JEFF SCOTT SOTO Says MIKE PORTNOY Didn't Tell Him He Was Rejoining DREAM THEATER, Jokes That He Is 'Pissed Off At' Him
October 27, 2023
In a new interview with DJ Ramo (a.k.a. Omar Rodriguez) of The Metal Mixtape, Mike Portnoy's SONS OF APOLLO bandmate Jeff Scott Soto was asked for his opinion on this week's announcement that the drummer was rejoining DREAM THEATER after a 13-year absence from the latter group. Soto replied (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, first of all, I'm pissed off at Mike, because I consider us really good friends and he did not tell me… I honestly did not know. I felt it would, or could, happen eventually. I mean, how could it not? That's such an important band in rock history and his life that it would make sense for them at least to do one more go-round. That's what I thought they might do. I didn't expect him to join the band full-time again, which is great for DREAM THEATER fans. They're all elated and everybody is excited. And it makes perfect sense for us because I don't have to dodge the ever-going question about, 'What's next for SONS OF APOLLO?'"
Elaborating on what might happen to SONS OF APOLLO going forward, Jeff said: "There's nothing 'next' for SONS OF APOLLO, unfortunately. Everybody's moving forward; we're all moving on. I'm glad I decided to [be part of the] revamped ART OF ANARCHY, because now I can start putting all my focus into this. I've got a few other coals in the fire, but for the most part, SONS OF APOLLO has probably seen its last moments. Maybe somewhere in the future we can reunite just to do some shows, just have fun, like a NAMM show or one of these music trade shows."
Soto continued: "These guys [in SONS OF APOLLO] are my friends. These are my brothers. I wish everybody well into the future, but obviously we've all gotta do what we've all gotta do. And I'm really excited mostly for the DREAM THEATER fans. I'm bummed for my buddy Mike Mangini [now-former DREAM THEATER drummer]. I love his playing, I love his personality. He talks a little funny, but I don't think I'll hold that against him. He's an amazing drummer, but I know he's always bounced back. He's played with so many greats through his career and life and DREAM THEATER was a great vehicle for him. And I know he'll bounce back and he'll continue doing what he does best. So in the end, I think a win-win for everybody."
**Update**: After this article was originally published, Jeff took to the comments section below to clarify that his remark about being "pissed off" at Mike was not meant to be taken seriously. "I said it sarcastically WHILE I was nothing BUT positive about my friend and DT and SOA," he explained. "Even my social media post was ALL about props for both Mike's and the portions I made about 'me' were sarcasm as well a way to reply to the 'future of SOA' without having to every time I will be asked! … In the interview you can hear me chuckle after I said I was pissed off at Mike, it was NOT literal, it was a goof but this fucking page just loves stirring shit by taking things out of context and makes us all look like tools even when we're replying with boring, non-headline worthy replies!" (Editor's note: The headline of this article was updated to reflect the fact that Jeff's original comment was meant to be "a goof".)
SONS OF APOLLO, which also features guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (ex-GUNS N' ROSES),bassist Billy Sheehan (MR. BIG, THE WINERY DOGS) and keyboardist Derek Sherinian (also of BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION),recorded and released two studio albums over the course of a three-year period but has been inactive since completing a South American tour in August 2022.
In some of his recent interviews, Bumblefoot spoke about SONS OF APOLLO in the past tense and said "everything has its lifespan" with regard to the band's future plans, stirring up speculation that SONS OF APOLLO was all but finished.
After DREAM THEATER announced on Wednesday (October 25) that Portnoy — the band's founding drummer — was rejoining the group after 13 years apart, Soto shared DREAM THEATER's announcement on social media and wrote in an accompanying message: "Welp, the cats finally out of the bag, I hope this gets shared on all the music sites so I don't have to sugar coat or dodge the SOA inquiries anymore.
"First I wanna say Mr [Mike] Mangini [former DREAM THEATER drummer] was and is a class act for his services and duties with DT, we've been friends for a very long time and his tenacity is rich and strong," the singer added.
