In a new interview with Music Radar, Dream Theater drummer Mike Mangini opened up on replacing Mike Portnoy and all the backlash from the core fans. He said:
“I’m in a no-win situation in Dream Theater on some level and that’s okay with me. Apparently, I can’t get away with going along with many fans that don’t like that it’s not the original lineup. Maybe I wouldn’t like that either if I was a fan.
“For me to publicly say, ‘I feel bad for you guys,’ and apologize, ‘Gee, I’m sorry, your favorite guy left, I’m really sorry about that,’ but to then hear cr*p because I’m nice about it? How can you give me cr*p? It’s just the truth and I’m not being humble, I’m just telling the truth.
“Yeah, I’m under a microscope. I’m adjusting to that but I’m not going to let it dictate so that I change my set-up again. I’m not going to let it dictate so I don’t choose to play all of Mike’s original parts. I made a couple of changes last tour and I got wind that a bunch of people hated what I was doing in some of the songs.
“But if I match him exactly, people hate that too, they call me creepy. That’s why I say a no-win situation. If I match the part exactly, let’s just say that even the live tempos were time-coded out perfectly to exactly how he played the records, every one of them, I matched every drum and I set up my drums like him, I mean I’m in a no-win situation there – that’s creepy.
“And if I change it completely, then I know what the response to that is – I can’t play his parts. I can’t win. All I can do is just do what I think is right and tell the truth, and what I think is right is that his parts are very correct and musical and I like them a lot.
“I don’t think it’s a sin that I really like a lot of Mike’s parts. I have the right to not like everything, to change some fills or some main beats. I just want to change them and that’s just the way it is. I have that right and I’m not going to let anybody dictate it to me because I’m under the microscope.
“I think that it’s proper to play the parts the way they are recorded, I like them, I’m going to be different by default. That microscope is the truth and I’m handling it in the right way, I think. I’m trying to do the right thing and when I say the right thing, people change the definition of what they think is right or wrong, but I think it is correct to play the songs the way that people know them.
“I think it is correct to do as good as I can, to play as much of it as I can in a mimic kind of way and I think it is correct to change some things that I feel would be appropriate, like drum fills that aren’t the standard ones.
“For example, if anybody jumped into Dream Theater and changed every single fill – when people are air-drumming that’d take away a lot of the fun for fans, so I’ve got to play some of them.
“Some of them I like, some of them I don’t. Some of them, I’m like, ‘I’m changing it,’ or I’ll play it leftie just to keep myself occupied, just to do something that puts my heart into it.
“If I play everything, I’m a creep, if I don’t, I can’t do it, and that makes me bad for some reason. I’m just being me the way I want to be me, hate it, love it, not care, care, whatever. That is what it is, but when I join bands, I’ve got to respect the music first.”