Out of the blue, Dream Theater stunned the music world with the surprising announcement of the return of their original drummer, Mike Portnoy, in October 2023. Portnoy had parted ways with the band in 2010, making way for Mike Mangini to take up the drumming mantle for the subsequent 13 years. Despite the decade-long collaboration between Dream Theater and Mangini, the drummer revealed in an interview with Chris Akin Presents that the band didn’t provide him with any prior indication about Portnoy’s comeback.

Describing the situation, Mangini used a metaphor, saying, “[It was] immediate. But it’s like… So the fish comes up out of the water, it’s immediate. But the fish was swimming for a while. Where was the fish? Whatever.” He articulated that the sudden change was easy for him to process, given his perspective: “The reason it was easy for me to deal with — very easy, actually — I was, like, ‘Oh, okay. Yeah. Yeah. Original guy back in the band.’ I got it.”

Mangini elaborated on his ability to navigate the unexpected transition, mentioning his inclination to perceive the bigger picture and understand the limitations. Despite the abruptness of the situation, he calmly acknowledged the call, saying, “‘Okay, let’s do a joint statement.’ And then the next day, I’m, like, ‘Okay.’ I’m having coffee and quite literally, at my think tank, looking at my list and going, ‘How am I gonna complete this job now? I’ve gotta fix this or do that. I’ve got a lot to do.'”

Reflecting on his departure, Mangini expressed his lack of knowledge regarding the full story behind the reunion, emphasizing that he doesn’t let himself dwell on it. “Well because I don’t know that that’s what is the full picture. I don’t know that that is what happened indeed. And I don’t let myself even think about it. People decide things and I respect that. It’s just it is what it is.”

In a prior interview with The Mistress Carrie Podcast, Mangini briefly touched upon Dream Theater’s decision to bring Portnoy back, simply stating that he comprehended the choice. “The situation made sense to me when I heard it in that I don’t know, I guess I just skipped out and thought, ‘Oh, that’s an original band member going back to a band. Oh, I get that. Okay, I get it.'” He concluded by emphasizing the simplicity of the decision: “A decision was made that I understood. That’s all it is. ‘Cause when I heard the decision, I understood it.” Despite the sudden change, Mangini fondly reminisced about his 13-year journey with the band, describing it as an “unbelievable experience.”

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