DREAM THEATER's JOHN PETRUCCI On Reunion With MIKE PORTNOY: It's Really Cool To Be Able To Play Music With My Friend Again
August 19, 2020
DREAM THEATER guitarist John Petrucci will release his second solo album, "Terminal Velocity", on August 28 via Sound Mind Music/The Orchard. The follow-up to 2005's "Suspended Animation" features guest musicians Mike Portnoy (SONS OF APOLLO, ex-DREAM THEATER) on drums and Dave LaRue (DIXIE DREGS) on bass. The effort marks the first time Petrucci and Portnoy recorded together in over a decade, as well as their first time playing together since Portnoy departed DREAM THEATER.
In a new interview with The Prog Report, Petrucci said about his renewed working relationship with Portnoy: "Mike and I grew up together. I met him at Berklee. We were teenagers — we were 18. We were in a band together 25 years. Our families have been friends forever. Our wives were in the same band together. All our kids grew up together and are friends. There's a relationship there that doesn't just end. And to be able to play music with my friend again after 10 years of not doing that is really cool for the both of us. And I selfishly get to live in this kind of duality where my solo music, I get to have Mike Portnoy play drums, and in DREAM THEATER, I get to have Mike Mangini play drums, and it's, like, I have two of the most incredible drummers on the planet I get to play with. So I'm not losing out over here. It's really nice for me."
Petrucci also reacted to the interviewer's suggestion that "Terminal Velocity" sounds like it was recorded live, with all the musicians playing together in one room. "I've heard that comment a lot," he said. 'I think that's awesome. It's pretty miraculous how that is the case, because I wrote the music and recorded it all as far as the guitar tracks, programmed drums, played bass — me and Jimmy T, my engineer — and the songs were done, completed. So Mike and Dave received that music and basically had to ingest it and learn it. But it might have sounded completely different if it was another drummer who maybe took that interpretive drum programming and played it exact and tried to please me in that sense — almost play like a drum machine. But for Mike, that's not his style. He point-blank asked me, 'Do you want me to play exactly what you programmed?' And I'm, like, 'No. Do your thing, and if there's anything that musically needs to be there, I'll let you know,' which there were a few moments like that. But I think because of that, and because of the way that he plays drums, he's very instinctual, he's very intuitive, and having made music together for all those years, he kind of knows how to approach those guitar moments and parts, and the result is that it sounds like we're playing together. There's this familiarity that we feel as musicians and as friends and that people pick up on. It just happens organically. It's part of the way that Mike plays. It's sort of the spirit that he infused into it. And it's also worth mentioning that Dave LaRue did the same thing. Mike actually came up to my studio and tracked drums and we were able to be together while he was doing that. Dave recorded remotely, but he, as well, lifted these songs to the next level. He was tracking to pre-recorded guitar parts. There was some bass reference there, and still, he made it his own; he took it to the next level. And that's a testament to what great musicians they both are."
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 Mangini (ANNIHILATOR, EXTREME, JAMES LABRIE, STEVE VAI).