On May 23, Steve-O of “The Live Addiction” conducted an interview with drummer Mike Portnoy (THE WINERY DOGS, DREAM THEATER, AVENGED SEVENFOLD, ADRENALINE MOB) in Houston, Texas. You can now watch the chat below.
Asked about his relatively short stint as the studio and touring drummer for AVENGED SEVENFOLD following the death of the band’s original drummer, James “The Rev” Sullivan, from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, Portnoy said: “It was a really cool experience. There were basically two experiences — it was the [‘Nightmare’] album [recording] and the [subsequent] tour. The album was a really heavy emotional experience. ‘Cause we started the album, I don’t know, maybe six weeks after The Rev was buried. So it was still really fresh for those guys, and everybody was really very emotional. So making the album was a really emotional experience and I felt really honored to have been part of that experience with them. And that’s why me and Zacky [Vengeance, AVENGED SEVENFOLD guitarist] got these matching tattoos. To me, it was a real amazing experience to bond with them during that period. And then after that experience, you know, I wanted to be there to help them, and that’s how my services got called upon for the first half of the tour — I did, I think, I guess, the first five or six months of the ‘Nightmare’ tour — basically, ’till the end of 2010. And, you know, at that point, it was just them getting back on their feet and [I was] helping them out.”
He continued: “I don’t think I was ever going to be there for long. I was still in DREAM THEATER at that point, and even once I left DREAM THEATER, it was pretty established that it was just a helping-them-out phase. And it was a great tour, man. I had fun with those guys. They’re nice guys. And I’m so happy to see that they’ve gotten back on their feet and have blossomed to a whole new level and continue to do what they’re doing. So it was an experience I look back upon with a lot of great memories.”
Following Sullivan‘s death, AVENGED SEVENFOLD recruited his favorite drummer, Portnoy, to record the drum tracks for “Nightmare” and all its 2010 tour dates before dismissing him at the end of that year.
AVENGED‘s current drummer is Arin Ilejay, who began playing with them in early 2011.
Portnoy, who co-founded DREAM THEATER more than 20 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 He has since been replaced by Mike Mangini (ANNIHILATOR, EXTREME, JAMES LABRIE, STEVE VAI).
In a December 2011 interview with the San Francisco, California radio station 107.7 The Bone, AVENGED SEVENFOLD guitarist Zacky Vengeance stated about being caught in the middle of the drama between Portnoy and DREAM THEATER, “It was something that we were not used to at all. We had never, ever experienced any kind of in-the-spotlight drama; we just always stay in the shadows and keep any of our personal business private. And [Mike is] a very different character — he always goes straight to fans [on] Twitter or whatever… That’s how he dealt with his band, and it was new to us. We like to be in touch with our fans, but we’re also very private.”
He continued, “[Mike had] been talking about quitting DREAM THEATER, that he wasn’t necessarily happy, and he was excited to be playing with us; we were playing huge shows and stuff. I think he got caught up in the moment, got excited. We begged him to consider what he did, because we were in no position to find a permanent replacement, because in all honesty, you can’t replace Jimmy, who was our best friend — first and foremost — besides beng an amazing drummer. So it just wasn’t the right time and the place. And he told us, ‘Hey, I’ve got good news and bad news. I quit DREAM THEATER.’ We were like, ‘Oh, no. Well, if you’re happy, then that’s good.’ [And he was like], ‘Now I can be with you guys.’ And we were like, ‘That’s not necessarily what we decided upon. And you should take your time and reconsider.’ And he was like, ‘Well, I put out my press release.’ We were like, ‘Dude, that’s not how we do business. You should have talked to us before.’ Then it was back and forth [between Mike and his former DREAM THEATER bandmates]. We were out of it; we had nothing to do with it. We were just trying to get back on our feet. So when all that was going down, it was causing us a lot of heartache, to be honest — to see our name in this drama-filled love triangle. He helped us out at a really vulnerable time, and for that we will always be extremely appreciative. But for us, we were so unstable at that point that any unneeded attention was just very harmful to us. Obviously, it didn’t work out [between us and Mike], but I think it’s for the best — for him and for us.”