Mike Portnoy is a lot of people's favorite drummer, Billy Sheehan is a lot of people's favorite bassist, and Richie Kotzen is a lot of people's favorite guitarist. But as The Winery Dogs, they very well could be a lot of people's favorite new band. Yes, their self-titled debut album is that kind of winner.
“People are saying some pretty nice things," Sheehan says, chuckling. "You gotta love that. I think what's good about what we're doing is, we're not trying to do a supergroup kind of thing. I was already friends with Mike, and I was already friends with Richie. We had an idea of what we were getting into with this thing, and that chemistry came out in the songs."
Not surprisingly, when word got out last year that the three instrumental greats were working together, tongues started wagging about what many assumed would be a brand-new shred-fest-a-palooza. "That was the last thing we wanted to do," says Portnoy. "This is a very song-oriented band that’s based around the vocals. And I'm thrilled about that. Everything I’ve done with original bands has either been progressive or metal. This is the first time I’m doing something that’s ‘classic rock.'”
As for the Dogs' frontman, Kotzen is hoping that he can finally wake his homeland up to the fact that he has a voice. "I've built up a nice reputation internationally as a vocalist, guitar player and songwriter," he says, "but there's still a demographic here in the States that equates me with the shred stuff I did when I was 18. I find that mind-boggling." He thinks for a second, then adds with a laugh, "Of course, I'm always happy to change people’s opinions."
On the following pages Portnoy, Sheehan and Kotzen run down their debut album as The Winery Dogs track-by-track. The album will be released on 23 July via Loud & Proud Records. You can purchase at The Winery Dogs' web store, iTunes or on Amazon.