Documentary for new Dream Theater drummer and their choice of Mike Mangini....

Give my following waffle a chance - I babbled too much but does have its place I think and does ultimitely lead you to the question of opinion and discussion....

I am not a Dream Theater fan at all, and don't think you have to be to appreciate, enjoy and have an opinion on this matter, but has anyone seen their three part documentary over finding a new drummer? They have seven audition for them; Marco Minnemann, Virgil Donati, Mike Mangini, Derek Roddy, Thomas Lang, Aquiles Priester and Peter Wildoer.

We all know who they chose in the end now of course - Mike Mangini.

I enjoyed watching it, despite its 'x-factor' 'esque atmosphere, and was very interesting seeing insight into such a high profile audition.

I certainly had a favourite who was not even picked in their shortlist of two!! Undoubtedly my favourite was Virgil Donati. This may be down to how much I rate him as a drummer anyway, but still think he was leagues above the others, along with Minnemann. I know Mangini is incredible as well, and his technique is monstrous, but the feel and subtlety of Virgil was unsurpassed. He still has the monstrous technique of Mangini, although perhaps not to the same 'over the top' extent, but has a different kind of mastery I don't think Mangini has. Down to the dynamic and superior feel to one of his simple single stroke tom fills or the technical yet wonderfully felt patterns in the 'riff learning' test they threw at him.

In a way I think Mangini suits 'DT' more, but still, it seemed like the obvious, closest choice to Portnoy in a way - almost like a progressive band have rejected progression!!

Anyway, enough of my babble - I was wondering what anyones opinions are on the audition and the overall choice in general????
 
M

mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
almost like a progressive band have rejected progression!!
I think you've pretty much summed up most of the genre in the last few years with just that one quote.

I don't like Dream Theater at all. I think their music is stale and lacking any human touch and often complicated just for the sake of being complicated. I don't think LaBrie can sing at all and whilst the others can play; I just don't see why they bother.

They had a real opportunity to change things with the new drummer auditions and they could've brought in literally anybody and overhauled their approach to music. I hear the last few albums haven't been reviewed well at all and when you have a run of bad albums, you know things have to change.

I like and respect Mike Mangini. I can't blame him for taking the gig, but what I can say is that the attitude of the band to the audition process pretty much summed it up for me. They wanted identical takes to Portnoy and they were unwilling to change their compositional process to allow for 'composition' time between the jams (Derek Roddy's audition was the best example of this) so their music will continue to be the same as it has been since 1992 - it will just be more of the same mediocrity.

If they had actually been auditioning drummers it might've been interesting but they weren't. They were auditioning for a musician that could cover Mike Portnoy, that could sound identical and work identically. Mike Mangini happened to be the best fit for a guy that could play Portnoy's parts and whose modus operandi fitted the band - that's fine - but it's not taking any kind of risk or progression within the band. Taking Derek Roddy would've been much more interesting because they would have to change the way they work and perhaps refresh their sound and approach. Mangini could take them to a whole new level in terms of his ability, but I don't think the rest of the band will want to go there.

I'll re-iterate. I don't take issue with Mangini here; I think he is a fine player. Dream Theater were, however, just looking for a straight replacement and have no concept of just how stale they have become. That was the reason Portnoy left in the first place. I'm sure Mangini will play ball for the sake of the gig - but sooner or later they're going to have to change something bigger or else they will implode.
 
I could not think of a specific quote or section in your reply to quote as it was all very much correct and along the same wave length I am on with the matter, so thought I would give a general reply to the whole comment....

Yes, they have absolutely gone for the safest option - but safe option doesn't even quite describe it correctly. They even said under their own admittance in the documentary episodes, by way of slatting Donati and Lang over their own interpretations of some aspects of their tracks, they all they were looking for was mere carbon copy of Portnoy. Surely though, as very competent players themselves, they would appreciate the varying styles and qualities of each different player - that is something to marvel in, not criticise.

I would have though also, as composers, they would be touched that such notorious players had found inspiration in their music to not just copy but heighten/experiment and contribute further to.

