Mike Portnoy Accuses His Former Band, Dream Theater, of Plagiarism

Drummer Mike Portnoy has accused his former band, Dream Theater, of ripping off hard rockers Red for their song “Build Me Up, Break Me Down.” The implication was made after a poster had commented on Portnoy’s own website forum about the similarity of the track to Red’s previously released “Feed the Machine.”

The plot is thickened by the fact that Dream Theater guitarist and main songwriter John Petrucci named Red’s Until We Have Faces—from which “Feed the Machine” is taken—as his album of the year on Roadrunner Records’ site.

Portnoy, who left Dream Theater last year, said the following:

“Check out the first song on [John Petrucci’s] fave album of the year…. WOW, the arrangement and orchestration sounds awfully familiar!! Surely it must be an intentional ‘nugget’ for the fans… It couldn’t possibly be blatant formula plagiarism, now could it…?? I just have to laugh…”

After fellow posters responded by calling the Adrenaline Mob, and former Avenged Sevenfold, skinsman “Classless,” Portnoy retorted by saying:

“Hey…I’m not trying to start a war…. and I am indeed totally in a happy place in my life and career… I’m just merely making an observation and posting openly on my own forum like I always have and always will… If anybody ELSE wants to blow this up, it’s their choice and doing…not mine!”

Portnoy then went further, stating:

“And P.S.–to defend music that I co-wrote/arranged (that were cited previously in this thread), there’s a difference between ‘inspiration corner’/’copping a certain vibe’ and blatantly rewriting an existing song or formula section by section…”

Listen to both tracks, below, and decide for yourself.


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  • http://twitter.com/GeoffieTheKid Geoffie M

    Similar in parts but hardly plagiarism. We could argue all day about similar sounding 8-bar intros, across many genres. *snooze* I love how MP has to reinforce how happy he is all the time. Dude is bummed as hell! He willingly gave up the “home” he had as a drummer – something every single drummer auditioning for the spot he abandoned were most looking forward to. There are a lot of amazing drummers, not all of them have a steady gig with a band like DT. Now this guy has resorted to taking breaks from kicking himself to make pitiful attempts to kick the family he left. Poor guy.

    • toby mitchell

      i agree that hes kicking him self in the ass for leaving dt, he thought he had a full time gig with A7X, but it sounds pretty close to plagiarism to me.wether or not on purpose not my call, but what buisness is it of mike portnoys anyway, he walked away from dt, mp needs to get over him self

  • Davo

    not plagarism. similar, not a rip off..anyone who knows music can hear this….many more songs out there come alot closer to ripping blatantly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ian-Little/1502961273 Ian Little

    Wow…well, the riffs aren’t identical but when it comes to the sound, structure, arrangement, and even feel, the DT song is quite similar to Red’s. It might not have been on purpose, but Petrucci definitely showed the influence that Red’s music had on his writing. I usually don’t say this in musical conversations but Portnoy is right.

  • Jakeaskvig

    agree with mp rip off

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001149244938 Chase Kopp

    Wow Petrucci, wow

  • No

    Nice & simple- which was written/released first?

  • TheDude

    Red’s album “Until We Have Faces” came out on February 1st, 2011. Dream Theater’s album “A Dramatic Turn of Events” came out on September 13, 2011.

  • a7x_fallen_a7x

    its funny when you play them both together….

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tina-Prescott/1255128169 Tina Prescott

    Red’s song is much better and has so much more depth. 

    • GregHoman

      I think I actually have to agree with that, and this is coming from a huge Dream Theater fan. I would say “Build Me Up, Break Me Down” is in the bottom 5 as far as DT songs go. Not trying to take away from Red or anything (that’s a good song!)

  • Jstucky2010

    Yea listen to dream threatre’s on the back of angels and it sounds really similar to nicklebacks this afternoon….total rip offs…… not cool Dream Theatre

    • Steve

      Why the fuck would you listen to Nickleback?

  • Dcasale273

    This happens a lot,I don’t think it’s on purpose…

  • melpoetzsch

    1:28 in Red and 1:53 in DT sound almost identical….hmm..

  • Hidden_darknessa7x

    Dream Theatre, you guys should either make your own, good music, or quit.

    • Guest

      Dream Theater ALWAYS copied other bands.  Especially when Mike Portnoy was in the band.  No originality at all.  Maybe now that the control freak is gone they can write some decent music.

  • urmom

    the riff is very close to the same, the arrangement is close but not the same due to  Dream Theater sounding totally gay. If I was in a court room, and I had to testify, I would say “DT song is a mimic of the Red song, BUT since no one is making money off ether recoding because anyone can just download it. I’m throwing it out, who cares go see a local band instead.

