Mike Portnoy announced his departure from Dream Theater on September 8, 2010, and within a month, he had been replaced by Mike Mangini. Portnoy kept showing how regretful he was for leaving the band and even said that he had not closed the door on them. After Dream Theater hired Mangini, Portnoy was still interested in rejoining the band, but they would not take him back. In July 2011, the drummer said he would rejoin the band in a heartbeat, which begs the question, for someone acting so desperate, why did Mike Portnoy leave Dream Theater in the first place? Read on; the answer is in detail below.
Teaching Himself How to Play Drums
Portnoy talked to Louder and disclosed that he has always been an avid rock and roll fan, thanks to his father. Although Portnoy’s father was not a musician, he was a rock and roll DJ. Therefore, Portnoy grew up listening to different bands, and by the time he was in first grade, the songwriter proudly remembers that he was the only one in his class who could sing along to “Revolution” by The Beatles. At the age of 11, the musician got his first drum set which he stashed in his bedroom, trying to figure out how to play it. At first, he studied drummers in different bands like Led Zeppelin, the Ramones, and Kiss before moving on to Neil Peart and Bill Bruford. He is proud of being a self-taught drummer, but since the rock and roll bug had already bitten him, he wanted to be a professional as well. Therefore, he enrolled in Berklee College of Music, Boston. By the time he was 15, Portnoy had joined his first band, where they had played metal covers in churches. As he continued becoming better at doing what he did, Portnor finally joined his first original band, Rising Power. He had grown so much musically that he wrote his own songs and came up with his own drumming parts.
Joining Dream Theater
According to Berklee College of Music, John Petrucci and John Myung arrived at the college searching for a drummer for their band, Majesty. They heard Portnoy practicing, and the three teamed up; when they left college in 1986, they changed the band’s name to Dream Theater. The drummer said listening to Frank Zappa, Rush, Yes, and Genesis had already instilled in him sound drumming skills that he had gone to cement at Berklee. The band became engrossed in their music, and Portnoy was proud to be making a living from it, even after having a family. Unfortunately, it took a toll on Portnoy. He disclosed that he had never had time off; even when at home with his family, he was still preoccupied with the band. If he was not picking the opening act for the band, he was overseeing merchandise. Therefore, when Dream Theater went on tour, it was the only time that Portnoy did not worry about the band’s work.
Parting Ways with Dream Theater
Maybe the band should have listened to Portnoy’s concern about not getting time off because, in 2010, he finally could not go on anymore. According to Metal Castle, Portnoy said he was the most active member for 25 years, and eventually, it caused a burnout that could no longer be ignored. He explained how he oversaw production, merchandise, websites, and everything else. After 25 years of seeing “his baby” grow, he finally wanted to spread his wings.
What accelerated his need to leave Dream Theater was that they wanted him to commit to a particular schedule to be making more records. He explained that he had also realized that he needed to play with other bands because Portnoy had been with the same people for decades. He did not want to end his career as a drummer in Dream Theater alone because he knew he had much more to offer. However, it would seem that he was not interested in quitting the band. According to Music Radar, after an endless cycle of writing, recording, and touring for two decades, Portnoy wanted a five-year break. He talked to the band members about it, but they were not ready to take time off and recharge their batteries. He then told the other members that he wanted a one-year hiatus but would occasionally work throughout 2011, but they would not hear of it. Therefore, Dream Theater decided to go on without him hence the split.
Moving on with Avenged Sevenfold Didn’t Work Out for Portnoy.
When he spoke to Blabbermouth, Portnoy said that being with Avenged Sevenfold was what he needed at the time. He explained it was like they saved each other. Avenged Sevenfold had lost their drummer Jimmy Sullivan in December 2009 from an accidental overdose. On the other hand, Portnoy was looking for something different from what he was used to with Dream Theater. Unfortunately, Portnoy brought so much drama to Avenged Sevenfold due to his love for social media, and it was not okay with the band.
Although Portnoy had been talking to Avenged Sevenfold about quitting Dream Theater, they were not ready to replace Sullivan. So they asked him to reconsider, reasoning that the band was doing huge shows at the time, and Portnoy had only gotten caught in the moment. However, the songwriter did not listen to the advice of Avenged Sevenfold members and decided to quit Dream Theater. The drama that unfolded between Portnoy and his former bandmates was not in good taste for Avenged Sevenfold. Therefore it is no surprise that Portnoy did not last long with them. Still, the drummer does not have any regrets regarding the decision he made. There is even no bad blood between him and some of the band members of Dream Theater. Petrucci asked Portnoy to be the drummer in his solo album “Terminal Velocity.” The decision had people questioning if Portnoy would return to Dream Theater, but Petrucci assured fans that Mangini was not going anywhere.