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Best In Show: An Exclusive Interview With Drummer MIKE PORTNOY Of THE WINERY DOGS

By Halo, Heavenly Contributor
Wednesday, September 28, 2016 @ 1:34 PM

"I want to do for my fans what Iíd like my favorite bands to do. It all has to be reciprocated."

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Live Photos By Halo/Halos & Horns Photography
Band Photo By Jamel Toppin

Iím no stranger to THE WINERY DOGS. I have done album and show reviews as well photographed them. I absolutely love this band. Billy, Richie, and Mike are a phenomenal trio. When the opportunity arose to chat with one of the guys for a few a minutes before the July 8th Houston show (Houstonís 2nd show this tour), I didnít hesitate. The ďDouble Down TourĒ in support of their second album Hot Streak was in its last few dates after nine months of fantastic and sometimes sellout shows. The guys were in the U.S., Japan, Europe and South America during those nine months and hitting the charts hard with this album. Mike Portnoy, one of the most entertaining drummers in music today, was welcoming KNAC.com to come and talk. I got to the Warehouse Live early and glad I did, because the tour manager was messaging saying Mike was ready whenever. Thatís a first, as usually there are time delays. I walked down the hall and into a closet size room and sat at the desk. I felt like a high school kid waiting to be scolded by the principal, but when Mike walked in with a grin and shook my hand and then gave me a ďMikeĒ hug I immediately knew I was no longer getting detention. It was recess time!

KNAC.COM: Ok Mr. Portnoy, I have to say first and foremost thanks for the Hello Kitty Drumming lesson on YouTube. My 2 younger daughters now want to be professional drummers. They insist on a Hello Kitty drum kit! Thanks Mike!

PORTNOY: (Laughing) Well good, my job is done! Iím kidding, but that was fun.

KNAC.COM: So tell me about DREAM THEATER. Are you completely finished with DT? I know you're one of the founding members going on 30 years ago. I have read many articles so I'm just curious if there will be a return for you? I really enjoy the music. Such a cool concept and band.

PORTNOY: (Laughing) They arenít cool anymore! Iím just kidding (still laughing). No, Iím done with DT. I havenít played with DT since 2010. I just wanted to pursue other projects.

KNAC.COM: You have been super busy with AVENGED SEVENFOLD, TWISTED SISTER, ADRENALINE MOB and FLYING COLORS to name several. Have you missed DREAM THEATER during these years?

PORTNOY: I was getting burnt out sort of after that many years. I am proud to be part of that history.

KNAC.COM: I wanted to tell you how talented your son and his band is. Max is amazingly talented. I reviewed His band NEXT TO NONE's album A Light In The Dark. Very well produced and such talent from teenagers. They have had some great mentors!

PORTNOY: Oh wow, thanks so much!! Thanks for choosing to do their review. They are so dedicated and talented. Max loves what he is doing. They loved opening for us. They havenít played in Texas yet. Hopefully soon. VERY COOL for acknowledging them.

KNAC.COM: So there is one thing Iím wondering about from this album. I swore Iíd ask if I got the chance. The song "Captain Love"'s lyrics ďIím 45 but Iím 18 in the clutchĒ. Am I interpreting it correctly or am I just a perv?

PORTNOY: No you are probably correct in your interpretation. Richie wrote those lyrics. He is 46 now but was 45 when he wrote it. Heís 46 and 18 in the clutch (laughing). Iím 49 but 18 in the clutch and Billy is 63 and still 18 in the clutch!! (Big smiles)

KNAC.COM: Nice to know my mind wasnít in the gutter! What is next for THE WINERY DOGS?

PORTNOY: Well we are about finished with this tour. Itís been a great run. The tour was a busy one, we had fun. Time to take a breather! We will be releasing a Blue Ray DVD later this year we filmed in Santiago, Chile. We all have side projects and stay busy.

KNAC.COM: What is the next thing youíre doing?

PORTNOY: Iím going to continue with TWISTED SISTER. Itís their 40th anniversary farewell tour. Iím so honored to be working with them.

KNAC.COM: You know Iíve always thought from all I have ever read or seen that Dee is one of the most honest guys in the music scene.

PORTNOY: He is. He is a no bullshit kind of guy. He is a great friend and I think one of the greatest frontman even 40 years later.

KNAC.COM: What else after the farewell tour for TWISTED SISTER?

PORTNOY: I have a new METAL ALLEGIANCE EP Fallen Heroes coming out (August) that pays tribute to a few that have left us: Lemmy, Bowie, and Glenn Frey. I also have a new album with the Neal Morse band coming out in the Fall, a prog epic, a double album. Itís a concept album. It will definitely please those that like the more progressive side. There's a little bit for everyone. I am currently playing in six bands so there ya go.

KNAC.COM: How many bands have you played in, in total?

PORTNOY: 25 so far! WowÖ

KNAC.COM: You are only 49, many more years to add to that total! You are not only an amazing drummer but youíre great with your fans. You seem to really enjoy interacting with them and doing things for them.

PORTNOY: Thank you. I have always thought of myself as more than a drummer. I get involved with it all; Fan clubs, merch, songwriting, composing. I stay very involved with the fans. I try to always treat them with respect and I treasure them. I am a fan of other people and bands. I want to do for my fans what Iíd like my favorite bands to do. It all has to be reciprocated.

KNAC.COM: Do you ever get nervous meeting other musicians, ones youíre a huge fan of?

PORTNOY: You Know, one of the greatest perks of this business is meeting people I look up to. Some of my heros have become friends. Meeting and playing shows with IRON MAIDEN, BLACK SABBATH and so on. I did recently get a little nervous. I love and admire Pete Townshend and Paul McCartney. I was nervous but they were amazing and actually engaged me in conversation. They talk to so many people and fans but they actually talked to me and cared about what we talked about. Both are complete gentleman. They reminded me I need to be humble and genuine, of which they both are exactly that.

KNAC.COM: Well you are always genuine to your fans and people in general. Your fans know you appreciate them. Thanks so much for taking time out to chat with me. Iíll have to check all the work out you're doing. Iíll keep an eye out for Maxís band. Hope they make it South soon.

PORTNOY: No, thank you! Thanks again for the good things you put in the review for NEXT TO NONE and thanks for the kick ass reviews youíve done for THE WINERY DOGS. We appreciate it.

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