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New Dream Theater Drummer Grateful Everyday for Opportunity

Progressive metal band will perform Oct. 11 in Morristown.

If Mike Mangini had not been asked to progressive metal band Dream Theater late last year, what else would he be doing?

He'd still be a college professor, of course.

But instead of serving as associate professor of percussion at the Berklee College of Music–a role he served in Boston for 11 years–Mangini has filled the shoes of Mike Portnoy, one of the founders of the over 20-year-old band, and arguably one of the best active drummers in music.

The New England native is well up to the task and will be on display, with the rest of the band, when they perform at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown on Oct. 11. The band is presently on tour promoting their 11th studio release, "A Dramatic Turn of Events," the first with Mangini behind the skins.

Mangini, 48, is no stranger to the road. However, this is the first time in over a decade the drummer has been able to dedicate himself fully to one thing–the band.

"I wanted to make a family," he said, marrying in 2005, the same year he was offered a full-time position with Berklee, where he had been since 2000. "I wasn't able to for one reason or another get that done. Once I moved back home I could be in the area for a long time, I could network. Meet, get married, have children."

Just because he was at home and teaching doesn't mean the drummer stopped drumming. During his tenure at the college, he also worked on numerous projects, including the drums for the band Annihilator, and on a Rush tribute album, among other projects. Now, Mangini said he felt he could get back in a full-time band.

With Portnoy's departure from Dream Theater late last year, the timing not be more perfect for Mangini. "I was looking to get in a band," he said. "I had to wait for the right time and opportunity, and it just matched."

Mangini has been more than busy, listening through, and performing the tens of hours of recorded Dream Theater music.

One of the aspects of "A Dramatic Turn of Events" Mangini said he appreciated most was what he called "the flow.

"This is important: they composed this with no drummer," said Mangini, who had not joined the band when they began writing the new album. "This is (guitarist and founder) John Petrucci that always came up with the riffs. He's still here. This is back to John showing up with bags of riffs, as he always did. Except this time, no drummer to steer it in different directions. It was what the writing has been now with no drummer."

Mangini calls this one of the greatest Dream Theater albums in a long time.

"When I write on a keyboard, bass or guitar–which I don't play well but can write on–when I compose, it's good to have only chordal structure and a sense of feel without drums. It changes things," he said. "Those guys composed with no drummer. And all the ideas flowed with such ease. I couldn't believe it."

About a year into his time with Dream Theater, Mangini said the fit has been a natural one.

"We're very much the same," he said. "We talk music, the show, practice, we share things with a common ground. That's special. I feel like I'm with people I've known for a long time. I don't have to try hard to be someone else.

"I go to bed every night and say 'thank you,'" Mangini said. "I'm really grateful for this opportunity with all the things that make it so."

Dream Theater will be performing at the on Oct. 11. For more information, including ticket information,

