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Mike Mangini Interview
Mike Mangini Interview
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Finally, on April the 29th at 5 o'clock pm, all the fans, consumed by waiting, has discovered the name of the new Dream Theater Drummer: Mike Mangini. We reached him for an interview more than a year after that day. Despite the huge mole of work he has to do now he found some time to give us the answers with no hesitation.
Finally, on April the 29th at 5 o'clock pm, all the fans, consumed by waiting, has discovered the name of the new Dream Theater Drummer: Mike Mangini. We reached him for an interview more than a year after that day. Despite the huge mole of work he has to do now he found some time to give us the answers with no hesitation.

Gabriele Bianco - Mike the last was one of your busiest musical year. Can you tell us some impressions?

Mike Mangini - 2011 was a career year marked by joy and growth. By having Dream Theater be my musical outlet, I found myself able to fine tune my playing even more, as well as to know which things to practice that I could apply right away.

GB - In the last interview, we didn't know for sure if you would become the new Dream Theater's drummer but now we can talk more freely. In which way you came into contact with the band?
MM - I came in contact with the band at my audition and they contacted me a couple of weeks later to let me know that they had chosen me as their bandmate.

GB - How did you prepared for the audition?
MM - I prepared for my DT audition by learning the songs I was asked to learn and also by using the last 20 years of polyrhythmic practice so that I could be ready to play any test, any time signature and anything they asked me to improvise on.

Mike Mangini Interview


GB - Did you hear the auditions of the other six drummers?
MM - I did not hear any other drummer's auditions

GB - From what you think was the final choice influenced?
MM - All seven drummers competed on the same drums, the same songs, the same preparation opportunities, the same environment, the same sounds, the same people, the same hotel, the same jamming, the same opportunity to speak, the same opportunity to respond to being asked questions and the same everything. There has never been a more even playing field in the history of drumming or music to compete on as the most detailed picked players for the same job in the world. I had a flawless audition as I was able to play the songs correctly, make no mistakes in them, respond to jamming with the correct feel and respond to the time signature tests instantly with no mistakes and with the correct feel for the band.

GB - Tell us about the moment when you were told that you were the new DT’s drummer.

MM - The moment I found out that I won the drummer auditions was one of relief and gratitude. I was looking for the perfect musical home and was not afraid to complete on every level in every way to get it. It was a huge sense of relief to have won as well as a sense of gratitude to God for the opportunity.

GB - Mike, Dream Theater's fans have welcomed you warmly and in a wonderful way. You were afraid of their reaction?
MM - I was concerned that the DT fans' reaction to me would take time such that I would have to play a lot of gigs to get their respect. However, they gave me the respect that I gave them (by audition with all my heart) on the very first show I did in Rome and every crowd after that has also been accepting to me. I felt like they all knew that I was on their side and not let them down.

Mike Mangini Interview


GB - Once you become the new drummer, you've had a lot of work to do: learn many repertory songs and work on the new album's drum tracks. How did you approach this step?
MM - My step to learning all the DT songs is simply to learn a number of them, then play them with the band, then go and learn another amount of them, but not all as to not overwhelm me and as to allow me to have time to give each song the attention it deserves.

GB - Your drumset had an amazing metamorphosis after you join into the group. What's the reason of this evolution? (sound, praticity or...)

MM - My drumset had already evolved into most of what is now my kit long before DT called me to audition. It is like destiny. However, I did play along to every single DT song before I recorded ADToEvents in order to make sure that I could be myself as well as to have all the stuff I needed set up to play all the past songs.

GB - Can you describe the main innovations introduced in your set please?

MM - My set has many, many innovations. Firstly, nobody can play it unless they can play as good lefty as righty. This kit is not playable by a drummer who simply has a lot of pedal and hits things. One has to actually, really, truly be able to flip around their brain. The wonderful part of my working to earn that is so that I can hook up multi-bass drums in order to use a nice big sound, or a small one for dynamics without having to get up off of my stool to get on another complete set. Another innovation is my unique apex tom tom set up from the middle outward. Nobody ever has set up the toms like that. Another innovation by necessity is my hihats being wired on both sides such that both feet need to be able to operate the hihat pedals with ease. The latest innovation to my set up is the Pearl EPro pads and REDBOX. I can assign any sound to the 6 pads. Therefore, I can have them set to tympani without having to carry around real tympani that I could never, ever even reach from my stool.

Mike Mangini Interview

GB - You're a musician that never stops his evolution. Are you focused on something in particular in this year?
MM - My focus this year is in rebuilding my right leg's upper muscles. I have still not recovered fully from 10 years of my legs deteriorating from knee issues and a lack of practicing.

GB - Which one is for you the most difficult Dream Theater’s song to play?
MM - The most difficult DT song for me to play is probably Outcry. Not just because of the complex polyrhythmic coordination, but also because of the really slow beats that cannot be off my 1 millisecond in order to be perfect.

GB - You've played with different musicians, which one do you remember with more pleasure?
MM - I have had a great time with every musician I've worked with in that they are each unique and the best at what they do. How could I ever pick between Steve Vai and Nuno Bettencourt when they each are so good at what they do? I'm happy all the musicians I played with are unique. One cannot compare.

Mike Mangini Interview

GB - It was a weighted decision to leave teaching in Berklee Institute?
MM - I wanted to leave Berklee to be in a band for a few years before Dream Theater gave me the chance to do so. I grew to want to be a band more than anything the more I worked at Berklee and the more the years passed. The original person who brought me there with their original intentions for me to play, to gig, to travel, to inspire, to be known around the world while still teaching being around the school enough to keep all the students happy was no longer my boss and that's when I knew I had to try to get out as fast as I could. My job tasks changed in a direction opposite of that and my time was being consumed by non-playing tasks, so I wrote my resignation letter the night that I was informed I got the DT job.

GB - Do you have any particular project planned?
MM - I have no projects planned. I am in Dream Theater. I have no aspirations to play with anyone else. I want to do drum clinics between DT tours. I love teaching in the clinic environment. I love the long drum solos and meeting the different dealers, company reps and people that work in the stores as well as all the fans. It is really low key and very 'normal.' It isn't a rock star thing, it is a people thing sharing something really interesting and fun.
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