Give Space To The Vocals
Mike Portnoy of The Winery Dogs
Cris Cohen: Besides the two singles that you guys have already released for this new Winery Dogs album, which I love, what really caught my ear from this new album is “Breakthrough.” I just love the drumming on it. And I would call it kind of surprising, in that, those early verses on “Breakthrough,” there's a point where you just really pull back. It's mellow, but it's busy. You're doing a lot of kind of percussion work underneath the vocals and it's this cool Stewart Copeland-esque kind of thing going on. I know it's always difficult to describe where ideas come from in the creative process, but I'm curious what led you to that, because it seems very different for you.
Mike Portnoy of The Winery Dogs: Well, I'm always about playing for the song. It doesn't matter what band I'm doing it with. If it's a really progressive thing, with some of the other things I do, it's still about the song. But more than ever and more than any other thing I'm a part of, with The Winery Dogs, it's about the vocals. It's about the hooks and the melodies. That is the most important thing with anything we do in The Winery Dogs. So that specific example, the song “Breakthrough,” which is one of my favorites – and it's going to be the next single I believe – when you have a song like that, where the vocals are so important and so strong and hooky, you have got to pull back and give space to it. You know, everybody in this band has chops for days <laugh>, but it's really not about flexing them at all times.
Let's make sure the vocals are in the foreground and the focus, and then you could sprinkle these little things underneath. So yeah, in that particular case, the first verse is only guitar and vocals. So, when it came time for the second verse, I still want it to pull it back and keep that kind of dynamic it had in the first verse, but give it a little bit of a pulse and some interesting nuances. Like you said, a Stuart Copeland kind of splash and hi-hat work underneath. And Neil Peart would do that kind of stuff as well. So yeah, that's kind of just playing for the song.
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