Mike Mangini, the 48-year-old session artist who has played for ANNIHILATOR, EXTREME, JAMES LABRIE and STEVE VAI, has officially joined DREAM THEATER as the replacement for the recently departed Mike Portnoy.
Commented Mangini: “The day that I got the phone call to be in DREAM THEATER, it took my brain a minute to assemble what was going on, and when it sank in, the feeling was just of tremendous relief.
“It means so much to me, I almost felt like crying a couple of times. [Laughs] I didn’t know what to do.
“What it means to me to be part of not only such a legendary band, but this band, is a sense of fulfillment and purpose. I feel like a puzzle piece, and with Mike [Portnoy] in particular, I feel really honored to carry on the torch for him; I’m carrying on his spirit.”
Regarding the decision-making process, the members of DREAM THEATER had the following to say:
Jordan Rudess (keyboards): “The thing that stands about Mike Mangini is that he [plays] with such intensity and direction and power, and that was very engaging.
“It was hard to totally decide; you can’t just say, ‘OK, it’s him and write off some other guy, because they’re both incredible.”
John Petrucci (guitar): “We unknowingly used a method that we use when we write music, which is, ‘Just hear out my side.’
“During that discussion, we kind of came to some conclusions, we hashed things out, and at the end of the discussion, it was clear. We made a decision.”
John Myung (bass): “A lot of it was just how felt with each particular drummer. It turned out that we were kind of all on the same page as to who we needed to carry on. I think it was meant to be.”
Mangini is notorious for his technical prowess and holds three out of four World’s Fastest Drummer titles. These include the Fastest Matched grip at 1,247 strokes in 60 seconds; Fastest Hands, which he earned by executing 1,203 single-stroke notes in 60 seconds without drumsticks mallets etc.; Fastest Traditional Grip which he earned by executing 1,126 strokes in 60 seconds; and Fastest Single Stroke Foot record, playing 13,222 hits in 15 minutes and 5,222 hits in five minutes.
Mangini has written two books about his drumming techniques. These books, titled “Rhythm Knowledge”, are a practice method for deconstructing and simplifying complex polyrhythms and time signatures.
Mangini joined ANNIHILATOR in 1991 and appeared on the band’s “Set The World On Fire” album. He toured with the group in support of the CD until 1994 at which point he was asked to play with the Massachusetts band EXTREME, replacing that group’s original drummer Paul Geary.
After EXTREME dissolved in 1996, Mike was informed through drummer Jonathan Mover that guitarist Steve Vai was auditioning drummers for his live band. Mike successfully auditioned for Steve Vai’s band and relocated to Los Angeles.
From late 1996 to early 2000, Mangini was the highly regarded drummer of Vai’s live ensemble, which also included bassist Philip Bynoe, guitar wizard Mike Keneally and (in 2000) guitarist Dave Weiner. Mike also recorded several drum tracks for Steve’s “Fire Garden” and “Ultrazone” albums.
In 2005, Mike accepted a full-time teaching position at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and today he is a prominent faculty member in the school’s percussion department.
Portnoy, who co-founded DREAM THEATER more than 20 years ago, abruptly quit the band last summer while on tour with AVENGED SEVENFOLD.
He played on AVENGED SEVENFOLD’s latest album, “Nightmare”, following the death of that band’s drummer, Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, and toured with them in late 2010 .
The third and final webisode in which the members of DREAM THEATER share with their fans some of the intense process, along with the musical joy, that went into choosing a new drummer can be viewed below.
A little more than a month after Portnoy’s sudden departure from DREAM THEATER, the band held three days of auditions in New York City. Over an amazing and productive three-day period, the band played, jammed and spoke candidly with seven of the world’s greatest drummers, learning about them musically, personally and professionally, and assessing the fit of each drummer’s incredible chops with the band’s trademark prog-rock sound.
The members of DREAM THEATER have been extremely sensitive to the fact that this is not only a monumental decision in their own lives, but also a critical moment in the lives of their fans around the world. “The departure of our lifelong bandmate and friend was an unexpected and truly heartbreaking blow,” said guitarist John Petrucci. “The fact that as a result of that event we’d be introduced to seven infinitely capable and uniquely talented drummers was heartening.”
The following seven drummers took part in the DREAM THEATER audition process:
* Aquiles Priester (age 39) (ANGRA, PAUL DI’ANNO)
* Peter Wildoer (age 36) (DARKANE)
* Marco Minnemann (age 40) (KREATOR, NECROPHAGIST, EPHEL DUATH, JOE SATRIANI)
* Virgil Donati (age 52) (PLANET X, SEVEN THE HARDWAY)
* Derek Roddy (age 38) (HATE ETERNAL, NILE, TODAY IS THE DAY)
* Mike Mangini (age 48) (STEVE VAI, EXTREME, ANNIHILATOR)
* Thomas Lang (age 43) (JOHN WETTON, ROBERT FRIPP, GLENN HUGHES)