Ex-DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy says that he has "gotten together many times" with his former bandmate, DREAM THEATER guitarist John Petrucci, over the last couple of years.
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 He has since been replaced by Mike Mangini (ANNIHILATOR, EXTREME, JAMES LABRIE, STEVE VAI).
After Portnoy posted a photo this past New Year's Eve of him hanging out with Petrucci, many DREAM THEATER fans expressed hope that it represented a thawing of tensions between the two musicians who had been friends for more than three decades.
During a recent interview with "The Metal Podcast", Portnoy was asked for the background story behind the Internet-shattering picture. He said (hear audio below): "It's funny. John and I have actually reconnected over the last year or two and actually gotten together many times and had dinner together with our families.
"Look, the reality is he and I have been friends since the first week in college back in September of 1985, so it's a relationship that goes back 33 years," he continued. "And our families are all friends, our wives and our kids are all friends, we all grew up together, and that's never gonna go away.
"After I left DREAM THEATER, there were some years worth of drama and bullshit. But the reality is you put all that aside and friends are friends and family is family and John and I will always be friends and family.
"Like I said, we've hung out a lot in the last year or so, but we never kind of went public with it, we never posted any pictures of it, we never really talked about it — we didn't wanna stir anything up," Portnoy added. "But we were together New Year's Eve and his family was here at my house and we were just feeling the love. And it was, like, 'You know what? What a great message to start off the year. Can't we all get along? Give peace a chance.' And we decided to post that picture just to put some smiles on people's faces."
Last November, Mike told Loud that he left DREAM THEATER because he wanted to expand his musical horizons. "[I didn't] want to go to my grave and just be the drummer from DREAM THEATER," he said. "I knew there was way more to what I had to offer."
Asked if there was anything he wished DREAM THEATER had done differently in the way they went about finding a replacement for Portnoy, Petrucci told "The Classic Metal Show": "There's not many situations in life where you can say you wouldn't have done anything differently, but this is one of 'em. I think, looking back, I wouldn't have done anything differently."
He continued: "Mike Mangini really helped us to get through a major bandmember change, and in a way, that was probably as smooth as any bandmember change could have gone. The way that he came in, his personality, his skills as a drummer, his background, his history… it clicked to the point where it was, like, if we would have met Mike [Mangini] twenty years ago, we would have been playing with this guy. If I would have grown up with him, I would have been friends with him jamming. And that's rare. It's rare to do that one time around."
Petrucci added: "You know so many musicians in bands that are having trouble finding people to play with, and who click, and so the fact that this happened with Mike [Mangini], it's really just amazing to us. And since he's been in the band, we've done [three] albums, [several] world tours and, thankfully, have had a lot of success with it, and a lot of support from our fans through all of it. And, again, I wouldn't have done anything differently. It's really amazing."
Portnoy recently completed a tour with his SHATTERED FORTRESS project, with which he performed DREAM THEATER's "12 Step Suite" in its entirety for the first time ever. The music documents the drummer'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".