Before he gets underway, Portnoy tells the musician-friendly site how the tour is going so far, saying, "We're having a super time... Iron Maiden have been great to us, and the fans have been very cool. I'd say they're definitely becoming Dream Theater fans."
"Being an opening band is a bit of an adjustment for us," he continued. "We have 50 minutes and limited stage space, but we're making the most of it. The setlist I wrote for this tour is full-on metal, specifically aimed at the Maiden fans. Normally, when I write the setlist for a Dream Theater show, I'll change it up every night and we can basically play whatever we want. This time, the goal is to give the Iron Maiden fans a crash course in the metal side of Dream Theater, and that's the kind of setlist I wrote. It's all about grabbing them, not letting go and hoping that they get it - and it seems as though they are."
As for the fan questions, topics ranged from technical drumming inquiries to Portnoy's role in Avenged Sevenfold, plans for the next Dream Theater album, favorite artists and his famous blue beard. Read a few excerpts below, and go right here for the full Q&A.
Martin Nemeth asks, What do you suggest to young, unknown bands that take music seriously? In your opinion, what is the best way to start career in the music industry?
"First and foremost, play what you love to play. Don't try to jump on a bandwagon or a trend or a popular musical craze. Do what you want to do. Because if you plan to spend your whole life playing music, you have to be happy, and the only way to be happy is by doing what you love. Trite as it sounds, follow your heart. Persevere. And if you follow your heart and persevere, it will pay off.
"Dream Theater is the perfect example of this. We've never been part of a popular sound or style. We followed our hearts and always did what we wanted to do and waited for the rest of the world to catch up to us. I truly believe that if you persevere and follow your heart, people will eventually come to you."
Kieran O'Dea asks, What is the most insane thing you have done on stage? I'm thinking of something similar to the legendary 'Myung Tackle.' [This is a reference to the time that normally reserved bassist John Myung tackled singer James LaBrie on stage after he was bet a few hundred dollars that he wouldn't.]
"Yes, John did tackle James on stage on a bet. Would I do the same thing for a few hundred dollars? Hey, I'd do it for ten! [laughs]
"As far as the most insane thing I've ever done on stage…Well, most of the crazy things that have happened to me during shows weren't voluntary. The most bizarre occurrence has to be when I dislocated my wrist during a show in Germany in 1997. Basically, I played this giant fill and suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my wrist. I thought I pulled a muscle or something. But then I looked at my hand and saw that my wrist was completely backwards, with my palm facing up.
"I turned blue and froze in fear for a second, then did the only thing I could do, which was finish the song Rick Allen-style. Right afterwards, I went to the hospital. I had to complete the rest of the tour wearing a brace."
Chandlerfyfe wants to know if you've chosen a badass stage name for when you hit the road with Avenged Sevenfold.
[laughs] "I heard [Avenged Sevenfold singer] M Shadows say in an interview, 'Mike Portnoy doesn't need a badass stage name because he's Mike Portnoy. He's a legendary drummer and his own name is cool enough.' I never would've said such a thing, but to hear M Shadows say it was pretty great.
"That being said, there's a couple of cool names. I've heard some fans suggest The Rabbi - you know, in reference to The Rev. I don't like that one, so we can dismiss that nickname right off the bat. I don't know… I like the name Kenny Powers from [the HBO series] Eastbound And Down. So instead of Kenny Fucking Powers, I could be Mikey Fucking Powers! [laughs] Oh! How about Captain Bluebeard? [laughs] Let's throw Captain Bluebeard into the mix!"
Roger Koles asks, Besides Dream Theater, what would be your dream gig? If you got a call to join another band, which group would make you actually consider jumping ship?
"Oh God…You know, I love so many kinds of music, and I'm happy to play them all. When I went to Berklee and met John [Petrucci] and John [Myung] and we formed Dream Theater, we did so out of our love of progressive music. But because my tastes are so broad, if I hadn't met them, I could've been very happy playing in a band like Jellyfish, doing really weird, eclectic pop music, because I love that kind of stuff. Or I could've played in a thrash metal band like Testament or Exodus or Overkill - I love that kind of music, as well.
My love of music is so wide-ranging. I mean, look at what I do now: This year alone I'm playing in four different bands, and they're all very different. Dream Theater does what it does. I just did two months of touring with Transatlantic, which is full-on, old-school prog in the vein of Genesis, Floyd and Yes. Before that, I did Hail!, which is full-on thrash and classic metal in the vein of Motorhead and Priest and Sabbath and KISS. And then, after Dream Theater finish touring with Iron Maiden, I'm going out with Avenged Sevenfold, who are more of a modern power-pop meets metal and shredding kind of band.
"As far as a band making me jump ship from Dream Theater…I don't think I could ever leave Dream Theater permanently. I could see Dream Theater taking a break. I'll be very happy to play with Avenged Sevenfold, but I couldn't do it instead of Dream Theater. The fulfillment I get in Dream Theater…I've spent 25 years building the band and quote-unquote 'leading' this band, so I could never really leave it. It's my baby. Even if Rush or Metallica offered me the gig, I couldn't leave Dream Theater. It's a home I always need to return to."