Portnoy gives lowdown on A7X

Mike Portnoy has spoken to Rhythm about his involvement with Avenged Sevenfold.

Check out what the Dream Theater man had to say about recording with the band, The Rev and the future below.

How did you come to know Jimmy, and what are your fondest memories of him?

“Actually, we never met. I had seen him always saying nice things about me in the press through the years and always mentioning me as an influence, so I eventually reached out to thank him and we emailed and texted each other a bunch of times, but sadly never got to hang out.”

What did you like about him as a player?

“The same thing that I appreciate about A7X as a band in general: the ability to mix metal, punk, pop, prog and do it all so convincingly. I am now more familiar than ever with Jimmy's style having analysed it so intensely in preparations for this session and I am very impressed with his chops. I actually do hear a lot of my influence in him, so it was weird doing the new album and copping his style, which cops a bit of my style to begin with, bringing everything full-circle in a weird way! “

How did it come about that you were asked to play on the record?

“I was in touch with M Shadows immediately after I heard of The Rev's passing and I sent flowers and some other things to Jimmy's family for the funeral. I let them know how sad I was to hear of the news. A few weeks later, their manager Larry Jacobson called me and asked if I'd do the album with them. I didn't hesitate a moment in saying yes as I wanted to help them in any way I could through this incredibly difficult situation. I had a private dinner meeting with the band in LA in mid-January and we all decided the chemistry and spirit was right and we forged ahead with plans to begin the album in mid-February.”

How did you plan to approach the tracks? Did you try to inject some of Jimmy´s style into your own style?

“My goal for this album was first and foremost to bring the drum parts The Rev wrote for these songs to life and never stray from that being the focus. Normally when I do an outside project or session, I go in to be ‘Mike Portnoy´, but this was a very different situation here… I needed to fully respect his vision for the album and his ideas for the drum parts, at least to the extent that he was able to lay them down on the demos (which was rough beats and sketches on an electronic kit)… I took complete direction from the band and producer Mike Elizondo who had worked on these songs with Jimmy throughout 2009 and let them guide me as best as they could with what Jimmy's intentions were for this album. As I said in the press release, "I wasn't try to step into or fill The Rev's shoes...I was merely lacing them for him as he couldn't be there to do it".”

Will you be focussing on this in the near future or do you have other irons in the fire?

“Well of course I do have other irons in the fire - Dream Theater, Transatlantic and Hail! are all touring throughout 2010 - however that doesn't mean I would rule out more playing with A7X in the future… I'd love to continue to play with them if I can. I felt a real bond and emotional connection with them from making this record. Zacky [Vengeance, guitarist] and I even got matching Death Bat tattoos at the end of the session! So I am now in the A7X ‘family´ for life… hopefully this won't be the last time I play with them…”

You can check out more from Mike in Rhythm 175, which is on sale 16 March.

Chris Barnes

I'm MusicRadar's eCommerce Editor. In addition to testing the latest music gear, with a particular focus on electronic drums, it's my job to manage the 300+ buyer's guides on MusicRadar and help musicians find the right gear for them at the best prices. I dabble with guitar, but my main instrument is the drums, which I have been playing for 24 years. I've been a part of the music gear industry for 20 years, including 7 years as Editor of the UK's best-selling drum magazine Rhythm, and 5 years as a freelance music writer, during which time I worked with the world's biggest instrument brands including Roland, Boss, Laney and Natal.