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MUSIC: The Winery Dogs’ Mike Portnoy Talks To GoLocal

Thursday, October 31, 2013

 

Mike Portnoy talks with GoLocal about The Winery Dogs, which take the stage at The Met tonight.

You might know him as a founding member of the innovative progressive metal band Dream Theater as well as a musician who has played with the likes of Avenged Sevenfold, Transatlantic and Flying Colors just to name a few. He is an icon in the realm of drummers regardless of genre and the respect he has obtained throughout his career spans many generations. That person is Mike Portnoy and his new band The Winery Dogs featuring ex-Poison guitarist Richie Kotzen who is also on vocals and bass virtuoso Billy Sheehan are playing The Met in Pawtucket on Halloween night. I had the chance to talk to Mike about his new musical undertaking among other things and here's how it went.

First things first, how did The Winery Dogs get started with you, Richie and Billy?

Well, it originated with a completely different project I was working on with John Sykes (Tygers Of Pan Tang, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake) and then I brought Billy on board through that. After some time of waiting for John to move forward Billy and I got antsy and we decided to look for something else. At that point Eddie Trunk suggested Richie and once he got on board that's how The Winery Dogs began with the three of us.

You guys also already have a debut album out as well. How was it made and which studio did you use?

We were in Los Angeles at Richie's studio and basically we got together there for a couple writing sessions during a few days in January & February 2012 just to see if the chemistry was there. It was and we immediately started banging out the songs very quickly and easily. We then decided to go ahead and completed the album in the summer and that's pretty much it.

In the past you've been with acts like Dream Theater which you were the drummer in for 25 years that's a progressive metal band with some orchestral aesthetics, Avenged Sevenfold who are more of a thrash metal band and Flying Colors with Deep Purple's Steve Morse. The Winery Dogs have a very heavy bluesy hard rock feel and it also reminds me a lot of late 70's/early 80's arena rock. Resonating the styles of Foreigner before they went the pop route, Rainbow when they had Ronnie James Dio and all of these straight up old-school rock bands. As a drummer when you first started getting down to writing these songs, was there any adjustment for you when it came to changing up styles?

There was really no adjustment at all, everything that you just named is part of my background. Just because I spent 25 years in Dream Theater doesn't mean that I only listen to progressive music. I spend my life listening to all different kinds of music and I've always had an appreciation for playing other styles, it's just that I was always rooted in prog and metal. I grew up with classic rock and straight ahead rock so there were really no adjustments. It's all very natural to me, I'm as natural playing a 4 minute song in 4/4 as I am playing a 30 minute song with a dozen different time signatures. It's all part of what makes me who I am.

Speaking of you being in all of these different projects, are there any other bands or any musicians out there who are still around and still playing shows that you've thought about getting involved and doing an album with or do you just want to focus on The Winery Dogs and see where it goes from there?

I don't really have enough time right now, I have a hard enough time juggling 4,5 or 6 different bands as it is. The Winery Dogs is my main full-time focus right now but I'm still in Flying Colors, I'm still in Transatlantic, I still work with Neil Morse and all of these other things I have going on. I can give you a list of people who I'd still like to work with but I literally don't have enough time in my life to do it. If you look at everything I've done in the past 3 years since I've left Dream Theater, it's basically my wishlist of people who I've wanted to work with from Steve Morse to Billy Sheehan to Richie Kotzen to John Sykes, these are all people who I respect and admire and want to work with.

Well it's pretty cool that you get to live your dream working with these talented musicians Mike. My last question is, will this be the only Winery Dogs album? Do you guys plan on sometime in the future to put out more releases or will this be a one time deal?

No, this is a real band and this is something we all plan on pursuing full-time. This isn't a one off project, this is something that all three of us have made a priority in each of our lives and careers. We plan on having it be an ongoing band and our home for many years to come.

Catch The Winery Dogs live at The Met on Halloween night for an up close and personal look at a band that promises to blow the roof off the place. While you're there, grab a copy of their self-titled debut and enjoy.
 


Related Slideshow:
11 Great RI Halloween Parties

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Halloween Costume Party

Olive’s Bar on North Main Street in Providence is hosting a Halloween costume party “For the Grown and Sexy!” The party will be presented by the “Sophisticated Divas” with music by DJ J Scratch! Grab your tickets early and save $5.00. There will be prizes for the best costumes, and drink specials all night long! This is a 21+ event. October 25, 9pm-2am. 108 North Main Street, Providence. (401) 751-1200.

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Nightmare on Lambda St.

On October 25, Lambda Upsilon Lambda will be hosting its very own Halloween party at Ultra the Nightclub on Pine Street! College students from over 5 states are expected to attend this bash! Costumed girls that arrive before 11pm will receive free admission, and if you say “LUL” at the door you will receive discounted admission! This is a 21+ event. October 25, 10pm-3am. 172 Pine Street, Providence. (401) 454-5483.

