InkSpot: The Winery Dogs’ Mike Portnoy Shows Off His Tattoos

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The all-star drummer picks his favorite ink. (Photos by Neil Zlozower)

Dream Theater cofounder, Avenged Sevenfold session player, and current Winery Dogs drummer Mike Portnoy waited until his early 20s to get his first ink—the Dream Theater logo on his left shoulder—which he got after the band signed its first record deal in 1988.

Since then, the skinsman has countless other band tattoos, repping both groups he’s played with and those he admires. But one he doesn’t have yet is a tattoo for The Winery Dogs, his hard-rock trio with guitarist Richie Kotzen and bassist Billy Sheehan.

“I definitely would love to get the paw print somewhere on me,” Portnoy says, referring to the emblem on the band’s recently released self-titled debut, “but I’ve just run out of real estate at this point.” Here, Portnoy gives us the tour of his property.

1. Starbucks “Forever Metal”
“Me and Charlie Benante from Anthrax got those together backstage at the Big 4 show in California in 2011. He and I are both Starbucks fanatics and metalheads for life, so we came up with that logo and got matching tattoos in his dressing room while Slayer was on. The bad thing is I didn’t get to watch Slayer, and it ended up being [late Slayer guitarist] Jeff Hanneman’s last time playing with them.”

2. A Drumming Octopus with Portnoy’s Face
“I got it on Gigantour with Megadeth in 2005. We did the outline for about two hours and then I had to go onstage with the tattoo incomplete. I played the gig and then resumed work with the coloring and shading an hour and a half later, having just played. The tattoo was already puffed up and swollen, then to get another two hours of work on top of an already swollen tattoo was the most painful experience of my life.”

3. “Carpe Diem”
“It’s a motto I live by. A teacher in my school taught a class about ‘Carpe Diem’—‘Seize the day’—and how you should appreciate life and what you have while you have it. That night, before leaving to go out, I gave my mom a big hug and kiss and told her I loved her. She was killed in a plane crash that night, which is the date below the tattoo. I probably would not have hugged her if I hadn’t gotten that class. I wrote about it in [the Dream Theater song] ‘A Change of Seasons.’”

4. “Music Is the Best”
“That’s a Frank Zappa quote, ‘Music is the Best,’ and every letter is from a different band’s logo. You’ll see different letters from Metallica, KISS, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, and Slayer’s logos. It’s a tribute to my love for music and the bands that inspire me.”

5. Deathbat
“Me and [Avenged Sevenfold guitarist] Zacky Vengeance got matching ones when we recorded [Avenged Sevenfold’s 2010] Nightmare album. It was just a symbol for my time with them and the camaraderie and brotherhood those guys have. Since then, I added the blue beard to mine just because I always have a blue beard.”

 

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