Next To None has the potential to become the next best thing in this metal universe, they are four talented musicians from Lehigh Valley, PA who have not even reach their 18th birthday yet, and they have already put out a full length album, and tour with the likes of Adrenaline Mob, Felix Martin, Haken and Fates Warning. You can tell their musical skill still on development, and you can compare some of their chops to Dream Theater‘s earliest works, and who wouldn’t since Mike Portnoy himself produced their album. Wait, did I mention that Max Pornoy (Mike‘s son) is the band’s drummer. Well, now you know that.
But regardless of who is the parent of who on the band, this kids have an incredible talent in front of them, yes they might want to derail their style from the Dream Theater wagon, but they are making an effort to do that. In their début album A Light In The Dark, you can hear the influences of more contemporary styles like metalcore, screamo and why not (they are 15 to 16 years old after all). Those styles mixed up with some Rush, Symphony X and Dream Theater foundations are capable to deliver some interesting songs like; A Lonely Walk, Social Anxiety, and Blood On My Hands.
Most recently Next To None has toured and played isolated gigs between tours quite of a lot, they just finished a series of dates opening for Fates Warning, and they are currently finishing a tour in the East Coast, before some dates in upside New York this November.
We recently had a chat with drummer Max Portnoy about the band’s new album, the concept, his influences as a drummer, and what is in storage for Next To None after the tour.
The Age Of Metal: Hello Max, How are you?
Max Portnoy: I am good, what about you?
TAOM: good, quite good.
TAOM: Let’s start talking about your latest album A Light In The Dark, for what I understand this album has a concept behind it, can you tell me more about the story behind it?
MP: The concept is something that Thomas wrote its like a lyrical type concept, we threw some musical, like it’s a recurring bell, like a church bell sound that it shows up in all the songs. But the concept basically is about a guy who has a mental illness, he has multiple personality disorder, and a bad personality that keeps telling him to do bad things, but the whole story is about him trying to fight with this bad personality and trying to overcome it, but eventually it takes over and makes him do bad things.
TAOM: Wow, that is some complex story. Where the idea for this story came from?
MP: Thomas, he got the influence for the story when he was watching the news, it happened a couple of years ago the school and movie theater shooting and everything. So, that whole inspired it and got him thinking about it.
TAOM: Now, this album is crafted quite well, but what was the most difficult part at the time to create this album?
MP: It was all pretty natural, we have expected what to do, and my dad kind of help us through in everything, but I guess the most difficult part was probably getting our name out there, my dad tweets about it and everything, but that is the most we can do, and ask people to listen to us. A lot of people did, they checked us out and fortunately they supported, and they likes us now, and they come up to the shows. So, we are super grateful for that.
TAOM: I see here a date of the tour (Nov 1st) with Escape The Fate after the run you guys did with Fates Warning, what are you expectations in terms of crowd response towards Next To None as they are not as prog as a Fates Warning crowd?
MP: We have played many different types of crowds. When we played at the prog nation cruise, you played for a bunch of obviously prog fans, so we have to focus on the technique, the sound and that kind of stuff. But when we played shows, like we played with I Wrestle A Bear Once at the All Stars Tour, that crowd was super into the energy that is on stage and everything, for that kind of stuff we have to like go crazy and entertain without losing focus of the musical aspect. So, we played to many different crowds.
TAOM: it seems like all the tour dates are in the east coast, when we will see Next to None in the West Coast?
MP: I hope very soon, right now we are just looking at dates and stuff. We are thinking on maybe doing something over in Europe soon, and maybe going to L.A and stuff like that afterwards. Currently for the next couple months we are doing east coast stuff, maybe over spring time we could move west or something or going over Europe. That is what we are looking into right now.
TAOM: Since Next To None has been booming and putting serious time on touring, are there any bands that you would like to tour with?
MP: My dream band to tour with, i don’t know if it would be possible maybe like in 30 years or something, it would be playing with Slipknot, I think that would be the coolest thing, they are my favorite band. But, more realistic couple of bands that I think would be a great fit would be Between The Buried And Me or Periphery, and I think we would definitely would fit great with them, if we open for them that would be a really cool package.
TAOM: You guest on the new Tiles album on the song ‘Fait Accompli‘. How was that experience?
MP: Playing with them was really cool, they came over and my dad played on one of their songs, They give us the tracks a couple of weeks before hand, so I was thinking what kind of stuff I wanted to do. When they got here I had time to listen it over, I did some percussions tracks on it. I was a ton of fun. Maybe one day if I ever see them live of something we could play that song, that would be really cool.
TAOM: Since many press articles and notes are referring to Next To None as the band of Mike Portnoy‘s son. On that regard, how do you see the challenge of breaking away from the Pornoy name being associated not only to your dad, but also to Max as well?
MP: That is something we hope and its something we are working for is to be known as just only Next To None, and not Next To None Mike Portnoy’s son band. We want our own thing, and that is what we are trying to go for right now. Its kind of star to happen right now, when the album was getting recorded and everything people was looking at us like Mike Portnoy’s son band, that was how we kind of got our name out, but now we are trying to change it to be just Next To None. My dad does too, he is happy that I am following on his footsteps, but we don’t want to be an exact replica of him or anything.
TAOM: In several other interviews you have cited your dad as an influence to become a drummer, but which musical piece from Mike’s catalog have impacted you the most?
MP: Well, you probably heard it a million times, but growing up with my dad it was super inspired getting to watch him every show from behind the kit, that was a huge inspiration for me and influential experience for me, but I guess one of my dad’s song that impacted the most is This Dying Soul by Dream Theater, whenever I hear that song it just take me back to my childhood and touring with Dream Theater. I really like my dad’s performance on it too, that would be probably the one that mean the most to me and inspires me to study music.
TAOM: you also have cited Chris Adler of Lamb Of God as an influence, how do you see his drumming style impacting the new Megadeth album?
MP: Chris is such a cool drummer, he is one of my favorites. I heard that one song that they released, it kind of sounds a little bit different, it didn’t have his signature, but I still think is a really cool, it was really awesome that he went kind of more straight forward on that song, I still curious to see what the whole album is like.
TAOM: Following this tour in the east coast, what is next for Next To None for the rest of the year?
MP: After this tour with Fates Warning and finishing up some of our own dates in October, we have our own tour with this band A.D.D a local band, and we will be going to upstate New York doing shows in Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester, we got that plan around November 10th to the 14th or 16th, we got a bunch of shows in December. It’s pretty awesome, and like I said we are looking into doing something in the West Coast in Spring time.
TAOM: Max thank you very much for taking the time, again congratulations on a great album, and we looking forward to have you guys around here soon.
MP: Thank you so much, I would love to get there really quickly.