As Dream Theater prepare to audition drummers, vocalist James LaBrie catches up with Ultimate-Guitar to discuss the departure of Mike Portnoy and what's next in store for the band -- including a new record. In the candid interview, LaBrie discloses how, "there was no indication that [Portnoy] was unhappy with who and what Dream Theater is or represents" and explains that for fans, "the important thing to remember is that still four-fifths of the band are there."
Read an excerpt of the Q&A below, and go right here to read the full feature.
Stay tuned for more updates from Dream Theater coming soon as they search for their new drummer.

is it too early to talk about a replacement at this point?

Absolutely it is. I can tell you this much: in a couple of weeks we’re gonna start auditioning. We have the drummers coming in and basically, yeah, it all looks incredible; it’s all good. You know, it’s just a matter of doing that process and then coming out on the other side and making the announcement, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Without any disrespect intended, it will be difficult to replace Mike but not impossible. Your fans will still be there with you.

I think the important thing to remember is that still four-fifths of the band are there. And that, and I’ve mentioned this in other interviews, we’re all quite capable of doing things individually that’s musical. For instance, my solo album that’s out now, Static Impulse, and various things that we’ve done within Dream Theater. It really is unfortunate that this man at this point, Mike, has decided to go his separate ways, but we have to accept that, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Dream Theater will still go on forward and be strong and come out with incredible music. Absolutely; no doubt.

Black Clouds and Silver Linings was the last record with that lineup with Mike. It’s still pretty recent history, but can you look back at it as sort of the last testament or statement of that lineup that will close that chapter with Mike?

No, I mean, I’m biased obviously. I absolutely loved the album. I think it was great. When I was doing interviews for that album I always said, “The thing I especially love about this is that I think we really went back to our roots as far as who and what we were as a band as Dream Theater.” We pulled upon a lot of those influences and inspirations that earlier in our career really kinda formed and created who and what we were. So I think a lot of those elements are present on Black Clouds and Silver Linings. You know, I don’t even like to say that [laughs]. Like, you know, “Was it a great last album with Mike Portnoy?” Yeah, sure, it was a great last album with Mike. Who knows what the future holds? At this point our focus is on getting a drummer that we feel connected to both in the chemistry and personality and absolutely he has to be more than capable of playing what Mike played, which is incredible drumming. But yeah, I think it is a great testament for who and what he was. He was extremely passionate about everything that went into Black Clouds and Silver Linings, so it’s a true testament as to what he was within Dream Theater.

At some point we can expect another Dream Theater record?

Absolutely. At this point we’re planning on going in the beginning of January and hope to be out touring next June. We’ll probably start over in Europe doing all the big festivals throughout the summer. Then as far as an album, we might be out touring before the album comes out. Which isn’t a bad thing. I mean, Maiden just ended up doing that on their last album. They were out touring it and promoting it before it even came out. I think in today’s world it doesn’t really matter anymore. If anything it’s just great promotion and it gets everyone excited because we can start sneaking in some of the new music. And for obvious reasons everyone is gonna be extremely curious as to what that new music is.

Do you think with Mike Portnoy now gone and a new drummer joining that the writing process might change?

There’s definitely that potential, no doubt about it. I think we won’t know until we’re actually in the studio and seeing how this flows and how it works with the new drummer. But I definitely think that there’s gonna be more verbal communication going on. More so than it was in the past as far as with me going, “Well, you know what, if we’re doing something new here with another drummer, we better start doing something new in other areas.” Which means being more accessible as to the ideas and the energies that are coming from other ones in the band. So yeah, definitely, I think there’s a lot that could be happening.