Are Sons Of Apollo prog's most exciting new supergroup?
With former members of Dream Theater plus hard rock and AOR heroes on board too, Sons Of Apollo are an exciting prospect. Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian tell us more
Sons Of Apollo have been a supergroup in waiting for a long time. Five years, to be precise, ever since former Dream Theater members Derek Sherinian and Mike Portnoy teamed up with bassist Billy Sheehan and guitarist Tony MacAlpine to form the short-lived instrumental live project PSMS. The musical understanding and chemistry between band members was palpable, and over the intervening years, Sherinian has been frequently hounding Portnoy to try to persuade him to convert the band into a fully fledged studio unit.
“PSMS was nothing more than a fun live thing and we didn’t have any expectations beyond that,” says Portnoy. “It was something for me and Derek to be playing together again and have some fun. We did a European tour and an Asian tour. The musical chemistry in that band was so strong and each individual musician was so strong that after that tour, Derek was egging me on to do something more full-time with it, but the timing was just not very good. It was also intentional for me to kind of avoid the progressive metal genre to do different things. Finally, earlier this year, after years of nudging me on, we finally got to a point where the time seemed right to pick up where we had left off and turn it into a full-time, vocal band.”
“It has mainly been me bringing it up to Mike and saying, ‘Let’s do this for real and get a singer and form the ultimate prog metal band,’” adds Sherinian. “I understand that after being in Dream Theater for all those years, he wanted to diversify and work with different players. But I think that most of his fans really want to hear him playing prog metal, the genre that he helped invent. So that’s what we’re doing with Sons Of Apollo and it’s the most natural style for me to play as well.
“When we announced we were going to do this, there was a bidding war from three major record labels for this band because they just knew that the secret sauce was Mike and I together playing this style. At the end of the day, people want to hear me and Mike going apeshit on our instruments.”
There have been a couple of additions to enhance the appeal of the band. MacAlpine has been replaced by former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, and singer Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen, Journey) was selected to front the band. In typical Portnoy fashion, the album was written at speed, with the writing commencing in March and the album being delivered to the record label in July. That pace is something which is nothing new to those who have followed his career, but for any band to record an album as compelling as this debut in such a short period remains startling.