DREAM THEATER Singer Says MIKE PORTNOY's Departure 'Came As A Shock'

BigMusicGeek.com recently conducted an interview with DREAM THEATER vocalist James LaBrie. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.

BigMusicGeek.com: Has a replacement for [departed drummer] Mike [Portnoy] been found? Are the auditions now finished?

James: We've already completed the auditioning process. At this point, it's all just a matter of us coming to a decision and announcing it when the time is truly right. The auditioning process took place in October in New York and, unfortunately, I can't really speak of it any further that that. It happened and we're now moving forward. Once everything can be revealed and known to the fans, we will definitely be putting the word out.

BigMusicGeek.com: Were there any obvious precursors to Mike had become displeased or, at the very least, wanted a change?

James: Absolutely not. And I think that's why it came as such a shock to every one of us. It wasn't like we were all bangin' each other's heads, not seeing eye-to-eye or wanting to be in the same room with one another. None of that was going on. Everything was cool. It was quite simply a surprise. Mike had mentioned that it wasn't something that was spur of the moment. He just doesn't operate like that. When he mentioned to us that he had been thinking about it off and on over the last year, it was obvious that he had been having these feelings for quite some time, wanting to separate himself from anything regarding the future of DREAM THEATER. It was simply something that we didn't see coming in any way, shape or form. It was just an absolute surprise.

BigMusicGeek.com: Would you describe the relations between everyone as "stable" prior to Mike announcing he was leaving?

James: I think we got along a lot better than most other bands, ya know? You hear about some bands fighting and scrappin' offstage and whatever. That's not to say that we didn't have our differences over the years We've been together for over twenty five years. It's bound to happen where you have a difference in opinions and don't see eye-to-eye. We're five individuals with our own idiosyncrasies and personalities. Let's face it; when you're around someone long enough, you either need to learn how to deal with it or it becomes something that has to be confronted. We've always been able to work through any difficult periods and come over to a stronger situation. I wish him the best. He's a great drummer. He'll always be involved with something, no doubt about it. He's not the type of person who can just sit at home and twiddle his thumbs. It's impossible.

BigMusicGeek.com: What type of impact will the departure of Mike have on the songwriting dynamic within DREAM THEATER?

James: It might shift the dynamic as far as the involvement. There may be a bit more involvement from (bassist) John Myung. Basically, (keyboardist) Jordan (Rudess) and (guitarist) John (Petrrucci) are the main contributors to the music, so a lot of that is going to remain the same, but there might be some more involvement from John Myung and myself, ya know? We'll just have to get in there and start feelin' things out. This is a whole new chapter for us or a whole new dynamic, as you put it, for us to be going into. If anything, I think it will be overwhelmingly positive, very exciting and something different. It's going to be very different and a new experience for all of us. I think it's going to bring up a lot of things that might not have otherwise been noticed or known. There's a certain potential that it brings and that's why I do my solo albums, ya know? My inspiration is that I get to reveal who James LaBrie is outside of being the singer for DREAM THEATER and who I am as a writer and producer and a singer. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds within the studio.

BigMusicGeek.com: When the group once again begins touring, are there plans to continue with the "An Evening With" format?

James: It's definitely something we're going to talk about, but I think it's a bit premature to answer something like that. It's something we're going to entertain or at least discuss. It's definitely a conversation that needs to be had. And if we don't go ahead and do "An Evening With," I think we would have only one opening act and then do a two-hour or two-hour-plus set. That's what our fans want and we know that. Our fans are coming to our shows to see DREAM THEATER and they want to see a lot, so we're going to do as much as we're comfortable doing. I know that eventually and inevitably the idea for "An Evening With" will come up again. Is it something that's going to happen on the next tour? I don't honestly know. Rest assured, it's a conversation we will have. We'll be talking about it again once we begin recording. Those types of topics always come up.

Read the entire interview at BigMusicGeek.com.

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