Mission Critical – Marco Minnemann

marco minnemann celebration album sm

Marco Minnemann is a talented man comfortable wearing many hats. renowned for his drumming in many high-profile projects such as The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani, Levin/Minneman/Rudess (LMR), and countless others, Marco is one of the most respected musician in the world. His solo career has been equally fulfilling and affords him opportunities to be in total control of the creative process, playing all the instruments as well as handling production duties. His new album Celebration (Lazy Bones Recordings) has just been released, and we conducted a Q & A interview over email, to learn more about his creative process, how he deals with challenges in the studio, and the sound of the next album from The Aristocrats.

 

Celebration is a great title that conjures a lot to mind. What does the title mean to you and what creative frame of mind were you in when you began to write the album?

It started off as a writing process for an album with a fairly dark vibe around it, which I wanted to name ‘Above the Roses’. After re-listening I just didn’t feel that the album was complete the way it sounded like. So I kept writing songs and then basically made a selection of songs I thought would make a statement. And all of a sudden, voila. I had one album that I called ‘Celebration’, leading through aggressive, sparkling and into film music like vibes and missions. And then there’s the more vocal laden, dark song focused ‘Above The Roses’ I just finished now, it will come out as a special vinyl and download edition, but more of that later. ‘Celebration’ just got released and needs the attention now.

Since the topic is partially about Roses, in songs symbolically and in artwork, I thought that Celebration might be a good title.

Marco Minnemann, by Lasse Holie

Marco Minnemann, by Lasse Holie

The album is definitely diverse, but has some of your heaviest songs of your solo albums. Is that a by- product of some of your other bands you are in, rubbing off on your solo work?

That clearly would be a no, as I think that some of the material on Celebration is actually heavier than what we do with the bands I currently play in.

I mean, if we’re playing the category game, maybe then Joe Satriani could be Rock, Aristocrats instrumental Rock/Jazz, And Steven Wilson more well, prog and ambient pop/rock.

On my albums I just really compose for what is needed for ‘the mission’.

 

You have definitely “arrived” on Celebration as a vocalist and lyricist. Do you think this was an important step for you artistically?

Thank you. But if you look into my solo back catalogue that so far holds 14 albums, I wrote, played and sang as well. But thanks again for appreciating.

 

As you have become more hands on (creating, playing/tracking, producing/mixing/mastering) with each new project is it more troublesome to wear so many hats, or a relief to be able to oversee it all with confidence?

It’s great I think, because when you know exactly what you want and are able to translate it, instrumentally and production wise, then it’s a fairly seamless and rewarding process. See, my studio is pretty much dialed in to my needs. So once I have a sound in mind I really just record, then add tracks, basically mixing while doing this, and soon the ‘house’ comes together :-).And honestly, it’s so cool that meanwhile you can carry amazing production softwares in your note book. Then along with a few good audio interfaces and outboard recording gear, you can do deliver a great production, that would’ve costed a fortune about 20 years ago.

Is there a style of music you have yet to incorporate into your solo work, that you haven’t yet, but would like to try?

Hmm, I don’t really think that way. I really just do and play what I feel fits the vibe of the composition.

 

On Celebration, is there a single performance you can name as most gratifying to you?

Hahaha, well, I was doubling my vocals to that guitar solo I recorded on ‘How Can I Help You?’ And I’m not really a trained singer, so fuck, I was punching in numerous times in order to nail that thing. And then later I listened back and couldn’t help laughing, because it came out quite cool, and I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off at first :-). Also, I’m quite happy on how the vibe in ‘4000’ succeeded. I used the chains at the port in Marseille, sampled them and then put them in to additional reverb, undermining the vibe of these fairly ‘evil’ and dark vibes and chords in that song. I wanted to create a haunted environment. And that one came out quite intense I think, as I wanted to achieve it..

 

You have an intense touring schedule this year with all of your many projects. How do you keep your sanity on the road?

Girls :-). hahaha. What can I say…. well, seriously, with a good and professional organization you learn to feel at home on the road. Good and comfortable travels and schedules are important.

 

What can you tell us about the upcoming new album from The Aristocrats?

It’s pretty much contains compositions more focused on song structures, rather than soloing, well, hat happens of course too in places, hahaha. But Tres Caballeros is a tad different once again from the last album. Actually, the difference is that this time we have a Spanish album title and wore hats in the desert :-)).

Necrophagist is like the Loch Ness Monster of metal! Do you ever have contact with Muhammed (Suiçmez)? Do you think we will ever hear from that band again, or any other project from Muhammed and yourself?

