Mike Portnoy Opens Up on Dream Theater Reunion: “The Final Piece Was Me Reconnecting with James LaBrie”
Originally published by Consequence News
Mike Portnoy has opened up about reuniting with Dream Theater after 13 years away from the band. The drummer detailed the steps that went into his return to the veteran prog-metal act, including “reconnecting with [singer] James LaBrie.”
As previously reported, Dream Theater announced in October that founding member Portnoy is back in the band following his departure in 2010. He replaces Mike Mangini, who was had been the band’s drummer since Portnoy’s departure.
Drumeo recently shared a clip of Portnoy playing Dream Theater’s “Pull Me Under” for the first time in 13 years, and now the online drumming platform has unveiled its full interview and playthrough session with the legendary stickman (watch below).
In the interview, Portnoy explained how the reunion came together, saying, “I guess it really started to gain some traction during COVID lockdown because I couldn’t tour and Dream Theater couldn’t tour, so [guitarist] John [Petrucci] decided he wanted to do a solo album and he asked me to play on it. A few months later, I did a [Liquid Tension Experiment] album with John and [keyboardist] Jordan [Rudess], so that brought three of us back together. And then the following year, I ended up doing John’s solo tour and our wives’ bands were opening for us … so it just seemed like it was all starting to come together on a personal level and then the musical level as well.”
He continued, “I think the final piece was me reconnecting with James LaBrie, because James and I hadn’t spoken in over a decade. I went to see Dream Theater play in New York around 2022 and that was my first time seeing James in over a decade…within five seconds of seeing each other it was hugs, kisses …. and it was like any of the drama and bullshit that happened during all of those years of the split, it just melted away immediately.”
Portnoy concluded, “With James and I buddying up again, it kind of just began to seem like an inevitability. It wasn’t ever in either of our plans to eventually reunite. In fact, if you would’ve asked me this five years ago, I probably wouldn’t have put money on it. But with the developments of everything … it just seems like we’re in the right place and the right time at this stage of our lives.”
As far as his relationship with Mangini, Portnoy remarked, “I was friends with [Mangini] before he knew any of the guys in Dream Theater. He and I were friends in the ’90s when he was still playing in Extreme … we would do clinics together and stuff. He’s an old friend and I could never get mad at the guy for taking the gig. I mean, how could you not? It was a great opportunity and a great gig, so … it was nice when all those resentments and all that stuff melted away because it was a tough couple of years in the start of the split.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Portnoy said the plan is for Dream Theater to hit the studio to record a new album, although no release plans are in place as of yet. He’s also excited to play shows with the band again.
“I cannot wait to be on the stage again in front of the most devoted fan base in the world,” enthused Portnoy. “The energy and the excitement at that first gig — I’m getting goosebumps right now just thinking about it — I’ve dreamt about it. The last 13 years or so … I’ve probably dreamt 100 times about what it would be like to be back in Dream Theater or to play that first show back, so it’s gonna be amazing to finally actually do it.”
Watch Mike Portnoy discuss his return to Dream Theater and play through a handful of songs in the Drumeo video below.