Having said that, they seemed very impressed with Minnemann. I did also love his audition, but he didn't play the songs as carbon and stale as Mangini or Portnoy's original patterns. So, perhaps I am being unjust and it was just the particular interpretations of Donati and Lang they didn't like, however I think this not the case. Due to their own admittance and eventual final decision, despite showing interest in Minnemann, carbon copy was what they were after.

As you say, there was a reason Portnoy left and a reason there albums have gotten steadily worse recently. I am not a fan of any of their stages particularly, but can certainly appreciate their earlier work to their most recent.
 
Also, as you say, I in no way 'degrade' Mangini as a player. He is more than a capable player to say the very least, but in this context, the wrong decision was certainly made I think.

Have you also heard the new track by them which is up on youtube and their site now?

It confirms all this.

Mediocre is a compliment!!
 

aydee

Platinum Member
...

I share MFB's view on DT and its music completely, but these drum auditions have been quite a spectacle in the drum circles. It was amazing to see how much interest it generated even amongst folks who arent into Portnoy or DT.

Mangini was a sure bet from the begining. The 'word on the street' was that he was the man, even before the whole thing began. To do a serialized broadcast of an audition process with some of the heavy hitters in the biz was essientally a masterstroke of good business & good PR.
Having said that, selecting a drummer for a regular touring/recording band is a lot more than just ability & musicianship. Its a lot to do with personal relationships, personalities, what the fans want, what will work for the business of DT and so on.

As a vouyer, I loved the abilities of all, and kind of agree that Donati is in a zone all by himself artisticly speaking, a Zen master, but thats just an opinion of course.Loved Wildoer's energy, Priester's unusual phrasing, Lang's quantized power, and Minnieman's passionate interpretation of their music.

I was totally PO'ed about the way they handled Derek Roddy's segment. In the interest of "good Television..." they chose to sacrifice Roddy's audition as something that went badly. Thats a damn lousy thing to do to a fantastic drummer's reputation publically. I dont know how Derek felt about it but the American Idolization of this bit was very off putting for me.

In the end, I guess the best man won. He just fit the bill in so many different ways. It probably helped that he wasnt, European, or foriegn and could play anything...backwards...

...with either hand....

...or foot...

...either foot.....

AND with a 200 watt personality to boot.

...
 
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Cameo

Gold Member
+1 on how they managed Derek's audition.
I don't know wy they didn't like Thomas Lang, he'd take the band to a whole new level. And Virgil would, too...
 

Be26

Member
I don't know wy they didn't like Thomas Lang, he'd take the band to a whole new level. And Virgil would, too...
Maybe - just maybe - they didn't get on as well with them as they did with Mike? I read the Rhythm interview he did a couple of months ago and he made the same point - if you're going to be sharing a tour bus with somebody for the next God only knows how long, you've got to get on with them and be sure your personalities are going to mesh.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Interesting. A band puts out a video on how they audition to replace their drummer. I think they coulda' used the time and money spent instead on making new music and seeing how everyone likes it. Record sales is still how a band makes money and exists as a band, right? Or has this changed?

I don't care how or why you have the personnel you have, crank out some music and see if all the old fans buy it and/or attract new ones to continue your viability.

Sorry. I've never bought a DT disc, but I heard they were really great at some point ;)
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
and kind of agree that Donati is in a zone all by himself artisticly speaking, a Zen master, but thats just an opinion of course.
Love that quote, haha :)! As a big fan of Virgil and his playing I fully agree.

I agree with everything else being said so far, except for the fact that I used to be a DT fan
and still enjoy the music from time to time. I agree that their albums got "badder", but I do
like the newest one, Black Clouds. And I'm looking forward to their newest effort, especially
to the drum parts of course and the question wether or not they changed anything in their
style.

