Next To None's Max Portnoy
By Jay Oakley
Let's kick right into it. Next To None, talk about your band, your style and what you do.
We're Next To None and we're a prob (progressive) metal band. We have a lot of hardcore influences from Slipknot and Lamb Of God but we also have other influences from Dream Theater and other stuff like that. We've kind of combined all of those styles into one and added our own twist to it.
Talk a little bit about what got you into music. We know your father, Mike (Portnoy,) being the accomplished man he is and we'll get into that a little bit later but why don't we keep it about you, man. What got you into music and your influences?
I got into it because of my dad, just watching him play behind his kit since I was little. That's what made me want to do music and start drumming and everything. But, once I started drumming I started to get into other drummers like Chris Adler and Joey Jordison and they're at the top of my list along with my dad as my favorite drummers. They really inspired me and as the years went on I got more and more serious about drumming and when I was 10 I really wanted to form a serious band. I knew Ryland (Holland) and Kris (Rank) for the longest time so I got together with them, we made our band, and we met Thomas (Cuce.)
What do you have coming up with your band right now?
We actually are going on a tour. We have a tour all this month. There's a segment of it with Fates Warning, it's about 5 shows, and we go on tour with them starting Friday (October 9th) and that's going to be in their home town so it's going to be pretty crazy, it's probably going to be packed and we can't wait. In November we're going to be doing our own thing with another local band and we'll be going up to upstate New York. We're having a show in Allentown, Pennsylvania which is sort of our send-off show.
Nice, man. When it came to putting your band together, did you and the guys share a common interest in bands and that style?
Yeah, definitely. There were other kids, growing up, that played music and other instruments and stuff. The kids that liked the same type of stuff, like we're into Metallica, Slipknot and that kind of stuff, was Ryland and Kris and we kind of hit it off and we used to jam and it wasn't anything super serious. I had little bands with them growing up, but once we were in like 6th grade we decided we wanted to make a serious band that's when we met Thomas who we knew was a singer and a keyboard player and he was also into Metallica and Dream Theater and all that kind of stuff so we all hit it off together. We played a couple local shows just playing covers and stuff like Judas Priest and Metallica. Then we decided to start writing our original stuff and we went into the studio back in 2012 and recorded our EP and that was kind of us figuring out what we really wanted to do. After that came out we decided we wanted to keep going with progressive metal since that was our core influences. Our EP was just kind of rock stuff but we wanted to do much more technical stuff.
With everything going on with your band and your tour kicking off, when it came to getting started did you ever feel there were big shoes to fill or have you ever felt there was unfair pressure because of who your dad is or did you feel that doing your style, your way still came pretty natural for you?
It came pretty natural for me. I knew people were going to be looking at me as Mike Portnoy's son but I never got pressure from it or felt nervous about it. I just did my own thing and my dad was able to support me like any other dad does. I know Thomas' dad and all of them support and tweet about it and all that kind of stuff. My dad, being my dad he obviously tweets about it and he has a big fan base so they all knew about it. Some of them don't check us out just because it's Mike Portnoy's son but most of them will check us out and everyone who has checked us out has been super supportive and into it and we're super thankful for that.
When it came to music and starting to play did you know that drums were the way? From watching your dad play did it seem that was the best thing to learn and the best support you could get?
Drums was just something I wanted to do. I grew up watching my dad so if I grew up playing music I wanted to be the drummer just like my dad. I never wanted to play the bass or singing or any of that kind of stuff I just knew I wanted to be a drummer.
How does your dad feel about you being in the music business? Is he totally down just super stoked or was there any kind of reservation about you getting into that?
He was super supportive, even my mom. They both were super supportive about it, supper excited that I wanted to do it and my dad was super excited that I chose drums because that's what he does for a living so he's able to support me all the way because if I wanted to be a doctor or something they would obviously support me but they don't have any background in that kind of stuff but my parents are musicians so the fact that I picked being a musician is really great because they're able to support me and help me out.
That's great, man. What kind of background does your mom (Marlene Apuzzo) have?
She used to play guitar and bass in a band called Meanstreak. She started out on guitar but then she switched over to bass. Yeah, they were a thrash band.
When it comes to your shows, what do you want your band putting out to the crowd?
We just try to put on the craziest and most energized show we can. We still want to concentrate on playing the music and getting it to sound perfect because in our opinion that's what matters the most. Being able to play the music and replicate what was on the album and getting it to sound perfect and tight so that's what we're worrying about the most. Since, we've been playing the music for so long now but now we're able to head-bang and jump around and get the crowd into it and everything. So we're trying to have the craziest and most fun performance we can while playing the music tight.
What's been your craziest show so far?
We've played a couple crazy shows so far. We played the All-Stars tour at Reverb and then we played at Revolution in Long Island and we had a mosh pit at those shows so that was awesome.
What's your overall goal when it comes to your band and your music?
As a band, we just want to write and perform music that we love and to have a crowd that's into it and enjoy it and support us. That's what we're getting and they album we made is us having fun and writing music that meant a lot to us and the fact that there's so many people that support us and enjoy it just as much as we do is awesome and we hope we can continue to do it.
What do you find most inspiring about your dad and what he does?
I went to The Winery Dogs show yesterday and it was absolutely insane, they're super talented and they did an amazing job and at the end of set I went behind the kit and watched my dad and that was just as inspiring as it was growing up. So being able to watch him and see the performances he does is just really inspiring for me.
With your taste in music and Slipknot, Lamb Of God, Metallica being you primary bands I can just imagine you we're pretty stoked about the time your dad spent with Avenged Sevenfold.
That was awesome. I got to tour with them, I didn't get to play or anything, but we went as a family on tour with them. We hung out and went to all the shows and got to watch him. I didn't get to stand behind his kit for that tour because there was so much pyrotechnics and everything but it was so awesome. I love the music they make and everything so it was really cool watching him play with them.
So to wrap things up, you've talked about your releases and what you've got going on. Are you currently in more of a touring mode or do you also have some studio time coming up soon?
Right now we're in touring mode. This month we've got shows almost every other day. We;ve got the Fates Warning tour and next month we've got a bunch of shows. We're not direct support but next month we're opening for Escape The Fate and then we have our own headlining tour and we have another tour in December that I'm not really allowed to talk about that though. So we're definitely in touring mode right now but we're still writing. Thomas has come over a couple of times and we've written stuff for the new album so we'll have that for whenever we start recording, probably a year from now. We're definitely working on new stuff, we have a couple new songs finished, they're really cool, they're heavy and technical and we're really excited about that. Maybe over the summer of next year we'll try to start recording that stuff.
So for the fans that want to know, you currently have an EP out and a full length out.
The full length came out a couple months ago. The release date was June 29th so that's been out for a while. I totally recommend that over the EP because the EP came out when we were like 12 and we were still trying to figure out what we were doing but definitely get the full length album it's called A Light In The Dark.
Max, Thanks so much for giving me a buzz and talking about your tour, your influences and your relationship with your dad.
Thank you so much for interviewing me.