Former DREAM THEATER Drummer MIKE MANGINI Announces Release Date, Track Listing For Debut Solo Album

October 26, 2023

Former DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Mangini has announced the official release date for his debut solo album, "Invisible Signs". Accompanying Mangini on the LP are Tony Dickinson on bass, Ivan Keller on guitar, Gus G. (FIREWIND, OZZY OSBOURNE) on lead guitar and former EVANESCENCE guitarist Jen Majura on vocals.

Earlier today (Thursday, October 26),Mangini took to his social media to share the "Invisible Signs" cover artwork and track listing, and he included the following message: "I'm so happy to finally announce the date for the release of my upcoming album #InvisibleSigns coming your way on 11/11/23. Swipe left to see the full tracklist! Can't wait for all of you to hear it!! Don't forget to pre-order your autographed physical copies clicking the link in my bio… you can also pre-save it in its digital format."

"Invisible Signs" track listing:

01. Freak Of Nature
02. Invisible Signs
03. Habit To Change
04. Not Drowning
05. Deep Inside
06. Saying Sorry
07. So Alive
08. Glamorous Shades
09. It's Noise
10. Let Me Shine
11. Seek And Find
12. Black Box

Mangini has released two singles so far from "Invisible Signs": "Freak Of Nature" and "Not Drowning".

Regarding the lyrical inspiration for "Not Drowning", Mike said: "While listening to the chorus part of this song sometime in 2018, I heard word sounds in my mind and the word 'drowning' fit it pretty well. I didn't want to write about it literally though. I used a thesaurus and the internet to find related words and topics because my lyrics are never about personal events or stories. Searching terms related to 'drowning' eventually led me to the word 'confusion.' That made me think of the confusion surrounding the findings of Quantum Mechanics. I found instances of physicists and mathematicians saying that the test results seemed strange and 'wrong,' and that they could not reconcile it with their view of reality. Some said there are things about it we cannot know, or maybe are not supposed to know. It seemed to me that spending too much time immersing oneself in it can make a person crazy. Einstein died confounded by it spending countless hours trying to recocile it with the reality he knew. The myriad of unfounded conjectures outside the physics community conjured up a comedy skit in my mind. The lines 'Not Drowning' and 'I will breathe' each relate to the hope of clearing away what is blurring the reality of something in all kinds of situations.

"For a song lyric, I suspected that singing about physics wouldn't be as fun as the idea of jumping in a saltwater pool. I needed a descriptive location for it. 'Backyard' didn't work, so I used the word 'nation' because everyone lives in one. That word led me to 'radiation,' as that's what heats up a pool and has a cool sound to it when sung. Mainly, words come to me as sounds, then I search around and form something cohesive, but try not to sacrifice how the words sound.

"I thought this might be interesting to know about. At the end of the day, however, it's just a song for rocking out!

"And then there's the simultaneous 7/8 in Common Time and a wild solo section for the Musos!"

Asked in a recent interview with "The Everyman Podcast" if he wrote all the music and lyrics for "Invisible Signs", including "Freak Of Nature", Mangini said: "Initially. And the reason why there's confusion is journalists will grab old information that is true at the time, but then it changes. For example, initially, yeah, I wrote every note — of course I did, because I was working on it by myself. I mean, every note — the solos, all the words, horribly sung [laughs] vocal melodies. And it evolved over time. So, as it grew from totally all me and MIDI instruments to what you hear now, there was a stage where I had nurtured it and then turned it over to everyone else on the album. So that's the essence of it."

Regarding how Jen became involved with the project as the singer, Mike said: "I met Jen quite a while ago, and eventually she asked me to do one of her one-minute [YouTube] spots, and we did a Stevie Wonder tune with her and Alex Skolnick, and it was super, 'cause she nailed — she played saxophone and guitar and all this stuff, but she's singing Stevie Wonder, like with that thing. Not everybody has that thing, and I noted it in my head. I'm, like, 'Gosh, she's got that thing.' And it's interesting, because later on, when I wrote a couple of songs no one has heard yet, except whoever's supposed to hear this before it comes out, 'Black Box' and 'Let Me Shine' are more of what… I mean, you can tell that's what the kids were gravitating towards. And so I tried to make those songs me. I tried to make it with the riff and that thing to it that is not common on the radio stations. But anyway, so she had that thing that allowed those particular two songs to now kind of connect to the rest of it. And the songs that are on the much — they're still heavy, but they don't have that 54 percent swing thing in them."

As for the rest of the musicians who appear on "Invisible Signs", Mangini said: "Gus took care of the solos. He didn't wanna do the rhythm stuff. He's not a seven-string player; he's a six-string player. That's the reason. So, Ivan was recommended to me by vocalist Dino Jelusick [WHITESNAKE, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA], who's just the sweetest guy in the world — great friend, someone I was bouncing ideas off of and stuff and helping me out. And he recommended Ivan. He actually recommended Tony Dickinson as well on bass. But Ivan came in and just took all my virtual parts, put them on the guitar. And actually, Dino captured Ivan's parts on Dino's laptop. So, they sent those to me. But Ivan had to interpret some things. He was, like, 'Hey, man, this is done on a keyboard. What are you doing?' I was, like, 'Yes, I know. Make it so it works for you. Make it so it works on that instrument. Go ahead.' And then Tony, of course, did the same thing on bass. And he was in touch with me saying, 'You know…' I'm, like, 'No, just tell me.' He says, 'Well, this particular run, this particular note, I wouldn't do that.' I'm, like, 'It's just a note. Just move the note. Change it. Sure.' Then I said, 'I made the basic parts that work for the song. If you want to embellish, go for it. Make it you, but stay within the thing. Otherwise, I'm gonna lose this.' So these guys were so amazing that they took what I did, they embellished, they fixed it, as it were, because it's a keyboard; they changed some things. But if you heard, if I release all the demos with just me, it's gonna sound…. you'll hear some notes here and there that are different, and that's what happened, or structures. But everything is basically the way it was in essence. And so Ivan took care of all the guitars and he did some fills here and there. Jen Majura did the lead-in solo, the introductory solo for a song called 'Deep Inside'."

