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About Mike/Personal Stuff - Other Musicians

  1. Why was Mike so angry at Queensryche back in 2000? faq id: 114
  2. What did Mike and Lars Ulrich talk about at the 2001 NAMM show? Did Lars see what Mike had said in that Metal Sludge 20 Questions or other things he has said about Metallica's more recent stuff? faq id: 274
  3. What was it like for Mike to meet the guys in Rush? faq id: 275
  4. How did Mike get into Frank Zappa and did he ever meet or play with him? faq id: 459
  5. I heard Mike wrote the liner notes for the Japanese pressing of Rush's Vapor Trails album, but that it's in Japanese. What is the English translation? faq id: 506

Questions and Answers

  1. Why was Mike so angry at Queensryche back in 2000? faq id: 114
    MP: Basically, we had a tour that was us and them. Everything was set - the tourdates were set, and at the eleventh hour they backed out saying that they didn't want to tour any more and that they wanted to go into the studio. We said "OK" because we had a backup plan of going for the Iron Maiden tour, because we knew we had a good chance of getting that slot for a million different reasons. We put our hand in for the Maiden tour, which came very close to happening, and then all of the sudden we found out that they gave the slot to Queensryche! So they backed out of a tour with us to pursue that tour. Not only did we lose the Queensryche tour, but also the Maiden tour, so in that respect it really sucked! We really wanted to do the 2000 summer tour in the US as part of a package tour or as an opening act. Once that fell through, we had no choice to go back out ourselves - so in that respect, it worked out better for the fans, but for us it would have been a better step in our career to have toured with Maiden or Queensryche.

  2. What did Mike and Lars Ulrich talk about at the 2001 NAMM show? Did Lars see what Mike had said in that Metal Sludge 20 Questions or other things he has said about Metallica's more recent stuff? faq id: 274
    MP: Lars had nothing but kind, friendly things to say. If he had seen any of the things I had said about Metallica, he never mentioned any of it. Actually, at that particular time, we were mainly talking about Jason, since this was one week after they had announced he was leaving the band.

  3. What was it like for Mike to meet the guys in Rush? faq id: 275
    MP: It was definitely exciting. There's not many artists out there that would make me feel like a kid again, but meeting those guys surely did. They were very, very cool. They just welcomed me with open arms. They said to me "it's a pleasure to finally meet you." They said that to *me*! And Geddy was thanking me for always speaking so highly of them in the press...they are both beautiful people. It's a shame I didn't get to meet Neil, but I guess he's just very private.

  4. How did Mike get into Frank Zappa and did he ever meet or play with him? faq id: 459
    MP: I never met him and I never played with him - that's one of the biggest regrets of my life because he died before I had the possibility to do that. I got into him because of his really funny lyrics. I didn't realize how great the musicians were. Then once I got older and a little bit more advanced as a musician, then I started to notice what was going on behind the lyrics. I then realized there was all this music that was so incredibly complicated and I couldn't figure how somebody could write that kind of stuff and how musicians can play stuff like that. But not all Zappa music was complicated - he had a little bit of everything. He could play everything including progressive technical instrumentals, country western, disco and symphony! I really love the fact that he could do so many things, and to me he was the greatest musical composer of the 20th century. I think he's up there with any of the great classical composers like Beethoven, Mozart or Bach - I think he's on that level, just a bit more modern. I don't like everything Frank did, but I like most of it. I mean some of the early stuff is a little simplistic.

  5. I heard Mike wrote the liner notes for the Japanese pressing of Rush's Vapor Trails album, but that it's in Japanese. What is the English translation? faq id: 506

    Answer: "Rush's impact on mine and Dream Theater's lives and career is immeasurable. I think it is pretty safe to say that if it weren't for Rush, there would be no Dream Theater! When I met John Petrucci and John Myung at the Berklee College of Music in the fall of 1985, there were two immediate things we found we had in common: 1. our home base of Long Island, NY and 2. our love (no... make that OBSESSION) with Rush. Right from the very first rehearsal, we began jamming on all of our favorite Rush songs: The Spirit of Radio, YYZ, and La Villa Strangiato. We found a common language of musical communication between us that stemmed from this music that we loved with all of our hearts, souls, minds, hands and fingers. We were 3 Rush fans who were so inspired by their musicality and obvious personal comradery, that we decided to devote our lives and careers to making music from a similar blueprint and background. Even the band's original name Majesty stemmed from a description one of us used to describe the ending of Rush's Bastille Day that we were listening to while sleeping out for tickets for their Power Windows tour! Here we are 17 years later and I am both honored and privileged to have been asked to write these liner notes for the much anticipated return of Rush with their new album Vapor Trails. Since those old days in the mid-80's at Berklee, Dream Theater has gone on to much international success and acclaim, selling millions of albums worldwide and selling out year-long tours around the world (and all the while still getting the occasional comparison to our Canadian heroes). But the most shocking thing to us is that there seems to be a whole new generation of progressive music fans (especially throughout Asia and Europe) that have started their journey of progressive music with bands like Dream Theater... and unlike us, haven't necessarily had the exposure to and influence from some of the pioneer bands that created this unique genre of music. If you are one of those lucky people, I must say I ENVY you!! You have a tremendously rewarding musical journey lying ahead of you. I cannot begin to tell you how incredibly inspirational my first experience of discovering albums like 2112, Hemispheres, Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures were. The thought of some of you being able to listen to those albums for the very FIRST TIME, is something I truly do envy! If you are already a Rush fans, then you realize how special today is: you are holding in your hands THE BRAND NEW Rush CD!!! An occasion such as this used to be a national holiday in the Portnoy, Petrucci and Myung homes. And this is a CD that many Rush fans feared would never be made. Although I cannot say I ever doubted their return, it does happen to come off of a 5 year hiatus which is the longest in the band's career. And it is obvious that they have come back with a vengeance. All of the classic Rush qualities are intact: Geddy's totally unique voice and virtuosic bass playing, Alex's chordal guitar textures and wall of sound, and Neil's legendary drumming and breathtakingly poetic lyrics. But there is also an obvious new sense of exploration. The playing is fresh and vibrant. The songs are immediate yet constantly venturing into new territories. The production is tight enough to be crisp and balanced yet loose enough to feel their new surge of life. Here they are ladies and gentlemen, the unveiling of Rush in the New Millennium.... Listen, learn, enjoy.... I know I will be! Mike Portnoy New York April 2002"