Jakob Herrmann of Drummer's Digest recently conducted an interview with DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
On whether the technical side of the band's music superior to the musical side:
Portnoy: "We try to have a balance. There's times when we know we want to write stuff that's very technical, and at that point it's dictated by our technical abilities. But then there's other times where we wanna cool it out and really concentrate on the song, and that's when we wanna put the technical side on the shelf and try to really concentrate on the songwriting. I think 'Octavarium' is a perfect example of that balance. There's a little bit of all of those things on the album."
On how the band's last album, "Octavarium", compares to the earlier ones:
Portnoy: "I wouldn't say it's a new direction, we've always kind of done what we do, which is a balance of progressive, heavy and kind of melodic, you know? We've always tried to have all of those elements, so I can't say the new album is a new direction. It's just the latest version of what DREAM THEATER does."
On the rumors about "Octavarium" contains connections and references to earlier albums:
Portnoy: "Not necessarily. 'Octavarium' is a concept album. It's got a lot of threads through it. Musically, visually, through the artwork and the layout, sonically in the production and the sound effects. It's a concept album where all the songs kind of relate to each other."
On the fact that he is a singing drummer:
Portnoy: "I've been doing that with DREAM THEATER now for about seven years. I sing backing vocals when we're in the studio as well. I actually find it easy. I don't consider myself a great singer, you know, but I think there's enough to give a good quality harmony to the song, which I think is important. If you listen to the guys in YES or whatever, they didn't have the greatest voices, but it's the blend that created the good harmony. And also with the vocals I write, I write them with more than one vocal in mind, usually for counter-point call-and-answer kind of thing. My vocal parts aren't always harmonies. Sometimes they're back trading lines back and forth."
On the rumors saying that he and Mikael Åkerfeldt, the mastermind behind Swedish metal act OPETH, are planning to do something together:
Portnoy: "Yeah, he's coming down tonight actually. Most of the guys are. I've been a fan of theirs for years, and we've become friends the last couple of years. He and I and Steven Wilson [of PORCUPINE TREE] have talked about doing something together. Hopefully some time soon we'll be able to coordinate our schedules and make it happen. I think me and Steven want to make it heavy, and I think Mikael wants to, uh, not be heavy. Because me and Steven want to do stuff that we can't do with PORCUPINE TREE and DREAM THEATER, and get to some really heavy stuff. And I think that Mikael wants to get away from the heavy stuff because he does that all the time with OPETH, so who knows. Maybe we'll meet somewhere in the middle. I think it'll be great. I mean, I've had great experiences collaborating with other people, especially people who are the kind of leaders of their bands. That was kind of what TRANSATLANTIC was about, since Neal Morse and Roine Stolt are kind of the leaders of their bands, you know. It was a great creative environment, and I think a similar chemistry would happen with Steven and Mikael."
Read the entire interview at www.drummersdigest.com.