MIKE PORTNOY On SONS OF APOLLO: 'It's The Way It Was In DREAM THEATER Where I'm Calling The Shots And I'm In Control'

October 7, 2017

OD from Parisian radio station Morow recently conducted an interview with Mike Portnoy about the former DREAM THEATER drummer's new band, SONS OF APOLLO. SONS OF APOLLO features Portnoy alongside his former DREAM THEATER bandmate, keyboardist Derek Sherinian, guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (ex-GUNS N' ROSES),bassist Billy Sheehan (THE WINERY DOGS, MR. BIG, DAVID LEE ROTH) and vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (ex-JOURNEY, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN'S RISING FORCE). You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On whether he considers SONS OF APOLLO to be a continuation of his SHATTERED FORTRESS project, which saw him, along with several guest musicians, performing DREAM THEATER's "12 Step Suite" in its entirety:

Mike: "Yeah, I will say that doing the SHATTERED FORTRESS tour definitely kind of re-ignited the flame. Seeing the audience reaction to me playing the DREAM THEATER music…it just felt like the right time to finally do something like SONS OF APOLLO. Derek and I had done PSMS [the instrumental band featuring Portnoy, Sherinian, Sheehan and guitarist Tony MacAlpine] back in 2012 and we were doing DREAM THEATER music in that and doing some more progressive metal instrumental stuff, and even back then, we talked about how it might be good to eventually turn this into a full-time band. The time just wasn't right. I think after the SHATTERED FORTRESS experience, it felt like the time was right to finally launch this."

On who can be credited with the creation of SONS OF APOLLO:

Mike: "This is absolutely mine and Derek's band. We essentially put it together and produced the album and he and I are kinda doing this as partners, with the understanding that I am the leader, to be honest. I don't want to sound brash, but it's the truth. When Derek approached me about doing this last year [he said] 'Let's finally do it and get a singer and turn it into a real band.' I was like 'Look, I already have FLYING COLORS, METAL ALLEGIANCE, THE NEAL MORSE BAND, THE WINERY DOGS. I can't handle another band where I have to get a thousand e-mails every morning from everybody making a decision.' So I said to him, 'If I do another band, it has to be the way I ran DREAM THEATER. It has to be the same dynamic. I have to have creative control. I have to be able to call the shots, make decisions on my own and everybody's got to trust me and my direction as a leader.' And Derek was like 'Absolutely. We'll be partners in terms of business and in terms of producing the album,' but beyond that, it's the way it was in DREAM THEATER where I'm [calling] the shots and I'm in control. I just had to have that to be able to move forward with this band. Everybody is cool with it and understands it and supports that."

On who handles the songwriting in SONS OF APOLLO:

Mike: "Well, there's two stages to the music. There's the music and then there's the vocals. The music was a full collaboration between me, Derek and Bumblefoot for most of the music. Then Billy joined us a little later on, so there's a few songs Billy was equally involved in. But basically, the music stemmed from that, a collaboration with us sitting in a room, bouncing ideas off of each other. Derek did have 'God Of The Sun' and 'Divine Addiction', he brought those in, almost complete on his own. Everything else was me, Derek and Bumblefoot, putting things together and then later on, Billy doing his thing with us. That was the music. The vocals was a different process. Once all the music was done, then myself, Derek and Jeff got together and worked on that together. A lot of times Jeff would come in with lyrics and some melodies and then we would shape them together. He did 'Alive' and maybe one other. It was perfect so we left it alone, but a lot of the other stuff we worked together and changed some words here and changed some melodies there. There's two different processes: music and vocals."

On whether he will put his various other bands and side projects on hold to focus on SONS OF APOLLO:

Mike: "Like I said, I'm very used to juggling many bands. I usually have three-to-four bands a year going at any given point. Last year, I was juggling NEAL MORSE and TWISTED SISTER and THE WINERY DOGS. This year, I'm juggling SHATTERED FORTRESS and THE NEAL MORSE BAND and SONS OF APOLLO. I'm very used to it. You just have to be responsible and strategic with the scheduling. Then once an album comes out, it kind of becomes very obvious what the work ethic of the band is. If it's going to be just a side project that plays a couple of shows or no shows, or, a part-time band, like the way FLYING COLORS is, maybe do a couple of shows per album, or a full-time band like what I have with THE WINERY DOGS. We go out and play a hundred shows and go all around the world a couple of times. Our intentions with SONS OF APOLLO is to be a full-time band and this to be the primary for everybody involved. I think 2018 is going to do that. We're going to pretty much spend the entire year touring with this band all around the world. I think it will be obvious this is a full-time band. That doesn't mean all my other things are going to go away. The whole time I was in DREAM THEATER, I had all these other things going. The whole time I was out there with THE WINERY DOGS, which was very full-time, I still had all these other things going. It's very possible to juggle all these things and manage it. I can spend all next year out with SONS OF APOLLO, still make a METAL ALLEGIANCE album, still make another THE NEAL MORSE BAND album, and I'll figure out the scheduling. That's my problem, not yours. Don't worry, I can do it."

SONS OF APOLLO's debut album, "Psychotic Symphony", will be released on October 20 via InsideOut Music.

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