SONS OF APOLLO drummer Mike Portnoy (ex-DREAM THEATER) recently spoke with Rodrigo Altaf of Sonic Perspectives. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On how making SONS OF APOLLO‘s new album, “MMXX”, compared to the band’s 2017 debut, “Psychotic Symphony”:
Mike: “The process was kind of the same. We felt like we really had a good chemistry the first time around, so we didn’t want to mess with it too much. The process was similar — basically myself and Derek [Sherinian, keyboards] and Bumblefoot got together at my place to kind of get all the music together. Derek and Bumblefoot had a million riffs and ideas and bits and pieces, so the three of us kind of sifted through everything and spent a lot of time arranging and delveoping it, piecing it together. Finally, once we had all of the music fleshed out, we went out to L.A., and Derek and I recorded our basic tracks. From there, Jeff Scott Soto took the music and wrote his lyrics and melodies. Derek and I spent a lot of time shaping everything with him, but for the most part, we basically spent the rest of the year [with] everybody getting their parts done and getting the album done.”
On the significance of the album’s title:
Mike: “We named the album ‘2020’ or ‘MMXX’, however you want to refer to it, so the whole idea was that this was one of the first releases of the next decade. We’re walking into a new decade, so we figured we would take the look of the band and the crest and everything and launch it into the 21st Century. The first album had a real ancient look, so with an album title like ‘MMXX’, we wanted it to kind of bring us into the present and into the future.”
On reconnecting with Sherinian, who was fired from DREAM THEATER in 1999:
Mike: “The hatchet was already buried. Even once he split from DREAM THEATER, he and I stayed in touch. I always stayed friendly with him, so really, the hatchet was buried right away between the two of us, but as soon as I left DREAM THEATER, one of the first things I got asked to do was some performance at NAMM [Editor’s note: an annual music industry trade show in Anaheim, California], where they wanted me to put together a band. I immediately called Derek and had this lineup in my head of Derek and Billy [Sheehan, bass] and Tony [MacAlpine, guitar]. That’s how PSMS kind of started. We had such a fun time doing that tour. Derek was always kind of egging me on to try to put together a real band and writing some music and adding a singer. It took a few years for me to be able to have some availability in my schedule, but eventually, we came around and then SONS OF APOLLO was born.”
On whether to expect any jam sessions during SONS OF APOLLO‘s upcoming North American tour, which MacAlpine will open:
Mike: “There’s no definitive plans yet, but we’ve talked about it. It would be great to have him join us for maybe the encore, because obviously he’s part of the history of this band. Before SONS OF APOLLO, we were doing PSMS with Tony, so he really is part of the extended family. We haven’t worked it out just yet, but fingers are crossed that we’ll do something.”
On the fact that SONS OF APOLLO has only toured to date as a headliner:
Mike: “Honestly, I would much, much rather be a support band. That was my goal for SONS OF APOLLO — to be opening for a MAIDEN or a PRIEST or a SABBATH, or even another style band like ALTER BRIDGE or Slash or something like that. There’s so many different bands that we would be able to work with, but nobody’s invited us. You can’t just jump on to a tour — you have to be invited. Honestly, none of us want to be out there in clubs playing to our existing audience. We would love to be introduced to a wider fan base, and I think SONS OF APOLLO could easily cross over to a lot of those audiences, but you have to be invited. We still hope that maybe some day, we’ll be invited, but as of now, we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.”
“MMXX” will be released on January 17 via InsideOut Music. The band will kick off a two-week North American tour featuring special guest MacAlpine on January 23 in Sacramento, California.
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