Mike Mangini, the renowned drummer of the progressive metal band DREAM THEATER, has just unveiled his latest solo single, titled “Freak Of Nature”
This track is a preview of what’s to come on Mangini‘s highly anticipated debut solo album, “Invisible Signs,” scheduled for release in November.
On “Freak Of Nature,” a composition created by Mike Mangini himself, he collaborates with a talented lineup that includes Tony Dickinson on bass, Ivan Keller on guitar, Gus G. (known for his work with FIREWIND and OZZY OSBOURNE) on lead guitar, and the former EVANESCENCE guitarist Jen Majura lending her vocals.
Mangini on the lyrical inspiration for “Freak Of Nature”: “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.”
Mangini released a video message recently 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.”
Majura addressed how she landed the gig as the singer in Mangini‘s solo band on her social media, saying: “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.”
“Invisible Signs” promises to offer a diverse musical experience, with tracks such as “Deep Inside,” “Habit To Change,” “Not Drowning,” “Saying Sorry,” “So Alive,” “Glamorous Shades,” “It’s Noise,” “Seek And Find,” “Black Box,” and “Let Me Shine.”
Mangini‘s solo endeavor showcases his versatility as a musician and his ability to assemble a talented ensemble of collaborators, paving the way for an exciting and highly anticipated solo debut.
Mike Mangini became a pivotal member of DREAM THEATER in late 2010, marking a significant chapter in the band’s history. This transition followed the departure of Mike Portnoy, a co-founder of DREAM THEATER with a tenure spanning over three decades. Mangini’s remarkable journey to joining the band was highlighted by a widely publicized audition.
Competing against six of the world’s most accomplished drummers, namely Marco Minnemann, Virgil Donati, Aquiles Priester, Thomas Lang, Peter Wildoer, and Derek Roddy, Mangini emerged as the standout choice for the coveted role. The rigorous selection process unfolded over three intense days, all of which was documented in a reality show format, titled “The Spirit Carries On.”
Prior to his tenure with DREAM THEATER, Mike Mangini had already established himself as a prominent figure in the hard rock scene during the mid-1990s, notably through his association with EXTREME. His reputation further flourished when he joined forces with the iconic guitarist Steve Vai in 1996. Demonstrating his multifaceted talents, Mangini subsequently transitioned into the world of education, securing a full-time teaching position at the prestigious Berklee College Of Music, where he continues to inspire and influence aspiring musicians.