INTERVIEW: Virtuoso Drummer MARCO MINNEMANN Discusses 'Why Caring About The Sound Holds Enormous Importance'
Marco Minnemann is recognized as one of the world’s greatest drummers in the present day. Besides being a virtuoso drummer, Marco is a multi-instrumentalist and the author of numerous excellent instructional books. Marco has delivered his seasoned drumming abilities in a plethora of musical adventures, and has explored a huge variety of genres! He has been associated with artists and bands like Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani, Jordan Rudess, Necrophagist and of course, The Aristocrats, to name only a few! Marco recently released his much-acclaimed solo album EEPS where he composed, played and recorded all instruments. The album is a brilliant odyssey of a variety of musical dimensions! Marco has also been recording with Steven Wilson for the album Hand.Cannot.Erase, all set to be released in February 2015.
Metal Wani's Debarati Das recently had an In-depth conversation with Marco Minnemann where he spoke about EEPS, Joe Satriani Tour, the Aristocrats album, the upcoming Steven Wilson solo album, tours and experiences.
Marco: I'm doing absolutely fine..and yeah, the day has been great! Thank you!
· You're just back from an amazing tour with Joe Satriani. You have toured Asia and Australia as well. How has the whole experience been?
Marco: The touring experience has been very pleasing indeed! Joe is an absolutely amazing guy to hang out with and he wants me to freely deliver my own style and ideas. I really appreciate the freedom. The entire tour has been a very enjoyable experience. Besides this, we got treated really well which made it wonderful to play there. The only thing which bothered us a bit was the humidity! (Laughs!)
· Your recently released solo album EEPS' features versatile musicality with some unconventional drumming, some heaviness and even some mellowed down music. Please tell us more about the album- about the unique elements you've incorporated in it.
Marco: In my solo albums I play pretty much all the instruments. On EEPS I have explored a variety of things, like you said...there are some mellow tunes as well as heaviness. I've always been interested in experimenting with electronics and have done it on this album as well. EEPS is, to an extent, an experimental record, not really sticking to any particular playing style. It has some jazz/rock tunes as well as elements of pop and electronics, only to name a few!
· Especially as a solo album where you have composed, played and recorded all instruments EEPS is an overwhelming experience! Please tell us about the songwriting process-what instruments did you start with and how did you build upon it?
Marco: There is no particular 'process' as such. The sound is very important. The prime aspect of songwriting is composing and putting the instruments in the right way to achieve the desired sound. I used to be recording alone...just sitting with my guitar and playing something or the other till I'd come to say, “Hey, that sounds nice!". So, some of the entire songwriting process is actually quite spontaneous! For the main 'composing' aspect, I use the guitars, bass and the keyboards. I enjoy plying different instruments and it feels natural to me. I come up with ideas and compose at home or while traveling and capture what I compose on my recording gear till enough material is ready for a release.
· EEPS is also a collection of songs which induce a variety of moods- like, it features some heavy fusions as well as mellow tracks, and not to forget, weird song names! Is there any particular idea that the album as a whole seeks to establish?
Marco: Caring about the sound holds enormous importance! To make it sound the way one wants it to sound, the instruments should be put the right way...so that an idea can also be conveyed. EEPS, for example, has songs like OC/DC which was deliberately played on detuned instruments. It sounded totally absurd! Some listeners thought it was a brilliant composition while some didn't like it. The song called Sunshine is about love and hope while When I Was Gone was written around the theme of religion but in a funny way!
· Is there anything that you've accomplished on EEPS which you hadn't done before?
Marco: Yes, very much! I worked with co-producer Scott Schorr and we arranged a few songs together. He loves the unconventional weird stuff that I compose. Having another person listening to it sure reduces certain risks. It was a great experience!
· You have played in plenty of projects. Despite this fact, the album succeeds in maintaining its uniqueness. How challenging are such attempts- don't your playing styles overlap?
Marco: I believe that one naturally comes to understand the genre one enjoys listening to. I enjoy listening to a variety of musical styles and playing them comes naturally to me. There haven't been any difficulties as such in maintaining the uniqueness of the album. I love to experiment and explore different styles and I tend to write music 'tailored' for each project. Listening to a variety of genres and therefore, being able to understand them sure helps on maintaining uniqueness in each musical adventure when it comes to playing.
· You've been recording with Steven Wilson for his solo album Hand.Cannot.Erase. alongside Guthrie Govan and other seasoned musicians. We loved the promos on YouTube! What can one expect from the album? Please tell us about the experience- each one of you putting together your individual musical experiences for the album.
Marco: I guess you should actually wait for the album to come out. (Laughs!) Well, the experience has been absolutely amazing! Steven and I connect at a personal level as well and so it becomes very comfortable to make music together. The most important factor is the chemistry between each musician! Once that is established, the rest follows smoothly. As we understand each others vibes, jamming together and making music is very enjoyable and spontaneous!
· Most of Steven Wilson's work is about establishing a strong concept through detailed musicality. Is the new album laced around any concept as such? Are there any new areas that you've explored?
Marco: I'm not the right person to answer this question! (Laughs!) It's about someone who disappears one fine day and nobody misses her for a long time.
There aren't really any new areas that we've explored. But yes.. the album has a lot to offer. It is pretty much reflective of our previous material, and has some electronics, some very progressive-oriented music as well as few parts on flute and saxophone. Also, the recording at AIR Studios was a wonderful experience especially making music with people whom give you the freedom to explore and deliver your own style.
· You have drummed in so many projects, across a slew of genres- from The Aristocrats to Steven Wilson to Necrophagist, just to name a few. What have been your major inspirations that led you to explore so many different styles?
Marco: I've been listening to a variety of genres sine a very long time, and even as a child I wanted to write and translate the instruments. Inspirations are many! I listened to bands and artists like Queen, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa and yes..Slayer! Since I enjoyed listening to these bands, I naturally understood the ideas they put forth. I also like exploring electronics. All these bands that I have played with had something to offer that I enjoyed playing! Especially The Aristocrats- that's our own band. It is slightly different because it is the three of us designing the music and deciding the production as well.
· You're going to tour with Steven Wilson in 2015. Is there any possibility of seeing you in India for a gig or a drum clinic? What else is in store?
Marco: Yes, tours are scheduled and The Aristocrats have a Live CD/DVD and some new material in store. And I'd love to play in India and get to know more about the music and musicians there!
· Thank you for your time, Marco! We're excited about the new album. Cheers!
BIG Thanks To Scott Schorr for the support \m/