Interesting interview with James LaBrie here by the way.
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
Record sales is still how a band makes money and exists as a band, right? Or has this changed?
;)
I'm fairly sure it has changed, if the experiences of the people I know are anything to go by...you may have been implying this, I can't tell what the wink indicates!
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
Mangini absolutely investigated and discovered the feelings of his potential bandmates and tailored an audition accordingly. He knew how they felt about too many changes, so everything was crafted to best suit that perspective, all the way down to the interview segment. To me that's the way you win an audition. I've competed with this guy. Trust me when I say he doesn't miss a thing...even with that smaller stuff we used to do.

I have no doubt that when everyone attains the proper comfort zone he will assert his own voice into the mix. But right now he's just trying to be the perfect band member and a consumate professional. I'm also amused by these people who view Mangini in such terms when I have no doubt whatsoever that he is capable of doing anything that comes into his head, including adjustment in artistry and/or adaptability...pretty much at will...which is something I'm not sure any drummer other than him is capable of doing in the present era. To me this Donati on a different level stuff borders on fan boyism. They're really pretty close to the same level with Mangini only being a better fit for this particular band.

Now you can judge the free will musical choices all you want, especially the manner in which one interprets their own stuff. With that said I respect Mike, but I like the playing of and feel more comfortable with other players. But I do think that he's perfect for this band, while conjecture to the contrary is misplaced and premature.
 

Algorithm

Senior Member
I watched the first 15 minutes of Dream Theater's search for their new drummer. It was way too blatantly over-the-top dramatic. They could have just found a new drummer and went on with it.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Well, MFB, if you have always hated the band, and have always thought they were stale, I'm not sure how you can say the latest albums are more stale. LOL. If we were discussing this over a nice beer, I would have to endless tease you that for someone who has made it quite clear how much you dislike Dream Theater, you always jump at the opportunity to discuss them. Hahahah...

Anyway....

almost like a progressive band have rejected progression!!
would've been much more interesting because they would have to change the way they work and perhaps refresh their sound and approach.
Over the last ten years, Mike Portnoy had become the undisputed leader of Dream Theater.
Portnoy hated to rehearse.
Portnoy hated making demos.

Under Porntoy's leadership, he had not wanted the band to write any material at home, and he ONLY wanted to make records by the band walking into the studio, jamming, and recording whatever came out. This approach had, over time, completely alienated James Labrie and John Myung from the writing.

A big reason they had some stale and stopped progressing was because Portnoy had stifled the writing process.

The band didn't necessarily need a guy with a different style to get over being stale and progress, they had just cut the the guy who was holding them back.

No more was this clear on James Labrie's last solo album, which sounded more like what a Dream Theater record should sound like than the last two Dream Theater albums combined.

The latest single somewhat plays this out. It's an 8 minute long epic prog song, but at least it sounds like an 8 minute long prog song, and not a 3 minute song with 10 minutes of wanking in the middle as the last several albums had become. Even if it's NOT the greatest song in it's own right.

From an old fan standpoint, where this all becomes more apparent is in the youtube clips that have leaked from the European tour. Mangini is playing the songs like they used to be played. While the on the last two tours, Portnoy was clearly bored out of his mind, because he would do every thing possible to avoid playing the older songs like the record, and (per Labrie) insisted a lot of the old material get edited down. The live shows had become dull, because the old stuff was edited and played poorly, while the newer stuff was all undeveloped ideas merged with wankfests.

I went from completely dis-interested in what DT has to offer to suddenly getting that old feeling back. Suddenly, the old Dream Theater I used to love back in the 90's sounds like it has life again.

And on the flip side, while the last two albums were crap in my humble opinion, internationally, they sold better. The last several Los Angeles shows were in much bigger venues than they had played in on previous tours. The big reason the band rejected Portnoy's idea of going on hiatus is the business end of the band has been on a roll the last few years, and the rest of the band wanted to capitalize on there increased fan base while the going was good. So, while outsiders might argue this was an opportunity to go in a new direction, and I won't argue against that, from the business end, they needed someone who could come in fill Portnoy's role to keep the things going as is.

And while everyone who auditioned was a great player, Mangini won because of things that had nothing to do with playing.

