Exclusive: Will Portnoy Join Avenged Sevenfold?
Avenged Sevenfold have no idea of whether, as has been widely speculated, Mike Portnoy will consider joining them as a permanent member following the drummer’s unexpected exit from Dream Theater.
Words: Dave Ling
Portnoy stepped into the breach to play on Nightmare, the Huntingdon Beach [California]-based group’s just released fifth album, after the death of their own drummer James ‘The Rev’ Sullivan last December. He’s pledged to tour with them for as much of the record’s live promotion as his schedule will allow. Only now he has more time on his hands than anyone suspected.
As the rock world tried to absorb the shock news of Portnoy’s decision to quit Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold bassist Johnny Christ [real name Jonathan Lewis Seward] exclusively told Classic Rock: “It’s been a crazy day for us. Mike made his announcement last night [September 8], and we’re as astounded as everyone else. We only found out ourselves via a conference call. As huge fans of Dream Theater it’s hard to imagine them without Mike Portnoy, but it was a decision that he had to make for himself at this point in his life. It didn’t have anything to do with us.”
Indeed, Portnoy has already issued a Facebook plea stating: “I BEG of the fans to please NOT to hold [Avenged Sevenfold] responsible for MY decision. I had been contemplating this and desiring a ‘break’ [not split] from Dream Theater as long ago as last year.”
So the question remains: Having revealed that he was having “More fun and better personal relations” with A7X and the rest of his side-projects than with regular band-mates, is there any possibility that Mike Portnoy could make the position permanent?
“It’s too early to address that type of question,” sighs Christ. “All we know for sure is that Mike will be with us until the end of this year. We’re scheduling some more tour dates and given that he’s left Dream Theater we might be able to hold onto him a little longer. But we’ll have to see how that goes.”
Indeed, given the loss of ‘The Rev’, the band’s own long-term future is equally uncertain. Before the tour began, vocalist M. Shadows stated: “We’re not sure what’s going to happen after this touring cycle. Our goal right now is to just get kids to hear the record, because we want them to remember ‘The Rev’.”
However, with Nightmare having smashed its way straight to the top of America’s Billboard chart, Christ admits the band are beginning to consider a more fan-friendly outcome.
“The album’s success is starting to make us think like that,” confides the bassist, choosing his words carefully, “but we won’t know for sure until the end of this touring cycle. Trying to write again without ‘The Rev’… I just don’t know how that would feel. We’re still taking things one day at a time; the last thing on our minds is replacements.”
In related news, additional dates have been added to the co-headlining UK tour from Avenged Sevenfold and Stone Sour, which begins in Glasgow on November 26. Two shows will now happen at London’s Hammersmith Apollo, on October 30/31..
Hellyeah!, featuring former Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul, are set to be the trek’s opening act.
Here are all the dates.
Oct. 26: Glasgow SECC
Oct. 27: Manchester Academy
Oct. 28: Birmingham NIA
Oct. 30: London Hammersmith Apollo
Oct. 31: London Hammersmith Apollo
Nov. 2: Newcastle Academy
Nov. 3: Leeds Academy
Nov. 4: Manchester Academy
Nov. 6: Plymouth Pavilion
Nov. 7: Brighton Centre
Meantime, Portnoy has given his first interview since quitting Dream Theater. Talking to Ed Trunk on New York radio station Q104.3FM, he revealed:
“I cannot ever be accused of not having my heart into Dream Theater. I mean, I’ve literally spent 25 years… It’s my baby . . . I mean, I almost felt like I had to sacrifice myself from the situation so I wouldn’t be holding them back and I wouldn’t be doing something against my will.
“The last thing I ever wanted to see was a Dream Theater without Mike Portnoy in it, so I used to always joke with them about that. But now, here when faced with this reality… I mean, sure, the selfish side of me doesn’t wanna think of that band without me, and I kind of wish we would have just taken a break, but I can’t hold them back. They’re my friends and they’re my brothers and if they really wanna continue, then I can’t say no. It’s a weird thing because I would go back to them in a heartbeat, just not now. I just need a break. Maybe a couple of years from now we’ll get back together and we’ll live happily ever after. I don’t know.”