Brett Wilshe October 05, 2011 at 04:27 AM
I haven't been too keen on DT for a couple years, but I'll pick their new album up. Pretty impressive if they composed it without a drummer...
Lance Solotatea October 06, 2011 at 09:09 PM
With all due respect, these comments couldn't be more wrong. Portnoy, while efficient as a metronome (to a fault), lacked the dynamics and groove a Mangini. However, the greatest difference is the disappearance of what I call Portnoy's Met-uhl! douchebaggery. His desire to turn this band into something it never was meant to be (ala A7X) was always evident and the band was always worse for it. His insistence on growling background vocals were nothing short of douche-chill embarrassing and I'm sure only made the albums because he wielded so much power in the band. Finally, while DT has never been known for their lyrics, MP's lyrics were awful to the point of ridiculousness. Let Mike find peace with some metal band so he can deal with his midlife crisis while DT continues on in the prog-rock vein better than ever.
kevin Jones October 06, 2011 at 09:51 PM
I'm sorry Lance- You are talking out of your rear orifice- Obviously you don't care for MP, that's fine, but don't say he was the sole force in steering DT where it went and is at currently. Petrucci's lyrics ALL contain elements of his Italian, Catholic upbringing and are very played out. His riffs are getting tired and the formulaic writing of this new album sucks wind. How about LeBrie, you see his attempts to look like a Met-uhl-head? Mangini and Portnoy are different drummers and both exceptional at their craft. I personally think some of the music is suffering because of Portnoy's exodus and some of it doesn't. They may claim they rote this with no drummer, but that is not true- They wrote the drum parts for Mangini so in effect, they knew all along what the drums were going to be. Mike didn't write those parts, at least not Mike M. Get over your obvious distaste for MP and take an honest look at the weak showing this album really is.
Doug Wald October 06, 2011 at 10:14 PM
From what I understand, the band couldn't be happier, more relaxed and cohesive and in a better collective way. Have heard that Mangini couldn't be nicer and more gracious (plus he's an animal drummer). Since the summer's European run and the US run so far, fans have been loving the shows, not one board on the shows have multiple fans clamoring for MP. He's off supposedly coming up with another band with Billy Sheehan, good luck with that, dude. Am looking forward to the Beacon next week, am sure Morristown will rock!
Anony moose October 06, 2011 at 11:40 PM
For me, DT has always been the competition between Rudess, Petrucci and Portnoy. And sorry for Mangini but I don't think he's at the same level - at least from what I heard from the last album. Looking forward to the next one, with drums thought out from the start. Please forget that flow thing !
Lance Solotatea October 07, 2011 at 12:08 AM
Don't get me wrong Kevin, I'm a big fan of MP as a drummer and have been since the Charlie Domenici days. When 2 guys like MM & MP play at this high a level, comparisons are silly. I happen to like MM more as a drummer but understand how someone could go the other way. Regarding lyrics, I never said JP's lyrics were great (just listen to Count of Tuscany, probably one of the silliest DT songs ever) but they lack the bash over the head high school band obviousness of MP's lyrics. Anyway, it's moot since buying a DT cd for the lyrics is like watching Baywatch for David Hasselhoff's dialogue. And I'm not trying to minimize MP's overall influence on what has turned out to be one of my all time favorite bands. I was just trying to point out some of the baggage that comes along with MP. The silly lyrics, the met-uhl wannabe mentality, the cringe-worthy backup vocals, etc. For me (and just my opinion), this new stuff with MM is exactly what I listen to DT for. The heavy progressive but short of metal (think Train of Thought) type stuff. Also, I definitely disagree that JP's licks are getting stale, I think he's as melodic and phenomenal as ever (plus you can actually hear JM's bass on this stellar recording). Best for last is Jordan Rudess. He's what got me listening to DT again when joined for SFAM. He breathed new life into this band and I think his layers, textures, orchestrations and virtuosity really make this band what it is today. Cheers.
Lance Solotatea October 07, 2011 at 12:40 AM
To clarify: I used Train of Thought as an example I DON'T like...
Andy October 08, 2011 at 05:16 AM
Just came back from THE Montreal show. THE band blew me away. There was intensity. Labrie was stellar. Totally on key and belting out all the tunes. Myung was also focused and he looked like he was having great fun. Petrucci was godlike as usual. Rudess was smiling all concert and playing his heart out. Mike the Genie Mangjni won the crowd over right away! He not only drummed, he grroved, he felt the music as he played it. Really incredible. Better than Mike Portnoy hands down. I told mike that he had big shoes to fill and did he ever. A real standout performance. Power, technique, focus, emotion, feeling... I'm still wired from living the DREAM!
Lance Trench October 08, 2011 at 08:06 AM
dream theater for 17yrs i've been listening..let MM creates new style of music that matches DTs fans especially me..GOOD LUCK DT&MM
dan October 08, 2011 at 03:34 PM
I have been a fan of DT for almost 20years. I saw them live on Thursday night in Toronto (Massey Hall) and I haven't seen the guys this relaxed and having this much fun on stage in very long time (even saw a smile from Myung). The departure of MP seems to have a lifted the bands spirits. The show was amazing (as always) and Mangini is incredible. I wish MP success in his musical career but I don't miss him from the band and am happier that there is more of a balance in their music.
Florin October 09, 2011 at 06:24 PM
I couldn't agree with Lance more. I wouldn't care if they took Hasselhoff's dialogue and used it for lyrics, as long as it comes between a Rudess and a Petrucci solo...

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