Mike Mangini: Wired Science

mike mangini

Mangini's Kit

Drums Pearl (Reference Pure/Masterworks custom blend in Galaxy Grey)
1 22" x 18" Bass Drum
2 16" x 16" Bass Drum
3 18" x 16" Bass Drum
4 14" x 6.5" Main Snare
5 10" x 6.2" Utility Snare
6 6" x 6.5" Tom
7 8" x 7" Tom
8 10" x 8" Tom
9 12" x 9" Tom
10 14" x 9" Tom
11 16" x 16" Floor Tom
12 18" x 16" Floor Tom
13 20" x 14" Gong Drum
14 Cannon Toms (L-R): 6" x 12", 6" x 15", 6" x 18", 6" x 21" (aluminum shells)

Cymbals ZIldjian
A 21" Z3 China
B 18" Oriental China Trash (top)/14" Trashformer (bottom)
C 20" A Custom Ping Ride
D 19" Rezo Crash
E 17" A Custom Crash
F 14" A Custom Hi-Hat (x-hats)
G 13" New Beat Hi-Hat
H 8" K Splash
I 9" Oriental Trash Splash
J 13" Oriental China Trash (top)/10" Splashformer (bottom)
K 12" Oriental China Trash (top)/ 10" Splashformer (bottom)
L 8" ZHT China Splash
M 13" K/Z Hi-Hat (remote)
N 13" ZBT Hi-Hat (x-hats)
O 20" Z3 Medium Heavy Ride
P 16" A Custom Crash
Q 16" K EFX Crash
R 18" A Rezo Crash
S 14" Oriental China Trash (top)/14" Trashformer (bottom)
T 20" Oriental China Trash (top)/20" Crash Of Doom (bottom)
U 19" Z3 China
V 26" Gong

Electronics Pearl
W 10" x 4" ePro Live pads mounted in Rhythm Traveler shells
X Pearl r.e.d.box module

Percussion Pearl
Y Tambourine
Z Wind Chimes

Mike Mangini also uses Pearl hardware, Zildjian sticks, Remo heads, and Vater cymbal fasteners.

Back To The Roots — And Back Out Again

Mangini grew up in a big Italian family in the Boston suburb of Waltham, Massachusetts. His was a musical clan whose paternal grandfather was a sax player who also worked in a watch factory. His mother played piano and sight-read, and most of his aunts, uncles, and cousins played a musical instrument.

“My family on both sides really knows how to party,” he says with a chuckle, “and we had a lot of weddings, with 300 to 500 people. By the time I was five I was performing once or twice a year – and I had already been performing since the age of four, when my brothers and sisters would make me play for the neighbors.”

Mangini learned early on that the realities of the music business required him to grasp as much as possible about not just drumming technique but aspects of music theory and composition. His tough-love fifth-grade drum teacher made real sure of that.

“He forced me to play mallets, and I would’ve rather had a ball-peen hammer whack my elbows twice a day than to study mallets,” Mangini howls. “He got in my face and said, ’Listen to me, kid; if you don’t learn how to write melodies, you won’t get publishing. You’ll just be back there on the drums, humming out stuff, looking like a fool, and you’re gonna wonder why everyone else is making money and you don’t get any writing credit. You may think you wrote a song because you wrote a drum part, but a drum part is not copyrightable info.’”

Mangini got the message, embarking on a study of various mallet instruments, including glockenspiel. “I learned my key signatures and how to navigate on a keyboard instrument. Even though I’m not a pianist, alone with an iPad or keyboard or bass or other melodic instrument I can record my ideas so that I can communicate the ideas I have. And if I have to do it on the spot – come up with a riff ¬¬– I can and I do.”

Mangini’s career as a professional drummer commenced the day he quit Waltham’s Bentley University after a semester and a half, spending the next year playing in a cover band. He didn’t go back to music full-time until he quit his job as a software engineer on the Patriot missile system for Raytheon, a position he held for five years. Establishing his own drum teaching business in 1989 while playing in an original band and doing cover-band gigs, he’d begun to develop the spectacular multilimb-coordination skills he’d go on to showcase in bands like Annihilator and Extreme and with Steve Vai.

Mangini’s wide-ranging set of playing chops reflected the stylistically varied drummers he’d grown up admiring. “The drummers that influenced me up until I was an adult – What am I saying? I’m still not an adult, and I’m 50! – till I was about 20: Ringo, Bobby Colomby, Danny Seraphine, Buddy Rich, John Bonham, Neal Peart, and Terry Bozzio. Those drummers’ musical expressions struck me so hard that I learned every song from their catalogs.”

Still influencing him today is most any drummer who, as he puts it, does anything remotely personal. “It could be a conga player, a jazz player, a player with a large drum set, a speed drummer with even velocities and no dynamics, a drummer with all dynamics. When I hear somebody that really plays with quality, meaning that the things that they choose to play are unique to the song, that’s my kind of drummer.”

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