Wojtek Gabriel of Noizz Eater recently conducted an interview with Adrenaline Mob drummer Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater) and singer Russell Allen (also of Symphony X). A couple of Blabbermouth excerpts from the chat follow below.
Noizz Eater: Many reviewers have complained about the cheesiness in the lyrics [on Adrenaline Mob's debut album, "Omertá"]. So, what do you think did people expect lyric-wise?
Russell: Well, most of people that reviewed the record and had negative things to say about it were obviously our prog fans. You need to put it in perspective. Bringing name value to this project was a hurdle that had to be overcome. Because the initial people that even gave a shit about this band were the people who knew who Mike Portnoy and Russell Allen were and expected certain things from them. The lyrics maybe seem cheesy to them because they're not over the top fantastic. Symphony X is more fantasy-based or mythologically-based, more high-literature sort of stuff, you know? Dream Theater is very introspective... This band isn't about trying to wow you with literary expertise. The lyrics are from the heart, you know? If that's cheesy, then f--k you. That's all I got to say. This is the heart here, you know what I'm saying? I tell it like it is in this band. That stuff is great, but in this band [it] has no place. So most negative reviewers unfortunately are from the world that expected something different from us and what we gave them was maybe something too weird for them to handle.
Since Rich Ward left to focus on Fozzy, you've been a one-guitar band. Is it like you don't really need another guitarist or you just can't find a suitable one?
Mike: I think Russ and Mike Orlando [guitar] didn't even want a second guitar player. It was something that I suggested. After my time with Avenged Sevenfold, I just really thought this could be a very cool two-guitar band. So we did that for the first tour last year and then once Rich and Paul [DiLeo, bass] decided to stay with Fozzy and we knew we needed to replace them, these guys suggested, "Let's just try it as a four-piece." And when John Moyer [Disturbed] auditioned we gave it a shot and the sound was really full and the three bands that come to mind for me that have this kind of instrumentation are Black Sabbath, Van Halen and Pantera. And those are like three bands I think this band models itself after. And those were just guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Once we played that way, it really worked and we decided to keep it that way. I think Mike's guitar cuts throughout more this way and it's also one less person to argue with. [laughs]
Russell: Having a band is like having a bunch of wives, you know? That's what they say and it's true.
Mike: It's one less schedule to worry about. It just made more sense this way.
Russell: We weren't certain whether or not it would actually work, but when we finally got to try it, it was killer. And so that is what we need. We kinda needed to go through these growing pains, and even though we've been around the block with all the stuff that we've done, this is a brand new thing, you know? So we still had to go through the growing pains and we're still going through some growing pains. But the truth of it is this is the band and it took a while to get there, but this is the band.
Do you still get negative reactions from people who expected Adrenaline Mob to play progressive metal and not straight-forward modern hard rock/metal?
Mike: We got a lot of that at the beginning when the EP came out, but I think everybody's over that now. I think everybody knows what this band is now and had stopped with the preconceptions and now accepts it for what it is.
Russell: We had all of that negative shit coming on because of the expectations, but we exceeded that and then some, so everybody who got the "Omertá" album already knew what they were getting into. So our success to this point is not due in any part to the progressive negative force; it already has passed us.
Mike: I also think people still won't truly understand what this band is about unless they come to a show. I think people that are still on the fence about his band and are unsure, "Ehh, is it my cup of tea," unanimously, 100% of the audience that comes to see the band live walks out and says, "Wow, I get this now, I totally get it."
Russell: People got to come here and they're gonna get their head blown back for about 75 minutes and I think that, like you said, they don't get the power that's happening until they actually witness it and they see it and they understand what's happening. Before, you have all these preconceived ideas, bla, bla, bla... But there's powerful drummer, a powerful presence on stage. Orlando's playing is fierce, he's one of the fiercest shredders I've ever seen and he kills you with a smile; this guy just smiles all night. And, of course, Moyer is an amazing bassist; he comes with his own vibe and high energy, so this band is a super-high-energy band.
Mike: And you got Russell Allen fronting that whole band...
Russell: ...and me up there fronting this mob of just super-charged, high-energy guys, I mean, no one's expecting this. That's what's so great about it. We actually have a lot of fun f--king with people, because when we get up there and the show's over they're like, "Gee, what just happened?"
Mike: I actually feel on stage, and I'll tell you honestly, and I've played with some of the greatest musicians in the world, but I tell you, when I'm on stage with this band, I just feel like I'm in the world's most dangerous band. Seriously, there's no f--kin' stopping this band. It's like a freight train. When you see it live, you'll see there's energy and a buzz and excitement and I'm up there and I'm proud of each and every one of these guys. You know, hey, maybe there's bass players that are faster or singers that are more operatic or whatever, but that's not what this band's about. This band is about going up there and taking over the f--kin' room. And everybody that's in that audience, if you're not moving by the first song or two, you will be. Just by the end of the night, you're down with the Mob.