Anybody who has followed Mike Portnoy's career knows that he loves to tip his baseball cap to his musical heroes. With Dream Theater, the much-honored drummer covered entire albums by the likes of Metallica, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd, and in partnership with guitar virtuoso Paul Gilbert, he formed tribute bands that performed the music of The Beatles (Yellow Matter Custard), The Who (Amazing Journey), Rush (Cygnus & The Sea Monsters) and Led Zeppelin (Hammer Of The Gods).
On 12 March, Portnoy shifts back into tribute-mode with his new band, Adrenaline Mob. The raging quartet (which also includes guitarist Mike Orlando, singer Russell Allen and bassist John Moyer) pay their respects to Ronnie James Dio, The Doors, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Heart, Led Zeppelin and the short-lived band Badlands on the highly entertaining eight-song EP, Coverta.
“We do this kind of thing for fun, really," says Portnoy. "Adrenaline Mob have lot of touring that we want to do this year, and even though we feel we have yet to scratch the surface with Omerta [the band's 2012 debut album], we wanted to get something else out there. It wasn’t the right time for a full-length album of originals, so this is a good way of giving fans something to chew on until then."
According to Portnoy, coming up with a proposed tracklisting for Coverta was fairly easy, especially given the fact that Adrenaline Mob had been performing two of the songs, Dio's Stand Up And Shout and Black Sabbath's The Mob Rules, live throughout 2012. "I have a huge music library in the back of my head," he says, chuckling, "so the other ones we recorded were kind of floating around already."
Portnoy says that the band found themselves in agreement over which tracks and bands to cover, except in the case of Steppenwolf's 1968 biker classic, Born To Be Wild. "One guy wanted to do it, but somebody else was adamantly opposed to it," he says. "That was a heated argument for a couple of minutes, and then we moved on." Portnoy says that the band did try their hands at a version of Soundgarden's Rusty Cage, but that it "just didn't feel right, for whatever reason. We pulled it and put it on the shelf."
Of the eight cuts that make up Coverta, Portnoy is stoked, calling the disc "1000 percent fun." Adrenaline Mob will perform the EP live (the band's tour kicks off 12 March), but the songs will be shuffled night to night. "I just made up the setlist," he says. "Basically, there's Coverta 1 and Coverta 2, so rather than stick to one set batch of tunes, we'll rotate them. It'll be a blast."
On the following pages, Portnoy walks us through Coverta track-by-track. And be sure to check out the exclusive video in which the drum superstar discusses the tracking of Romeo Delight, originally recorded by Van Halen.