Joe Bosso from MusicRadar.com conducted an interview recently with drummer Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs, Living Colors, Transatlantic, ex-Dream Theater, ex-Adrenaline Mob) covering the Transatlantic’s upcoming album “Kaleidoscope” and Progressive Nation at Sea cruise festival. Couple of excerpts from the interview can be read below.
Is there a plan to how Transatlantic band operates, or do you guys get together when the stars and schedules align?
“It’s been different each time around. This is now our fourth album – we started in ’99, and so we’re into our 15th year. I think we’ve been promoted from side project to part-time band. In the beginning, it was this concept of mine to put together a quote-unquote supergroup of modern prog players. That was the initial thing from the get-go – it was a project.
“The second album was kind of an immediate response to how successful the first one was; we wanted to do it again. Then we had a big eight or nine-year hiatus. When we got back together for The Whirlwind, it was like a big secret reunion. People didn’t know about it, so when we finally announced it, it was kind of a big deal.
“Now, here we are with the fourth album, and after the reunion and the success of The Whirlwind, we feel like this can be a real part-time band, because our circumstances have changed. When we started this in the late ‘90s, I was obviously still in Dream Theater, and Neal was in Spock’s Beard. Those were our main things, and Transatlantic was definitely a side band.
“But here we are in 2014: I’m no longer in Dream Theater – I’m a free agent, doing lots of different things; Neal’s a free agent and is doing lots of different things. So it gives Transatlantic as an entity a little bit more flexibility. I think that’s what’s promoted us from side project to more part-time band.
You sing on the album, as you have on other records and in other bands. Are you surprised that some people might still say, “I didn’t know he could sing”?
[Laughs] “It is amazing. You’d think, at this point, anybody who’s been following my career would have noticed. In Dream Theater I did most of my singing. In Transatlantic I sing lead as well as lot of background vocals – same with Flying Colors, and the same with Yellow Matter Custard, my Beatles tribute. And like I said, I did a tremendous amount within Dream Theater. I did a tremendous amount of secondary lead vocals and harmonies, and I wrote a huge amount of lyrics and melodies within the band. You’d think a lot of people would know by now, but I guess not everybody pays attention.
“For me, this is one of the great things about Transatlantic, that you’ve got four people singing, four distinct voices contributing to the music. All of my favorite bands have had all four members singing. Obviously, The Beatles are a great example; maybe a lesser example is KISS. In Pink Floyd, you had three of the guys singing; Queen had three of the guys singing. I’ve always appreciated the variety in those bands.”
Besides the bands, what else goes on during the cruise?
“Well, the music is certainly the focal point. There’s going to be four stages on the ship, with every band performing multiple times. All throughout the day and night, there’s going to be music happening at any given moment. There’s going to be a lot of cross-pollination with all the bands, too, different people performing with different groups.
“And there are other things: There’ll be a trivia contest, Q&As, meet and greets, signings with different artists and even clinics with a few of them. Of course, while we’re docked, it’s like you’re on vacation. In the afternoons on the third and fourth days, you can go on the islands and just be on vacation. It’s both sides of R&R – you’re getting the rest and relaxation, and you’re getting the rock ‘n’ roll.” [Laughs]
Read the full interview on Music Radar.