There’s an electrifying new progressive rock super group on the music scene featuring some of the best names in rock. Forming in late 2017, members include Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs, ex-Dream Theater, ex-Adrenaline Mob), Derek Sherinian (Black Country Communion, ex-Dream Theater), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, ex-David Lee Roth) and Jeff Scott Soto (Trans Siberian Orchestra, ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force). Sons of Apollo is their name and they have recently released their highly anticipated debut album, Psychotic Symphony (Inside Out Music/Sony Music).
The new release came out in October 2017 and is one that the band is very proud of. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for music fans to jump on board. The band’s unique sound will attract music lovers of all different types of genres including progressive rock, metal, and even fans of jazz fusion. The album definitely has a little something for everyone. Just as the band members hoped, their hard work paid off when the album debuted at #1 on Billboard’s “Heatseeker” chart. This first monumental album is receiving rave reviews from fans and critics alike. Each of the talented band members have their own storied careers. In fact, they are some of the best musicians in the business. In addition, their paths have all crossed at one point or another throughout their careers.
Portnoy is one of the most sought out drummers in the music world. He was the former drummer and backing vocalist of progressive metal band Dream Theater, and this is when he first met Sherinian. This was not only the beginning of his successful musical career, but also the beginning of a friendship with Sherinian. Portnoy and Sherinian were both in Dream Theater together, and this is where they first met. From there, they have a long history of composing music for several projects together. From there he went on to form hard rock band Adrenaline Mob, and eventually formed The Winery Dogs with Sheehan and vocalist/guitarist Richie Kotzen. There have been many different projects in between.
Bassist virtuoso Sheehan is a founding member of both Mr. Big and The Winery dogs, in addition to Talas, which was Sheehan’s first band, Niacin and being a member of both Steve Vai and David Lee Roth’s bands just to name a few. Sheehan, Portnoy and Sherinian were also briefly involved in a rock instrumental group with guitarist Tony MacAlpine.
Thal, known as “Bumblefoot,” is a prestigious guitarist and composer of his own right. He was one of two lead guitarists in Guns N’ Roses from 2006 to 2014. In addition, he performed on the historical band’s sixth studio album, Chinese Democracy. Over the years, he has worked with numerous bands as well as his own solo work. He released his first solo album, The Adventures of Bumblefoot, in 1995.
Soto rounds out the group and is one of the best rock vocalists around. He has a wide range of vocals and his style is undoubtedly influenced by both the rock and soul genres. He is not only famously known for being a large part of Trans Siberian Orchestra, Talisman and the first two albums by Yngwie Malmsteen, but he has a successful solo career as well. In addition to being a member of Sons of Apollo, it was reported that his project W.E.T. is working on their third album scheduled for release in 2018.
The introductory release for Sons of Apollo was produced by both Portnoy and Sherinian, also known as “The Del Fuvio Brothers,” which was a nickname given to them over 20 years ago during their time together in Dream Theater. Screamer Magazine sat down with keyboardist/producer Sherinian to learn more about the new band and album.
Sherinian is a keyboardist who has toured and recorded with some of the biggest names in the music business including Alice Cooper, KISS, Steve Vai, as well as being a member of Dream Theater for a time, as mentioned above. “I started to play piano as soon as I could crawl on the bench,” he said. Soon he was taking music lessons and knew that music was in his blood. One of his first musical influences was Elton John. “I really had a strong love for rock music,” he said. Sherinian has created his own sound by using a guitarist approach to the keyboard. Guitar heroes such as Eddie Van Halen and Jeff Beck had a lot to do with creating his unique keyboard sound.
“Mike [Portnoy] and I realized that after all of those years playing together that we really had a chemistry. It was then that we decided to put a group together,” Sherinian explained. Sons of Apollo really took off when the band members started jamming with each other. This is where new riffs or song ideas where easily formed within the talented group. “We created our sound with a combination of everything. We discovered new sounds and gave each other inspiration,” Sherinian said. “We started writing like crazy when we decided to form the band. Writing and recording the album was an amazing musical experience,” he said. The album opener, God of the Son, was written by Sherinian. He was flattered when Portnoy thought the song was so strong that it should be the album opener. All of the band members have a part in the writing process. As far as the vocals, Soto wrote most of the lyrics and then Sherinian and Portnoy came in and helped as well. Sheehan on bass and Thal on guitar completed the band’s unique, fresh sound. Sons of Apollo recently released their first video for Coming Home from the album, which showcases the artistry of the band.
“This band has the strongest potential to do something huge,” said Sherinian. He continues, “The sound is so unique and we each have unique, distinct sounds that unite power and explosion. We really feel that Sons of Apollo is going to be bigger than anything we’ve done in the past.”
Sons of Apollo is currently working on a 2018 full world tour, so there is plenty in store for music fans for the new year.