In a new interview with Meltdown of Detroit’s WRIF radio station, Mike Mangini was asked if he was friends with the members of DREAM THEATER before joining the band in late 2010 through a widely publicized audition following the departure of Mike Portnoy. He responded (as transcribed by Phoosi.com): “I was not friends but was an acquaintance. Let me backtrack. I recorded with [DREAM THEATER singer] James LaBrie [years before I joined the band]. ‘Cause what happened was EXTREME and DREAM THEATER did a show together in ’95 in Europe and we became friends. James actually approached me in ’95, saying, ‘Man, I’d like to work with you in the future.’ And I’m, like, ‘Yeah.’ And so he got a solo album deal and, sure enough, he called me and I ended up recording with him. So I got to know him a little it. We weren’t hanging out and all that stuff. So when you say ‘friends,’ it’s different. And no, I really didn’t know anybody.
“One gets a gig because I showed up and I didn’t… The fact is I didn’t make any mistakes; I played everything correctly,” he added. “Not even a single one — nothing. Nothing was off. And that kind of got me the job. I was prepared.”
Mangini beat out six other of the world’s top drummers — Marco Minnemann, Virgil Donati, Aquiles Priester, Thomas Lang, Peter Wildoer and Derek Roddy — for the gig, a three-day process that was filmed for a documentary-style reality show called “The Spirit Carries On”.
“It was interesting early on what commentary came across my view by people bringing it to me,” Mike told WRIF. “It’s not like I go look for this stuff. But it’s, like, ‘Oh, someone says you got the gig ’cause you lived close by.’ Well, living close by has nothing to do with picking up a pair of sticks and playing music. ‘Oh, well you were friends with them more than the other guys.’ No, I actually wasn’t. And in fact, I recorded for James LaBrie but in fact, James LaBrie brought his current drummer up to the audition, not me. So that’s not gonna work either. ‘Well…’ It’s always after the word ‘well.’ ‘Well, you got the gig ’cause this…’ My response to anyone would be, well, it’s not ‘well.’ It’s not well at all to say those things; those are all false. I got it because I showed up and made zero mistakes — none; nothing. I don’t even know how I did it. So I’m not pumping my own balloon up here; I don’t even know how I did it.”
He continued: “This had nothing to do with the documentary. I mean, the documentary showed very little. But you didn’t see me make a single mistake anywhere, did you? Because I didn’t. And I didn’t make one in three hours, and that is an absolute bottom-line fact. And so maybe that was it. I don’t know. I don’t know who did what or whatever. I know a lot of my heart was into it, and that has a lot to do with tone and playing and all that too. It just worked. And everyone else that auditioned was amazing. And they’re all my buddies.
“I could sit here all day and tell people all the wonderful things that every one of those drummers does that I don’t do like they do… Each person is very powerful and unique that was there. It’s just for me, all I can tell you is I knew what they were gonna play before they played it with pattern recognition.”
Mangini made his name in the hard rock world in the mid-1990s when he played with EXTREME, before landing the gig with guitar legend Steve Vai in 1996. Nearly a decade later, Mangini took up a full-time teaching position at the world-renowned Berklee College Of Music.
DREAM THEATER‘s latest album, “A View From The Top Of The World”, came out in October.
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