Dream Theater’s John Petrucci Shares Honest Opinion on Using Backing Tracks Live, Compares Mike Portnoy and Mike Mangini

In a recent interview with Guitar World, Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci discussed today’s widespread use of backing tracks live. After the recent controversy surrounding Falling in Reverse canceling their show due to losing laptops where their backing tracks and all the cues are, the whole world of rock and metal music seems to be talking about it. After Ex-Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach, as well as rock historian Eddie Trunk, blasted the band, the music media seems to be focusing on the issue. Asked about “contemporaries using backing tracks in the live setting,” Petrucci responded:

“It depends on what people are doing because some people don’t tour with their whole bands, so they have sound effects and things going on. If they’re up there playing their asses off, and they have some sound effects backing that up while they’re doing it, that doesn’t really bother me.

John Petrucci (Dream Theater) - Top Solos 2

“Having said that, I think that if anybody’s up there faking it or pretending, that’s a whole different thing.

“But I think things have changed a lot; you’ll have a lot of bands that just go out with two guys now, maybe it’s just a guitar player and a drummer, so they need a pre-recorded bass player. If that’s the case, then I guess they have to do what they have to do to keep the show going. So, while I am not for people fake playing, it really depends on the situation.”

Going further into the interview, Petrucci also discussed the still relevant issue of drummers Mike Portnoy and Mike Mangini and how they compare when it comes to his work in Dream Theater. While everyone else seems to focus on how different two Mikes are, Petrucci instead shared some of the similarities. He said:

“Well, I don’t usually think about the differences. If anything, I like to focus on the similarities because there are so many. I’ve said this before, but I believe that if we all knew each other, we would all have been friends if we had all grown up in the same town.


“I think we all would have been in the same jam sessions that [Dream Theater bassist] John Myung, [former Dream Theater keyboardist] Kevin Moore, and I were having back in Kings Park, Long Island. 

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Portnoy or Mangini; it’s a very similar mindset that we all have. We’re all fans of the same music, and we all gravitate towards the same stuff and have very similar influences. So, there’s this common headspace, and I guess that’s what draws you to people, right? You feel like you have that musical connection.”

Photos: Andreas Lawen, Fotandi (Dreamtheater – Wacken Open Air 2015-1619), Factor Metal (MIKE PORTNOY @ Teatro ABC (37281296834))

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.