MIKE PORTNOY Almost Played Drums For NICKELBACK In 2022

January 9, 2024

DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy has revealed to Drumeo that he was supposed to drum with NICKELBACK in 2022. In a newly released video portion of his recent interview with the leading online drum education platform, Portnoy said: "I got a call from NICKELBACK in spring of '22. Their drummer [Daniel Adair], I guess, was having surgery and they asked me to play a show with them. And I said, 'Yeah, that'd be a fun gig.' I was all set to play this gig with NICKELBACK — it was for a festival [in Vancouver, Canada] — and the festival ended up getting canceled. But I was this close to playing a gig with NICKELBACK."

In the video, Drumeo also asked Portnoy to play NICKELBACK's song "Burn It To The Ground", which he'd never heard before. He played it with lots of double kick and later admitted "I would've been fired immediately."

"[NICKELBACK frontman] Chad [Kroeger] sent me the setlist," Mike added. "My daughter and my wife were, like, 'You're gonna know every one of these songs,' and I was, like, 'I've never heard any of these songs.' I don't listen to the radio, so I don't know any NICKELBACK songs."

Elaborating on his knowledge about the multi-platinum Canadian band, Portnoy stated, "I know nothing about NICKELBACK but I know that as much as they are hated, they are just as loved even more and they were down with the PANTERA guys too, which is good enough for me."

After playing "Burn It To The Ground" for Drumeo, Portnoy said: "That was a good song, man. I could fine-tune that and make a really cool drum part, but I think it's better just the first impression."

He added, "I'm sure if I ever did end up touring with them it would be the most fun shows ever in my life. So yeah, I kind of regret that that gig didn't happen, but there's a little taste of what that could have been right here on Drumeo."

Back in 2020, Adair revealed that he had undergone surgery to treat a pinched nerve in his arm. He explained in an online post that he had been struggling to control his right hand on the drums for several years. After consulting doctors and specialists, Adair was diagnosed with radial tunnel syndrome, which is caused by compression of a nerve that runs through the forearm. He added that the condition led to muscle fatigue that made his wrist twist in a "mechanically inaccurate" motion.

Portnoy is a founding member of DREAM THEATER with whom he spent 25 years before leaving the band in 2010 (he has since rejoined the group). He has also played with THE WINERY DOGS, SONS OF APOLLO, ADRENALINE MOB, FLYING COLORS, TRANSATLANTIC and LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT and has also recorded and/or performed live with AVENGED SEVENFOLD, Neal Morse, OSI, HAIL!, STONE SOUR, FATES WARNING, OVERKILL, G3 and his four tribute bands with Paul Gilbert: YELLOW MATTER CUSTARD, HAMMER OF THE GODS, AMAZING JOURNEY and CYGNUS & THE SEA MONSTERS.

In a 2011 interview with Guitar World, Portnoy said that he approaches playing with each project differently. "I've worked with many different bands, and I've had different goals for them all," he said. "With DREAM THEATER I was one of the main writers, with TRANSATLANTIC I was one of the main collaborators, and then with something like AVENGED SEVENFOLD I was just a hired gun and I went in to play somebody else's music. So I'm able to shift from role to role in different environments and do what's called for… So I play different roles in different bands, and I'm comfortable with that. I have some bands that are full time bands, some are part time bands, some are side projects, some are hired guns, and you know, and some are tribute bands. [Laughs]."

Mike Portnoy photo credit: Travis Shinn

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