During an interview with TWISTED SISTER bassist Mark "The Animal" Mendoza's Internet show "22 Now", former DREAM THEATER and current THE WINERY DOGS drummer Mike Portnoy once again spoke about a hypothetical scenario in which he would be chosen to tour with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson as the replacement for late RUSH drummer Neil Peart. Asked if he would be interested in taking that gig, Portnoy said: "Of course. That would be a dream to play with those guys. But I don't wanna see the Blabbermouth headline right now, me thinking that I deserve the gig. I'm not saying that. You're asking me a question. Hypothetically, of course, it would be a dream come true. Neil was my hero, and always will be, and Geddy and Alex are as well.
"I don't think in a million years they'll play without him; I really don't," he continued. "But in a hypothetical dream scenario, I mean, come on — of course. But I don't think in a zillion years it will happen. But it's a nice dream to hypothetically wonder about. But I honestly don't think it would ever happen. But who knows? You never know.
"As much as hypothetically it would be fun, it would be amazing, it would also be an impossible role to fill," Portnoy added. "It's a no-win situation. Really, it would be impossible, 'cause his fans are as obsessive as they get — and count me amongst them. So, yeah, that would be a tough one."
Mike also talked about RUSH's final tour which concluded at the Forum in Los Angeles on August 1, 2015. Peart indicated at the time that he wanted to retire while he was still able to play well, along with a desire to spend more time at home with his young daughter.
"They went out on such a high," Portnoy said. "Their last tour was a farewell tour. I don't think anybody expected Neil to pass, but they wanted to stop touring, so they really went out with such an amazing tour. That tour was just so well done, so perfectly executed, and they went out with all three of them still at the top of their game. So I give them all the credit in the world for that. It's just sad that Neil didn't get many years to enjoy the retirement before he got sick. That saddens me."
A year and a half ago, Portnoy spoke to World Prog-Nation about how Peart influenced him on a musical and personal level. He said: "I spent 20, 30 years idolizing him and being his biggest fan. And all those years, it was mainly the drum kit — the drum kit was such a fascination for me. He always built such amazing kits and put so much thought into it. I'd always get the tour programs where he'd write about the kit and what the new things were on it, and I would just look at those photos. Most other kids were looking at Playboy centerfolds; I was looking at Neil Peart drum kits. And then, obviously, his playing — it goes without saying. I learned how to really develop parts and orchestrate drum parts to build and change and develop within the song. So that was the biggest stuff for me as a fan. And then later on, once I got to know him, I was so inspired by what a gracious person he was."
Mike added: "He had this reputation that he was sort of quiet and isolated and private, and he was, and it was very important for him to guard that. But once you were somehow allowed into that inner cicle, he was always so sweet and kind and generous. He'd always send me holiday e-mails and he would always send me his new books and stuff like that. It was a relationship that I'll always cherish and I was honored to have."
RUSH announced Peart's passing on January 10, 2020, setting off shockwaves and an outpouring of grief from fans and musicians all over the world.