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Mike Portnoy Explains His Dream Theater Exit: "I Needed A Break"

Mike Portnoy Explains His Dream Theater Exit: “I Needed A Break”

In a recent episode of “Drinks With Johnny”, host Johnny Christ from Avenged Sevenfold invites Mike Portnoy to come on as a guest and talk. They discuss his past life and growing up to become one of the world-famous and biggest names behind drums. Portnoy also discusses his past with Dream Theater, telling us all insight he might not have given anywhere else.

Portnoy has worked with Avenged Sevenfold for a short term, after leaving DT. After Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan passed away, Portnoy filled the seat behind Avenged Sevenfold’s drums. He helped the band record their famous Nightmare track and went to tour with them. At the end of that year in 2010, he left the band to start his own gig.

Mike Portnoy on Dream Theater

It was abrupt for all of us, as Mike Portnoy quit Dream Theater after co-creating and working for it for 35 years. Members John Petrucci and John Myung are still there since 1985, with James LaBrie joining in 1991. The news came when he toured with Avenged Sevenfold in 2010. Dream Theater then went on to replace him with Mike Mangini.

“I think we [AVENGED SEVENFOLD and I] were both what each other needed at that time. I think you guys needed to get back on your feet… That’s the way I felt like — like I was there to help you guys. And you guys, whether you knew it or not, you were there at a good time for me too, because I was 25 years into Dream Theater at that point, and I was fried, and I was burnt. And I just needed a break.

Touring with you guys was very refreshing for me, and it showed me that there’s more out there than just the little Dream Theater bubble that I had been in for 25 years. So you guys were really good for me at that point as well; you kind of opened up my eyes to other things. I pretty much made the decision that I needed a break from those guys; I needed to be able to explore other things, whether it be with you guys, or if it was not with you guys [but] with something else.”

No Regrets As Mike Looks Back At His Exit

Portnoy explained that Dream Theater demanded commitments from him that he did not want to make. He, therefore decided it was for the best if he and the band go on about their separate ways whichever they find fit. In the end, he said:

“I have this tattoo here that says ‘No Regrets’. Everything happens for a reason. And whether or not it worked out with you guys, or whether or not it worked out with the DREAM THEATER situation, everything happens for a reason. I couldn’t be happier with the path I’ve been on since that experience with you guys. And I’m grateful for the experience I had with you guys, but I’m also grateful for the way it worked out that you guys went on to do your thing. You played with two great drummers now, and Brooks [Wackerman] is amazing — he’s perfect for you guys. And I’ve gone on to do all the different things I do. So I think everybody’s happy in the end.”