It was during the Falling Into Infinity sessions with Dream Theater that Mike Portnoy would create the first side project of his career. The idea for the Liquid Tension Experiment began when Portnoy was approached by then progressive metal label, Magna Carta, a label known for releasing compilations and tribute albums. The first LTE album was release on March 10th, 1998. The album was so successful and fun for the members to produce, that they very next year they recorded and released the follow-up, Liquid Tension Experiment 2.
Portnoy: “It did well enough to the label that they were excited to do a follow up. We really enjoyed the chemistry and we wanted to make another one so not even a year later we got together, in 1998, and we did the follow up.”
The album sparked the decision to invite Jordan Rudess to become a full-time member of Dream Theater.
Portnoy: “I remember distinctly sitting in the band house that we were staying towards the end of the making of the second LTE album, and at that point we were deep in Dream Theater’s frustrations and, at that point, almost on the verge of breaking up.I remember John and I approaching Jordan and saying, ‘hey, if you ever had the opportunity to join Dream Theater again, like we had offered in 1994, would you do it if you could do it all over again?’ and Jordan said ‘yes,’ and there you go. At that point we made the change and brought him into Dream Theater, and that began our relationship with Jordan in Dream Theater and bringing the great chemistry that myself, Jordan, and John had and utilizing it for Dream Theater. That pretty much, in my mind, put an end to Liquid Tension because, you know, three fourths of us were in Dream Theater and we wanted to utilize that chemistry in Dream Theater instead.”
Mike Portnoy recently performed a few songs from LTE with Tony Levin, Eric Gillette and Diego Tejeida on Cruise to the Edge 2017.
Find out more on LTE and other Mike Portnoy albums in the Essential Modern Progressive Rock Albums book.