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Mike Portnoy Doesn’t Consider Himself To Be a Great Drummer

Ethan Miller, Getty Images
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Drum legend Mike Portnoy is world renowned for his seemingly unparalleled skills with the chameleon-like ability to adapt to whatever music he is playing. From the challenging complexities of Dream Theater to the Winery Dogs and all the way to filling in for the late A.J. Pero in Twisted Sister playing some of the most anthemic work ever laid down, he’s a man who can do it all behind the kit. Fans and musicians heap praise upon the stickman, but he doesn’t consider himself one of the greats.

“I have a lot of gratitude for this incredible career,” Portnoy began telling RockMAP (Video below), continuing, “I get to play with so many great musicians and I have great fan support. There’s not many drummers that could leave such a high profile band and have a career that’s as busy and successful as mine has been. I don’t take the credit for that – I give the credit to my fans for allowing me to be able to have a career like this.”

Shifting focus to the constant “best drummer” awards he’s received from various publications, he humbly stated, “All the awards, to me, they’re very flattering, but they’re also intimidating, because they then put this expectation on me. I don’t consider myself a great drummer. I consider myself just a music fan that’s a very, very passionate artist and the drums just happen to be my instrument.” Reiterating his unadulterated love for the music, Portnoy went on, “Every time I win one of these awards, it’s nice, but I almost feel like, ‘No! No!’ I don’t want people to think that I think I’m this great drummer, because, to me, I’m just a kid playing drums, and I love music. I don’t even like doing drum solos live; to me, it’s, like, ‘Ehhh.’ It doesn’t really interest me.”

These sentiments were also expressed when the drummer recently opened up about why he split with Dream Theater, saying, “One of the reasons I needed to leave Dream Theater was because I didn’t want to end my career as just the drummer in one band. I didn’t want to play with the same four musicians for the rest of my life. I needed to spread my wings, and I knew I had more to offer than just Dream Theater.” Returning to the notion of admiration for music, he added, “I think if you look at my body of work now it speaks for itself, and I’ve done over 50 albums with so many different bands, in so many different styles, from metal to rock and prog, and everything in between. All of the bands that I’ve been in make up the bigger picture of who I am, and I would hope that my musical legacy is about all of those things. I’d just like to be remembered as a huge music lover.”

Mike Portnoy Talks to RockMAP

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