Dream Theater have a new drummer and his name is Mike Portnoy

Dream Theater 2023
(Image credit: Dream Theater)

Dream Theater have announced the return of Mike Portnoy as drummer following his exit from the band 13 years ago. In a statement released today, the band also revealed that the line-up, including Portnoy, will shortly begin work on the band’s 16th studio album.

“I am overwhelmed with joy to be returning home and reuniting with my brothers!” Portnoy says. “There is so much shared history between us all…so many memories, so much music…to think we’re coming up on 40 years since this journey began! 

“The idea of creating new music together is so exciting and I absolutely cannot wait to hit the road and get to play live for a whole new generation of fans that weren’t ever able to see this line-up before…There’s no place like home!!”

“I’m incredibly excited to welcome Mike Portnoy back into Dream Theater!” adds guitarist John Petrucci. “As an original founding member, long-time friend and incredibly talented and creative drummer, I know that his return will bring a renewed spirit, passion, and energy into DT that all of us, including our fans, will joyfully welcome. I can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get back into the studio together!”

Bassist, John Myung commented on the line-up change, "It's great to be back true to form with our original drummer Mike Portnoy. We started playing together as Majesty almost 40 years ago and I am excited to see what this next phase of Dream Theater creates for the future.”

Of course, this also means that Portnoy’s replacement, Mike Mangini is no longer a member of Dream Theater, but it appears that the change of drummers is amicable from both sides with each member of the band – including Mike Mangini – contributing to the statement. 

“I understand Dream Theater’s decision to get Mike Portnoy back at this time,” Mike Mangini says in the band’s statement. “As was said from Day 1, my place was not to fill all the roles that Mike held in the band. I was to play the drums in order to help the band carry on. My main role of keeping our live show working tightly on a nightly basis was an intense and rewarding experience. 

“Thankfully, I got to experience playing music with these iconic musicians, as well as some fun times laced with humour. I also really enjoyed spending lots of time with the crew. And then there’s the GRAMMY® win, which was amazingly satisfying. To the fans: thank you so much for being amazing to me. 

"I cherish the pictures I have of you all losing your minds and having fun. Finally, I really love the band, crew, and management and wish them and the entire organisation all the best.” 

Reflecting on Mangini’s time in Dream Theater, John Petrucci adds, “Mike Mangini’s drumming is otherworldly and I’m extremely grateful for the time he spent with us in Dream Theater. 

"I’m very proud of all the amazing music we made together that culminated in our first GRAMMY win last year and the countless magical moments that we’ve shared on stage over the past 13 years. I wish him all the best of success in his future musical endeavours,”

Mike Portnoy left Dream Theater in 2010, following the recording of DT’s album, Black Clouds and Silver Linings. Dream Theater embarked on a documented process of finding their new drummer, culminating in video-recorded auditions of some of the world’s leading progressive/metal drummers.

The auditions saw Thomas Lang, Marco Minneman, Aquiles Priester, Derek Roddy, Peter Wildoer, Virgil Donati and Mike Mangini put through their paces before Mangini secured the gig. 

Meanwhile, in the intervening years, Mike Portnoy has remained busy with multiple projects including The Winery Dogs, Sons of Apollo, Adrenaline Mob, Transatlantic and more. 

In 2020, Portnoy reunited with John Petrucci to contribute for the guitarist’s solo album, Terminal Velocity. In 2021, Petrucci, Portnoy and Dream Theater keyboard player, Jordan Rudess teamed up once again to record the third album from Liquid Tension Experiment.

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.