  • Yourmoom

    Indeed a very similar arrangement, but the songs are totally different.. That’s like saying all the pop songs on the radio are copies of each other since everyone uses the same four chords and have identical arrangements. Idiots.

  • Frossiah

    Dream Theater should have taken the break… the new music just isn’t up to the quality of stuff like Metropolis Pt. 2, and Images and Words. Black Clouds and Silver Linings was lacking but still good, but this album was a turn for the worse.

    • Matt Alan76

      yes, the Grammy nomination and the highest album slaes since images and words proves you right… and I would exepct non musicians to understand this but both songs are structurally the same, go to music school and you might understand. 

  • http://twitter.com/openupandsay Wes ProgFrog Royer

    I don’t think the songs or guitar lines are the same or plagiarized. I think the songs have similar song structures with their intros and build-ups/climaxes, but Red’s song is much “noisier” and emotional like most of their songs, and DT’s song is more polished and produced with cleaner guitars and lots of extra virtuoso going on like most of their songs. I’m a big fan of both fans. Red’s “Innocence & Instinct” is one of my all-time favorite bands, and DT has some top albums on my desert island list.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremy-Myreje/100002343647367 Jeremy Myreje

      I totally agree with you, both tracks doesn’t even sound the same! What i can tell here is MP is still hurt of the fact that he was remove from his band, he’s a musician why can’t he see that his former bandmates are professional enough to make their own music, and MP you like DT to take a hiatus but i’m sure you’d love to play with the bands that you like while DT is off, that’s totally unfair! You’ve nurtured DT like a baby (yeah, you’re the commander) you always decide’s what’s best for the band, but have you ask JM what he likes? He’s last written song was in Metropolis pt2, because of your fucking rules!

      • Javier_camba

        Jeremy if you watch the documentary ” The Spirit Carries On” you will see that mick portnoy wasn’t “removed” from the band , he simply the band, he made an observation and simply bloged about it

  • Angelic_Watcher

    Different Riffs, different notes, similar structure, but really, if you’re going to compare red to dream theater, then go compare every punk band, every alternative band, every pop song in the last 20-30 years.

    • Javier_camba

      He’s not comparing them , he stated that petrucci in his forum put this album as his top 5 albums , and coisidencialy put out this song , with the same structure. You have to admit this is pretty close, any closer it would be a nasty law suit , but petrucci did it smart

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1187175441 James M. Luther Pendragon

    SUCK ME! I cannot believe it. Now I know DT over the years has paid homage to ALL of the people they grew up listening to- and Portnoy/Petrucci were the main culprits, but it was all tongue-in-cheek and so obvious that any band/musician that they were ‘sounding like’ were probably flattered. Hell, Paul Northfield had “Dark Clouds” sounding like Rush, 1980. “Peruvian Skies” and “As I Am” are pure Metallica. But I hate the new Dream Theater, and I will never go back. I like Mangini- but James LaBrie sucks. Mike was just sick of his pathetic singing attempts, especially the last 3 Portnoy albums. Lo and behold- the latest has James singing alive again. But I digress. God bless Myung and Rudess. Petrucci and LaBrie can suck it.

  • guest

    Mike Portnoy, GET OVER YOURSELF.  If you’re so happy with your new band and  life, then get on with it.  Stop acting like a cry baby bitch.  You AND your wife need to get counseling through the mid life crisis  you’re both going through.  So fake and childish.

  • Ciccio

    who cares about your shits song? … bah!!! we are talking about shit songs…not MASTERPIECES OF MUSIC… only shit

  • Jadson-batera07

    something has incomon om thats songs

    • Defenseman13

      what language is this?

  • Matt Alan76

    Jesus Christ even the ending is the same…. nice

  • http://twitter.com/jamesmvargo James Vargo

    The Red version is kinda run-of-the-mill to me. Even groups like Skillet sound like this — my opinion. More power to these bands, but I like that DreamTheater dares incorporate influences along with their originality. “Build me up isn’t one of my fav’s on the new album…too much screeching.
    Otherwise, “Dramatic turn of events” hasn’t left my car CD player in months. Like most of their albums, the songs get better and better as you listen. They will never be for everyone. I’m also excited to see the stuff MP is getting involved in — just wish the riff was friendlier. Oh well, their issue.

