Mike Portnoy Reunites with Dream Theater for 16th Studio Album

The legendary virtuoso drummer returns to the band with thunderous support

In a surprising turn of events, progressive metal band Dream Theater reunited with former drummer Mike Portnoy. The band’s current drummer until this point, Mike Mangini, who’s played with Dream Theater since 2010, is stepping aside. Their new album will be the first time Portnoy has worked with the band since 2009’s Black Clouds & Silver Linings.

Mike Mangini is an accomplished drummer known for his exceptional technical skills and precision. Born on April 18, 1963, in Newton, Massachusetts, he joined the progressive metal band Dream Theater in 2011 as the replacement for Mike Portnoy. Mangini’s audition for the band, which was documented in a video series called “The Spirit Carries On,” showcased his extraordinary drumming abilities and ultimately led to his selection as the new drummer.

Prior to joining Dream Theater, Mangini had an extensive career as a drumming educator and session musician. He taught at the Berklee College of Music, wrote instructional books and DVDs, and played with various artists and bands, including Steve Vai and Extreme. Mangini’s technical prowess and versatility have made him a respected figure in the drumming community.

Mike comments that he knew his place wasn’t to fill all the roles Portnoy held in the band, displaying a genuine sense of humility in the process.

“I understand Dream Theater’s decision to get Mike Portnoy back at this time,” states Mike Mangini. “As was said from Day 1, my place was not to fill all the roles that Mike held in the band. I was to play the drums in order to help the band carry on. My main role of keeping our live show working tightly on a nightly basis was an intense and rewarding experience.

Thankfully, I got to experience playing music with these iconic musicians, as well as some fun times laced with humor. I also really enjoyed spending lots of time with the crew. And then there’s the GRAMMY® win, which was amazingly satisfying. To the fans: thank you so much for being amazing to me. I cherish the pictures I have of you all losing your minds and having fun. Finally, I really love the band, crew, and management and wish them and the entire organization all the best.”  

Dream Theater, a progressive metal band known for their technical virtuosity and intricate compositions, originated in 1985 in Long Island, New York. The band was founded by three Berklee College of Music students: guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, and drummer Mike Portnoy. They initially named the band “Majesty” and later changed it to “Dream Theater” after discovering a similarly named band already existed. Dream Theater’s early lineup went through some changes, but they solidified with the addition of keyboardist Kevin Moore and vocalist Charlie Dominici.

Their unique blend of progressive rock and heavy metal quickly gained attention in the music scene. In 1989, they released their debut album, “When Dream and Day Unite,” which marked the beginning of their enduring career. The addition of vocalist James LaBrie in 1991 and keyboardist Jordan Rudess in 1999 further shaped their signature sound. Dream Theater has since become one of the most influential and respected bands in the progressive metal genre, celebrated for their technical prowess and conceptual albums.

“Mike Mangini’s drumming is otherworldly, and I’m extremely grateful for the time he spent with us in Dream Theater. I’m very proud of all the amazing music we made together that culminated in our first GRAMMY win last year and the countless magical moments that we’ve shared on stage over the past 13 years. I wish him all the best of success in his future musical endeavors,” explains John Petrucci. 

“I’m incredibly excited to welcome Mike Portnoy back into Dream Theater! As an original founding member, longtime friend, and incredibly talented and creative drummer, I know that his return will bring a renewed spirit, passion, and energy into DT that all of us, including our fans, will joyfully welcome. I can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get back into the studio together!”

In September 2010, a significant chapter in Dream Theater’s history unfolded when longtime drummer and co-founder Mike Portnoy made the surprising decision to leave the band. Portnoy, known for his exceptional drumming skills and creative contributions to the band’s music, cited a desire for a break from the band’s constant touring and recording schedule as his primary reason for departure.

This departure marked the end of Portnoy’s 25-year tenure with Dream Theater. The band embarked on a search for a new drummer to fill the void left by his departure, eventually recruiting Mike Mangini. Portnoy’s exit was met with mixed emotions from fans and band members alike, but Dream Theater continued to create and perform music with Mangini, showcasing their resilience in the face of significant change.

Bass player John Myung sent his regards for the now former bandmate Mike Mangini.

“It’s great to be back true to form with our original drummer Mike Portnoy. We started playing together as Majesty almost 40 years ago, and I am excited to see what this next phase of Dream Theater creates for the future. I wish nothing but the best for Mike Mangini for all the blood, sweat, and tears he put into DT during his 13-year tenure with the band.” 

Lead singer James LaBrie said that this lineup of the band will be the final incarnation of Dream Theater.

“Having Mike Mangini with us all these years has been, quite simply, a terrific ride. He is one of the most amazing and naturally gifted drummers I have had the pleasure of working with. Thank you, Mike. Life is a very strange ride, and I guess that’s what makes it all the more interesting and forever engaging. Having Mike Portnoy back in the band is exactly where we and things should be.

Sesto San Giovanni ,Milan Italy 1995-03-07 : Mike Portnoy drummer of Dream Theater live concert at the Palasesto
Mike Portnoy drummer of Dream Theater live concert at the Palasesto //
Fabio Diena
 / Alamy Stock Photo

Things have a way of going full circle, and in this case, it makes perfect sense. I am excited with the prospects of this classic DT lineup being reunited. I can say with absolute confidence this will be the final incarnation of DT, with many chapters still to be written well into our future. Onward and upward guys! Welcome back MP.”

Keyboard player Jordan Rudess shared his support for Mike Mangini, along with his excitement about returning to the OG lineup.

“Mike Mangini is one of the most exceptional drummers on earth, and I feel privileged that we got to create a whole body of work with him. I will always be grateful for the time we shared in the Dream Theater Universe,” keyboard player Jordan Rudess adds. “We are so excited to reunite the core Dream Theater family. There is a resonance of spirit and vision that is unique and goes beyond words within our relationship with Mike Portnoy.

On the stage and off, there is no denying the magic that happens when we are together. I’m thankful we have the opportunity to work together again as Dream Theater and am looking forward to sharing our excitement and passion with our amazing fans for a long time to come.”

Mike Portnoy, who formed several bands since leaving Dream Theater in September 2010, also weighed in.

“I am overwhelmed with joy to be returning home and reuniting with my brothers! There is so much shared history between us all So many memories, so much music. To think we’re coming up on 40 years since this journey began! The idea of creating new music together is so exciting, and I absolutely cannot wait to hit the road and get to play live for a whole new generation of fans that weren’t ever able to see this lineup before. There’s no place like home!” exclaims Mike Portnoy.

Fans are both excited and stunned at the news, with an outpour of support on the social media website (formerly Twitter).

I can honesly say I didn’t have this one on my bingo card. Welcome back to Dream Theatre, Mike Portnoy.

Nick Cesarz

Nick is a drummer, percussionist, and blogger from Milwaukee, WI. He toured extensively with Vinyl Theatre, opening up for acts like twenty one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, and more. Now no longer touring, his passion lies in gear and playing the kit as much as time allows.

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