Ex-Dream Theater Mike Portnoy had a recent conversation with Anthrax star Charlie Benante’s ‘Modern Drummer Instagram Live’ and talked about the days that John Petrucci and John Myung hadn’t even heard of Metallica.
You may know that Portnoy was the co-founder of Dream Theater alongside John Myung and John Petrucci under the name Majesty in 1985. The trio met at Berklee College of Music, and the three original members remained the same until Mike decided to part ways with the band after twenty-five years in 2010.
The trio released ten studio albums together. Following the departure of Portnoy, Myung and Petrucci hired former Extreme drummer Michael Anthony Mangini as his replacement. As of 2021, Dream Theater has received two Grammy Award nominations and sold over 15 million albums worldwide.
In his conversation with Charlie Benante, Anthrax star asked whether Mike knew these guys were musicians when he met with them for the first time. Portnoy stated that since he was a big Talas fan, he was wearing a Talas shirt, and his former bandmates approached him in the cafeteria saying they could not believe Mike listening to them, and that’s how they met.
In the same conversation, former Dream Theater star admitted that all band members were Rush, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath fanatics in those days. However, he managed to convince his friends to listen to Anthrax, Slayer, and Metallica. Mike also recalled the day he played Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ for his friends for the first time and said they ‘were floored’ after listening to it.
Mike recalled these days saying:
“I was wearing a Talas shirt because I was a big Talas fan. Billy Sheehan, of course, who I play in several bands with now, but back then, it was only the second week of college, it was September ’85, and I went up to Berklee, and those two went to high school together, and they went up to Berklee together.
But it was only within the first week or two, I was in one of the practice rooms just playing drums, and I was wearing a Talas shirt, and they know who Billy Sheehan was. At that time, it was a pretty obscure reference, and not everybody knew who Talas was. But we were Long Islanders. Talas always played the New York club scene – Talas and Twisted Sister, and that whole scene.
So they approached me the next day in the cafeteria, they came up to me, and they were like, ‘Hey man, we saw you jamming yesterday, and we saw you wearing a Talas shirt, wow, I can’t believe you know them…’ And then we started talking about our mutual love for… The big common denominator for us was Rush and Iron Maiden. The three of us were Rush fanatics and Maiden fanatics.
They didn’t know I was already listening to you guys, I was already listening to Anthrax and S.O.D. came out around that year and I was a huge huge fan of that album. And then, of course, I knew the other thrash bands that were coming out around that time.”
Former Dream Theater star continued:
“So I was a big thrash metal fan but those guys didn’t really know that, the only metal they kind of knew was Maiden, Priest, and Sabbath, so I turned them on to Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica…
I remember we were at Berklee when ‘Master of Puppets’ came out, I guess sometime in ’86, and I remember taking the T, which was the train, that’s what they call the train in Boston, but taking the T of Newbury comics to pick up ‘Master of Puppets’ and playing it for those guys. They had never heard Metallica before, and they were floored.
And then, from there, I kind of introduced them to everything else, including S.O.D. and stuff like that. That first year at Berklee just damning and getting to know each other, and playing Maiden covers and Rush covers – that’s how the band started.”
You can check out the whole conversation below.