During an appearance this past Wednesday (September 22) on SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", drummer Mike Portnoy (DREAM THEATER, AVENGED SEVENFOLD) spoke about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the third album from THE WINERY DOGS, his power trio with guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen and legendary bassist Billy Sheehan (MR. BIG, TALAS, DAVID LEE ROTH). He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It's sounding great. We're having a great time working together again. We pretty much got together twice over the summer — two different 10-day sessions; once in July and then again last month in August. Billy and I went out to L.A., and we worked with Richie at his home studio, and we did all the writing there and recorded my drums there. So the writing is done, my drum tracks are done. We came up with about 10 or 11 really cool songs. The material is awesome. It's great. We're so excited by it. But we're taking it easy. With so many uncertainties out there, we're kind of just doing this without any deadlines."
He continued: "Deadlines are Richie Kotzen's kryptonite — he fucking hates that. I think part of the reason he wanted time off from THE WINERY DOGS is because he was starting to feel that pressure of, 'We've gotta have this album out. We've gotta do this tour cycle.' Richie is a free spirit and doesn't wanna be tied down by all that shit. So I think the fact that now we can make a record with no impending deadlines of release or no impending deadlines of a tour, because who knows if or when we can tour, I think that suited Richie best. He likes being able to just get together, write and record music for the fun of it. When it's done, it'll come out, and then, when the path is clear for safe touring, then we'll do it again. It's safe to say the album will probably be out sometime next year, but all the details at this point are still very, very premature. But it's great music, great band, great guys, great playing."
As for the musical direction of the new THE WINERY DOGS material, Mike told host Eddie Trunk: "I would say somewhere [between the first and the second albums]. It's hard for me to have that real perspective that anybody listening does 'cause when you're writing and recording it, it all becomes important to you. It's hard to tell; it's hard to have that perspective.
"The first album is just song after song after song — there's no moments of weakness at any point — whereas 'Hot Streak', I guess, we did some more experimental stuff, songs like 'Spiral' or 'War Machine', songs on the back end that were more kind of experimental things," he explained. "So I would say, if I had to compare it, it's probably more like the first album because we also consciously decided to stop at around 10 or 11 songs. 'Cause both the first album and 'Hot Streak', I think, had 13 or 14 songs. People like you and I, we love everything, we love music and we dig in, but for a lot of people, the attention span for a 14-song album could be a bit much. So when writing this album, we decided, let's just come up with 10 or 11 that are really super strong. Nothing too experimental, nothing too off the beaten path from what people expect from THE WINERY DOGS. So I think everything on this album is super strong from top to bottom."
THE WINERY DOGS were founded in 2012 after Portnoy and Sheehan — who initially aimed to collaborate with former WHITESNAKE and BLUE MURDER guitarist John Sykes — reached out to Kotzen, who played with Sheehan in MR. BIG from 1997 to 2002. The group's self-titled debut reached No. 27 on the Billboard 200 after selling more than 10,000 copies in the U.S. during its first week of availability. The initial sales of follow-up effort "Hot Streak" were even better, as the album debuted at No. 30 in late 2015 after shifting 13,000 equivalent album units in America during its first week of availability.