MIKE PORTNOY Looks Back On His Departure With DREAM THEATER: ‘I Needed A Break From Those Guys’

Mike Portnoy

During an appearance on the latest episode of “Drinks With Johnny”, the Internet TV show hosted by AVENGED SEVENFOLD bassist Johnny Christ, Mike Portnoy spoke about his decision to leave DREAM THEATER in 2010.

“I think we [AVENGED SEVENFOLD and I] were both what each other needed at that time,” Portnoy said. “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. And 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,” he continued. “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. And I knew that — I knew that it wouldn’t necessarily work out between you guys and me, because I didn’t know if you were ready to make a commitment.

“And I knew that the whole DREAM THEATER thing sparked up so much drama at the time, with all the Blabbermouth headlines. Any time I did an interview, it became a f*cking headline.

“It was horrible, and believe me, I never wanted that. And I’m sure, for you guys, that became a huge distraction. I’ve always been a social media guy — that’s always just the way I’ve been — and I know you guys keep that sh*t in check.

“I could tell the way it was going down that you guys wanted to stay focused on Jimmy‘s legacy and whatever you were gonna do next, and I get the fact that the timing wasn’t right. But for me, it didn’t matter. If it wasn’t gonna be with you guys, I needed to do other things with other people — that was just what I needed in my life and my career.”

In the spring of 2010, Portnoy filled in for AVENGED SEVENFOLD‘s former drummer, Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, who died during the production of the band’s fifth album Nightmare. On May 5, 2010, Portnoy released a statement on his status with AVENGED SEVENFOLD on their official website, concluding his working relationship with the band. 

On September 8, 2010, Mike Portnoy announced departure from DREAM THEATER. The band hired Mike Mangini to take his place after inviting and holding auditions with seven “world-class” drummers.

When AVENGED SEVENFOLD later decided to also sever ties with Portnoy, he announced that he had asked to return to DREAM THEATER, but was turned down by their lawyer since the band had already brought  Mangini on board, and Mangini had left his tenured teaching position at Berklee College of Music to join the band.