Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently conducted an interview with drummer Mike Portnoy (ADRENALINE MOB, FLYING COLORS, THE WINERY DOGS, DREAM THEATER, AVENGED SEVENFOLD). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Icon Vs. Icon: Do you feel there are a lot of misconceptions circulating about you?
Portnoy: I think I am one of the most misunderstood artists in the world! [laughs] Any time I go on the Internet and I see these web sites with an article with a quote for shock value as the headline, I realize the misconceptions about me that are out there by the fans and non-fans as well. I think the biggest one is that I am band-jumping or opportunity-jumping and jumping from band to band. That is not the case. Like I just said to you, it is me following my heart. I spent 25 years in one band and was so unbelievably dedicated to one band. I don't think you will find more dedication than I do for what I did for DREAM THEATER for 25 years. I mean, I literally oversaw every single step, every minute of the day. You won't find a more committed artist than me. I did that for 25 years, so I think the biggest misconception is that I am not committed. That is so far from the truth. I am just doing lots of different things. I am enjoying having this musical freedom right now. Every one of the bands and projects I am involved with are so different from each other. THE WINERY DOGS is one thing, TRANSATLANTIC is another, ADRENALINE MOB is something else. There are each so different from the other and I give all I can to each of them. The biggest problem is when you give 100% to five different things, inevitably there are going to be schedule clashes and it is not always going to be easy to juggle so many things. That is one of the difficulties I have been having lately and I am trying to make it all work. I am doing my best and I don't think you are going to find an artist with a stronger work ethic than I have. I am a total workaholic and passionate about everything I do. It is hard to always juggle it all without a scheduling conflict here or there! That has been the only problem, trying to solve that and make it all work.
Icon Vs. Icon: Misconceptions aside, your work speaks for itself and would make for a very interesting autobiography at some point. Is that a project you have considered undertaking in the future?
Portnoy: Yeah. Actually, after I left DREAM THEATER, I was approached by several different companies about doing that. I just felt for a while after I left DREAM THEATER, there was so much drama and controversy. No matter what I said, it got taken out of context and blown out of proportion. That made me very gun shy about doing interviews or taking openly. If I am going to do a book, I am going to talk openly. I want to be able to tell it all and not pull punches or bullshit anything. I have always prided myself on being very honest and open with the fans, so if I was to do a book, it would have to be that way. I think right now, it is all still too fresh. There is still way too much drama online and the fans are so passionate and dramatic about it all, I wouldn't want to do a book right now. I think it is still needs time for the wounds to heal and the smoke to clear. Surely one of these days I would love to do it. There was a DREAM THEATER biography which came out years ago I was very involved with. I spent a tremendous amount of time going through the history of the band and contributed a lot to that book. That is probably the closest to any kind of biography so far having to do with my career.
Icon Vs. Icon: When looking back on your incredible and still very productive career, how do you feel you have evolved as an artist?
Portnoy: My evolution goes beyond the drums. I think my evolution as an artist has to do with playing with all of these different bands and playing different roles within each of them, playing with different people and exploring different styles. My evolution as a drummer comes from having a different kind of drum kit or setup in each of the bands and I have to play stylistically different for each of them. That has been my evolution. That is another reason why I needed to get some time away from DREAM THEATER. I didn't want to, for the rest of my life, be just the guy from DREAM THEATER. I didn't want DREAM THEATER to define my entire life and career. I felt I had a lot more to say and had many, many different styles within me which I wanted to explore. That has been the evolution of my career, branching out and doing all of these things. Of course, DREAM THEATER will be a huge, huge part of my of my legacy but I would hope the other things are also a part of it as well. Everything I am doing is all part of the story of who I am.
Icon Vs. Icon: What else is on the horizon for you as an artist. Is there still new territory you are looking to tackle?
Portnoy: I am very fulfilled at the moment. Ya know, there are so many different things going on in my career at the moment and they have me very fulfilled. As I said, it is hard enough to juggle what exists, so I am not looking to add many more things on to the plate at the moment. I am really just looking to continue to develop what is already happening. For the moment, the focus is on THE WINERY DOGS. That is going to be the focus of everything I am doing over the next six to twelve months on the road. I am planning on traveling and touring as much as I can with this great new band. For the moment, that is the focus. Inevitably, there are always a million other things. There is a FLYING COLORS Blu-ray coming out later this year. There is PSMS [PORTNOY SHEEHAN MACALPINE SHERINIAN] Blu-ray coming out in September and a TRANSATLANTIC album at the beginning of 2014 but THE WINERY DOGS is definitely going to be the focus for awhile.
Read the entire interview at Icon Vs. Icon.