James LaBrie says that he has been “overwhelmed” by the “incredible” response to DREAM THEATER‘s announcement that the band was reuniting with original drummer Mike Portnoy.
Earlier today (Saturday, November 4),the 60-year-old Canadian-born singer, who has been fronting DREAM THEATER since 1991, took to his social media to share a couple of photos of him with Portnoy, taken a couple of decades apart, and he included the following message: “Wow, what can I say, I’ve been pretty silent and overwhelmed with the reaction…
“Thank you so much for the incredible response to the reunion of DREAM THEATER‘s classic line up. We are beyond grateful and excited to begin the next chapter with a new album and world tour. Gonna be one hell of ride for all.
“Welcome home, my friend. Mike Portnoy“.
Last year, LaBrie said that it was “great” to be back on good terms with Portnoy. He discussed his relationship with the drummer in a September 2022 interview with Ibagenscast. He said at the time: “There comes a point in everyone’s lives that you have to really consider what it is that you’re… that monkey on your back, and you have to come to terms with it, you have to confront it, and you have to transcend negativity. So if you’re carrying around something that just eats away at you, what good is it? And I think for Mike and I to come to terms with all that garbage that went on for years and years, I think it just got to the point that, ‘Let’s put this behind us. Let’s move on to a more positive place and be the better for it.’ And I think that’s basically what it came down to.
“Life moves on,” LaBrie added. “It took a while, and I think if you talk to a lot of people in life, you realize that there have been these contentious moments that it seems to linger for far too long. And fortunately, we were able to come to terms with it and move past it and move beyond it. So it’s all good.”
Portnoy attended DREAM THEATER‘s concert on March 4, 2022 at Beacon Theatre in New York City. It was the first time he witnessed his former bandmates perform live since his exit from the iconic progressive metal outfit more than 13 years ago.
According to DREAM THEATER fans who attended the show, LaBrie gave Portnoy a shoutout from the stage and Mike waved. Several fans also took pictures of Portnoy at the venue, with Mike and his wife reportedly watching the performance from near the Beacon Theatre soundboard.
The next day, Portnoy shared a few backstage photos from the concert and he included the following message: “After 36 years, I finally got to see my 1st DREAM THEATER show last night! It was a wonderful evening and it was such a pleasure to spend time with my old friends again”.
Portnoy, who co-founded DREAM THEATER 37 years ago, abruptly quit the band in September 2010 while on tour with AVENGED SEVENFOLD. He was later replaced by Mike Mangini (ANNIHILATOR, EXTREME, STEVE VAI).
Portnoy was a guest on Petrucci‘s second solo album, “Terminal Velocity”, which was released in August 2020 via Sound Mind Music/The Orchard. The effort marked the first time Petrucci and Portnoy recorded together in over a decade, as well as their first time playing together since Portnoy departed DREAM THEATER.
In May 2022, LaBrie was asked in an interview with Loaded Radio if there was any chance of him and Portnoy working together again. He responded: “I think anything is possible. Listen, Mike and I are in a great place. We’ve been texting back and forth from time to time. I wished him a happy birthday; he wished me a happy birthday… So we’re staying in touch.
“Listen, Mike‘s a great musician,” LaBrie continued. “Put it this way… Who knows what the future holds? Maybe there’ll be a day and I’ll go, ‘Holy shit. This track would be perfect to have Mike do this.’ Or it might be something that comes from him, from his side. So we’ll see. You know what? I’m open. And that’s the thing, is that we’re in a really good place now. And yeah, it should have happened a long time ago. But human beings, we have a tendency to… our pride gets the best of us.”
In a 2017 interview with Rockhok, Portnoy insisted that had “no longing to reunite” with DREAM THEATER but said that he would return to his former band “for the fans.” He explained: “The ball’s in their court, to be honest. I have no longing to reunite with them; it’s not something I necessarily am looking to do or want to do. I’m very content with all the eighty-seven bands I currently have going, so it’s something I need. But I would do it for the fans, because I’m a very sentimental person and I have a lot of great, fond memories of those guys and the times. I’m a sentimental guy, so I would never close the door on it. So, really, the ball’s in their court, honestly. [But] if you’re asking me the odds [of a reunion happening], I would say, don’t bet on it, because I know their personalities as well and I don’t think they’re the type that are looking backwards.”
A few years ago, Portnoy told Loud that he left DREAM THEATER because he wanted to expand his musical horizons. “[I didn’t] want to go to my grave and just be the drummer from DREAM THEATER,” he said. “I knew there was way more to what I had to offer.”
Since the 2010 departure of Portnoy, Petrucci, along with keyboardist Jordan Rudess, had taken on much of the songwriting load for DREAM THEATER, including 2016’s controversial double concept album, “The Astonishing”, 2019’s “Distance Over Time” and the band’s latest LP, 2021’s “A View From The Top Of The World”.