Adrenaline Mob’s Russell Allen on Being ‘The Don’
Some music fans may know Russell Allen as the vocalist of Symphony X but he has also been pummeling eardrums with Adrenaline Mob, a band that also features ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, guitarist Mike Orlando and Disturbed bassist John Moyer.
Allen is also known to many Adrenaline Mob fans as “The Don,” and he lives up to it as he sports a slick black fedora when he takes the stage. When we recently caught up with The Don himself, he talked about his stage persona. “Everybody loves it, it’s like I put this stupid hat on and I’m like Batman or something,” remarked Allen. “It’s funny, I put the pinstripe jacket on and I do the hat and everyone’s like ‘Wow.’”
He went on to say, “With this band I really wanted to have separation. I didn’t want to be known as Russell Allen from Symphony X so the idea with this Mob thing – I’m the frontman, they’re calling me “The Don.” Okay, I’m going to roll with that so I can give this band its own identity. The hat is kind of the band in a way, not the whole band, but it’s the image and the thing that separates me and says, ‘This is the voice of Adrenaline Mob,’ because I didn’t want to have some sort of preconceived idea of what this was, because it was just going to let all those progressive fans down.”
Allen continues, “They were expecting Portnoy and me to do some super Dream Theater meets Symphony X sort of thing – they’re very loyal and awesome fans and it was a sad thing for me to take on that wave of criticism because I didn’t want to hurt anybody or piss them off or anything. They have to understand something, I’m not doing it for them, I’m doing this music for myself for what I like and so is Mike Portnoy, so is [Mike] Orlando, so is John [Moyer] – we’re doing this because we’re having a good time doing it and we just wanted to separate it.”
As for the fedora itself, Allen professes, “Everybody tells me the same thing, that they love the hat. I mean it’s a prop but it’s me, I own it, I’m wearing it, I have to — so I take the good and the bad with it. The Don’s tough — I can take it.”
The Don also admits that his hat is one of the few things he absolutely needs on tour with him. “It’s the fricken hat, I got to bring it. I have a couple backups but this is the one,” says Allen. “I got to tell you, I don’t have to have anything else but coffee, my microphone and at least pants — I don’t really need pants — my hat, coffee, microphone and I think I could do the show. I’ll probably do that one day, come out onstage in my underwear.”