MIKE MANGINI 'Wasn't Friends' With Any DREAM THEATER Members Before 2010 Audition

July 18, 2022

In a new interview with Sarah Hagan Backstage, Mike Mangini reflected on his widely publicized audition for DREAM THEATER in late 2010 following the departure of the band's original drummer Mike Portnoy. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "[Portnoy and I] were friends before I got this job [as the new drummer of DREAM THEATER]. Literally, in my [then-]place in L.A., we were hanging out. He was the one that invited me to all the DREAM THEATER shows. He was the person [in DREAM THEATER] I was closest with. He said all kinds of nice things about me all the time to people and in magazines. And so the audition thing happened and our relationship kind of just went into a holding pattern [once I joined DREAM THEATER], and that was that. Whatever that means — it might have been awkward for him or whatever; I don't know. But, anyway, we just kind of did our things.

"What's interesting is with my audition, I wasn't friends with [the other members of DREAM THEATER]. I knew [singer] James [LaBrie] 'cause I had done three records with him and would consider him a friend, to a point, but we didn't yap other than that. Portnoy was the one that was my friend, so the guy that left was the person I was closest with. And even for the audition, James had his [then-]current drummer, Peter Wildoer, into the DREAM THEATER audition. So it was nothing… anything that was suggested that I was friends with them and I was just given the job or anything like that 'cause it's totally not true — [it's] totally false, totally made up by whoever wants to make things up that they wanna think."

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".

"I wasn't nervous about what would happen 'cause I had such a good day that day," Mike recalled. "But I didn't know. I was, like, 'Oh my gosh. I'm nervous. I really would like to do this.' And who knows? All the other drummers, if they weren't already my friends became my friend after that. So I have close relationships with everybody. I was nervous because I know that each of the drummers does something amazing that the other one doesn't do. That's the beauty about art and music, is everyone has things that they're own and I know how great they all are. All I know is I didn't do anything that was a mistake to the point that it was noticed. It's a better way for me to describe than for me to say, 'I didn't make any mistakes that day,' or whatever. I have to be clear that I don't know that I hit this drum and I should have hit that drum — that's not what I mean. What I mean is nothing caused us to stop; nothing was out of place; I got every single test the first time; the jam was pretty good, it was fun; I played the songs correctly and had zero stops. It was that kind of thing — nothing was out."

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 last October.

Three months ago, DREAM THEATER won its first-ever Grammy in the "Best Metal Performance" category in the pre-telecast ceremony at the 64th annual Grammy Awards, which was held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. DREAM THEATER was nominated for "The Alien", a track from "A View From The Top Of The World". DREAM THEATER's previous Grammy nominations were for the song "On The Backs Of Angels", from 2011's "A Dramatic Turn Of Events" album, and the single "The Enemy Inside" from 2013's "Dream Theater".

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