Mike Portnoy has been a drummer in the Dream Theater for 25 years and has become one of the band’s iconic names. Then, he decided to leave the band with a surprise decision.

Speaking to “The Drummer Guy”, the successful drummer explained why he left the band. He said:

“I needed to do what I did because I couldn’t have lived with myself wondering, ‘Well, what if?.

I didn’t wanna wonder what could have happened because I was too scared to take that leap of faith. So I had to. And believe me, everyone was shocked and hurt, but nobody was more hurt than me.

That was the hardest thing I’d ever done, but it was 25 years of blood, sweat and tears, 24-7, I lived and breathed every moment of my 25 years for that band and the fans. So it wasn’t like I jumped ship after five weeks; it was 25 years – three times the length of The Beatles’ or Led Zeppelin’s careers.

So there was plenty of time there, and there will always be a legacy of what I created in Dream Theater that will be there forever for the fans to like. But I needed to explore other things in my life in order to be happy and fulfilled.

I always follow my heart. To me, I’m not gonna follow my wallet or even follow my mind. My mind probably would have said, ‘Well, the rational thing is to ride this out into the sunset the rest of your life and be financially set and have your audience. And you can play the same venues the rest of your life.’

You know, that’s the safer way. But I needed to follow my heart. And it’s not just that move six years ago. Every decision I make, I’m following my heart. I follow with what’s gonna make me happy – not just that decision, but every decision I make is based on that. If you’re not gonna be happy, then it’s not worth doing anything.”

Mike Portnoy talked about Dream Theater again in the past days, and he said what he misses about the band. You can read those conversations by clicking here.