“I am overwhelmed with joy to be returning home and reuniting with my brothers!" Dream Theater announce the return of Mike Portnoy to the band after 13 years

Dream Theater
(Image credit: Dream Theater)

In news that will delight fans, original Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy has officially returned to the band after thirteen years.

Portnoy's comeback was confirmed by the prog metal legends in a PR release today. He exited the fold in 2010 after experiencing burnout and wanting to concentrate on other projects, and was replaced by Mike Mangini, who played with Dream Theater across five studio albums and accompanying world tours. Mangini will depart the band upon Portnoy's return.

In a series of statements, Dream Theater's current members have paid tribute to Mangini while warmly welcoming Portnoy back, with Portnoy himself expressing his delight at returning.

“I am overwhelmed with joy to be returning home and reuniting with my brothers!" says Portnoy. "There is so much shared history between us all…so many memories, so much music…to think we’re coming up on 40 years since this journey began! The idea of creating new music together is so exciting and I absolutely cannot wait to hit the road and get to play live for a whole new generation of fans that weren’t ever able to see this line-up before…There’s no place like home!”

“Mike Mangini’s drumming is otherworldly and I’m extremely grateful for the time he spent with us in Dream Theater," says guitarist John Petrucci. "I’m very proud of all the amazing music we made together that culminated in our first GRAMMY win last year and the countless magical moments that we’ve shared on stage over the past 13 years. I wish him all the best of success in his future musical endeavours. I’m incredibly excited to welcome Mike Portnoy back into Dream Theater! As an original founding member, long-time friend and incredibly talented and creative drummer, I know that his return will bring a renewed spirit, passion, and energy into DT that all of us, including our fans, will joyfully welcome. I can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get back into the studio together!”

"It's great to be back true to form with our original drummer Mike Portnoy," adds bassist and fellow founding member John Myung. "We started playing together as Majesty almost 40 years ago and I am excited to see what this next phase of Dream Theater creates for the future. I wish nothing but the best for Mike Mangini for all the blood, sweat, and tears he put into DT during his 13-year tenure with the band."

“Having Mike Mangini with us all these years has been, quite simply, a terrific ride," says the band's frontman, James LaBrie. "He is one of the most amazing and naturally gifted drummers I have had the pleasure of working with. Thank you Mike. Life is a very strange ride and I guess that’s what makes it all the more interesting and forever engaging. Having Mike Portnoy back in the band is exactly where we and things should be. Things have a way of going full circle and in this case, it makes perfect sense. I am excited with the prospects of this classic DT line-up being reunited. I can say with absolute confidence this will be the final incarnation of DT with many chapters still to be written well into our future. Onward and upward guys!! Welcome back MP."

“Mike Mangini is one of the most exceptional drummers on earth and I feel privileged that we got to create a whole body of work with him. I will always be grateful for the time we shared in the Dream Theater Universe,” keyboardist Jordan Rudess continues. “We are so excited to reunite the core Dream Theater family. There is a resonance of spirit and vision that is unique and goes beyond words within our relationship with Mike Portnoy. On the stage and off there is no denying the magic that happens when we are together. I’m thankful we have the opportunity to work together again as Dream Theater and am looking forward to sharing our excitement and passion with our amazing fans for a long time to come.”

Mike Mangini has also released his own statement, which reads as follows:

“I understand Dream Theater’s decision to get Mike Portnoy back at this time. As was said from Day 1, my place was not to fill all the roles that Mike held in the band. I was to play the drums in order to help the band carry on. My main role of keeping our live show working tightly on a nightly basis was an intense and rewarding experience. Thankfully, I got to experience playing music with these iconic musicians, as well as some fun times laced with humour. I also really enjoyed spending lots of time with the crew. And then there’s the GRAMMY® win, which was amazingly satisfying. To the fans: thank you so much for being amazing to me. I cherish the pictures I have of you all losing your minds and having fun. Finally, I really love the band, crew, and management and wish them and the entire organisation all the best.” 

Following the increasingly acrimonious split with Dream Theater, Portnoy, who was already a member of prog supergroups Transatlantic and Flying Colors as well as the Neal Morse Band (NMB), formed new bands Adrenaline Mob and The Winery Dogs. The former, which he formed with Symphony X singer Russell Allen, was a straight ahead metal band, while the latter, a trio with former Poison guitarist Richie Kotzen and Mr. Big bassist Billy Sheehan, had a more blues and classic rock sound.

Portnoy also drummed with metal band Avenged Sevenfold in 2010, following the 2009 death of the The Rev. Portnoy featured on the band's Nightmare album from. that year. He also filled in with Twisted Sister following the death of drummer A.J. Pero in 2015-6 and again earlier this year when the band were inducted into the Metal Hall of Fame at The Canyon Club in Los Angeles. Pero had replaced Portnoy in Adrenaline Mob when scheduling cinflicts meant he had to steo down from the band.

Portnoy also formed another prog metal supergroup, Sons of Apollo, with Sheehan, former Guns N'Roses guitarist Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal and his old Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian. The band have released two studio album, 2017's Psychotic Symphony and 2020's XXVV.

Portnoy remains a member of the heavy metal supergroup Metal Allegiance, alongside former Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson and Testament guitartist Alex Skolnick.

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.