  1. The band is from New York, Mangigni is from Boston, so they all have the East Coast personality in common, while everyone did not.
  2. Mangini played on several of James Labrie's solo albums, so they already had a working relationship. Only Pete Wildoer could also say this.
  3. Mangigni had years with Steve Vai. John Petrucci had toured with Vai on the G3 tours. So there was a level of familiarity there the other guys did quite have.
  4. There was the Berklee connection.
  5. And most importantly: Mangigni made it clear he wanted it more than everyone else.

Choosing a band member isn't just about who can play the best, it's also about who do they want to be on a tour bus with and hang out with. Mangini won in that regard.
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
To be honest, while I've never been a tremendous fan of Dream Theater I think Mangini was far and away the best choice for them. To choose somebody who couldn't, or wouldn't, play like Portnoy would have been a very risky decision, and with Mangini they know they've got that aspect covered while not being limited to it. The theatrical aspect is quite silly but understandable from a PR point of view, my only objection would be to any misrepresentation of the drummers who auditioned for the sake of TV-style drama.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Interesting. A band puts out a video on how they audition to replace their drummer. I think they coulda' used the time and money spent instead on making new music and seeing how everyone likes it. Record sales is still how a band makes money and exists as a band, right? Or has this changed?
It's called promotion.

As much I think it was over the top and way to "American Idol", it got everyone talking.

Case in point: The topic has more replies on this forum than just about anything else lately, including 100's of comments from people who would have otherwise not paid any attention to the band.

While the process was rather cheesy, it's utter brilliant marketing.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
It's called promotion.

As much I think it was over the top and way to "American Idol", it got everyone talking.

Case in point: The topic has more replies on this forum than just about anything else lately, including 100's of comments from people who would have otherwise not paid any attention to the band.

While the process was rather cheesy, it's utter brilliant marketing.
Ah, like when Metallica went searching for a new bass player. I saw that documentary, that was probably less-American Idol-ish since that didn't really exist at the time. But then I recall that Metallica then became a reality TV show, and I don't think that boded well for the band. Hopefully DT will keep that from happening.

I wish them luck in any case. Not that they need my luck ;)
 
M

mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Well, MFB, if you have always hated the band, and have always thought they were stale, I'm not sure how you can say the latest albums are more stale. LOL. If we were discussing this over a nice beer, I would have to endless tease you that for someone who has made it quite clear how much you dislike Dream Theater, you always jump at the opportunity to discuss them. Hahahah...

Anyway....
Fair enough. No, I don't like the band and I don't really understand why people would but there was a point when I was a teenager that I did quite like them. So I have listened to some of their albums and I know what they can sound like - my pet hate is bands that don't change or try to change and the bands that I do like are generally either short-lived or massively develop their sound over the course of their careers.

A big reason they had some stale and stopped progressing was because Portnoy had stifled the writing process.

The band didn't necessarily need a guy with a different style to get over being stale and progress, they had just cut the the guy who was holding them back.
The question there is: holding them back, or trying to change things? Maybe Portnoy had seen the writing on the wall and decided that things needed to change, but I'm not confident that he felt like he could change given how limited his playing can be. Maybe he just approached the problem in the wrong way and rather than discussing it, bailed on the band.[/Quote]

No more was this clear on James Labrie's last solo album, which sounded more like what a Dream Theater record should sound like...
So, Portnoy's disgruntlement had changed things. For the worse, but that's because the others were unwilling to change. When Radiohead released 'Kid A' everybody said that it wasn't how a Radiohead album should sound like - everybody was hung up on 'OK Computer' and were shocked with 'Kid A'. The difference was that the whole band noticed the need to change (to prevent imploding) and went at it hammer and tong - producing what is universally accepted as a great album.

Portnoy was perhaps trying to force through a change. The others don't go with it. The real question is though: what should a Dream Theater album sound like?. Well, there are expectations that it would/should sound a bit like 'Images and Words', but that was released nearly twenty years ago. If a band makes a left turn it can lengthen their (stable) career. Perhaps fans ought to be more open to changing musical stylings because otherwise a band is the same as it was twenty years ago and as a result saying nothing new artistically.

