MIKE PORTNOY On 'Prioritizing' SONS OF APOLLO: 'This Isn't Just Some Sort Of Recording Project; This Is A Real Band'

January 4, 2018

Drummer Mike Portnoy (SONS OF APOLLO, ex-DREAM THEATER) was recently interviewed by Let's Rock. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET and Korea Guitar):

On why SONS OF APOLLO wasn't formed sooner:

Mike: "[Keyboardist] Derek [Sherinian] and myself, along with [bassist] Billy Sheehan and [guitarist] Tony MacAlpine, we did a tour back in 2012. It was all instrumental, and it was just playing music from all our pasts. And every night that we played, it just felt like such an awesome band and such a great chemistry of players. Derek kept saying, 'Let's expand this into a real band and do some original material and go write an album.' And at that time, back in 2012, it was just not good timing for me. I was about to launch THE WINERY DOGS and I already had ADRENALINE MOB and FLYING COLORS and all these other things, so I didn't have time at that point. But through the years, Derek kept checking in periodically to see if I was ready, and some time [in] late [2016], WINERY DOGS was winding down and I was about to take a little time off, and TWISTED SISTER was finishing their run with me on drums, so it seemed like I might have some time available. We decided at that point, 'Let's do this.'"

On why he and Sherinian recruited singer Jeff Scott Soto and guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal to join SONS OF APOLLO:

Mike: "This was the dream lineup I had in my head. Knowing that if Derek and I were going to do something, I knew this was the powerhouse lineup. I had worked with Bumblefoot several times through the years, different things. Most notably, he was part of METAL ALLEGIANCE for an East Coast tour we did. I knew how amazing he was and that he could play anything and that he was just a really easygoing guy, so I knew he was the man on guitar. I've known about Jeff since the early Yngwie Malmsteen albums back in the mid-'80s, but he and I really got to know each other the last couple of years when his solo band was opening for THE WINERY DOGS. I watched him every night and just knew that he was such a great frontman and such a melodic voice. I knew he'd be perfect for this."

On the band's chemistry:

Mike: "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."

On the band's future:

Mike: "This isn't just a one-off, make-a-record project. This is a band that is going to be on the road all of 2018, going all around the world. The tour will begin in February. We're gonna be debuting on YES's 'Cruise To The Edge', and from there, we'll just travel all around the world and hit as many places as we can. Whenever you form a band, you want to go as far as you can with it. This isn't just some sort of recording project; this is a real band. We just happen to be thirty years into our careers, but it's no different than forming your first band. You want to go for it and go as far as you can. We're all prioritizing this. Personally, I've been juggling three to four bands a year for the last seven years, since I left DREAM THEATER. And actually, even when I was in DREAM THEATER, I still juggled a million things while still having a main home. So that's the thing — this will be our main home, and everybody is free to do other things and will do other things. All those things will still happen, but they'll happen around SONS OF APOLLO's schedule."

SONS OF APOLLO recently announced plans to perform alongside an orchestra during its concert appearance at the Ancient Theatre in Plovdiv, Bulgaria on September 22. That night, the group will perform two sets — one of which, says Portnoy, will be a "very special covers set" — and record the show for a future live CD/DVD.

SONS OF APOLLO's debut album, "Psychotic Symphony", was released October 20 by InsideOut Music. It sold around 5,200 copies in the United States in its first week of release, earning the band the top position on Billboard's Heatseekers chart, which focuses on top-selling albums by new or developing acts, defined as those who have never appeared on the top 100 of the Billboard 200.

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