A little more than a month after drummer Mike Portnoy’s sudden departure from Dream Theater, the band hosted auditions in New York City. Over a productive three-day period, the band played, jammed and spoke candidly with seven great drummers.
The remaining members of the band got to know the candidates musically, personally and professionally and assessed the fit of each drummer’s chops with the band’s prog-rock sound.
After intense consideration, the band has chosen drummer Mike Mangini (Extreme, Steve Vai, Annihilator) to fill the seat behind the kit which was left vacant by Portnoy’s departure late last summer.
Dream Theater began telling their tale on April 21 when the band took to its Facebook page to give fans a glimpse at the audition process. A video tool prompted fans to "like" the page in order to unlock exclusive content. A trailer for the three-part documentary series on the audition process was then revealed. Those who "liked" the page then received updates on when and where the documentary would be airing.
The series, which is featured on Roadrunner Records’ YouTube channel, has received a positive response from fans and critics and amassed more than 1.5 million views in a week. Dream Theater and Mangini were trending topics on Twitter last Friday, behind only royal wedding-related topics.
Keyboardist Jordan Rudess reflected on Mangini’s audition, saying, “From the first count-off to the very last note of the final song, every beat Mike played was not only in perfect time, but also executed with an undeniable sense of virtuosity and musicality.”
“The departure of our lifelong bandmate and friend was an unexpected and truly heartbreaking blow,” said guitarist John Petrucci. “The fact that as a result of that event we’d be introduced to seven infinitely capable and uniquely talented drummers was heartening. Butwhen we played with the infectiously positive powerhouse of a drummer that is Mike Mangini, we knew we had found a silver lining to what has been, by far, the most challenging episode in our musical lives.”
Bassist John Myung said “Mike Mangini is inspiring to us on many levels. His attitude and outlook are entirely positive. His total immersion into performing with us is undeniable, and during the audition, we all felt his strong musical and personal presence. At the same time, we also felt a real unity. He will open up our creative potential. It was destiny at work for us to have found the right person at the right time.”
Going into the auditions, singer James LaBrie had a strong vibe for Mangini’s potential. “I had the privilege of working with Mike on three of my solo albums, so I knew he would be a huge contender. He is without a doubt one of the most intelligent, intuitive, interpretive and virtuosic musicians I have ever played with.”