New DREAM THEATER Drummer Says He ‘Had A Flawless Audition’

Jeffrey Easton of Metal Exiles recently conducted an interview with new drummer Mike Mangini of progressive metal giants DREAM THEATER. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow belw.

Metal Exiles: In your drummer audition, you said this was not just a gig. Do you think that your passion for DREAM THEATER is what got you the gig?

Mike: Yes, that is what it is. My technical ability is not enough alone. Each one of those other six guys [that auditioned for DREAM THEATER] does something the best because they put between ten and twenty years into something. Now, unless another human being puts in the same time, how can you have the same proficiency? Plenty of us out there popped onto the earth with some kind of talent to work with, so I am fortunate in that way, but you still have to work at it. Each of the other guys have something amazing. It is what it is. My passion allowed me to show that the power of will is amazing. I had a flawless audition; I knew what they were going to play before they played it. It was spooky, like it was meant to be.

Metal Exiles: For the new DREAM THEATER record, “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”, how did your style play out with the way they record records?

Mike: This was different for them in that they write together, the entire band, but this time there was no drummer there, it was just the four guys. What happens is when you construct something like that you formulate through trial and error. I come in after the trial and error and match frequencies with them. For example, my kick drums are matching what [bassist] John Myung and [guitarist] John Petrucci are playing as a unison rhythm and I will take one of my available hands and follow what Jordan is doing and keep time with my other hand. Usually I assign one of my limbs to the actual click time keeping function and my other limbs come into play to match the music. When Jordan [Rudess] plays certain keyboard patches there is a certain cymbal tone to it, a kind of metal sound and I play one of my stacked symbols to it and I do it all over the record.

Metal Exiles: So what do you feel about “A Dramatic Turn Of Events” as a whole?

Mike: As far as the DREAM THEATER catalog goes, this is the most dynamic one to date. The word dynamic is an emotional and volume change from high to low and this record has tons of dynamics in it. One of the important things that I have not heard on any of the other records is that I use dynamics instead of a drum fill. I did not play a fill in some places, I just used a heavy beat and somewhat orchestrally with dynamics so I got really quiet, mad a tiny adjustment and brought it up and up and then back down instead of playing a beat and adding something else and so forth.

Metal Exiles: Is there a solo life for Mike Mangini or is DREAM THEATER it for you?

Mike: This is what I want; it is amazing in DREAM THEATER. I am a drummer that composes on an instrument. That means I bring in actual music, I just do not sit behind a drum kit and bark out five of these and six of those. I know, as a composer, how to get my ideas out and I can tell you flat-out that the musicians I want to work with are these guys. Where else am I supposed to find in the same room a guitar player like this, a singer like this, a keyboardist like this and a bass player like this?

Read the entire interview from Metal Exiles.