To say that Marco Minnemann is one of the greatest drummers in the world would be an understatement. Putting together an impressive body of work in progressive rock, and metal with a who’s who of bands a bands and projects such as The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani, Adrian Belew, Levin Minnemann Rudess, Necrophagist and many more, Marco ought to be even more of a household name. Perhaps owing to his humility and his German roots, Marco is a rarity in this business: proud but well grounded, appreciative for everything his talent has brought him in life. Promoting his new solo album, EEPS (Lazybones Records) Omar Cordy traded some thoughts with Marco for Ghost Cult via email.
How long was this project in the works?
I’m always writing music. It just belongs to my universe it seems, hahaha. So once there is enough material for an album ready I choose the songs for the right vibe and mission and then the thing will be completed. Eeps in particular was written and recorded mostly during the road in 2013 and at home January-February 2014.
As the sole creative force, what was the writing process like?
I usually write from a theme that sort of either way falls from the sky, in the form of a guitar riff, melody or groove, … Or from a vibe a purposely want to create. These things I never force, I just grab the best ideas when they show up and then build on it.
The songs I’ve heard have a very loose feel to them. Was a click track used or did you just “go for it”?
Half and half I’d say. I mainly use a click track, to keep a possible sequencer option open.
But I do like a feel that sounds ‘lively’, not to be confused with un-tightness , hahaha ;-)). I in fact like precision in playing and recording, but I leave a loose feel or also bleeding into microphones on certain tracks, as long as a groove feels right.
Did you use Roland V drums and or DW drums for the recording?
I used 2 different set ups: A DW cherry wood kit and a DW Jazz custom kit, both recorded in different rooms. On the track Eeps, the intro is in fact a Roland TD 20.
I dig the up-beatness of ‘OC/DC’, it feels like a playful 60’s era song. It just seems happy. Was that what you had in mind when you choose to make it the 1st video?
The first video was done by Scott Schorr and a friend of his. He also runs the label Lazybones Recordings and helped greatly with this album here.
And thanks for your nice words on OC/DC. That song was really just a fun experiment, playing everything in one take pretty much without giving a shit and detuning all instruments. I just wanted to see if that approach works and how it would sound like. So it’s just basically ‘controlled chaos’. But I’m happy that some people got it.
You’re mainly known as a drummer, will we be seeing more guitar session work from you in the future?
I’ve been playing guitar on my albums for almost 20 years now. So, ‘yes’, you’ll hear more guitar from me. For example on the LMR project (Levin Minnemann Rudess).
Do you find playing guitar makes it easier to write for yourself or with others?
Absolutely. When I write music on the guitar I really just focus on the drums later to compliment the song. Also when writing for the Aristocrats as an example I basically write for a ‘stringed’ trio.. And writing on a guitar on bass then, definitely helps to translate into the music that the trio is going for.
At this point in your career do you still find time to practice or are you too busy working with others?
Well, I think that composing, recording and performing really is an ongoing process, isn’t it? But I do practice things that I’m interested in and want to be able to explore of course. Also, I really play everyday, music just belongs there in everyday life it seems. And I feel like I’m missing something if I haven’t had a certain dose of it. Like food.
What other projects have you worked on recently that we should be on the look out for?
Hmmm, I’m touring with Joe Satriani right now. Then also with the Aristocrats. Recording wise there’s a new Steven Wilson album in the making. A new Aristocrats album and also Joe’s new recordings. So…, life won’t be boring it seems for a while ;-)).
What was your first concert you ever played?
My first concert I ever played was when I was 12 years old, my drum teacher at that time wanted me to go onstage and play a few songs. Man, and I was soooooo scared. I just sat there thinking ‘don’t fuck up… Just make it though the song… C’mon you can do it’. And then after I played a little solo spot within the song arrangement, people started to applaud. That’s when I basically ‘woke up’, and I saw all these smiling faces looking at me. And then all of sudden I didn’t want to leave the stage anymore, hahaha. It felt so rewarding that people brought the energy back in return to what I’ve worked for. So that moment pretty much defined that music is passion and a dedication for me.