Mike Portnoy on Neal Morse's 'strange' drug-inspired lyrics

Mike Portnoy and Neal Morse
Mike Portnoy and Neal Morse

Mike Portnoy admits he was surprised when Neal Morse wanted to include drug-inspired lyrics on the forthcoming The Neal Morse Band double-album, A Similitude Of A Dream.

The drummer says he took over singing on track Makes No Sense, as Morse’s vocals and melodies weren’t “rocking” or “aggressive” enough in the original demo.

He recalls in a new video: “I ended up singing him this new pattern. Then Neal wrote lyrics and gave it back to me to sing.

“I found it really strange that Neal wrote this lyric, ‘This isn’t who you are – let’s smoke a bowl.’”

He adds: “Neal does not do drugs. I found that a very unusual line for him to write. I was like, ‘Are you sure you want me to sing that?’ But it’s all about the story for him. He’s immersed in the story. That’s his department.”

A Similitude Of A Dream is based on on the book Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan which was originally published in 1678. It follows a man weighed down with spiritual guilt, who must leave his home in the City Of Destruction to go to the Celestial City.

Portnoy last month admitted he fought against making their new record into a two-disc work – because he feared drawing comparisons to his former band, Dream Theater, who released The Astonishing earlier this year.

He says the first song of the second disc, Slave To Your Mind, was recorded during his feud with Morse.

He says: “The making of this song is the day the conflict happened – when we were in the heat of the battle. When I listen to this song, it brings me back to that horrible day in the studio. It’s the only time Neal and I fought and disagreed badly.

“Those drum tracks were laid down with me feeling this resistance and this fight. I was throwing them hard because I was pissed. But we overcame it – I let go of my will.

“What we have hear speaks for itself. I’m glad they won.”

Watch the full track-by-track breakdown for A Similitude Of A Dream below.

The tracks Long Day, Overture and City Of Destruction from the record have been released over the last few weeks.

A Similitude Of A Dream cover

A Similitude Of A Dream cover

The Neal Morse Band The Similitude Of A Dream tracklist


  1. Long Day
  2. Overture
  3. The Dream
  4. City Of Destruction
  5. We Have Got To Go
  6. Makes No Sense
  7. Draw The Line
  8. The Slough
  9. Back To The City
  10. The Ways Of A Fool
  11. So Far Gone
  12. Breath Of Angels


  1. Slave To Your Mind
  2. Shortcut to Salvation
  3. The Man In The Iron Cage
  4. The Road Called Home
  5. Sloth
  6. Freedom Song
  7. I’m Running
  8. The Mask
  9. Confrontation
  10. The Battle
  11. Broken Sky / Long Day (Reprise)

The Neal Morse Band 2017 tour dates

Jan 15: Nashville TBA, TN
Jan 17: Seattle Triple Door, WA
Jan 18: San Francisco Regency Ballroom, CA
Jan 21: Whittier Center Theater, CA
Jan 22: Phoenix Nesbitt-Elliott Playhouse Theater, AZ
Jan 24: Denver Oriental Theater, CO
Jan 25: Dallas Curtain Club, TX
Jan 27: St Charles Arcada Theater, IL
Jan 28: Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
Jan 29: Toronto Mod Room, ON
Jan 31: Montreal Club Soda, QC
Feb 01: Quebec City Salle Jean Paul Tardif, QC
Feb 02: New York Highline Ballroom, NY
Feb 03: Washington State Theater, DC
Feb 07-11: Cruise To the Edge, FL
Mar 22: Barcelona Apolo, Spain
Mar 23: Milan TBA, Italy
Mar 24: Pratteln Z7, Switzerland
Mar 25: Aschaffenburg Colo-Saal, Germany
Mar 26: Berlin Lido, Germany
Mar 28: Warsaw Progresja Music Zone, Poland
Mar 29: Hamburg Markthalle, Germany
Mar 30: Verviers Spirit of 66, Belgium
Mar 31: Cologne Stollwerck, Germany
Apr 01: Malmo KB, Sweden
Apr 02: Tilburg 013, Netherlands
Apr 04: Luxembourg Rockhal, Luxembourg
Apr 05: Paris Divan Du Monde, France
Apr 06: Birmingham O2 Academy 2, UK
Apr 07: Glasgow O2 ABC, UK
Apr 08: Manchester O2 Ritz, UK
Apr 09: London O2 Islington Academy, UK
Apr 12 Tel Aviv Havana Club, Israel
May 06: Gettysburg RosFest, PA

Portnoy says Neal Morse Band album is their 'Tommy meets The Wall'

Former TeamRock news desk member Christina joined our team in late 2015, and although her time working on online rock news was fairly brief, she made a huge impact by contributing close to 1500 stories. Christina also interviewed artists including Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and worked at the Download festival. In late 2016, Christina left rock journalism to pursue a career in current affairs. In 2021, she was named Local Weekly Feature Writer of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards.