In the nineties Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian played together for five years at Dream Theater. Then the band unbooted the keyboarder in favour of Jordan Rudess, who is still in office today. Sherinian founded Planet X, toured with Yngwie Malmsteen and Billy Idol, joined Black Country Communion and had a highly acclaimed solo career. He renewed his musical relationship with Portnoy after he left Dream Theater in the instrumental supergroup PSMS (Portnoy, Sheehan, MacAlpine, Sherinian). Out of the spirit of this formation Sons Of Apollo were finally acquired, as the bandleaders revealed in the conversation.
eclipsed: It all started with PSMS, right?
Mike Portnoy: Yes, in 2012 we played these shows and had a great chemistry on stage. There was so much personality and eggs in this band! We wanted to make more of it, but I didn't have time then. I just started Winery Dogs and Adrenaline Mob, was hitched to Flying Colors. Last year, however, Winery Dogs took a break and my time at Twisted Sister came to an end. A time window opened. I called Derek and said, "Let's go, the time is ripe!"
eclipsed: Bassist Billy Sheehan took over from PSMS, why not Tony MacAlpine?
Portnoy: It was perfect for the instrumental fusion-based music of PSMS, but not for Sons Of Apollo. I knew that if we wanted to start a full-time band with singers here, we would need a hard rock/metal guitar hero. We love Tony, but he's just not the man for it. My vision for the band included the current line-up. Bumblefoot was our man, as was Jeff Scott Soto, a great performer and very melodic singer.
eclipsed: Did a sound already appear in your vision?
Portnoy: No, I rather had an idea of the chemistry we should have with each other. I knew which musicians would be able to create them. What exactly would flow out of us crystallized only when we sat down to compose. It was just clear it was going to be great.
eclipsed: All of you have been active in business for decades, have different experiences and musical backgrounds. How difficult was it to combine the individual influences in the sound?
Portnoy: Everything was actually very natural. When fans read our names on paper, they probably think of the Dream Theater sound. When we went into the studio for the first time, I also thought it would go in this direction, and immediately posted something with "#ProgMetal" on Facebook. As soon as we started writing we realized that the category Progressive Metal would not be enough. We have rock'n'roll wagons like Van Halen, we have riffs like Meshuggah and Sepultura. We tune lower, play with fretless guitar. Fusion elements are added. It's a long shot from the progmetal frame. It's a whole new style.