Room Thirteen recently had the opportunity of a backstage chat at Cambridge Junction with Adrenaline Mob's renowned drummer Mike Portnoy to chat about his new band, his musical legacy with Dream Theater and playing with Avenged Sevenfold.

Room Thirteen: You're currently nearing the end of your first European tour with Adrenaline Mob, how has it been going?
MP:It's been good. We've been doing a combination of festivals and our own club shows, and they've both been awesome. The festivals are great, because we've been playing to big audiences and introducing the band to people who may not even be aware of us, and the club shows have been great because they've been fun, intimate, tight and sweaty. It's starting from scratch for each of us individually as well as the band, but it's been fun.

R13: Have you seen any good bands while playing at the festivals?
MP:I saw Ozzy with Slash and Zakk (Wylde). I saw Soundgarden, Twisted Sister a couple of times, Mastodon...I don't know, I lose track. Slayer, Lamb of God...You play these festivals over summer and everybody's there, it's awesome just to catch up with everybody.

R13: Adrenaline Mob is quite a departure from Dream Theater's style, being more of a groove oriented thing rather than prog. How's it going?
MP:It's been fun for me! I enjoy all kinds of music, I'm a full on metal-head, so I needed to get something out of my system that was not at all based in prog. Not that there's anything wrong with prog, but I've just been doing it for so long I needed some fresh direction. It's been a challenge getting the fans to accept this on its own terms because anyone that was expecting it to be like Dream Theater meets Symphony X because of me and Russell (Allen) is in for a shock because that's not what this band is about. I think you need to get past the preconceptions and hear the album, or even more importantly come to a show-anyone that's been to one of these shows walks out a believer, and they get it and they understand it.

R13: On your new album, Omerta, there are hints of bands like Pantera, Black Label Society and Disturbed. Is it fun to play more straightforward music for a change?
MP:For sure. I played a million odd time signatures and polyrhythms for 25 years with Dream Theater, so when I went and did the Avenged Sevenfold tour in 2012 it was such a breath of fresh air, and that was the catalyst for wanting to do a band like this. After that experience with those guys and touring with Disturbed and Stone Sour and HellYeah and all the bands that Avenged played with while I was with them, I just needed to do something that's rooted in that world because it's fun. It's fun to just get out there and bang your head, and bounce and spit and, you know, play a strong, solid groove without having to sit there with a calculator.

R13: You're probably sick of the Avenged Sevenfold questions...Do you think it would have worked out had you joined A7X as a full time member? Are you content doing this?
MP:I happy with where I'm at. I have no regrets, because now I'm able to do lots of different things. If I had stayed with Avenged I wouldn't have Adrenaline Mob, I wouldn't have Flying Colors. I have 2 or 3 other things going as well, so it wouldn't have enabled me to do that. So, on one hand I have no regrets and I'm glad things worked out the way they did but, on the other hand, if they had asked me to stay on board, I was having a great time with them; they were a fun bunch of guys and their fans are awesome and dedicated and devoted and passionate so, if they had wanted me to stay longer, I surely would have. I understand the way it worked out, because, with me came a lot of history and they were still mourning the death of the Rev, and once I came on board it started to overshadow that. Especially once I left Dream Theater, and the headlines began with all that crap it overshadowed their purpose for me to be there, which was to help out and get them back on their feet and onto the road. So once all that stuff started to seep in I understand that they would want to go with an unknown drummer, because with me came a lot of good things, but also a lot of history and stuff that they didn't necessarily want dragging them down. They didn't want a drummer that was going to be in the spotlight. I totally get it, and totally understand.

R13: You're quite open with your fans when it comes to social networking, twitter etc. Do you ever worry that you're giving too much away?
MP:Well, I have no regrets in how much I give or how open I am, it's just frustrating that things can get taken out of context and carried out of my control. I've always been open and I've always cherished that relationship, and I don't want that to change. I don't want to not be able to share because of some bad apples out there ruining the party for everybody. I don't think I'll ever change, but sometimes it's frustrating the things that can be taken out of context or blown up, or sensationalised. It's frustrating and it's really hard but...fuck it, I'm not going to change. For every 1 out 10 asshole that wants to badmouth me and say shit about me, there's 9 out of 10 that have my back, and appreciate what I do, and that's what counts.

