Adrenaline Mob - Mike Portnoy

Adrenaline Mob - Mike Portnoy

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Watching the published news regarding ADRENALINE MOB and the conflict between the DREAM THEATER fans, trying to see who is right and who is wrong (if that can be ever cleared out), we were determined not to waste our chatting time with Mike Portnoy fueling all these statements that have flooded the internet. We wanted to focus on the new band and learn more about his impressive onstage super group. So, if you want to treat of ‘dirty little secrets’ please move on to a tabloid and skip METAL KAOZ.

So, Mike how is the tour so far for ADRENALINE MOB?
We have just played six or seven shows so this is an ongoing process of the birth and the beginning of a new band. We have played in small clubs but also in big places supporting GODSMACK, so got a taste of both ‘worlds’.

Did you have the proper time to rehearse and solidify your sound for the tour?
We did that for a couple of days and in fact it was just what we needed. After all we are professional musicians and the songs are not that complicated. As long as everyone does his homework rehearsals are easy.

And now the obvious question; how ADRENALINE MOB was born?
It started with Mike Orlando and Russell Allen. They started working together years ago and have co-written these songs. I have been a friend with Russell for a long time since SYMPHONY X have opened for DREAM THEATER for many times and we knew we wanted to work together sometime. So, as soon as I had become available after AVENGED SEVEFOLD, Russ said “Hey check this out, will you be interested in working in this band?” . The moment I listened to a couple of songs, I was in.

So, you just got in the band?
Yeah, this was not something I put together. They asked me if I wanted to get in.

Does this also mean that the songs in the EP were already written before getting in the band?
Well, the EP is just the taste of how the full length is going to sound like. Most of the songs in the full length album were already written before I had started working with Russ and Mike. Some of them were developed after I got in like “Psychoshane” and “Feelin Me”. I think we have 12 songs ready and 8-9 were already written.

Do you have in mind a release date for the album or even a record deal?
We are actually in the process of find a record label to release it. We are in the talks with some labels in order to find what is best for this band because it is a very different one and not something like DREAM THEATER or SYMPHONY X. At this point, we have in mind that the album is going to be out in January 2012. Having the tour slot with GODSMACK we thought it would be a nice introduction to the band to self-release an EP for now.

Everyone in this band has a rich musical background; do you believe that this adds pressure to ADRENALINE MOB as a band?
It puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the band. First of all, there is a lot of pressure coming from my side, since this is the first band after DREAM THEATER and AVENGED SEVENFOLD, so there is a lot of focus on what I will do next. Also, this is the first ‘real’ band that Russell has done outside of SYMPHONY X. And the biggest pressure comes from the fact that people coming to the show are expecting to watch a Progressive Metal band and ADRENALINE MOB is NOT. We realize that this is not DREAM THEATER or SYMPHONY X and, in fact, this is the fuckin’ point of that. If we wanted to play Progressive, we could do it in DREAM THEATER or SYMPHONY X. This is a totally new ‘beast’. There is a side of me that always loved aggressive, riff oriented music like PANTERA, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY or SLIPKNOT and things like that. Of course, I still love Progressive music and million times signature and 20 minutes epic songs, but I have been doing this for 25 years. So, it was time to do something different and this goes also for Russ.

Do you feel that you have to apologize or explain yourself for this move?
I don’t think I have to apologize for this and I am excited and proud of this band. But I feel that I have to explain and help people to understand that by this EP is not going to sound like a Progressive Metal band. As long as they leave that expectations aside and take it for what it is, then there is no apologize necessary.

Before getting to write the music for this band, did you have in mind of its musical direction?
Mike and Russ had that in their minds and as I said the minute I listened to the track “Undaunted”, I texted Russ and told him that I wanted to join them. I always wanted to do something aggressive, heavy but at the same time melodic with grooves, riffs and high energy music. You will see at the show tonight that there will be really performers on stage. And with no disrespect to SYMPHONY X or DREAM THEATER I will say this is a very different stage presentation. I mean, with DREAM THEATER I was the most animated performer like Russ is for SYMPHONY X but in this band I should say I am the most ‘mellow’… everybody is running circles around me all the time. It is a nice, different and refreshing environment.

After this string of live dates, what is next?
We are going to work on the release of the full length album and do whatever it takes to get it out there and if some more touring comes our way before that, we will love to do it because we enjoy doing it. The current tour is like an introduction of the band; playing in small clubs, giving the people that intimate feeling just like a showcase of what is about to come.

Have you missed playing in small clubs?
I like them both. I mean, I like the comfort and being spoiled in big arenas, but I definitely enjoy the intimate interaction in a club. And usually with all the side projects I have done it is usually shows in small clubs.

You have also another project on the making with John Sykes?
Actually, I have two. The other one is something I have been working before ADRENALINE MOB with Steve Morse, Neal Morse, Casey McPherson and Dave LaRue. I did that in January and the release date is going to be set up. And something that is to come with me and Jonh Sykes that we plan to start working this fall.

Do you have a name for this project?
Well, we do but we haven’t announced it yet.

Ok, fair enough. So, how can you keep yourself focused by working in three different things?
Well, I am a workaholic and even when I was in DREAM THEATER, I juggled a million things outside the band, so now without DREAM THEATER I am going to juggled a million and one things... (laughs). At this point of my career being free agent, I can do whatever I want and work with different people and musical outlets. These bands are very different with each other; ADRENALINE MOB is a heavy riff oriented band, the thing I have with Steve Morse and Neal Morse is alternative pop with progressive elements and what I will be doing with Sykes it will be classic Rock like DEEP PURPLE, LED ZEPPELIN or PINK FLOYD, so I don’t think anyone class with each other in terms of the audience. And in terms of my schedule? Well, I have to juggle them (laughs).

So, what have you prepared for us today? Are you gonna play the entire EP and then?
Well, we are going to play the entire full length album, plus some cover songs.

Will you include MAIDEN's “Flight Of Icarus”? [we heard that during the soundcheck]
(laughs) We did that only for the soundcheck...

Will the album include any cover songs?
Actually, it will and this is the only thing we won’t be playing tonight because we want people to hear it for the first time from the album. And it will be something you won’t ever expect from us and I cannot tell you the title...

That’s ok, I understand. So, how did you choose to cover BLACK SABBATH’s “Mob Rules”?
As soon as we had come up with the ADRENALINE MOB name, right then I said “Now, we have to cover “Mob Rules” (laughs). Not only because it’s a perfect fit for the band’s name, but it is also a great musical fit because Russ can do a great job with Dio songs.

Yeah, he does! What about the production of the new album; will Russ and Mike be doing that just like they did for the EP?
The album has been recorded but has not been mixed and produced. We are still debating on who is going to produce and mix it.

Well, Mike we have pretty much covered all of our questions. Do you have something to add?
Well, I am pretty excited with this band and I am also grateful for the fans who are standing beside me and, you know, understand my vision and my musical needs to branch out and do different things.

Have you been facing ‘haters’ along this process?
Absolutely I have. It has been a tough year for me watching DREAM THEATER fans turning their backs on me, which is unfortunate because I have been the most fan-oriented artist you’ll ever meet. And during my time with DREAM THEATER, everything I did was for the fans. So, it is sad when I see someone turning his back on me. But again, there is a big number of fans who have been very supportive and for those people I am so eternally grateful and I will continue trying to make them proud fans.