Hot off the Press

Marco Minnemann

by Christophe Pauly
– Senior Photojournalist —

Drummer Marco Minnemann, currently touring with Joe Satriani, checked in with Hardrock Haven and discussed his new solo album EEPS.

Marco Minnemann

Chris: Hi, Marco! Thanks for this interview about your new album.

Marco: Thank YOU!

Chris: First, could you explain me why and when did you get the idea of doing this solo album?

Marco: Well, I always write music as you might know, and when there’s a mission or certain vibe I like that could be completed into an album, then I collect these songs and put it into a ‘frame’ so to speak. And this album here had a mission. I was experimenting with a lot of new sounds and felt it would be cool to introduce this to an audience.

Chris: Your album, EEPS, really surprised me for 2 main reasons: I (as many fans) didn’t expect it because of your over booked schedule with Satriani and other projects. How did you find some time off to compose and record such an album?

Marco: I always find time to write, also when I’m on the road. I usually carry recording gear with me. And especially on the Joe Satriani tour there’s so much time and the travels are so comfortable, that you really can spend time to compose and do everyday activities you usually do. That’s the key, isn’t it … a all organized tour shouldn’t affect your daily routines/needs.

Chris: And the second reason was your implication in it. It’s a true solo album because you did everything on it ! How did it worked? Did you play all those instruments for a long time? Or did you wanted to try them and get the best you could of it?

Marco: On most of my solo albums I play all instruments. I started playing organ when I was 5, then moved on to guitar and drums a few years after. So I still kept all the instruments as ‘useful friends’ around me, to translate my compositions. And meanwhile, with all this amazing recording opportunities, you can easily complete songs on your own, without booking studio time or engineers. It got all so compact and high quality. I work with Steinberg software and Universal Audio Interfaces, and the recording facility and plug ins are just amazing.

Chris: What was the biggest challenge for you on this album?

Marco: I never see making albums as being a challenge. To me, making music is fun and a mission. Having said that … I of course want to get the best possible result and there are certain steps that need to be done … mixing, getting the right sound, mastering and artwork. But I don’t have a deadline or anything, so usually the album is done once I am happy with the result.

Chris: Where did you find your inspiration?

Marco: These things or ideas mostly fall from the sky. I never really sit down and think, “hmm, I want to write something that sounds like x or y or z.” I mainly just grab the guitar, bass or keyboard and stumble across a riff or theme that inspires me. And then I spin the idea further and turn it either way into a song structure or an instrumental piece.

Chris: Why didn’t you collaborate with other people?

Marco: I just get really fast to the point I want to go when working on my music. It’s not that I rule any collaborations out though by all means. For example with my band Aristocrats we are three, and also writing for LMR (Levin Minnemann Rudess) was clearly a group effort.

Chris: Which song did you enjoy the most in term of composing and playing?

Marco: That’s a difficult question, hmm. I think the title track EEPS has an energy I like. It’s just so unusual, crazy and ‘up’ sounding. I incorporated burp sounds using the word ‘Eeps.’ You sometimes don’t know what song works and which one doesn’t you know … Sometimes an idea you might think could be great turns out to be ‘just OK’ and you move on. And then there’s all of a sudden a piece like ‘Eeps’ or ‘Live Ghost,’ just coming out of the blue and the energy is right there. There mostly is no master plan for that. I just let it happen.

Chris: You’ve played with many great musicians, what’s your best collaboration so far?

Marco: I’m very proud of the Aristocrats, the band I have with Guthrie Govan and Bryan Beller. It’s such a wonderful chemistry and we truly share the band. Then there’s Joe Satriani, who’s not only a great and experienced musician, but also a great and wonderful person. Touring with him is so much fun and the vibes are always good. The album The Raven… we did with Steven Wilson did also pretty good and the shows are always a cool experience.

Chris: Do you think about doing another instructional video to teach your playing?

Marco: Honesty, I’m not sure about that. See, I always enjoyed writing and playing music and going out with my bands. The instructional side I just did, because people where curious about my techniques and approaches to the instruments. Right now I’m just enjoying the recording and touring universe way too much (laughs).

Chris: Who was your idols when you started to play drums?

Marco: Drums: John Bonham, Simon Phillips, Stewart Copeland, Buddy Rich, Vinnie Colaiuta … many more out there I like. Guitarists: Jimmy Page, Brian May, Eddie Van Halen, David Gilmour, Alex Lifeson … also many more out there I love listening to.

Chris: You’re touring with Joe Satriani. How did you begin this collaboration?

Marco: I received an email from him and his management asking for my availability for the tour in 2013. He said he wanted to try something new and if I’d be interested. So we started playing and it felt great right from the get go. And well, now we’re already in the second year of touring and the fun continues.

Chris: What do you like most with him?

Marco: He’s very mature, has a pair of great and experienced, very musical ears. And as a human being he’s just lovely to get along, which is very important when touring and traveling together.

Chris: Do you plan other collaborations in the future?

Marco: Right now I’m happy with my band and the wonderful people I’m working with at the moment. But I always keep an open mind. You never know what comes along and what door opens.

Chris: What about the Aristocrats? Any new project?

Marco: The Aristocrats were never a project. We’re a full on band (laughs). And we are in fact planning our new album, which is going to be recorded and released in 2015.

Chris: Thank you for your answers! I hope the best for you and for this great release! I’ll review it soon as I did for your project with M. Levin and Rudess.

Marco: Thank you so much and I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon again.

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