In a recently released video message, Mangini spoke about the lyrical inspiration for "Freak Of Nature". He said: "The lyric to 'Freak Of Nature' came about pretty interestingly. As I was researching things I'm interested in, like forces and laws of nature, and I came across a hurricane and 'force of nature' hit me, but it didn't sound very good to me. Then, all of a sudden, 'freak of nature' beamed in from somewhere. And the interesting thing is that that's inherent throughout the record; it just permeates the whole thing where there's meaning, but the sound was more important to me, because if it didn't sound right, I didn't think anyone would want to sing it, if that makes any sense. So, I was thinking about other freaks of nature, like musicians and athletes and things like that, and [American football player] Rob Gronkowski, who played for the [New England] Patriots, came to mind, as he was like an unstoppable force. And so those are just a couple of the things that weave their way into the song. But mainly, I was concerned about the sound, and luckily that phrase came into my mind, freak of nature, and I liked it. So I based all the lyrics off of that."

A week earlier, Mangini released a separate video message in which he spoke about the "source of the music" for "Freak Of Nature". He said: "One thing it isn't is a recreation of any band I've ever been in. I mean, why would I do that? I'm already working with, and have worked with, the best that do that. So it's not something I wanna do. Plus in DREAM THEATER, everyone's solo album sounds different than the final DREAM THEATER album."

He continued: "Anyway, one of the sources for me came from when I spent a dime ordering records from a company called Columbia House and, like, 912 LPs showed up. One of them was LED ZEPPELIN 'IV'. And when I put 'Black Dog' on, it did something to me. There was something about that riff. So over the years, I wrote some songs. And when it came time for this album, 'Freak Of Nature' was the first [song] written. And it's a riff. The thing is I had to learn how to write lyrics and melodies over the riff. But that's one of the sources, if you're interested."

Regarding how she landed the gig as the singer in Mangini's solo band, Majura wrote on her social media: "When I was a young teenager, my awesome dad took me to a concert of a guitar player called [Steve Vai], who became one of the most meaningful musicians in my life and literally influenced who I became in life. He was on tour with this thing called 'G3'. I was little, but I was in the front row. Not only was I fascinated by Steve's performance, but also I realized for the first time what a drummer does: I understood when he hits the 'golden plates' it's a very treble-ish shhh-sound, when he does some thing with his feet, the big drum is producing a low-end sound of dummdumm and the 'white thing' (=snare) in the middle is being a very punchy loud sound. Little did I know that the drummer's name was [Mike Mangini] and when he gave me his drumstick at the end of the show… for a few days, I thought I'd become a drummer instead of a guitar player. All of this happened decades ago. So I can easily say that Mike Mangini was the first drummer that made me understand what a drummer does.

"2 decades later, I've already become an active professional touring musician, I met up with Mike again during a summer when DREAM THEATER played a lot of festival shows and I happened to play the same festivals with the band I was with back then. Mike and I started talking, met up at festival caterings, spent a bit of time in festival backstages together, I handed him my first solo album and told him the story of my childhood with the 'G3' concert…

"In 2020 I approached Mike to participate in my '1min jammms' YouTube Series and we had major fun performing Stevie Wonder's 'Sir Duke' together with my dear friend [Alex Skolnick]. Little did I expect that Mike would choose me to be the vocalist for his first solo album ever.

"If there are any meaningful things in life for me personally - this is it!!! I am beyond proud of this collaboration and I'm even more grateful to have gotten to known this amazing human being and finding a new friend for life through countless hours of Zoom and Facetime recording sessions."

Mangini joined DREAM THEATER in late 2010 through a widely publicized audition following the departure of Mike Portnoy, who co-founded DREAM THEATER more than 30 years ago. 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".

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.

On Wednesday (October 25),it was announced that Portnoy was rejoining DREAM THEATER after a 13-year absence from the band.

In a statement, Mangini said about his exit from DREAM THEATER: "I understand DREAM THEATER's decision to get Mike Portnoy back at this time.

"As was said from Day 1, my place was not to fill all the roles that Mike held in the band. I was to play the drums in order to help the band carry on. My main role of keeping our live show working tightly on a nightly basis was an intense and rewarding experience. Thankfully, I got to experience playing music with these iconic musicians, as well as some fun times laced with humor. I also really enjoyed spending lots of time with the crew. And then there's the Grammy win, which was amazingly satisfying.

"To the fans: thank you so much for being amazing to me. I cherish the pictures I have of you all losing your minds and having fun. Finally, I really love the band, crew and management and wish them and the entire organization all the best."

I’m so happy to finally announce the date for the release of my upcoming album #InvisibleSigns coming your way on...

Posted by Mike Mangini on Thursday, October 26, 2023

Find more on Dream theater
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • reddit
  • email

Comments Disclaimer And Information

BLABBERMOUTH.NET uses the Facebook Comments plugin to let people comment on content on the site using their Facebook account. The comments reside on Facebook servers and are not stored on BLABBERMOUTH.NET. To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@) with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).