Drummer Mike Portnoy says that recording and touring with Avenged Sevenfold was “a great experience” despite the fact that the band ended up recruiting a younger musician to replace him on the road only a few months after Portnoy quit Dream Theater.
Avenged’s original drummer James “The Rev” Sullivan, died in December 2009 from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.
Following Sullivan’s death, the band recruited his favorite drummer, Portnoy, to record the drum tracks for its latest album, “Nightmare”, and all its 2010 tour dates before dismissing him at the end of the year.
Avenged’s current drummer is Arin Ilejay, who began playing with them in early 2011.
Portnoy, who co-founded Dream Theater more than 20 years ago, abruptly quit the band in September 2010 while on tour with Avnged Sevenfold . He has since been replaced by Mike Mangini (Annihilator, Extreme, Janes Labrie, Steve Vai).
When asked by Noisecreep how he looks back on his time playing with Avenged Sevenfold now that he’s had some time away from it, Portnoy said, “It was a great experience. The Dream Theater thing overtook the spotlight, and that was never the intention. The intention all along was to be there to serve them and Jimmy’s memory. It got overshadowed in the end, which was never my intention. The media hype blew everything else up, so I totally understand their need to go with younger drummer. I come with history and baggage. As much as I love those guys, I tweet and stay in touch with my fans on Facebook, whereas they are more private. It makes total, total sense to go with someone new and young.”
In a December 2011 interview with the San Francisco, California radio station 107.7 The Bone, Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Zacky Vengeance stated about being caught in the middle of the drama between Portnoy and Dream Theater, “It was something that we were not used to at all. We had never, ever experienced any kind of in-the-spotlight drama; we just always stay in the shadows and keep any of our personal business private. And [Mike is] a very different character — he always goes straight to fans [on] Twitter or whatever… That’s how he dealt with his band, and it was new to us. We like to be in touch with our fans, but we’re also very private.”
He continued, “[Mike had] been talking about quitting Dream Theater, that he wasn’t necessarily happy, and he was excited to be playing with us; we were playing huge shows and stuff. I think he got caught up in the moment, got excited. We begged him to consider what he did, because we were in no position to find a permanent replacement, because in all honesty, you can’t replace Jimmy, who was our best friend — first and foremost — besides beng an amazing drummer. So it just wasn’t the right time and the place. And he told us, ‘Hey, I’ve got good news and bad news. I quit Dream Theater.’ We were like, ‘Oh, no. Well, if you’re happy, then that’s good.’ [And he was like], ‘Now I can be with you guys.’ And we were like, ‘That’s not necessarily what we decided upon. And you should take your time and reconsider.’ And he was like, ‘Well, I put out my press release.’ We were like, ‘Dude, that’s not how we do business. You should have talked to us before.’ Then it was back and forth [between Mike and his former Dream Theater bandmates]. We were out of it; we had nothing to do with it. We were just trying to get back on our feet. So when all that was going down, it was causing us a lot of heartache, to be honest — to see our name in this drama-filled love triangle. He helped us out at a really vulnerable time, and for that we will always be extremely appreciative. But for us, we were so unstable at that point that any unneeded attention was just very harmful to us. Obviously, it didn’t work out [between us and Mike], but I think it’s for the best — for him and for us.”