The founding member of Dream Theater has left after 25 years. © Scott D. Smith/Retna ./Retna Ltd./Corbis
In an unexpected move that is sure to shock fans, Mike Portnoy, drummer and founding member of progressive metallers Dream Theater has announced that he has left the band.
Portnoy issued a statement explaining his reasons for leaving, here it is in full:
"After 25 years, I have decided to leave Dream Theater… the band I founded, led and truly loved for a quarter of a century.
"To many people this will come as a complete shock, and will also likely be misunderstood by some, but please believe me that it is not a hasty decision…it is something I have struggled with for the last year or so…
"After having had such amazing experiences playing with Hail!, Transatlantic and Avenged Sevenfold this past year, I have sadly come to the conclusion that I have recently had more fun and better personal relations with these other projects than I have for a while now in Dream Theater
"Please don't misinterpret me, I love the Dream Theater guys dearly and have a long history, friendship and bond that runs incredibly deep with them… it's just that I think we are in serious need of a little break.
"Dream Theater was always my baby…and I nurtured that baby every single day and waking moment of my life since 1985… 24/7, 365… never taking time off from Dream Theater's never-ending responsibilities (even when the band was 'off' between cycles)… working overtime and way beyond the call of duty that most sane people ever would do for a band.
"But I've come to the conclusion that the Dream Theater machine was starting to burn me out…and I really needed a break from the band in order to save my relationship with the other members and keep my Dream Theater spirit hungry and inspired.
"We have been on an endless write/record/tour cycle for almost 20 years now (of which I have overseen EVERY aspect without a break) and while a few months apart from each other here and there over the years has been much needed and helpful, I honestly hoped the band could simply agree with me to taking a bit of a 'hiatus' to recharge our batteries and 'save me from ourselves'…
"Sadly, in discussing this with the guys, they determined they do not share my feelings and have decided to continue without me rather than take a breather… I even offered to do some occasional work throughout 2011 against my initial wishes, but it was not to be…
While it truly hurts for me to even think of a Dream Theater without Mike Portnoy (hell, my father named the band!!), I do not want to stand in their way…so I have decided to sacrifice myself and simply leave the band so as to not hold them back against their wishes.
"Strangely enough, I just read an interview that I recently did that asked me about the future of Dream Theater and I talked about 'always following your heart and being true to yourself'… Sadly, I must say that at this particular moment, my heart is not with Dream Theater…and I would simply be 'going through the motions,' and would honestly NOT be true to myself if I stayed for the sake of obligation without taking the break I felt I needed.
"I wish the guys the best and hope the music and legacy we created together is enjoyed by fans for decades to come… I am proud of every album we made, every song we wrote and every show we played…
"I'm sorry to all the disappointed Dream Theater fans around the world… I really tried to salvage the situation and make it work… I honestly just wanted a break (not a split)… but happiness cannot be forced, it needs to come from within.
You Dream Theater fans are the greatest fans in the world and as you all know, I have always busted my ass for you guys and I hope that you will stay with me on my future musical journey, wherever it may lead me…. (and as you all know my work ethic, there will surely be no shortage of future Mike Portnoy projects!)"
Dream Theater have confirmed that they intend to carry on without Portnoy, and have stated that there is no bad blood between them and their former drummer. In a statement the band said:
"Mike's stature in the band has meant the world to all of us professionally, musically, and personally over the years. There is no dispute: Mike has been a major force within this band…
""All of us in Dream Theater wholeheartedly wish Mike the best on his musical journey. We have had a long and meaningful career together. It is our true hope that he finds all he is looking for, and that he achieves the happiness he deserves. He will be missed."
Surprising news indeed from the man who recently finished second in the 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years poll run by our sister magazine Rhythm on this very site.
Dream Theater fans, we want to know what you make of this news. Please post your reactions below or on our Facebook wall. How do you feel about this, shocked? Surprised? Or did you see this coming?