Mike Portnoy talks reunion with Dream Theater: “It was like any of the drama … melted away immediately”

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Returning Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy speaks about how he ended up rejoining the band in a new interview with Drumeo.

Portnoy’s reunion with the prog metallers was announced in October and ended his 13-year absence from the group. The wheels first set into motion for Portnoy to return after he and guitarist John Petrucci reconnected personally several years ago, which then led to a musical collaboration.

“It really started to gain some traction during COVID lockdown,” Portnoy recalls. “I couldn’t tour, and Dream Theater couldn’t tour, so John decided he wanted to do a solo album, and he asked me to play on it. That was the first step, I guess, in this direction.”

That then led to Portnoy playing in Petrucci’s solo live band when touring opened up again. Additionally, Portnoy, Petrucci and Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess revived their Liquid Tension Experiment side project for a new album.

“It just seem like it was all starting to come together on a personal level and then the musical level, as well,” Portnoy says.

Portnoy adds that “final piece” in him officially returning to Dream Theater was “me reconnecting with [vocalist] James LaBrie,” who he hadn’t spoken with “for over a decade.” That silence finally ended when Portnoy attended a Dream Theater show in 2022.

“Literally, without exaggerating, within five seconds of seeing each other, it was hugs, kisses, and it was like any of the drama and bulls*** that happened during all of those years of the split, it just melted away immediately,” Portnoy says. “With James and I buddying up again, it began to seem like an inevitability.”

With Portnoy back in the fold, Dream Theater will be working on a new album, their 16th studio effort.

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