Prog Sphere recently caught up with Dream Theater’s James LaBrie and wouldn’t you know it, the topic of former drummer Mike Portnoy came up.
When asked what it was like to be “the undisputed frontman,” LaBrie responded, “The undisputed frontman? You know, I mean…it was such a weird dichotomy, if you think about it. It’s funny, you mentioning that, because we, the guys in the band, we were talking about that everything is much more balanced, everybody is in their role or in their position. So it’s where things should be on stage, where it’s not somebody in the background trying to grab the limelight when maybe they should just be grooving or whatever.”
James then admits that “that’s [Mike Portnoy’s] character, that’s just his personality. He’s big and he wants to be in the limelight. But, unfortunately, the problem with that is that it takes away from the bigger picture — and that is the band as a unit. And a lot of people have been commenting on that since we started out on this tour, saying, ‘It feels more like I’m watching a band, with somebody up front singing and interacting, everybody else just back there and (makes drumming and guitar playing gestures). Everyone kind of assumes what they’re doing. And then there’s always moments in the night when there is the spotlight on these other members and it should be. But it creates more [of] a balance. And we were talking about this, we were saying, ‘You know, this is really cool.’ It feels like a unit. So it’s a lot better.”
So basically, James LaBrie — who has always wanted to be the face of Dream Theater — is now the face of Dream Theater, and getting all the attention and the focus is on him and he’s happy. Now, everything’s copacetic because the limelight is properly on him. That’s what I am taking away from that statement.
LaBrie was asked if he remains in touch with Portnoy, to which he responded, “No.”
Thankfully, Prog Sphere pressed for more. Has LaBrie spoken with Mike at all this year?
“I haven’t talked to Mike since the announcement he was considering leaving the band. And then…Actually, I should say the last time I verbally spoke to him and I heard his voice was on the conference call when he finally said ‘Yes, I’m leaving the band.’ So that was it.”