Drummer Mike Portnoy reveals who are the de facto leaders in Sons of Apollo
In a recent interview with long-time Sleaze Roxx contributor Ruben Mosqueda for KNAC, Sons of Apollo drummer Mike Portnoy was asked how do the band members keep everyone’s egos in check considering the group’s star studded cast consisting of Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, The Winery Dogs), guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses), bassist Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, ex-David Lee Roth), lead vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, W.E.T) and keyboardist Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater, Black Country Communion).
Portnoy replied (with slight edits): “Every band is different, but with Sons of Apollo, when Derek and I put the band together, it was with the understanding that Derek and I were going to be the ‘de facto’ leaders. It’s not like that with the other bands that I’m currently a part of. In those bands, we’re in an equal partnership. In those bands, everyone has a say and everyone has equal input. When Derek and I put together this band, I said, “Listen, I can’t be part of another band and have to answer 100 emails on every single matter and subject. I just can’t handle it! It has to be different.” So with Sons of Apollo, the only way that it was going to work was if Derek and I took the reigns and oversaw things as producers and made final decisions. That’s not to say that everyone in the band isn’t an equal member, we do everything equally, but there has to be a chain of command, the buck has to stop somewhere so to speak.
There have been a couple of times in Sons of Apollo where this has created a bit of an ‘abrasion’. Bumblefoot and Jeff for instance are very creative, very capable people. They can do stuff as strongly on their own as they can with this band, but there have been a couple of times when those two guys wished there wasn’t this hierarchy within the band. At this stage in our lives, we just want to keep moving forward. When you have five very strong personalities, you could get stuck going around in circles. It’s hard to get people to agree and it’s hard to get people to compromise. Sometimes, you just need a couple of leaders to put their foot down, so that we can move forward. I think everyone knows their role in the band and they’ve accepted it.”
In terms of where he gets the energy to tackle so many bands, Portnoy indicated: “Everyone is wired different. For me personally, luckily I’m a very organized, OCD person so I’m able to keep track of everything that I’m doing and stay professional. I think there’s people who don’t always answer emails or aren’t organized enough to know what’s going on from day to day. I’m definitely not that type. I’m hands on and stay on top of everything. Currently, I’m in six different bands and in 2019, I have been active in one way or another with all six! It’s always crazy, but I’ve been doing this for many, many years so it’s what I do. In terms of remembering the music, I always look at where my feet are, I take it day by day, so today, I’m with Flying Colours so I have to know these songs. Tomorrow, I will be out with Sons of Apollo so I need to know those songs. I look at where I am day to day, in terms of the music. The other side of the coin is scheduling and with that, I always have to be looking ahead. If I’m doing a nine-month tour, I need to know when the album will be out, when the album needs to be delivered to the label. There’s always a deadline, so I always have to be mindful of what I’m currently doing so that I can do other things later in the year. So, there’s the music side of things and the scheduling side of things and I seem to be able to balance both very well so far! My head hasn’t exploded yet [laughs]!”
You can read the rest of the interview with Mike Portnoy at KNAC‘s website.
Sons of Apollo will be releasing their sophomore studio album MMXX on January 17, 2020.