Mike Portnoy On Shifting Gears From Cream To Genesis

Since his departure from Dream Theater, Mike Portnoy remained active in the music scene and worked on various side projects. Speaking to Whatzup’s Wheat Williams, the drummer likened playing with different bands to shifting gears, like going from Cream to Genesis.

Mike Portnoy is the master of multitasking — he works on many side projects simultaneously, such as Transatlantic and The Winery Dogs. Transatlantic is a progressive rock supergroup made up of Portnoy, Neal Morse, Roine Stolt, and Pete Trewavas, while The Winery Dogs is a power trio featuring Billy Sheehan and Richie Kotzen.

Looking through his music career with all these acts, it’s safe to say that Mike Portnoy is a fan of different kinds of rock and metal. In a recent interview, Whatzup’s Wheat Williams asked the drummer to compare playing for Transatlantic to playing in a power trio like The Winery Dogs.

Mike Portnoy said that The Winery Dogs have a sound with elements from Cream, Jimi Hendrix, the Who, and Led Zeppelin, while Transatlantic is rooted in bands like Yes, King Crimson, and Genesis. He revealed that playing with both bands appeals to different sides of him and claimed it’s not as complicated as it seems.

According to Portnoy, making songs of great length with Transatlantic is as easy as playing five-minute-long songs with The Winery Dogs. He likened this shift between two bands to changing hats and shifting gears while admitting he is comfortable playing different styles with each band.

Comparing The Winery Dogs to Transatlantic, Mike Portnoy said the following:

“I don’t think one is more difficult or complicated than the other. I’m a fan of all different kinds of music. So what The Winery Dogs do is in the vein of Cream and Hendrix and The Who and Zeppelin, which is a huge part of my background. But so is what I do with Neal Morse and Transatlantic, which is rooted in Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and The Beatles. So it’s just another side of me.

Even though Transatlantic does 30-, 40-, and 90-minute songs(!), that’s just as easy for me as playing five-minute songs with The Winery Dogs. It’s just an extension of what I do. I’m comfortable with all the different hats I wear in all the different bands I play with. It’s just a matter of changing hats and shifting gears.“

So, Mike Portnoy believes playing for two different bands with different approaches to rock is just like changing hats. As it seems, the drummer shifts gears from Cream to Genesis when he plays with The Winery Dogs and Transatlantic. Although it may seem like a difficult task, Portnoy feels comfortable wearing different hats for different bands.

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