DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy revealed during an appearance last night (Oct. 6) on the "Friday Night Rocks" radio show on New York's Q104.3 FM that the band has ended its longtime collaboration with Atco/EastWest Records/The Atlantic Group and is currently in talks with several labels about a possible new record deal. In addition, the group has entered a New York City studio with engineer Paul Northfield (RUSH, QUEENSRŸCHE, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, MARILYN MANSON) to begin recording its follow-up to 2005's "Octavarium", tentatively due next April/May. A few excerpts from Portnoy's "Friday Night Rocks" interview follow:
On current label negotiations and new album recordings:
"We didn't wanna sit around waiting to close up the deal and deal with all the legal paperwork and all that, and have to wait until all that was done to start the record, so we booked the studio time — we wanted to start the record — so we started a month ago. But we've been meeting with lots of labels since we are here in New York [City recording], and I think we're probably days to weeks away from making a decision and making an announcement."
"We've done all of this pretty much on our own at this point. The labels thus far have… With the exception of our heyday 15 years ago, with 'Images and Words' and everything — other than that, we've pretty much just built this thing on our own, so it'll be amazing to see what we can do with a little bit of support."
"We are currently making our new album with Paul Northfield engineering. DREAM THEATER's had the same engineer for the last 10 years — this guy Doug Oberkircher — and for the sake of getting some fresh ears with us in the making of the new album, we're working with Paul, and Paul did [RUSH's] 'Permanent Waves', 'Moving Pictures', and 'Signals', as well as some of the newer stuff, so we're getting RUSH stories every day from Paul about the making of those albums, and how they recorded the guitar solo for 'Limelight'; he would tell us about the change of tide with 'Signals', and stuff. So we're hearing RUSH stories every day. It's really cool. Paul is an awesome guy."
On jamming with OVERKILL at a recent Gigantour stop in New Jersey and the possibility of doing a "heavy" side project in the future:
"Yeah, those guys [OVERKILL] are awesome. Man, I gotta do a heavy side project. I just love playing that heavy stuff.
"Me and Mikael [Åkerfeldt] from OPETH and Steven Wilson from PORCUPINE TREE, the three of us have been talking about doing something for a long time now, it's just been a matter of our schedules not working out, but I think it's inevitable that this project will come off in the near future, as soon as we can find a window that all three of us can together.
"I've done so many projects through the years, but none of them were like a real metal project. I've done prog things or classic-rock things or — you know, OSI, TRANSATLANTIC, those were kind of more proggy — but I've never done like a real metal thing, and that's so much in my blood."
On spending a day with RUSH drummer Neil Peart recently:
"We did an interview together — an interview and a photo session — for a drum magazine in England called Rhythm. I haven't even announced this yet, but this is a really cool thing that I'm gonna be doing for Rhythm where they're letting me be the guest editor of an issue, and I get to interview and get together with several of my big influences. So I got together with Neil, I got together with Nick Mason from PINK FLOYD, [and] I'm gonna be doing Lars [Ulrich; METALLICA] and Bill Bruford [YES] next month when I get home from South America. Anyway, it's gonna be a really super-cool issue, and Neil was totally accomodating. As soon as I contacted him about doing this, he was totally on board — super-cool. We met and had a great time."
On never having met Peart before the recent get-together:
"It's funny. He's the one guy that's eluded me all of these years. I've met everybody — from Ringo [Starr], all across the board — but Neil was so elusive. All these years, I was thinking he was dodging me. I was starting to to take it personally. But he welcomed me with open arms. He was really, really cool. He's an incredibly cool guy."