Well, can’t say too much there. Necrophagist is Muhammed’s project/band, he’s a fiend of mine. But the rest about any release can only be assumed. And I have a lot of things going on myself here, that occupy all of this and next year as well, which is a good problem to have I think 🙂

KEITH CHACHKES

Marco Minnemann – Celebration

marco minnemann celebration album sm

Celebration is a word that conjures a lot to your mind when you hear it or read it. On Marco Minnemann’s (The Aristocrats, Joe Satriani, Steven Wilson, LMR) new solo album Celebration (Lazy Bones Recordings), it is Marco clearly doing the celebrating. Not only are these 17 tracks (plus one bonus cut) a great example of Marco’s world-class drumming talents, he plays all of the instruments, provides vocals, co-produced the album, and even mixed and mastered some of it too. The music is also a great reason to get amped, as it displays the many shades of his taste in music, and has something for fans of his entire body of work from his career.

Thirty seconds into the lead track ‘Miami’, and immediately you can tell this album is going to be a next level effort. Crushing guitar riffs, spastic drums, soaring melodies, this is not too far from his work with Levin/Minnemann/Rudess. There is also some funky, odd free Jazz moments that sneak in here and there; be it an odd horn vamp or dramatic Rhodes piano flourish. The title-track is next and is a straight up heavy rock song, with tripped out lyrics and a vocals from Marco. He has sung lead before, but really finds his voice on this album. Continuing the heaviness, ‘It Always Seems’ at least has DNA essence in the monster riffs in common with a few early Helmet songs, before veering into a breezy alt-rock chorus. Marco has no issues going chameleon from one movement to the next, picking up whatever mood inspires him.

Tracks such as ‘How Can I Help You’ and ‘Print Club’ are more of the angular, frenetic prog rock one expects from Marco, but there are some astounding departures stylistically too. ‘The Greatest Gift in Life’ is a lovely pure pop song that would be a big radio hit if given the chance. ‘Everyone Loves A Rainbow’ is a somber piano piece that comes two versions, each with English or Spanish spoken word piece over it. Meanwhile ‘Amina’s Birthday’ is another Jazzy, epic track. ‘Better Place’ puts the exclamation point on the release with more heavy licks and smashing beats.

Turning in the heaviest, yet most diverse album of his career, it’s great to hear what one of the hardest working guys in music will come up with next.

marco-minnemann

Marco Minnemann, photo courtesy of Lazy Bones Recordings

8.5/10

KEITH CHACHKES

Exclusive Song Stream: Marco Minnemann – Miami

marco minnemann celebration album sm

Ghost Cult is proud to bring you a stream of the a new song from Marco Minnemann, ‘Miami’. The track comes off of the just released solo album Celebration (Lazy Bones Recordings). Hear the song below:

 


Celebration is the follow up to 2014’s EEPS album (also from Lazybones), the first 1000 fans to buy a copy get an autographed CD, and other signed items are available as well.

Get Celebration now:
Marco Minnemann on Facebook
Lazy Bones Recordings on Facebook

Marco Minnemann Releases New Solo Album – Celebration

marco minnemann celebration album

World renowned drummer/multi-instrumentalist Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, The Aristocrats, Joe Satriani, Levin/Minnemann/Rudess, The Necrophagist) has released a new solo album entitled Celebration from Lazy Bones Recordings. The album includes 18 tracks seeing Marco play all the instruments and vocals. He also co-produced the album with Scott Schorr and mixed and mastered some of the album as well. The album is an eclectic group of songs ranging from progressive rock, metal, pop songs and more Jazz influenced tracks as well. The first 1000 people to buy the album will get a copy personally autographed from Marco as well. You can purchase the album here: 

 

Celebration Album Trailer:

 

Marco Minnemann, by Lasse Holie

Marco Minnemann, by Lasse Holie

Marco has a busy remainder of 2015 planned. He has a world tour booked with Joe Satriani as well as a lengthy tour booked and new album due from The Aristocrats.

More Of A Student Than A Teacher – An Interview With Tony Levin

AP-8PG.inddTony Levin is the dean of progressive rock bassists. In his storied career he has been most closely associated with Peter Gabriel, and his smash success of the mid-1980s. As one of the most innovative players ever, Tony has also been aligned King Crimson, as well as other musical luminaries. Tony just added one more feather to his musical cap with his stunning collaboration with Marco Minnemann and Jordan Rudess in their eponymous band. With their debut album they are rewriting progressive music history, and once again Tony is front, center and way down low. Ghost Cult caught up with the venerable Mr. Levin via email, while he is on tour in Europe.

 

 

 

Please tell us how Levin Minnemann Rudess came together to make this album?

