Mike Portnoy On His Decision To Quit Dream Theater

Former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy recently spoke to Classic Rock Prog magazine about his decision to quit the band he formed and led for 25 years.

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Former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy recently spoke to Classic Rock Prog magazine about his decision to quit the band he formed and led for 25 years. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.

Classic Rock Prog: Were you expecting the guys in the band to agree with you that Dream Theater needed an extended break?

Mike Portnoy: Well, I knew my proposal would be met with some shock and hesitation, but I honestly hoped the guys would see my need for a break or a hiatus and respect it. It's not the most insane request in the history of rock... MANY bands have done it, only to return bigger and stronger than before. Soundgarden, Rage Against The Machine, Jane's Addiction, Faith No More, Alice In Chains, Megadeth, Phish, etc. etc. Even Rush, Genesis, Pink Floyd have all taken extended breaks in order to keep the band together.

Were you shocked and upset that they ultimately decided to go on without you?

I'd be lying if I didn't say I am devastated they chose to continue without me rather than take a break. After me giving my heart and soul, blood, sweat and tears to them and the band for 25 years, I hoped they'd value me and our relationship enough to respect my need for us to take a little break. I am truly heartbroken over their decision. I suppose it also kills me that in the past the guys NEVER would question or ever debate my direction within the band. They always let me call the shots and always trusted my vision and guidance. And NOW, with such a huge and personal conflict.. they disagreed with me for the first time... on the biggest decision of them all.

Dream Theater is my baby and I NEVER wanted to abandon my child. I only felt the parents needed a little breather to help save the marriage.

The big irony here is that I wanted a break to help mend and strengthen our relations and ultimately bring us closer together.... and now by them chosing to move on without me it is ultimately going to seriously damage our relationship.... as well as the Dream Theater legacy I spent so long building and protecting.

Apart from wanting a break from the Dream Theater routine and the guys in the band, was there any part of the music that you needed to escape from? (e.g. Were you happy with the musical direction of the last two albums or had it become stale for you? Had this become a "day job" and you were worried you might just be going through the motions?)

Honestly, it had nothing to do with the music itself or the musical chemistry within the band. I was always very inspired when writing and recording together and am as proud of our last few albums as anything else in the catalog. It really was more of the behind-the-scenes, personal relationships within the band. Yes, on the surface it may seem that life was great and full steam ahead for Dream Theater... things like playing Download and Wembley, the recent [Iron] Maiden tour in the U.S., Top 10 entry on Billboard were all nice feathers in the cap... but beneath the surface, there was a lot of friction and burn-out. I mean, we have one bandmember that would literally not even sit in the same room with the rest of us for years now and we'd only see him on stage or at meet-and-greets...and then other members just doing a lot of complaining about the day-to-day stuff... To me, these are obvious signs of wear and tear and a need for a break from each other in order to recharge the batteries and reignite the flame. On the opposite hand, I would go out on tour with Transatlantic or Avenged Sevenfold and all of the band members are hanging out, eating meals together and enjoying each other's company.

I think Dream Theater really needed a bit of a break to rejuvenate our relationships. Of course, now in the wake of this split, the four guys HAVE to pull together to keep the band together, so I'm sure they will surely look at these issues and change them. I'm just saddened that they wouldn't wait for me to do it.

Do you regret your decision?

Well, I absolutely HATE the outcome and the situation I was put into to have to make it. But I could not honestly return to the band to make an album in January without feeling resentment and being uncomfortable that I was forced into doing something I wasn't ready to do. I have chosen the harder, more challenging road rather than the safer, easier road. But my heart has never steered me wrong. I've always followed it and only done things that I knew would make me happy.

At the moment, I am very happy playing with Avenged Sevenfold...and I do not want to stop doing something I am happy doing to go do something I'm not very happy doing. I cannot do something with my life and career because I 'have' to, I need to 'want' to do it.

For 25 years now, I have made decisions for Dream Theater and our fans...for once in my life, I needed to make a decision for Mike Portnoy.

Read the entire article at Blabbermouth.net.

