THE WINERY DOGS have regrouped in Los Angeles to begin writing material for their long-awaited third album.
On Wednesday (July 7), bassist Billy Sheehan shared a new photo of him, drummer Mike Portnoy and guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen, and he included the following message: "It's a beautiful day here in Los Angeles. And what a great reason to visit — with THE WINERY DOGS writing new songs! I am VERY happy and excited about this."
This past March, Kotzen once again opened the door to a possible third album from THE WINERY DOGS, telling Eonmusic about the band's last activity, which was a run of U.S. live dates dubbed "Who Let The Dogs Out": "We did a tour in 2019, and it was a nice time. We had a good time on the road, and we were talking about the idea of doing something again in the studio, the third record."
According to Kotzen, the trio was stopped in its tracks by COVID-19. "The pandemic hit, so now I just don't know," he said.
Richie continued: "I mean, everybody asks, and I'm very positive about the idea of doing it, but I just don't know what's going to happen now. You know, we have the situation where we still don't really know when we can tour, and THE WINERY DOGS are an interesting situation; we're not going to just phone it in."
Going on to talk about the band's creative process, the onetime POISON and MR. BIG guitarist said: "We have to be in a room together and write together, and now with Mike in Pennsylvania, and I live in California and Billy's in Tennessee, it's not the easiest thing, logistically, to bring it all together. We don't want to send files back and forth, because that doesn't really work for a band like us, you know? We need to be in the room."
Despite this, Richie remains positive about the future for the band. "The only thing I can say is when we get into a position where the three of us can get in a room together and throw ideas around, that there will be a path at that point to a third album," he confirmed, before concluding: "Right now I'm focused on SMITH/KOTZEN, and this record didn't even come out yet, so, you know, one thing at a time. We'll see."
THE WINERY DOGS were founded in 2012 after Portnoy and Sheehan — who initially aimed to collaborate with former WHITESNAKE and BLUE MURDER guitarist John Sykes — reached out to Kotzen, who played with Sheehan in MR. BIG from 1997 to 2002. The group's 2013 self-titled debut reached No. 27 on the Billboard 200 after selling more than 10,000 copies in the U.S. during its first week of availability. The initial sales of follow-up effort "Hot Streak" were even better, as the album debuted at No. 30 in late 2015 after shifting 13,000 equivalent album units in America during its first week of availability.
In January 2020, Portnoy told Sonic Perspectives that THE WINERY DOGS' 2019 tour was done "just for the fun of it — just for no other reason than to play together again, because it had been a few years. I think it reignited our love for each other, and I think it showed us that there's still so many fans out there that love this band," he explained. "It reignited our desire to make another record, so I think as soon as we can, we will."