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MIKE PORTNOY On How He Reunited With DREAM THEATER & If They'll Do A Scenes From A Memory Sequel

And how the band will approach Mangini-era material live.

Mike Portnoy

Dream Theater shocked the metal world in late October when they announced the return of founding drummer Mike Portnoy. Portnoy left Dream Theater in 2010 and was replaced by Mike Mangini for 13 years… but how did the reunion even come about?

According to Portnoy during a Q&A session at the Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy Camp's Metalmania III (as captured by Blabbermouth), it all started when he and Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci reunited for Petrucci's 2020 solo album Terminal Velocity solo album. And then of course things only progressed from there when Portnoy and Petrucci got together with Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess for the first Liquid Tension Experiment record in 22 years.

"Well, it's been 13 years now. And it's crazy how time flies. But the last couple of years, I guess during the pandemic, yeah, I reconnected with John Petrucci. Once we were in lockdown and all of my bands couldn't tour, and Dream Theater couldn't tour, John Petrucci was doing a solo album, and he asked me to play on it. And then from there we decided we wanted to do another [Liquid Tension Experiment] album, which is with Jordan Rudess. And then shortly after that, John asked me to go on tour with him. So it just seems like we've been kind of reconnecting through the last few years."

He continued: "We have such a long history — almost 40 years now — together, and our families grew up together, our wives played in a band together, and our kids grew up together. So, honestly, it just felt like it was the right thing in the right time… [Our kids] literally grew up all together, in the top bunks across from each other on the bus. My daughter and John's daughter have lived together in New York for the last four or five years. So, yeah, there's so much family history beyond just the music that it just felt like the time was right to do it."

Dream Theater plans on hitting the studio in 2024 for their first album with Portnoy since Black Clouds & Silver Linings in 2009. When asked if there's any chance Dream Theater would do a sequel to their 1999 progressive metal masterpiece Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory, Portnoy said the band doesn't have any specific plans for new material at the moment.

"We haven't talked about it yet, but that would be the obvious thing. But maybe because it's the obvious thing, we wouldn't do it. But you never know… It definitely would be fun to do, but I think, uh… I don't know. We're gonna start from scratch and reconnect and just go into the studio and live together. We're in a different phase of our lives. When I left the band 13 years ago, we were all in our 40s; now we're all in our 50s and 60s. It's gonna be interesting to see how we kind of exist now in this new world. So, yeah, I'm just looking forward to being with the guys and making music together again."

As for playing Mangini-era Dream Theater live and balancing it out with Portnoy-era material, Portnoy said it's too soon to tell what will happen. He later added that coming back into the fold with Dream Theater over a decade later means trying to find his role within the band once again.

"When I left the band 13 years ago, I was the one writing the setlist and things like that. So, we haven't even discussed what the new dynamic is gonna be. I'm open to it, of course, so I surely would do it, if that's what they wanna do. But it's definitely gonna be a different dynamic."

He continued: "I think when I left all those years ago, I was running a lot of stuff, and I think now they've gotten so used to working more as a collective band that I think it's a very different dynamic now that I'm gonna have to find my place in and without stepping on anybody's toes. I have to respect that they've been doing it all this time without me. So, whatever they wanna do, I'm up for it. But that being said, there is so much music of ours to come back and play that… Personally, I look forward to revisiting all that stuff, but if they wanna do the newer stuff as well, whatever they want is fine with me."

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