Exclusive interview of Marco Minnemann
Hi there, this is Saturax and welcome to this exclusive Marco Minnemann interview, made on Skype for our community Joe Satriani Universe at the occasion of the release of the third album from The Aristocrats Tres Caballeros, the upcoming G4 Experience and the new Joe Satriani album Shockwave Supernova, coming up in 10 days only.a
At the end of the video, Marco Minnemann answers the questions you asked him via our social medias!
You can enable the subtitles in the YouTube video player (coming soon).
Tres Caballeros album from The Aristocrats
Saturax : You’ve just release yesterday your third studio album with The Aristocrats “Tres Caballeros”, what song have you composed inside and what were your main inspirations for those songs?
“Well, my contributions for that album were a song called « Stupid 7 », the second song was « ZZ Top », it’s a great name and the third song is called « Pressure Relief ». The inspiration behind the first song « Stupid 7 » is because the riff that I purposely didn’t planned to be in 7/8 turned out to be 7, which is usually a signature which is like so common in odd meters, the most common odd meter kind of time signature. And I though like “you’ve got to be kidding me” I purposely didn’t want to write in 7 but the riff turned up to some good in 7 so I though like “Stupid 7” and there it was! [laughs] That was really the story behind that song but it has this punk-rock kind of drive on it, so i’ve kind of based on that, of course in surget other time signatures too. To then I have now to re-learn them to figure out “oh my godness it’s kind of…” [laughs] you know, a lot of stuff going on there so now I have to revisit the whole shit. Anyhow, that was pretty much the story about « Stupid 7 » it’s like an intricate kind of little things going on, and more like in a rock-punkish kind of vibe.
Now for « ZZ Top » it started of with the main riff which reminded me sort of a ZZ Top kind of riff and I didn’t have a title for the song so I called it basically « ZZ Top », the way it sounded like. But it also has this one picking riff which changes the mood a little bit so it always fluctuates between this more little darkest rock mood and then going into the more ZZ Topish kind of riff. So that was the inspiration more like a straight full and rock tune.
And « Pressure Relief », that’s a very delicate tune that really has to… it’a all about aura, about the texture and about the vibe. So I really basically also completly going for that all thing to create something really that is an ease and has a beautiful structure. You know, after all the madness on the record it give a little space, little beauty, relax. And I think I wrote this song after landing once actually with a plane and a lot of people got sick on the tour and I remember my side is even closed and everything and I couldn’t do really presure relief on the plane [laughs] I remember that because everybody has this cold or whatever I called it after the tour is over, « Pressure Relief ». So these are really the stories behind these titles.”
Saturax : How would you describe the evolution of the whole band of The Aristocrats through the albums?
“The first album [The Aristocrats, editor’s note] was almost juvenile a little bit for us because we just started to go and play together. And so we didn’t know each other too well from the chemistry so basically as this trio, so we wrote this songs and still figured out how we would sound as the band, how to form a sound. The first album was like a fusionesque record… yes I’ve got to say that. A few composed parts as well but it was still kind of about to find who we really are together.
The second album though Culture Clash, that’s when we already toured, we already knew where we’re at. It was a lot of good energy you know, really cool. I think that is a good album. Culture Clash is a good album to listen to I think and in Culture Clash, the thing was that… maybe sometimes you know when you write in the studio and you play in the studio and then you bring it to preform at live and you think after half a year into the tour “it would be interesting to capture how the sound would sound now after having them play for a while”. So that’s why we reliese the Culture Clash Live DVD and CD so you can compare a little bit and it’s great to see where this moves in directions and how things change up with all the ends and between and playing the songs for a while. It doesn’t mean that they have to be necessarily better but maybe some differences right, you know the more you play them.
So with this album Tres Cabaleros “tatintintintintiiiin clap clap clap” [laughs] we basically wrote like really established songs to go on the studio with making a song oriented album I would almost say. And what we did here is before we started recording in the studio we played actually a few shows live already to develop the songs and see how it would comunicate all these songs with the audience. So we already went then into the studio to go and with the live experience and kind of translate this songs. So as we can see those three albums are different angles and I’m very happy about it, you know there’s a room to develop and that’s pretty much what music is all about or any things you like, passion.”
Saturax : What does The Aristocrats bring you as a drummer?
“Well, The Aristocrats is no so much about only just being a drummer because what we do there is that we all bring songs to the table so we all write and play. For the example on the new album they are a lot of things I play, like overdubs as well, like a piano things, on my songs I definitively do. We work as a producer team, you know. It doesn’t really matter who plays like it’s just focused on the one’s instrument only that we’ve play in life in this construction or consolation.
So The Aristocrats really works as 3 composers / 3 producers to then go to the studio and each of us produces also the songs that we write, we really take turns. That’s what the Aristocrats are all about, of course you play the main roles are guitar, bass and drums, like the people will see us on stage mainly, but it’s not so much the thinking about “what can we do to feature our separate instruments”, it’s really just about “how can we make this sound cool and how can we have fun on stage”.
