Sons Of Apollo


22 Juin 2018


Didier et Evanessa

Interview Mike Portnoy

Hello, we are the French Webzine, we will publish this interview in French and in English. Can you present this super band Sons Of Apollo?

Yeah, I am Mike Portnoy and with me in Sons of Apollo is Billy Sheehan, Derek Sherinian, Ron Bumblefoot and Jeff Scott Soto.

Also can you explain why such a name?

It was just a name that Derek really liked, I guess Apollo was a Greek God of Music maybe. Derek’s really into the Greek Mythology I don’t know anything about that stuff so yeah, that’s just a name…

How did you guys decide to start this project?

Derek and I had done things back in 2011 and 2012, along with Billy Sheehan and Tony MacAlpine. It was all instrumental and we just did some shows for the fun of it but after that experience, Derek kept trying to convince me to do a full time band and get a singer and the time just was not right, I had too many other projects and bands going… but finally last year, the timing worked out and we brought Bumblefoot and Jeff Scott Soto on board and here we are.

I read somewhere that you and Derek were called the “The Del Fuvio Brothers”, can you explain this mystery?

That was when he was in Dream Theater with me back in the nineties. That was a nickname that our producer Kevin Shirley gave to us… just because He and I are very like…I don’t know, we are always joking around and goofing around…and very sarcastic and that was just kind of a nickname he gave us. I don’t even know where it comes from, Kevin just made it up.

These two guys know each other for damn long time, how did the other members manage to integrate with the duo?

Well Derek and I obviously were in Dream Theater together and Billy and I were together in The Winery Dogs. And then, I have done some stuff with Bumblefoot with Metal Allegiance. So I have worked with three of them already.

Jeff is on vocals, how was he selected?

I knew Jeff because his solo band was opening for The Winery Dogs a few years ago and I would watch him every night and I was just blown away by what a great frontman he is so it just made sense to select him because this was the dream line-up I had in my head...

Ron is on guitar, why was not Tony McAlpine selected as you already had this project a while back?

Well Tony was perfect for the things we did back in 2012 because that was all instrumental, it was a little more jazz fusion, we were doing some Jeff Beck’s covers. And Tony was perfect for that but for this band we knew we needed more of a rockstar and Bumblefoot, you know, he is a star… I mean obviously he played with The Gun’s And Roses for all those years but he is a rocker and we needed a hard rock kind of metal kind of player so we knew he would be the right guy for this band.

As we say in my business, it’s difficult to have several cooks in the kitchen, how did you guys manage to create music with such strong characters?

Well not in creating the music, it was actually very easy to do and we got along very well, we worked very well together. That was no problem. It’s just that we kind of had to delegate jobs to each person and we kind of had to establish the packing order : who is gonna be in charge of what areas… And you know we have all have been doing this for twenty/ thirty years each in other bands so we all know what we’re doing , we trust each other there’s a lot of mutual respect and trust in the band.

Your first album, Psychotic Symphony was released earlier this year. Why this title?

It was just a line in the song Lost in Oblivion and it caught my eye actually once Jeff started singing it. I was like: Oh, this would be a great album title so we just went with it.

Are you happy about the end result? It seems to have received pretty good reviews worldwide?

Yes absolutely, I think it’s a great album. Both the critics and the fans really seem to like it and embrace it. But the live show is even better than the album, I think that’s where this band really shines…Today was just a taste of it, it was a forty minutes set, it was the very first time Sons of Apollo ever playing, not only France, but anywhere in Europe. So this was just a little taste but we will be back through in September and October with our own show, we will do a two hours show…playing a lot of music so that‘s when you will get a real feel of what this band is like. We will play for two hours, we will do the whole album, we will do some covers, some Dream Theater songs from mine and Derek’s era together and then of course there’s a bunch of solos, Derek and Billy will play some solos…It’s a pretty full set.

The artwork is kind of mysterious, it suggests Mike is a lion, Derek an eagle? And for the other two only the double necks are visible, this is strong sign that you and Derek are the leaders of this project?

Yeah, it’s started that way, now that we are playing live the chemistry is evolving to more of a band feel but when it’s started it was mine and Derek’s project, I mean we were the ones who put the whole thing together and produce the album. But like I said as we are evolving I think it’s becoming more of an equal band.

Speaking of double necks, while most folks have a hard time playing a single neck instrument, Ron and Billy seems to have adopted double necks instruments, what’s the reason for those double necks?

For Bumblefoot, the top neck is all fretless and it’s D-tuned, so lower tuning and with Billy it’s tuned differently as well to avoid changing guitars.

So you have embarked for a European tour which started today at Hellfest. Was it complicated to get everyone available for this tour? Or this project this becoming a priority band for all members?

We all pretty much devoted 2018 to Sons of Apollo so we all cleared our schedule up until the end of October and we are focused on this.

What did you think of your set earlier on the main stage?

I was surprised so many people were there that early in the day so yeah that was really awesome to see. I mean for us it was a little difficult because it ‘s the first show and obviously you don’t get to sound check at a festival, actually I did not even get to sit behind my drum set until I got up on stage. I haven’t used this drum kit since last year with the Shattered Fortress and that was with a different drum deck so the drums were like set up all wrong and our ear monitor mixes were all fucked up but we were just excited to be here and we are happy to be up and running.

What did you think of the audience? The organization of the festival?

Well this is my fifth time doing Hellfest I think, I’ve always had an amazing experience here. The first time I played here was 2007 I think and it was one of the first years of the Hellfest and it’s incredible to see the progress from then ‘til now. Now this is one of the biggest and one of the best festivals in the world, I’ve done so many of them throughout the world but this is really one the of the best ones so it’s great to see how far it’s come.

I think you have more dates at big festival this summer? For example I will catch you guys in Barcelona next week for BeProgMyFriend.

We will play Graspop in Belgium tomorrow and yes, we will do BeProgMyFriend in Barcelona next weekend so yeah we will do a whole bunch of them.

What’s next for the band after that?

This tour goes to the end of October and then I don’t know… We will figure out the next step when we get through with this step first, we are just concentrating on the tour now

Thanks for your time, I’ll leave you with a last word to our readers

We will back later in the year so come on and catch the full show, we will play in Paris and in few other venues, I think there will be two or three shows in France so just check our website.


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