Mike Portnoy

I think Mike is better than Peart. Peart is a percussionist, in that he plays some other percussion instruments, Mike is a drummer. I guess Peart is a much better musician, but Mike is a better drummer.

I know this post is from 2005, but it is still one of the most ridiculous things I've ever read. All you have to do is Watch Neil play YYZ, then watch Mike play it with his Cygnus and the Sea Monsters band. It's on one of his DVD's. It's very clear that Neil is a much better drummer then Mike.
Got a copy of "Awake" on the weekend - 70+ minutes of music on one CD is great value.

Mr Portnoy certainly can play - great staccato double kicks and some pretty good blasting too - lots of good stops / timing changes.

I got a bit sick of the chorused shredding lead guitar sound ..... obviously a good player but a bit more variety would be nice.....

So, next up... any recommendations for the best Slipknot album? :)
Dear Mike,

Hope you are fine.

After you arranged the better places for the microphones on your kit, arrange the Gain for gets the Maximum peak(without clip or distortion) of them without attention to the leakages, or you use the Gain for Minimum leakages and use the ambiance sounds in your mix when you record in your studio?

Best Regards,
Ramtin HajatDoost
Tehran - Iran
Probably some of us here have never met Mike, and perhaps some of us have. I have met Mike, not only is he an awesome drummer and my 2nd most major influence on my drumming, MP is an awesome guy. Listening to MP play and watching him with his stick control, he really doesn't hit hard compared to Peart, I learned to play the drums musically. Because of him, I sometimes choose not play solo's at some gigs, because like him, I think that drums are part of an entire team of musical instruments. Nothing against drum solo's I still play them depending on the night, but like MP I like to play the drums musically. He also makes it easy to play odd time by rooting it back to 4/4! Anyhow, I do enjoy listening and watching MP play.
Hi guys, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike at the Adrenaline Mob gig in Manchester the other day. Thought you might like to watch it, he talks a fair bit about how his roles in each of his projects differs. Here it is, please let me know if you like it!


Great review! I don't mind at all if Mike is talking about his other projects because they fascinate me a lot. He is one of my biggest influences for god sake! I think he is the one who got me deeply into drumming and made me so curious about music itself.

I went to see Adrenaline Mob in Helsinki 10th of June and I have to say it was maybe the best concert where I have ever been so far. Even the Foo Fighters' concert in Helsinki last summer wasn't as great as that one. Okay, I'm talking about two very different bands but the energy in the Mob gig was something unbeliveable. And there were only like 200 people watching it!

By the way, this was my second time I saw Portnoy playing!
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.
I am more of an ex-fan.
As a teen just starting out, I saw his video with Erotomania etc and it was the coolest thing ever. Awake was a great album and I ate it up, played along quite often. Some of the other stuff was okay but I gave up on them because there were cheesy aspects to their music, as well as the vocals, and I was discovering other bands. I don't know but perhaps Jordan Rudess' influence is the thing I didn't like.

Mike has flair, and he's very free and playful. Some of his drum parts are excellent but on the other hand some of them expose weaknesses in his approach, and perhaps he just stopped learning at a point and kept finding ways to exploit the techniques that he already knew (which is good in a way). There were a few live videos where he played badly and I, like many others had a change of heart and his abilities have become a controversial topic, just go on YouTube and see the commenters (of all ages) biting each others heads off.

I saw he posted a reaction to this on HOD and I kind of felt guilty for being a harsh critic and being a part of the noise that hurt Mike's feelings. I don't know but I think maybe he got complacent and it came back to bite him on the arse.
Well here's something refreshing - and it's not an April Fools Day thing - Mike Portnoy grooving a Beatles tune. I had to share this. He did great, although there was a split second he let out more notes than he should have (it's obvious), but this is really good!

I guess I have to be that guy. I don't think this grooves. The tempo is all over the place. Yes, he shows restraint, but he sounds really uncomfortable playing this music to my ears.
I guess I have to be that guy. I don't think this grooves. The tempo is all over the place. Yes, he shows restraint, but he sounds really uncomfortable playing this music to my ears.

Well, OK. I give him kudos for being in the attempt, no? I mean, he played in Dream Theater. So this has got to be a 180-degree tour -around, right?
Yes, it's pretty cool seeing him do this. I really don't want to be critical, because I like a lot of his playing. And I've seen him do a Beatles cover before and I did think it was pretty good. And not bad with the vocals, either.
Yeah most noticeably every time he launches into the "Me I'm just a lucky guy" verse he rushes the beat a little. But I'm always so impressed by people who can sing while they play. He actually seems to have slightly more solid timing while singing, I guess because his limbs are on auto-pilot?
I think too many people know Portnoy as the drummer (former) for Dream Theater and don't know that he does a lot of side projects that show a much more restrained side to his playing.

I think his drumming on John Petrucci's Suspended Animation shows a different side to his standard Dream Theater drumming. His work with former band mate Kevin Moore in the OSI: Office of Strategic Influence album is completely different from a Dream Theater style of drumming. His latest band, The Winery Dogs, is a much more straight forward rock band and lots of the crazy progressive side of his drumming is checked at the door.

Its still all Portnoy, so you will get some double bass, some fills that are toms/bass/toms/bass etc. but he does have number of different sides to his style of playing.
Yeah most noticeably every time he launches into the "Me I'm just a lucky guy" verse he rushes the beat a little. But I'm always so impressed by people who can sing while they play. He actually seems to have slightly more solid timing while singing, I guess because his limbs are on auto-pilot?

But I think I recall the Beatle version pushing at the same spots?
Mike's channeling "Ringo", even moving like him. I sometimes do that too when trying to channel other players.

I guess one can only do so many fast unison riffs and hero fills before looking for something different to do.