Mike Portnoy explains Dream Theater return: “We’ve been reconnecting through the last few years.”

Mike Portnoy onstage in 2020
(Image credit: Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic)

Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy has explained his decision to return to the band at a recent live event.

Portnoy, 56, co-founded Dream Theater with guitarist John Petrucci and bassist John Myung at Boston’s Berklee College Of Music in 1985, before leaving the band in 2010. His return, replacing drummer Mike Mangini, was announced in October.

Now – talking at a Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy Camp event in Los Angeles, California – Portnoy has explained why he came back to Dream Theater following his 13-year absence.

“The last couple of years, I guess during the pandemic, yeah, I reconnected with John Petrucci,” the drummer said (transcribed by Blabbermouth).

“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 [2020’s Terminal Velocity], and he asked me to play on it. And then from there we decided we wanted to do another LTE [Liquid Tension Experiment] album, which is with [Dream Theater keyboardist] 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.”

Portnoy 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 [thrash band Meanstreak], 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.”

Portnoy was also asked at the event whether Dream Theater currently have any plans for new music.

“We’re gonna start from scratch and reconnect and just go into the studio and live together,” the drummer answered.

“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.”

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.