Mike Portnoy says that he understands why his former bandmates in DREAM THEATER declined his invitation to join him in a performance of the group's "12 Step Suite" in its entirety for the first time ever on the Cruise To The Edge this past February. The music documents the musician's battle with alcoholism, and is an ensemble of five songs recorded by DREAM THEATER from 2002 to 2009, with titles that reflect his struggles: "The Glass Prison", "This Dying Soul", "The Root Of All Evil", "Repentance" and "The Shattered Fortress".
Portnoy, who also celebrated his fiftieth birthday on Cruise To The Edge, said that it was always part of his master plan to perform "12 Step Suite" in its entirety live on stage with DREAM THEATER. However, his 2010 exit from the band made that impossible.
Asked in a new interview with Rockhok if it was his original intention to perform "12 Step Suite" with DREAM THEATER on Cruise To The Edge, Portnoy said (see video below): "That was never the plan. When I first came up with the fiftieth-birthday concert, or whatever, the invitation from Cruise To The Edge, and I started putting the… I invited FLYING COLORS, I invited TRANSATLANTIC, and I thought the right thing to do would be to invite the DREAM THEATER guys as well. So I did extend the invitation, at least to the couple of guys that I'm still friendly with. I wanted to give them first crack at joining me. They are friends of mine for a very, very, very long time, and we created the music together. So I, of course, extended the invitation to them first and foremost. And then once they said they were unavailable, that's when I put together this great band."
Portnoy added that he understood why his former bandmates declined the invitation to join him on Cruise To The Edge. "I think people might have misinterpreted it and might have started to think that there was a reunion brewing, so I can understand why they turned it down," he said. "And for selfish reasons, for myself, in a way, I kind of liked it as well, because if they had come, suddenly the focus would have been on that, and, really, it was supposed to be a celebration of my whole career, with all the different bands, celebrating my fiftieth birthday. So, in a lot of ways, it turned out okay."
Mike went on to say that he had no hard feelings toward DREAM THEATER. "I love those guys," he said. "And I always try to extend the olive branch and keep the friendship alive. I do my best with that."
Portnoy is playing shows throughout the world with his SHATTERED FORTRESS project. He is joined by an all-star prog lineup for the tour, including Ross Jennings on vocals, Eric Gillette, Richard Henshall and Charlie Griffiths on guitar, Connor Green on bass and Diego Tejeida on keyboards. Together, they are performing the "12 Step Suite" in its entirety, as well as a a couple of other classics.
Portnoy, who co-founded DREAM THEATER more than thirty years ago, abruptly quit the band in September 2010 while on tour with AVENGED SEVENFOLD. He has since been replaced by Mike Mangini (ANNIHILATOR, EXTREME, JAMES LABRIE, STEVE VAI). Portnoy later revealed that he tried to rejoin DREAM THEATER, only to be rebuffed.