Prog-ograph? Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy almost played with Nickelback

ABC/Paula Lobo

Mike Portnoy‘s return to Dream Theater was certainly surprising, but he almost had a gig that might be even more shocking.

In an interview with Drumeo, Portnoy reveals that he’d been recruited to play a festival show with Nickelback.

“I got a call from Nickelback in spring of ’22,” Portnoy shares. “Their drummer [Daniel Adair], I guess, was having surgery, and they asked me to play a show with them.”

Despite Nickelback’s not-so sterling critical reputation, Portnoy happily agreed. However, the festival ended up getting canceled.

“I was this close to playing a gig with Nickelback,” Portnoy says.

If that story made you curious, morbidly or otherwise, what it would sound like with Portnoy playing drums in Nickelback, well, you’re in luck. Along with the interview, Drumeo asked Portnoy to play along to a song he’d never heard before, much like they did with Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Thirty Seconds to Mars‘ “The Kill.” Their pick? “Burn It to the Ground,” by, you guessed it, Nickelback.

Portnoy certainly brings the prog to the 2009 rock radio staple, adding flairs such as double bass in the chorus. After his performance, Portnoy heard the original song’s drum track, which definitely wasn’t as elaborate as his rendition.

“That’s why they are multi-platinum rock stars and I’m just a prog metal guy playing odd time signatures, f****** up every song,” Portnoy laughs.

Portnoy returned to Dream Theater in 2023 after a 13-year absence.

(Video contains uncensored profanity.) 

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