It’s been almost 20 years since ex-Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian have joined forces, but it is their latest project Sons Of Apollo that has brought the pair back together.
To create new album Psychotic Symphony, they recruited ex-Guns ‘N Roses guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal and Journey vocalist Jeff Scott Soto. Beat spoke to keyboardist Derek Sherinian and he explained this progressive metal supergroup is not just another side project.
“The response has been amazing worldwide,” says Sherinian. “We’re feeling it throughout social media from all the fans. There is a genuine buzz about Psychotic Symphony everywhere in the world and we’re very excited to take this band out on the road in 2017. I want to emphasise this is a full-time band. We’ve all cleared our schedules for 2018. We all feel Sons Of Apollo has the most potential to be big out of all the projects we are involved with.”
Their debut album was written and produced at lightning speed which is modus operandi for Portnoy and Sherinian. At first, they envisioned a prog-metal album, but old rock hearts die hard, especially when you have Bumblefoot shredding in the studio.
“What’s really interesting is when Mike and I decided to do this, we figured that it was going to be more progressive metal, like the stuff we had done together in the past,” says Sherinian. “But once we started writing, all of our hard rock and classic rock influence really came to the forefront – and also with Bumblefoot writing as well.
“We just started writing ideas. I started demoing in my studio, riffs and song ideas, and Bumblefoot did the same. Then we brought it into the studio. Whatever songs and parts resonate the most with us we would develop it as a band and work out the structure, and then go to the next song. We had ten days in the studio when we wrote Psychotic Symphony, and I think we did an amazing job considering that short amount of time that we had.”
Sons Of Apollo stands out as a band comprised of musicians who are each world-renowned for their playing ability. Portnoy and Sherinian are both graduates of Berklee College of Music, for drums and keyboards respectively, and have played in some of the biggest rock bands from Avenged Sevenfold to Steve Vai. Straight out of college Sherinian had the unusual opportunity to cut his teeth on the Chitlin’ Circuit as he toured with former Hendrix bandmate Buddy Miles.
“It was very cool because Buddy played with Jimi Hendrix and he was so seasoned as a singer and drummer. I was so young and had never been on the road before. He hired me in his band and I was exposed to playing the serious groove and doing the Chitlin’ Circuit and touring like that at such a young age. It was really good seasoning for me and I’m grateful for the experience.”
Psychotic Symphony is a head rush of groove and musical dexterity, and would leave the average band scratching their heads on how to tour. However, Sons Of Apollo are no shrinking violets and also give a deafening shrug of the shoulders to the plethora of touring bands who use backing tracks to pull off live shows.
“Either you want to go see a DJ or you want to go see a live band,” says Sherinian. “I think the problem is a lot of these musicians and bands are just really not that good and so they need the help of technology in order to get through the show and sound like the record that people buy because they can’t do it.
“They don’t have the talent or the skills or whatever to replicate what called to their fans, so they need trickery like tapes and gadgets and stuff to get over. I guess whatever you need to do to get through,” Sherinian says. “But Sons Of Apollo, we’re like the Marvel Superheros. Everyone in this band has major skills and a signature style. We play live and it’s 100 percent real.”