The idea started with producer Scott Schorr coming to me to do another ‘project’ recording, with some of my favorite musicians. I’d done one a year ago with Alan White and David Torn, that got some nice attention from the progressive rock fans. So, I chose Marco (whom I’d toured with a bit, in Eddie Jobson’s UKZ band) and Jordan Rudess (from Dream Theater, and we’d done two Liquid Tension Experiment albums together) as a couple of wild players… and I was ready to be surprised by the outcome.

 

 

What was the writing process like? Was it more improvisational, or did you all come in with some pieces to work on?

Usually, in this situation, you start out doing some jams, and then use them, or write around them. This time though we started with composing sections, first I did, then Marco — and before long, we had more material than could fit on the CD, and it was GOOD stuff. So though Jordan and I did some jamming, intending to add Marco later, that couldn’t make it onto the record (we did include the video of it in the Deluxe Edition with DVD.)

 

The important thing to me isn’t how the pieces are formed, it’s the quality of what you end with — I’ve been in other situations where jams led to great tracks — so I’m really happy with this release that I still enjoy listening to all the tracks, and will for some time.

 

 

Like much of your work, the bass is equally a lead and supporting instrument on this album. Do you work out some of you more solo-y parts ahead of time or did you record them live on the spot?

Different on different pieces. Some of the stuff I wrote had bass or Stick (or cello) featured in some of the sections — never all of them, because it’s important to me to leave room for the other guys to add their own flavor to the piece.) On other pieces, instigated by Marco, there were bass ideas of his, that I just copied, or a little space for me to come up with something.

 

I’m okay with the bass being both supporting and lead on the album, but it’s not important to me that it take the lead – just that the level of the music is high, and that my bass playing supports what the band and the compositions are about.

 

I love the classic sound of the LMR band as a power trio. Marco played guitar on the album, so any thought to adding someone for future live dates or for a next album?

 

Good point — the guitar added a lot. We have no plans for a tour right now (because we’re all very booked up with other tours!) But we’re hoping there will be a follow up album before long, and that we’ll tour when that comes out. Whether we’ll add another player for that tour will be decided when the time comes.

 

 

When LMR eventually plays live, do you envision the songs being performed more freely for experimentation?

 

Wow, you’re good at thinking off into the future — we haven’t discussed that at all.  I know I love improv – whether it’s completely free form, or based on themes – so my vote will be to do some.

 

 

I didn’t know you played the cello! What other instruments are lurking around your home studio that may show up on an album someday that would surprise your fans?

 

I have lots of basses, and a couple of Chapman Sticks, all in my studio, but aside from the electric cello, that’s about it — those are more than enough to keep this bass player challenged!

 

You have played on countless, classic albums. Do you have an album, or a particular era of a band you consider among your finest work?

 

No, I don’t. I don’t spend much time thinking back on what albums I’ve done (usually only when doing interviews, in fact!) And I’m also not big on picking favorites… of albums or bands or players. I have a lot of respect for all the players, and artists, and albums that have moved me with their music — whatever the style of it. That’s where a lot of the inspiration comes to me to try to make my own playing and writing as creative and progressive as I can.

 

Since you are already working with Jordan again, is there any chance you will do another Liquid Tension Experiment album someday, or is that off the table since Mike split with John and Dream Theater?

We’ve got no plans for that – haven’t discussed it even — but using your metaphor of the table, I wouldn’t take any creative music ideas off the table… let’s keep them all there, and hope they come alive.

 

You were really on the forefront of blogging and social media from the music world. What about that medium is the thing that is most valuable to you as an artist?

 

I discovered back in the 90’s that on my website I could let music fans see what it’s like behind the scenes on a Peter Gabriel or King Crimson tour — even showing them my photos of themselves — the audience — which I try to shoot at each show.

 

Since then, progress in digital cameras in web speed has allowed much bigger photos than I started with, but what’s remained the same is the great opportunity to take down some of that wall that exists between performers and their audience.

 

Nowadays social media have blasted the wall down – so it’s not a radical idea for bands to communicate with their fans.

 

I know you are hitting the road now with Peter Gabriel soon. When can we expect some LMR dates to pop up?

This tour with Peter will only be for a month –  but next year is looking pretty busy for me — pretty soon we’ll put our heads together and choose a schedule for the next recording period. Right now, we’re just basking in the new record, how much we like it, and how great the reception has been so far, from the people who are hearing it.

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What advice can you give to a young musician starting out on bass or the stick?

 

I’m not a great advice guy… more of a student than a teacher. I guess I’d just speak from my own experience, and say that having the chance to play music, with cool players, and sometimes whatever music you want to play – it’s a really special thing. I’ve appreciated it more and more as the years have gone by. You get focused on how many people came to the show, or how many cd’s you sold – but it’s worth keeping in mind how lucky you are to just be doing it, if even for yourself.

 

Levin Minnemann Rudess website 

 

Keith Chachkes