"Within five seconds of seeing each other, it was hugs, kisses... the drama and bulls**t just melted away": Mike Portnoy on the meeting which led to his return to Dream Theater after 13 years

Dream Theater
(Image credit: Dream Theater)

Mike Portnoy has given his first on-camera interview since the news of his return to Dream Theater was announced in October, and the drummer has admitted that the rekindling of his relationships with his bandmates took “many, many years”.

Portnoy details the circumstances which brought him back to the band he walked away from in 2010 in an in-depth interview with the drumeo website. He admits that, as recently as five years ago, he “wouldn’t have put money” on the likelihood of him returning to the band he played with for 25 years, but acknowledges “time heals all wounds”.

In an statement announcing his return to the fold on October 25, Portnoy stated that he was “overwhelmed with joy” to be “returning home” and reuniting with his formerly estranged bandmates who he described as “my brothers”.

“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!” he added. “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!”

As he explains in his drumeo interview, the first step in the rebuilding of bridges between the two parties saw him re-establish his friendship with guitarist John Petrucci. The drummer played on Petrucci's 2020 solo album Terminal Velocity, and subsequently went on to record the Liquid Tension Experiment 3 album with Petrucci and Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess, plus bassist Tony Levin. “It just seemed like it was all starting to come together on a personal level and then the musical level as well,” says Portnoy.

“I think the final piece was me reconnecting with James LaBrie, because James and I hadn’t spoken in over a decade,” he admits. “I went to see Dream Theater play in New York around 2022 and that was my first time seeing James in over a decade…within five seconds of seeing each other it was huge, kisses…and it was like any of the drama and bullshit that happened during all of those years of the split, it just melted away immediately.”

“With James and I buddying up again, it kind of just began to seem like an inevitability. It wasn’t ever in either of our plans to eventually reunite. In fact, if you would’ve asked me this five years ago, I probably wouldn’t have put money on it. But with the developments of everything…it just seems like we’re in the right place and the right time at this stage of our lives.”

The drummer also reveals that the group will begin work upon a new Dream Theater album in 2024.

Read the full interview at drumeo, and watch the accompanying video below.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.