Drummer Mike Portnoy Attempts Tool Song: “This Makes Dream Theater Look Like Weezer”

Mike Portnoy is no doubt one of metal’s greatest drummers of all time, as he’s proven over the past four decades with prog titans Dream Theater and multiple other projects. However, even the most accomplished drummers have a hard time attempting Danny Carey’s drum parts in Tool’s music.

In a new video from Drumeo, Portnoy — who recently rejoined Dream Theater after a 13-year absence — was challenged to play Tool’s “Pneuma” from the 2019 album Fear Inoculum.

As Drumeo’s YouTube description declares, “Watch as drumming legend Mike Portnoy attempts the impossible task of learning Tool’s 12-minute masterpiece – ‘Pneuma.’ … How will Mike go about learning this insane drum part? How does he crack the ‘code’ of the song? Tune in to find out and watch Mike learn one of the most challenging drum parts ever created over the course of a Drumeo session lasting nearly six hours.”


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In a comment, Drumeo further stated, “This is the most difficult challenge we’ve ever given anyone in Drumeo history!”

The half-hour clip, which as noted was filmed over the course of six hours, shows the Dream Theater drummer racking his brain as he tries to learn Carey’s complex drum parts. The clip includes Portnoy listening to the track, watching a video of Carey playing the song, looking at the sheet music, and finally delivering his own attempt at the drum parts.

At one point in the video, Portnoy exclaims, “This makes Dream Theater sound like fuckin’ Weezer,” eliciting laughter from the Drumeo staff, before adding, “With all due respect to Weezer. I love Weezer. But this is crazy!”

While he may not perfect Carey’s playing, Portnoy does a pretty fine job keeping up with the 12-minute song, even if he was a little humble about it in his own comment on the YouTube video:

“Glad to see you all enjoying this exercise in human torture! Also, relieved to see I’m not getting bashed (at least too badly) for not ‘nailing it’ … yes, this was a massive challenge!! As I mentioned in the video, I think watching Danny’s performance video and taking a look at the transcriptions were surely helpful … those are two additional tools I would’ve utilized at home if I were auditioning for a band or preparing to learn songs for a tour … (I also am NOT a professional transcriber nor sight reader … which would’ve surely sped up the process for a lot of drummers who are good at that.) Surely this playthrough is rough in spots, but I did the best I could with the pressure of cameras rolling and a clock ticking … what a challenge!!! Wow…”


Tool kick off a UK/European tour Saturday night (May 25th) in Hannover, Germany, with tickets available here. Dream Theater, meanwhile, will launch their first tour with Portnoy back in the band with a UK/European leg that begins October 20th in London (pick up tickets here).

Watch Mike Portnoy attempt to play Tool’s “Pneuma” in the video below.

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