"2nd, I have to congratulate DT for finding a way to make their fans go insane today, the boys are back together and will hopefully ride this out until they pull the plug completely on it, I had an absolute blast with MP in SOA, funny thing is I actually woke up this morning from a dream that I was going onstage with SONS again, coincidence to this news dropping today!!"
In a recent interview with Thomas S. Orwat, Jr. of Rock Interview Series, Bumblefoot said about the SONS OF APOLLO's status: "Everything has its lifespan, and you hope it'll be a long one, and it just ends up being what it's gonna end up being. And [when you have a bunch of] moving parts, if one of those parts is not on board, it can't function. So, we did two studio albums, we did the live video and album, we did lots of music videos, did a good amount of touring. And now, after it has splintered off into other things where Jeff and I are doing ART OF ANARCHY… Derek and I, there's all of Derek's music that I've been a part of, all his solo music, which is very much —his writing is half of SONS OF APOLLO; well, I guess you could say a third. You have Derek and I, we would do the music writing and then Jeff would write to that. So most of those albums, well, all those albums were done that way, where it was just shooting ideas back and forth. Derek and I, he would have an idea and I would send him a demo of an idea and we would make the music. And then with Mike, we would get together and arrange them into crazy-ass songs. And then Jeff would listen to these songs and start putting vocals to it and make them sound like something digestible."
Earlier this month, Thal told We Go To 11 that there were no plans for SONS OF APOLLO to become active again. "It was on its way up with that second album. Things were going very well," he said. "And we finally got our shit together and organized and everything was functioning well. And we were definitely on an incline. When the pandemic hit, not everybody was on board to keep moving it forward and doing more with it. And I do have new music with Derek. And I have [ART OF ANARCHY] with Jeff, so it's kind of like it splintered off into other things."
Pressed about whether he thinks it will be "a while" before we get any new music from SONS OF APOLLO, Thal told We Go To 11: "Well, we managed to put out two studio albums and a live album and video, and I hope everybody enjoyed it. Past tense."
Sheehan was unable to join his SONS OF APOLLO bandmates on the aforementioned South American tour due to COVID-19 vaccine-related travel restrictions. His replacement on the trek was ANGRA's Felipe Andreoli.
SONS OF APOLLO's second album, "MMXX", was released in January 2020 via InsideOut Music/Sony.
The follow-up to 2017's "Psychotic Symphony" debuted on multiple Billboard charts dated, including Tastemakers (No. 10),Heatseekers Albums (No. 11) and Hard Rock Albums (No. 21).
At the time of "MMXX"'s release, Soto told Billboard: "We absolutely jumped into this as an ongoing commitment from all of us that we were going to follow up on and treat it, with all intents and purposes, as a real band. With the caliber of who we have and what we could come up with, we knew we wanted to dive into this thing fully committed, and not as a one-off."
Regarding the differences in the musical direction between the two albums, Soto said: "I don't think we strayed too far. If you put both albums together as a double album, it would work. The only difference is that I feel that I put a little more personality into the vocal parts. It was a little homogenized on the first album, in terms of playing it safe. I didn't toy around too much with straying from the main ideas.
"On [the second] album, I knew exactly what I wanted to do," he continued. "I knew where we were headed as a band. This time, it was a no-brainer that I should just go for it. The first album was, again, the foundation and the skeletal embryonic stage of the band. Now it's solid and I’ve watched it flourish, and I went in knowing what to do."
More than five years ago, Portnoy told Let's Rock about SONS OF APOLLO's chemistry: "I'd like to say that I was surprised by how easy it came together, but, to be honest, I kind of expected that. That wasn't really a surprise. I knew it would work. I knew it would be easy once once we started playing just because I know the guys involved. So, I can't really say there were many surprises. Everything kind of went according to plan. Everybody was kind of chosen for the band because I knew their personalities. And Jeff and Bumblefoot in particular are the two most easy-going guys, and [laughs] that's very rare for a guitar player and a singer. But in this case, you couldn't ask for two sweeter guys. That's a huge part of [the] importance in picking band chemistry. A lot of times, it's well beyond the music. It's more about the personalities and in this case, it's a great group of guys."
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