. He has said numerous times that he was supposed fill in for a few months to help them get used to touring without Jimmy and then they would find a permanent drummer.
    little_boy
    If anyone is the Dave Grohl of Prog, that person is Steven Wilson.
    SquierLolz
    Or Dave Grohl. The man would probaly do a prog project just because
    MaXiMuse
    Well, I think his quote "don't bore us, take us to the chorus!" is one of the least proggy things someone has ever said!
    Maiden95
    I don't know why Mike is such an unpopular guy all of a sudden, and why this article has so many downvotes. He's basically telling the truth. He's a pretty in demand session drummer for a number of people, he just doesn't have the time with the projects he's got going... Like Dave.
    l0ld4v3
    Yeah, he's talking about keeping it busy and peeps are all upset about that.
    ianharv
    Grohl's been in more than one good band though...
    slush
    Clearly you know nothing of Transatlantic. You need to get your prog on, son.
    shwilly
    Liquid Tension Experiment, Winery Dogs, Adrenaline Mob, Flying Colors...
    Mr Winters
    And Neal Morse's solo stuff. Adrenaline Mob is meh though.
    p_a_morgan
    I opened for Adrenaline Mob and Kill Devil Hill last year. They're pretty killer live, not gonna lie. Even if the songs are a bit dated-sounding and a tad cheesy. They rocked the place, for sure.
    withoutanyname
    You forgot Bigelf in there
    Eirien
    And OSI. He was a member for the first album and the session drummer on their 2nd. I do like Dream Theater and Transatlantic but for me the best band he's been in is by far Liquid Tension Experiment.
    MichaelScarn
    commercially successful good bands* although I know success isnt everything (see justin bieber)
    travislausch
    I guess you haven't done your research yet. The fact that you even posted this without fact-checking makes you an ass.
    Arfing Thumb
    There are just so many bands, projects, etc he was/is involved, it's really insane. Think about it, there is a reason why this guy is one of those prog figureheads.
    TheLiberation
    Yep. I don't love every single project he's in (admittedly I still need to check out most of his post-DT stuff), but despite the sheer numbers he's still quality above quantity and dismissing all of them is just plain dumb.
    Jasonbts
    He posted yesterday a big hint that he's recording for Petrucci's solo album, which will be an awesome reunion From Mike's Facebook page: "Recording a few drum tracks today for a friends upcoming solo album...easy hint: he was the Jimmy to my John, the Pete to my Keith, the Alex to my Neil and the George to my Richard... "
    MattHessing
    Why can't he just be the Mike Portnoy of prog? Douche!
    travislausch
    Is every celebrity who makes a joke at their own expense a douchebag now? God, I hope if I ever attain even close to the amount of fame Portnoy has, that I don't have to be a completely miserable SOB to keep my fans from thinking I have an ego or something.
    MattHessing
    Well Dave Grohl isn't a "completely miserable SOB" and nobody thinks he has an ego, which kind of debunks both you and Portnoy in one fell swoop. Nobody is telling anybody to be miserable so cheer up mate Also, please don't take my first comment too seriously, it was just a light-hearted comment. I sincerely hope it smells good up there in Mike's arse though, enjoy! EDIT: Reading this comment back and I can't believe I've turned into THAT guy, sorry everyone it wont happen again.
    SofaKingMatthew
    Mike Portnot is only "famous" on Facebook. He lives without shame. He's digging up a gold mine, standing on the sidelines, watching through the looking glass, and unlike Dave Grohl, he doesn't have a Grammy, or even a nomination. but you know who got one every album since he left the band? Adrenaline Mob. That's right, I am completely lying. It's Dream Theater.
    mop10893
    Dream Theater got publicity because of the Mike Portnoy situation which led to more recognition. I love Dream Theater (in fact, I'm going to see them on Friday). However, in my eyes, those Grammy nominations (which mean nothing because the Grammys are a joke) are because of Portnoy. Mike Portnoy is well respected throughout the rock and metal community not just for his drumming chops but for being an all around nice guy as well. I don't understand the hate for Mike. He's awesome.
    benjixoath
    i'm waiting for the rest of UG to shit all over this "i need to have my hand in a million things" yeah because you're not making enough money since you ****ed up dream theater and none of your bands now are particuarly that succesful that's why you do it. dave grohl's making enough with just foo fighters to sit on his arse all your he does it for the love not the moolah
    travislausch
    He makes more than probably you do, has a genuine love of the subject matter, as evidenced by the huge number of small-time bands and projects he worked on throughout most of his DT career. I'm sure if Portoy REALLY needed the moolah, he'd get back with Adrenaline Mob or something.
    azrael667
    He's not nearly as overexposed as Grohl but almost as overrated.
    guitarist5477
    Grohl is rated just fine, but then again I just let his great music and success speak for itself.
    LeperDog
    Sorry, I have to disagree with you on that. Grohl may be a good musician, but he's definitely not as good as Portnoy (not talking abut drums or technicality in particular). It's the fact that he's been associated with Nirvana and Foo Fighters (don't see the hype about them either) and UG staff loves him that we get to see/hear about him so much. He's a mediocre musician in my opinion.
    Dalek300
    Shame I wouldn't make the same comparison were it the other way round..
    Spenner2810
    Instrumental wankfest ?! Is this a thinly veiled stab at the stuff that DT have been delivering since Train of Thought.....?
    nino.scholz
    I really didn't read it that way, i think he was just stating fact about the projects he's usually associated with
    Dynamight
    Sheehan and Kotzen stuff can easily fall in that category, so that's what I think he was refering to.
    DyL_antihero
    Ultimate Guitar are the Dave Grohl of click-baiting, misleading headlines. Tsk tsk...