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21 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Trivium_666
    Im still very upset about this whole thing.. Dream Theater hold a very special place in my heart, and without Mike Portnoy I fear what they'll be like with someone else. Mike co-produced the albums with John P, built the setlist every show so it was always diverse and different, overseen the video production and stage production, and also done many more things to ensure Dream Theater were always at the top of the line. I am very disappointed the rest of Dream Theater decided to oppose him, because I understand why he wants to do this. 25 years they've been together, a break isnt such a horrible thing to consider! They all have side projects also, its not like they will be stuck doing nothing. They are all extremely talented musicians that can easily find areas to be involved in. Replacing Mike Portnoy isnt just about finding someone who can play their music, it is SO much more than that when it involves such a god like him. Dream Theater, PLEASE reconsider recording in January. PLEASE!!
    strat0blaster
    How long are we going to kick the dead horse here with the same story over and over? Is this going to turn into another drama fest perpetuated by media? Portnoy said this several times already - can't we leave it alone already? We know the reason, and frankly, the guy doesn't really owe any of us an explanation on why he lives his life how he does.
    snaaake
    Didn't they take a break already while he was with Avenged Sevenfold, and then when he gets done with that he wanted a break, but they were already over theirs and ready to get back to work? His fault for being so busy all the time, I say. It's a shame, though, that things had to end up this way. For a little perspective on my knowledge of this band, I've only listened to a couple of their songs, and I wouldn't be able to name any of them or describe them to anyone who asked. So if I'm wrong about this, it wouldn't really surprise me.
    UnaLaguna
    All this boils down to: MP is furious that he hasn't got his way. Now that the band is free from his borderline-totalitarian grip on the band (he always got his way if he felt strongly about anything, creatively or otherwise), they may actually write some fresh music.
    Armada15
    Give it a year or two and he'll be back in the band. This won't last long.
    caroesu11
    i love Portnoy.
    strat0blaster wrote: How long are we going to kick the dead horse here with the same story over and over? Is this going to turn into another drama fest perpetuated by media? Portnoy said this several times already - can't we leave it alone already? We know the reason, and frankly, the guy doesn't really owe any of us an explanation on why he lives his life how he does.
    and i completely agree with you.
    pfinnegan
    I love Dream Theater, but the equation is simple: 4 guys still want to make an album....1 guy doesn't. There's no reason why 1 guy should have to slow the rest of them down. If he's got problems, that's on him. Now we'll just begin the countdown until MP is over his midlife crisis and playing in a teenage metal band. Then we'll have a reunion and everything will be joy.
    garyweinrib
    Yeah, I would have to say it might be Myung...even though he's probably my favorite character from Dream
    TheZombieRitual
    ...we have one bandmember that would literally not even sit in the same room with the rest of us for years now and we'd only see him on stage or at meet-and-greets...
    Sounds like John Myung.
    Eirien
    Portnoy said: Dream Theater is my baby and I NEVER wanted to abandon my child. I only felt the parents needed a little breather to help save the marriage.
    Well maybe if you didn't have so many affairs you wouldn't feel the need to take a break. To be fair, I think they should've gone with Mike's plan to take a break but I'm sure both he and DT will continue to make excellent music whether together or separately... just as long as Mike leaves avenged sevenfold sometime soon.
    PIMO
    I'd be lying if I didn't say I am devastated they chose to continue without me rather than take a break. After me giving my heart and soul, blood, sweat and tears to them and the band for 25 years, I hoped they'd value me and our relationship enough to respect my need for us to take a little break. I am truly heartbroken over their decision.
    I wonder what the rest of Dream Theater is gonna say about this? =/
    AllYourBass
    DejaSenti wrote: I'm just wondering who's the bandmember who doesn't sit in the same room with them, and they only see him on stage and during meet-and-greets.
    Yeah. My curiosity is cropping up. I've adored DT for years and respect Portnoy's decision, but I'm getting way burned out on reading these articles (and to think, I used to poop from excitement every time I saw Dream Theater's name pop up on the News section of this site...) However, I'm staying tuned because I'm interested to see if things ever get any more specific (i.e., if any band members get named for shenanigans).
    DejaSenti
    I'm just wondering who's the bandmember who doesn't sit in the same room with them, and they only see him on stage and during meet-and-greets.
    TRAKTEMENT
    Its Labrie that always sits alone. He always needs a seperate room to warm up, and a seperate room from the others.