As a drummer Mike Portnoy reminds us that most supergroups never come up with a third album. Certainly, The Winery Dogs, the all-star power trio he formed ten years ago with the bassist Billy Sheehan and guitarist Richie Kotzentook their time – no studio gear since 2017 dog years EP – but with this year’s III they remain a constant preoccupation, merging their formidable musical chops to deliver engaging songs from the first road.
You three must have high standards. Is it hard to let go of an album?
No, we are easy. The three of us work very naturally together and the germ of the music comes very quickly. When you’re in a group of four or five people, everything gets bogged down. Threesome chemistry is so much easier. I think that’s why bands like Rush And High ZZ have argued for so long.
How would you describe the musical atmosphere of the band?
Well, I can tell you two things the Winery Dogs aren’t, and those are the two most important genres in everything I do, which is prog and metal. It’s really more of that old-school, classic rock, power-trio sound, rooted in late ’60s and early ’70s stuff like Cream, Hendrix and Zeppelin. This band is a three-ring circus. No matter who you watch on stage, you’re going to be entertained. It’s a dynamic similar to WHO. If you listen Living in LeedsKeith and John go crazy, Roger and Pete hold on.
With The Winery Dogs, the rhythm section goes crazy and Richie is the anchor. What were the challenges you encountered with this record?
It’s easy for me. Of all the bands I’ve been in, this one has the shortest songs, the least weird time signatures. The longest song for the Winery Dogs is seven minutes long. With the Neal Morse Band or Transatlantic, seven minutes later, we wouldn’t even have reached the opening verse yet.
The Winery Dogs’ III is now available via Three Dog Music.
So are there any songs here that a garage band could play?
Well, you could play any of them on an acoustic guitar. But the special sauce is that the three musicians douse it with fire and juice. The songs are simple, but the musicality really pushes him.
Isn’t it tempting to flex this virtuosity all the time?
If you look at the way we played in our twenties, even Richie was doing shredding albums for Shrapnel records. In your twenties, you want to jump in and blow it all out. But with age, you learn to calm down. We could really play anything we can imagine. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
This is the Dogs’ third album. What is your third favorite album of all time?
Let me see… Zeppelin III wouldn’t be my favorite Zeppelin album. it’s too early to The Beatles. Rush’s Caress of steel is not one of their best. Yes album was an excellent third album. Queen pure heart attack. Kiss Trained to kill.
We are curious, what is a vineyard dog?
I don’t know, it’s a name that Richie brought up. Honestly, I wasn’t the biggest fan, but the argument was, “Well, what’s a Aerosmith?” Chained Alice – who the fuck knows what it is? In the end, it’s the band that makes the name.