The Winery Dogs have a brand new live project coming out called Dog Years, Live in Santiago & Beyond 2013-2016 (Read my review) for release August 4th via Loud & Proud Records as a Blu-ray/EP and five disc Blu-ray/DVD/2 CD Deluxe Edition. The trio, made up of Richie Kotzen (lead vocals/guitar), Mike Portnoy (drums), Billy Sheehan (bass), have performed more than 200 shows around the world since their inception in 2013. I was lucky enough to speak with Sheehan earlier this week while he was en route to a studio session in Hollywood. We chatted about the Dog Years project, his bandmates, the group’s Dog Camp, what’s ahead for himself and The Winery Dogs, as well as his other band, Mr. Big’s, touring plans as they support their latest album Defying Gravity.
What about the package are you excited about?
Everything, really. Well, of course the show in Santiago is the main point, but I’m just glad we could still put everything together for someone may have missed a few things along the way. It’s a nice way of getting it altogether and a few things some people may not have heard at all.
What’s it like playing with Richie Kotzen and Mike Portnoy?
We have a great time. We’ve all been friends for a long time. I’ve known Mike for ages, Richie probably even a little longer. Mike used to come see me play at my old band’s house in NYC so he’s been aware of me for a long time. It’s just when we first got together it was a good hang, and that was a good sign. Music sometimes is secondary to the hang because without being able to hang out, doesn’t matter how good you are, you’ll never get anything done. We actually enjoyed hanging out with each other quite a bit in the very beginning and right up until now, so that helps a lot.
Every musician has his own unique DNA, fingerprint — there’s something about them that’s always their completely unique thing. That’s always an interesting pursuit. Richie — I hear a lot of things in his playing I don’t hear from other guys. I actually hear a couple of jazz notes once in awhile that I don’t hear from my rock guys, and he’s playing with his fingers, too, which is pretty cool. Mike, of course, just a phenomenon — entertaining and good friend. He gets the job done.
I haven’t seen you play live yet, but I will especially due to this concert. It shows how much you guys enjoy each other.
(Laughs)… Seeing live is a whole different world and I think, for me, that’s the make or break of a band. Due to digital technology now and studio situations, you can make anybody sing pretty good. You can get a drum track out of just about any drummer. You can fix almost anything, but live there’s no fooling around, I mean, it’s the real thing. And in fact, I think that’s where we do best with The Winery Dogs, so I’m very very pleased with our record. There’s nothing like playing in front a hot sweaty crowd on a great night where you’re going back and forth between the audience. It really is a very special thing that can’t be captured on a record, I don’t believe, but playing live is where it’s at.
Listen to the full interview below.