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Kreepfest 2013

Come to the 1st Annual Kreepfest presented by Rambudikon this month to become part of a brand new Providence tradition! There will be over 20 bands performing, and featured guests include Our Last Night, The Venetia Fair & Trophy Wives! All bands are going to play at least one Halloween themed song. Come costumed (There are prizes!) and prepared for a long day of fun—this event begins at 1pm! This is an all ages event. October 26, doors open at 12:30pm. Last show ends at 11:20. Simon 677, 677 Valley Street, Providence.

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Nightmare on Richmond St.

Think you’ve got what it takes to come up with the best Halloween costume? If you do—you will have the opportunity to win $1,000 cash! This party, held at TWO clubs, will be among the best in the college scene this October, so pick up your tickets soon! Entertainment will be provided by Sharon Needles, called “fabulous” by Lady Gaga. Click here to buy your tickets now! This is an 18+ event. October 26, 10pm-2am. Ego, Loft 71 & the courtyard, 73 Richmond Street, Providence.

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Nightmare

Head over to Dive Bar on October 30 for a Nightmare Before Halloween party! There will be plenty of music and drinks to keep you going all night. The lineup features RKO Army, who will be performing a special Michael Jackson Thriller tribute! This is a 21+ event. October 30, 9pm-2am. 201 Westminster Street, Providence, (401) 441-3039.

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Nightmare on Broad Street

Luna Nightclub, one of Providence’s newest and hottest places for college entertainment, will be hosting a costume party on Halloween night! Make sure you get creative with your costume—there is a $250 cash prize for the best costume. Music will be by DJ CoroKing & DJ Rukiz. 18+ for the ladies, 21+ for guys. October 31, 10pm-2am. Luna Nightclub, 1206 Broad Street, Providence. (401) 339-8908.

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Creatures of the Night

This one is probably the most unique Halloween event of all! The 5th Annual Creatures of the Night event is an experience not to be missed. Come out on Friday, November 1, to join the fun with some post-Halloween madness. Big Nazo, an international group of visual performance artists will be on scene to intensify the night! Also, expect over 20 DJs, live music, multiple bars, confetti cannons, larger than life Halloween decorations and more! This is a 21+ event. November 1, 2013, 8pm-2am. Lupos Heartbreak Hotel, 79 Washington Street, Providence. (401) 272-5876.

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Fete Frights

Spice up your Halloween night this year with Church of Providence at Fete! Prepare for the Church’s biggest lineup to date.  Featuring B. Dolan and his band, Circle Takes the Square and Apathy!  There will be a rap battle featuring a cash prize with Sage Francis!  Providence’s favorite characters; Big Nazo will be on scene as well.  Tickets are only $10 with free parking. Fete Ballroom, 103 Dike Street, Providence. (401)383-1112  www.fetemusic.com

 
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Phish

New England’s own original jam band, born and bred at the University of Vermont in Burlington, is coming to nearby Worcester & Hartford CT for Halloween shows! On October 25 and 26, Phish will be performing at the DCU Center in Worcester; October 27 they will be at the XL Center in Hartford! Phish is classic New England college music—coeds know Phish for “Farmhouse,” “You Enjoy Myself,” “Down with Disease,” and more. Get you tickets and plan your pre-party now; this one is guaranteed to be an experience! All ages permitted.
October 25 & 26 @ DCU, October 27 @ XL Center. Doors open at 6:30pm in Worcester, open at 6 in Hartford. Show is 7:30pm. DCU Center, 50 Foster Street, Worcester. (508) 755-6800. XL Center, 1 Civic Center Plaza, Hartford. (860) 249-6333.

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Rí Rá Pub Costume Party

Rí Rá Pub, Providence’s favorite local Irish watering hole on Exchange Terrace has something special planned this October! Head down on October 25 for a Halloween Costume Party, with a prize package going to the best get up! There will be Halloween themed drinks and specials all night long. Fighting Friday and DJ Judah will perform! This is a 21+ event. October 25, 8pm-close. 50 Exchange Terrace, Providence. (401) 272-1953. 

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Halloween Music Festival

Finnegan’s Annual Music Block Party is in its second year this October! There will be 100,000 sq. ft. of outdoor space to party in! Featuring the best DJs in RI, including DJ Ayo and DJ Joint, this party heats up Halloween night! Drink specials and giveaways will be going on throughout the evening. Grab your tickets today and save $10! This is a 21+ event. October 31, 7pm-1am. 397 Westminster Street, Providence. (401) 751-0290.

 
 

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