Re: Mike Portnoy
Its been very quiet on the old Portnoy front!
Like many MP is one of the drummers that influenced me very early on in my drumming life. I could have got the 2/4/2/4 between feet and snare idea from Neil Peart just as easily even though it's not a recurring theme for him.
I look at Portnoy in different ways to just purely his drumming. What I will say about his drumming is that he may have inferior technique but he lays himself bare on the table and throws all of his musicality at a song. There isn't much that we haven't heard from him but when you consider that he hasn't ever actually practised since DT got 'big' (after Images and Words) then he wouldn't have had much scope for improvement. Playing doesn't equal practising, you can only be consistent by playing the same material repeatedly. No doubt if he had more time to practise he could be up there with different drummers but the way things went he hasn't done bad for himself at all :-)
As far as his drumming in other bands, I loved his stuff in LTE. I do actually like his stuff with Winery Dogs, it is a very restrained side of MP although you know it is definitely him behind the kit.
Here are the different ways I look at Mike.
1) His vision of how DT should run. Mike RAN the whole of DT while he was a part of it. He was purely for the fans whereas all the others (Jordan aside) were purely focused on themselves. No interaction on forums etc.
The fact that he had 25+ years of DT material to sift through and make sure it was never duplicated at the same area was amazing dedication. The headache would be unbearable.
I think maybe he did 'too' much and ended up being a jack of all trades master of none but what he did was very commendable.
2) Artistically he did most of the visual work on the SFAM live video. He also recorded most of the bands activities in the studio and out and about etc.
3) He dealt with a lot of the lyrical content and some of it is really powerful stuff. Some of it is garbage but then I'm not always keen on lyrics written by Neil Peart yet I think he is amazing.
4) He dealt with the production and direction of the band. How many drummers in a conventional band have as much influence over everything as MP did? Most drummers aren't even considered in the grand scheme of things but MP was the frontman not James LaBrie.
There are some unsavoury points to MP that I do not like. The video that circulated of him laying into the drum tech in the Far East was way out of order and completely unprofessional.
His ego is out of touch I feel he thinks he is more important to the music scene than he actually is. If you compare modesty against levels of drum talent, he is way down on the list in my view. Mangini is very humble, Virgil Donati doesn't seem arrogant in the slightest either. Thomas Lang has that assured swagger that comes with being in the super elite but again he is not completely out of touch. Marco Minnemann is a fun guy it seems but he shares some of his discoveries on youtube. He knows he is good but he isn't a complete douche about it (although I didnt like his approach of auditioning for DT even when he wasnt keen on the music...wrong attitude).
Mike's strengths lie in taking full control of something and taking it in all sorts of directions which he really has only achieved with DT. Also his contact with the fan base, even if a lot of it is to show off and name drop (thats the way it was 6 or 7 years ago at least), was a strong point. I don't know if this is good or bad really, but he has scoured youtube videos of peoples tributes. He put a personal comment on a video, something about the 12 step suite + 13th "crooked step". Which to be fair, was a great video and way to put songs together in an almost narrative way.
But is it considered arrogant to actively listen out for your own material or is that a good thing? I've heard both arguments.
I'm going off tangent slightly because I'm at work bored out my tree.