Blistering.com's Ken McGrath recently held court with DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy, waxing on the band's forthcoming new album ("Black Clouds and Silver Linings"), the ever-elusive "prog" term, his proposed side-project with OPETH's Mikael Åkerfeldt and PORCUPINE TREE's Steven Wilson, and his tenure with OSI. Here are some excerpts:
Mike Portnoy: It's nice to have a label that actually gives a shit, that actually gets behind the band. In the past we spent, you know, fifteen years with another label on our own for the most part. Once in a while they might do something, but for the most part they were a bank and then a way to release the record, but then they just counted on our fanbase to buy 'em. It's nice to work with a label [Roadrunner Records] that gets behind the band and promotes the record. That's what the record company's supposed to do.
Blistering.com: It must be good to see that when you're given the opportunity and are publicised, that you've come into your own. After a few years where you weren't fashionable…
Portnoy: [interrupting] We've never been fashionable, but I think we've stood the test of time. if you do anything long enough people can't ignore you anymore. Love us or hate us we're not going to go away.
Blistering.com: And you've stuck by your guns. You've been in the game for how long, 20-odd years?
Portnoy: Coming up on 25 next year, so it's been almost a quarter of a century, man. It's sticking to your guns like you just said. A lot of bands they'll try to jump on the bandwagon, or the fad, or the fashion and they'll skyrocket, have this quick overnight fame. But as soon as that fad or fashion changes, they'll go out with it. We've never been part of a fad or a fashion, we've always done what we've done, stuck to our guns and even though it's taken longer it's lasted longer. We do what we do and even if this kind of music is never really popular or in fashion we've built up this base that's slowly accumulated. It's kind of weird because now it's kind of becoming in fashion to play progressive, everyone from MASTODON, to MARS VOLTA, to TOOL, they all have long songs. It's kind of become cool to play your instruments and have these long songs, so now it's a little scary, because it becomes fashionable, we might get sucked away when the times change. I don't know. But up until now, we've always stood on our own.
Blistering.com: Moving off DREAM THEATER, for a moment what can you say about rumours of a supergroup between yourself, Mikael Åkerfeldt [OPETH] and Steven Wilson [PORCUPINE TREE]?
Portnoy: You know, it's something the three of us spoke about years ago and one of us, I don't remember who, stupidly mentioned in an interview and it's haunted us ever since. Mike and Steven have been friends, they've been talking about collaborating for a long time and I would totally love to do it 'cause I love those guys, get on great with them and respect them as artists and musicians. So, it's just a matter of timing, because the three of us are three of the busiest people in music.
Blistering.com: One of the other bands you've been involved with OSI, their most recent album, "Blood", is the first not to feature you on drums. Was it just scheduling problems that meant you couldn't be involved with it?
Portnoy: No it wasn't a time factor, it was really a chemistry factor that boils down to my experience doing the first two OSI albums. To be honest with you working with Kevin Moore [former DREAM THEATER keyboardist] is just not much fun. He's really a very… I'll put it politely, he has his ways of working which aren't very conducive to collaboration and it was kind of frustrating the first two albums that I did with him that I did not have any reception to collaboration. That's alright 'cause I've done sessions where I've just gone on and played drums, like with Neil Morse or the G3 tour with John Petrucci, I'm fine with that, but as long as it's still fun. But it's not even fun with Kevin, he's just very uptight, serious, so I figured, "Why would I do this again? It's not anything I can contribute to artistically." It's not even really that much fun. So I passed on doing it. It's a shame because Jim Matheos [FATES WARNING] is one of my best friends and I love him and I'd still love to work with him in some sort of project. But it really isn't a fun situation for me with OSI.
Blistering.com: Was the offer put to you to record the album?
Portnoy: I wasn't even going to do the second album ("Free"). I told them I was going to pass on the second album for all the reasons I just told you and they were able to convince me but I think it was pretty clear at that point that there wasn't really that much of a future left in the band.
Read the entire interview at Blistering.com.