Mike Portnoy says that drummer Brooks Wackerman is "the perfect fit" for AVENGED SEVENFOLD.
In 2015, Wackerman officially replaced Arin Ilejay, who was AVENGED SEVENFOLD's first full-time drummer after the passing of founding member Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan in 2009.
Following Sullivan's death, AVENGED SEVENFOLD recruited his favorite drummer, Portnoy, to record the drum tracks for 2010's "Nightmare" album and all its tour dates before dismissing him at the end of that year.
Asked for his opinion on Wackerman's addition to AVENGED SEVENFOLD and the band's latest album, 2016's "The Stage", Portnoy told Metal Wani (hear audio below): "I love the album and I love Brooks. I've always been a fan of Brooks, for many, many years — whether it be the INFECTIOUS GROOVES stuff, or even recently, he did an album called FARMIKOS [the Los Angeles-based band featuring former OZZY OSBOURNE and DAVID LEE ROTH guitarist Joe Holmes], which I loved. I've always been a fan of his drumming and I think he's the perfect fit for those guys.
"I think when I was playing with them, they just weren't ready to commit yet, and I think with me came too much history and focus," he continued. "So I understand why, after my commitment for the year was over, that they wanted more of an unknown drummer with Arin; I get that, I totally understand that. And then, for whatever reason, that didn't work out and they went with Brooks is their business and their story. But I love where they're at now, and I'm happy for the level of success that they've had."
Portnoy, who co-founded DREAM THEATER more than 30 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 He has since been replaced by Mike Mangini (ANNIHILATOR, EXTREME, JAMES LABRIE, STEVE VAI).
In a December 2011 interview with the San Francisco, California radio station 107.7 The Bone, AVENGED SEVENFOLD guitarist Zacky Vengeance stated about being caught in the middle of the drama between Portnoy and DREAM THEATER: "It was something that we were not used to at all. We had never, ever experienced any kind of in-the-spotlight drama; we just always stay in the shadows and keep any of our personal business private. And [Mike is] a very different character — he always goes straight to fans [on] Twitter or whatever… That's how he dealt with his band, and it was new to us. We like to be in touch with our fans, but we're also very private."
He continued, "[Mike had] been talking about quitting DREAM THEATER, that he wasn't necessarily happy, and he was excited to be playing with us; we were playing huge shows and stuff. I think he got caught up in the moment, got excited. We begged him to consider what he did, because we were in no position to find a permanent replacement, because in all honesty, you can't replace Jimmy, who was our best friend — first and foremost — besides beng an amazing drummer. So it just wasn't the right time and the place. And he told us, 'Hey, I've got good news and bad news. I quit DREAM THEATER.' We were like, 'Oh, no. Well, if you're happy, then that's good.' [And he was like], 'Now I can be with you guys.' And we were like, 'That's not necessarily what we decided upon. And you should take your time and reconsider.' And he was like, 'Well, I put out my press release.' We were like, 'Dude, that's not how we do business. You should have talked to us before.' Then it was back and forth [between Mike and his former DREAM THEATER bandmates]. We were out of it; we had nothing to do with it. We were just trying to get back on our feet. So when all that was going down, it was causing us a lot of heartache, to be honest — to see our name in this drama-filled love triangle. He helped us out at a really vulnerable time, and for that we will always be extremely appreciative. But for us, we were so unstable at that point that any unneeded attention was just very harmful to us. Obviously, it didn't work out [between us and Mike], but I think it's for the best — for him and for us."