  • http://twitter.com/jamesmvargo James Vargo

    The Red version is kinda run-of-the-mill to me. Even groups like Skillet sound like this — my opinion. More power to these bands, but I like that DreamTheater dares incorporate influences along with their originality. “Build me up isn’t one of my fav’s on the new album…too much screeching.
    Otherwise, “Dramatic turn of events” hasn’t left my car CD player in months. Like most of their albums, the songs get better and better as you listen. They will never be for everyone. I’m also excited to see the stuff MP is getting involved in — just wish the riff was friendlier. Oh well, their issue.

  • Turtle Wax

    Jesus Guys..stop it with the Metropolis Pt 2 flashback memories. Do we hate Rush becuase they are not doing Hemisphere album anymore ? Get a Grip . And please stop trashing people around it make no good for anybody. I think this New DT album is very good ,as all the DT album that each one of us like one better than another. And i just can wait to hear what MP as to say with other amazing musician with his drums..im sure it will be sensationnal.Just stop regreting and be open to new doors..thats it not very complicated. Have fun guys :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/carlknoch Carl Knoch

    I get a little weary of hearing albums referred to as “the last 3 Portnoy albums”.  They’re not his albums, he was not “the heart of the band” as he seemed to think, and we’ve seen they’re happy and continue to have success without him.  They are Dream Theater albums, and they continue to give me excellent music to listen to.  I would also say the same thing if someone were calling DT “Petrucci’s band”.  The band is bigger than any one of them. They are more than the sum of their parts.  

  • Jmich137

    well, hey’re not that clvery similar. Besides, even when Mike Portnoy was with Dream Theater everything they composed always sounded ripped off from other bands anyway; so what is he blabering about?
    I guess it’s sower grapes that now the band hasgottenit’s first nomination after he, in a fit of stubborness left them hanging.

  • FCWil

    I really don’t think there is any ripping off…all songs are inspiration for another.  I mean, does it factor in that I think of Chevelle when I hear the “Red” song??  And for that matter, Chevelle had a song called, “The Red”…ooooo

  • http://www.facebook.com/AmpersandManSand Scott Vogler

    Don’t play C chords….because so many bands have used C chords that you just can’t…You have to invent an instrument in fact. It’s worse, you have to invent a new instrument, patent it, figure out how to write music with it, and then you can play it and record it. Also, you have to do that for each new song. There we go, now we’re thinking original.

    • Guss Aznable

      Chords are the same in a musical sheet, no matter the instrument.

  • Kaka22

    Never enough – Stockholm syndrome, Case closed

    • Raquel

      That always comes to mind when this subject pops up. I will say that while DT did a better job from a technical standpoint, I honestly enjoy the rawness and emotion of Stockholm Syndrome more (it’s actually quite sad). That is really the only time I’ve ever liked a an original better than a DT knockoff version.

  • gourangas

    Its obviously that the riffs are the same(98% of the riff) and John Petrucci should have realised that when he composed the song. Anyway, not stealing ideeas is a very hard thing for a musician with such a good musical memory as Petrucci because i think as a composer you are always influenced by songs you like.Dont get me wrong I love DT and anyway they are epic for me with or without Portnoy. My favourite is LaBrie(best vibrato:) )

  • http://www.facebook.com/clark.v.collins Clark Collins V

    yes both songs sound alike, but thats it, there are bunch of other songs out there that sound alike too

  • YoMoma

    Thought Dream Theater’s song title was similar to Linkin Park’s “Burn It Down”.

    • Defenseman13

      LP = worst band ever

  • Jon Swearingen

    I guess they sound similar, save for the fact the other band (Feeding the Machine) totally sucks.

  • Ugh

    “”Peruvian Skies” and “As I Am” are pure Metallica.” “Its obviously that the riffs are the same(98% of the riff)” My god… with comments like that, it makes one wonder whether musical retardation or tone deafness is plaguing the globe. Oh, wait…

    These songs have a similar basic structure. Beyond that, they are completely different.

  • BreakingAlllusions

    Well Dream Theaters song is much better so whats the problem?

  • Christian

    I think Portnoy is just looking for something to make his former band look bad without him. While yes the riffs, not the song as a whole, sound the same, it’s not unusual for bands to sound just like an influence. Look at Train of Thought: that album is almost a copy of Metallica.

  • Guest

    Eh, I own both and the effects sound kind of the same but other than that they’re totally different songs (both great :D)

  • Skpperr

    I’m not hearing the similarity. Portnoy seems to be upset that he made a dumb career move and now is replaced by a better drummer.

    • Shilly

      So what’s Portnoy’s complaint?

    • Thomas Kop


  • Guss Aznable

    So what… Red has a part similar to my own summer from deftones at 2:55