Former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy spoke to Mike Mendoza’s 22 Now to express his thoughts and feelings about his favorite drummers. He also revealed that he learned how to lead a band from Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.
Mike Portnoy realized that his greatest passion was music when he was very young thanks to his father Howard Portnoy who was a DJ. His father had a great collection including different musicians but he chose to listen to Rush, Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Iron Maiden, and The Beatles.
Then, Portnoy started his professional musical career after he founded Dream Theater with John Petrucci and John Myung in 1985. He created his own style but his favorite drummers Ringo Starr, Charlie Watts, John Bonham, Neil Peart, and Keith Moon continued to influence him as a drummer.
In a recent interview he joined, Mike Portnoy emphasized that Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich’s way of founding Metallica, finding his bandmates, deciding the band’s artistic direction inspired him not as a drummer but as a bandleader. Therefore, he took Ulrich as a great example while he was leading Dream Theater for 25 years.
In Portnoy’s words, he said:
“I love Ringo Starr, I love Charlie Watts, I love John Bonham, but Keith had that personality, I mean, he was captivating, and he did everything like a lead instrument. Sadly, that’s why we lost him so young and so early.
I was motivated by that, and then, later on, someone like Lars Ulrich had a big influence on me. Not for drumming but because he was the drummer in the band that was also the leader of the band. You could tell that he had a lot to do with their creative direction, and the songwriting, and obviously the fan club and the merchandise, so he inspired me as well.
Seeing a drummer play the lead role, and that was kind of what my role in Dream Theater was for all those years – 25 years with Dream Theater. So I kind of was modeling myself between Keith Moon, Neil Peart, and Lars Ulrich, and somewhere in between is what came out like me.”
Consequently, Portnoy defined himself as a combination of Keith Moon, Neil Peart, and Lars Ulrich who was described as a great source of inspiration by the drummer with their remarkable skills.