R13: If for some reason you couldn't have been a professional musician, what would you have done?
MP:Well, I'd either be in the music industry as a producer or something like that, because, to me, that's a big, big part of the art of what I do. I don't look at myself as only a drummer; it's the writing and the production, and the shaping and the crafting and all that stuff, that's all just as important to me. So, if I wasn't a drummer or a musician in a band, I think I would still be involved in music in a creative way. The other field would be movies; I'm a huge film fanatic and I got to direct a lot of the Dream Theater dvds, so I got to dabble in it a bit, and that's another huge passion of mine.

R13: You are the hero of aspiring drummers all over the world, who is your all-time hero?
MP:I've got a few. I have band heroes, musician heroes and drum heroes. My band heroes are the Beatles. The Beatles are my number favourite band of all time. My drum heroes, the three big ones, would be John Bonham, Keith Moon and Neil Peart. Each of those three were, and are, hugely influential to me on the drums. And then my general musical hero would be Frank Zappa, his musicality and general diversity and his whole personality were a huge influence on me. I got a lot of heroes, man! You're not gonna find a bigger fan than me! I have them tattooed all over my leg: The Who, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, King Crimson. I'm just a huge music fan. I wear my heroes on my sleeve, literally (indicates more band tattoos on arms).

R13: Dream Theater; Are you completely over it, or is there a part of you that secretly hopes Mike Mangini's arms and legs fall off?
MP: (Laughs) Well...25 years is a huge chunk of my life, so that will never be taken from me, that's always going to be a part of me. You can take me out of Dream Theater, but you'll never take Dream Theater out of me, that's gonna be with me for ever. Whether or not it's only those 25 years, or whether there's future chapters to be written, who knows? Time will tell. I'm happy with where I'm at now. That legacy of those 25 years and all of those albums and dvds and all those songs- I left a lot there for fans to listen to forever. There's a huge legacy there that will be there forever, but I just couldn't do only one thing for the rest of my life. I needed to get out and do some exploring, so I'm happy with where I'm at, and I'm happy with where I've been. And I do hope Mike's arms and legs fall off! No, I'm only kidding! Please print that I was only kidding, because I can see the Blabbermouth headline already!

R13: You mentioned your other project Flying colours, how's that coming along?
MP:Good. We're going to do a brief tour in September; two shows in America and a bunch of shows over here and I'm looking forward to it. It was a fun album to make and there's a great chemistry there that I'm looking forward to further tapping into. It's going to be cool.

R13: Do you see Adrenaline Mob as your main band at the moment or one among your other projects?
MP:It's one of my bands that has a big commitment, but really I'm very committed and focused on everything I do. I can't say any one is more important than the other, I give 100% no matter what I'm involved in. But I can say that Adrenaline Mob seems to have the potential for the most active schedule, just because it's a very live oriented band and I can picture the band touring a lot, more so than Flying Colors, because there's guys in other bands in that band. I think Adrenaline Mob is the one that stands to the most active. If there's work and activity, and there's demand, we'll stick with it for the full ride.

R13: Any musical hopes and dreams for the future?
MP:Just to continue what I'm doing. I couldn't be happier. In the last 2 years I've done 6 or 7 albums and I've performed live with at least 10 or 12 bands. Everything I was hoping to do with my life and career post Dream Theater is happening; I'm collaborating with some of my favourite musicians in the world; ranging from Steve Morse to Paul Gilbert to Billy Sheehan to Russell Allen. It's just an amazing group of players that I'm surrounding myself with, they totally inspire me and they help me go to new places, so my dreams and hopes are just to continue on and hope the fans stick by me for the ride.

R13:Thanks for your time!