Look at Rush. I'm not a Rush fan, but they tried to change things and as a result they're still together as a stable lineup - whether or not the change made the music better is for others to decide (I'm certainly not a fan) but I appreciate that they tried to alter an otherwise staling formula. Unfortunately, they've regressed back to what they used to sound like again...

And on the flip side, while the last two albums were crap in my humble opinion, internationally, they sold better. The last several Los Angeles shows were in much bigger venues than they had played in on previous tours. The big reason the band rejected Portnoy's idea of going on hiatus is the business end of the band has been on a roll the last few years, and the rest of the band wanted to capitalize on there increased fan base while the going was good. So, while outsiders might argue this was an opportunity to go in a new direction, and I won't argue against that, from the business end, they needed someone who could come in fill Portnoy's role to keep the things going as is.
On the flip side, how has that got anything to do with artistry? I take issue with a band that won't alter an artistic formula purely because of 'business'. If that's their concern then perhaps they ought to become accountants.

I'm happy to discuss this - I'm glad we can take the time to actually talk about this rather than just slinging mud. I know I can be an aggressive debater, but I enjoy it.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
The question there is: holding them back, or trying to change things? Maybe Portnoy had seen the writing on the wall and decided that things needed to change, but I'm not confident that he felt like he could change given how limited his playing can be. Maybe he just approached the problem in the wrong way and rather than discussing it, bailed on the band.
How was he trying to change things? Other than go on hiatus?

Every interview he has given in the last 5-6 years he's stated how he hates rehearsing, and how he didn't want the band to write music outside of the studio, and that as the bands leader, his way goes.

Portnoy complained that some of the other guys (specifically Myung) stopped hanging around him and the band in the last few year. Portnoy complained no one else wanted to do this or that. Suddenly he's out of the band, and suddenly Myung is writing again, and everyone else is pulling their share.

As much as I love Portnoy, I have to call a spade a spade. He was the one pushing people away, and the one preventing the band from "progressing".

The real question is though: what should a Dream Theater album sound like?.
To clarify my point: On the last two albums, one of the big problems is Labrie sounds like he's singing a vocal melody he just made up on the 1st take. His phrasing is awful, and it sounds like he's singing over the music karaoke style with no rhyme or reason to the notes he's singing. I was thinking he just completely lost it (yes, I know, you think he never had it, but that's not the point).

On his solo album, it suddenly sounded like the James of old. The vocals actually mesh with the music, and it sounds like he actually wrote a vocal melody. Then it became clear; James was sounding bad on the last two albums because Portnoy's insistence that the band not prepare anythig in advance. The music writers weren't being allowed to write for James, and James wasn't allowed to come up a melody that fit the music.

On his solo album, because the music was actually co-written by James, the music fits the vocals, and vise-versa. Also, James's solo album showed "progress" into new territory. He had elements of European metal, and pushing boundaries (drummer Pete Wildoer even did guest vocals), while the last few DT albums haven't "progressed" outside of a stale formula.

So, in response to:
Perhaps fans ought to be more open to changing musical stylings because otherwise a band is the same as it was twenty years ago and as a result saying nothing new artistically.
I heard this "open to change" on Labries solo album, but not on the last two DT albums.

So, what should a DT album sound like? It should like they actually wrote some songs and attempted to push themselves into different territory. Labrie did that on his solo album, DT has not.

All reports about the new album is they did indeed write every note in advance. No more improving for 60 minutes over some rough song ideas and calling it an album. And James did all his vocal parts at a studio away from the rest of the band, so he could focus on actually coming up with real melodies, instead of singing like he has a gun to his head.

If it ends up actually being good or not, I don't know yet, but it has this old DT fan excited about buying it when it come out, where as if they were going to do the same ole' thing as the last few albums, I was leaning towards passing on it.
 
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