Dream Theater (Mike Mangini)
Just before his very first gig as the new Dream Theater drummer, SpazioRock interviewed Mike Mangini, who talked about the upcoming Dream Theater album, entitled "A Dramatic Turn Of Events". The new album will be released soon, on 13th September via Roadrunner Records. Enjoy the interview!
Article by Alessandra Leoni - Publish on: 02/09/11
Hello Mike and welcome to SpazioRock, nice to talk to you!

Nice to talk to you too!

So, welcome to the Dream Theater family ... Hey, but I guess you've been already told!

(laughs) Yeah, but I want to hear that all the time.

Well, let's talk about the new Dream Theater song: "On The Backs Of Angels". I must say that I was quite surprised, because in the last five years or more, Dream Theater had a much more bombastic sound and the band was influenced from many other genres. But this time, I listened to a progressive rock song: a very dynamic one and a very unpretentious one!

And that's because there isn't a drummer in the writing process. I have nothing to do with it. Clearly Mike has gone and what is more important, I have to let you know two things: firstly, as I said before, I have nothing to do with the recording process, because I was at home. I had a full time job at the Berklee College and I had to finish that. Also, I had to prepare myself for this change: I had to prepare all the drums, all the equipment. I had just two months to prepare everything, I just didn't have the time write stuff. Moreover, I wanted the guys to have this opportunity, for the first time in their lives, to compose music with no drummer interfering with them. Let me give you an example: do you remember what John Myung said in the documentary? He said a very important thing: 'I feel like I am back home, when I was young'. Do you remember that?

I do, as I have watched the documentary in its entirety.

Very good. Think about that for a minute. In this new album, everyone is focusing on me, but I have nothing to do with that! It's more about going back to those roots ... Going back to them and letting their hearts go, with no infiltration or drummer around. It's something special. If I were there, they would never let their hearts go, while composing.

int_mikemanginiIf you also think about the titles of the songs, or the title of the album itself, you can see that there are strong and powerful words, for example: "A Dramatic Turn Of Events", "This Is The Life", "Breaking All Illusions". They are definitely referring to what happened within the band in the last two years.

You're absolutely correct. That's because there are very powerful feelings. I have a recommendation for fans: this is what I did too. When we saw the album artwork, we saw it on a big screen and my laptop is a 17" laptop; and when you saw that artwork on a big computer screen, it makes your stomach turn, because of the height: if you're afraid of heights, your stomach would actually turn. But if you see this tiny little cover on Facebook, you would miss all the feeling. But the title ... "A Dramatic Turn Of Events" it's not just about one thing. It's not just about Mike Portnoy, he's just a little part of it. It's also about the dramatic change in the attitude of the band. Mike quit and they had to face a big deal, the whole audition process and for them, it was very difficult to play with anybody else. It was dramatic to write a different record, a record without a drummer. It never happened to them before. As for the album ... I think fans are going to freak out, when they will have the chance to listen to the rest of the record, because it has everything you could imagine. There are parts where I am wild, other parts where I am very fast, and other parts where the band is very dynamic. There is so much in it, I can't even describe it, it's dramatic. And the album comes from that feeling. Does this makes any sense?

It definitely does! You know what? I have been listening to Dream Theater for almost ten years. Throughout the years, I kind of knew what I was going to listen to. But this time, when I think about "A Dramatic Turn Of Events" I don't know what to expect. Tell me, what should I expect from this record?

Let me tell you this: you should expect a collection of the best parts you have ever liked of Dream Theater. This record is made of powerful emotions, but also with a powerful sound. This album is a very coherent one, powerful in its dynamic. It has a special sound, it's music coming from the heart. I didn't even write the music, I just played drums. The first time I tried to do what John Petrucci suggested me, then I tried different things, but what I wanted to say is that this record is very close to its composers. Again, it's solid, connected, a very strong album.

I would like to tell you this: as I watched the documentary, I could immediately see that you couldn't wait to play these songs with the guys and I somehow knew that you would have joined Dream Theater, then.

Well, that's true. As a spectator, you could tell that by looking at my face. But there was also another aspect: that I was with professionals, people very dedicated to their crafts. I love this kind of people. What you could see in my face was respect, appreciation and passion.

Is there any old Dream Theater song that you really like to play?

To be honest, I can't tell you a specific song at the moment. I still have many songs to learn, I'm still in the process, I am digesting everything. I don't have a song now, I am sorry. (laughs)



Well, I think it's a matter of time, one day you will have your favorite song! Or a couple of favorites!

Yeah, at the moment I must say that I am very happy with the choice of the songs, you know. I think fans will be happy about the setlist.

Would you like to tell me something about your drum kit you're going to have on stage?

Let me just say that: I am trained as an orchestral drummer, and also I can play jazz and rock. So, what happens is that I set up my drums for any kind of music, and I have four bass drums. Two of them are for heavy metal and then I have a huge bass drum, to have something close to Led Zeppelin sound; then I have a tiny little bass drum, that's for the dynamics in the music. My toms are set up differently than any other drummer in the world. They are set so I can follow exactly the guitar lines (starts imitating a guitar shredding) ... I can follow it. And my cymbals are set up so I can play all the different sounds both with my left or right hand. I can play cymbals with my left hand in a song, and in another one I can play them with my right hand. I think that my drum set has less drums than Mike Portnoy, anyway, it's very similar.

I'd love to ask you many more questions, but I'm afraid our time is over. Now, would you like to leave a message to your fans out there and to our SpazioRock readers?

I would like to thank all the people who appreciate my work with Dream Theater: I am the happiest person in the world in this band.

Let me just say that: I do appreciate your work, as many others out there.

Thank you and one more thing: all the fans that miss Mike, I understand them, Mike is a friend and they have the right to miss him. I understand that they might miss him, but I'm going to do my best in Dream Theater. Thank you for your support.


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