G4 Experience 2015
Saturax : You will be a part of the G4 Experience camp, from June 28 to July 2 in Cambria California. This year the G4 is starring Joe Satriani, Guthrie Govan, Tosin Abasi and Mike Keneally. What will exactly be your role as a drummer in this camp, and what do you expect from those days in Cambria?
“That’s a good question. I’m gonna be surprised too, I don’t know yet! Because mainly it’s a guitar camp. I’m of course playing with Joe and then The Aristocrats but since it’s G4 it’s mainly about guitar so, I basically just be there… It’s the start of our tour as well, and so we using this to play the songs from the audicence and do things. I’m gonna do a few little drums things in there as well even though it’s a guitar camp, certain people asked if I would do so drum instructions as well. Since I’m already there I’m going to hang around and have fun, explain some things if somebody likes to know whatever you know, some people were asking about so… why not, let’s have some fun and share, and have a good time in Cambria.”
Shockwave Supernova album with Joe Satriani
Saturax : You’ve recorded in January the new album “Shockwave Supernova” with Joe Satriani and it’s gonna be released in July 24. After many years of touring, Joe wanted you to play the drums on this album, what have you brought in there?
“That’s a good question because we played before with Joe actually for two years on the road, and that was right after his previous album was done which was called Unstoppable Momentum, and so we played all his songs then they were like four songs still from the the recording sessions of Unstoppable Momentum which was not released which are part of the new album actually as well. But we’ve, as a band, recorded whole new songs that Joe start writing, we basically played them in the studio and which was really cool about it was that Joe want to give us freedom.
So we really played what we felt was right. It was a very, very pleasant recording session, was like really Joe was giving us the structures and going like “do your thing, let’s make something out of this as a band, basically like the band sound”. The recording sessions went really easy going. We record a few takes for each song and then chose best parts or how we would kind of approach this and man, that was really joyful so… it was an unrestricted, or very open minded recording session with a lot of spark in it.”
Saturax : What were the easiest and the most difficult parts to record for Shockwave Supernova?
“That’s interesting, I never though of that because eveything really went with a lot of ease. Yes, this is a questions that I’m probably not able to answer because I guess because we played with the band already on the road we were sort of locked. It really sound natural, and there was like hotly any moments where we thought “let’s see what we gonna do with it” [mimes hesitate fear], it really felt great.
Here’s one thing though that I like to say which makes me really happy. When we started the recording sessions, you know what it is when you record multiple takes, and then you make a decision of what to do in especially like the first take, or the first track on the album, you think like “ok let’s just experiment with it” and then probably later after the recording session we revisit maybe the first few tunes and record it because we got more locked or something during the recording sessions. And what really happened there was on the first day during setup, we were not even planning to record, just setting up, just doing soundcheck, we tried one song and played a few takes, and it happens that the first take of the first day of recording sessions after the soundcheck ended up being the first track we also used on the album. I’m not sure if it’s the first track on the album, but it got used. So basically the first take of the first song we’ve recorded was used and made on the record. That’s something I’m really happy about, that’s doesn’t happen very often, you know what I mean.”
Saturax : You know a lot of albums from Joe, is there a song you would like to play?
“Well I listened what I knew of him, I knew a lot of Joe’s albums. I was absolutely aware of Not Of This Earth which is a cool album because it has a lot of diversity, really cool things, and of course Surfing With The Alien, Flying In A Blue Dream, I knew Time Machine, I knew The Extremist… Yes I knew a few of his things and I really like how Joe works as a guitar player because he makes things very accessible, there’s also found some diversity, also some intricate stuff, but there’s always very musical, it’s always focused rathen than on the shredding factor, it’s focused on the listening factor and I like that.”
Saturax : What did you listened from Joe before you’ve started playing with him?
“Yes « Not Of This Earth », the very first song. I would like to play it, it’s not like we gonna play it, but we rehearsed actually once and I liked that song because it has a cool groove to it, it’s a big experimental heaven, I like that one.”
About Marco Minnemann
Saturax : You’ve recently released a studio album “Celebration” in which you performed all instruments like you did for your previous record “EEPS”. What was your artisic process for this record?
“Man this is I think my 14th solo album, or something… so when I’m in home, when I record in the studio, I learn how to play other instruments, I play multiple instruments you can say, music is a thing… I can’t do anything else, I can’t cook a proper meal but I can play a few things [laughs] But Celebration takes you in a journey through some very rock stuff, it has some very hard chords kind of things going on but also some very spacious like sound check-like moments.
Again it’s all about the vibe, but this album I’m actually very happy about it, it’s one of this things where usually you go back to albums and think like “hum, what could I have done better”. Sometimes you look back on certain things you do and think “ah, that could have been done this, that could have been done that” but they are a few albums that I did where I though like “hey this is actually really cool”, I stuck into it and I won’t change a thing. And Celebration is one of there albums. Everything when out really well, the soungs are what I wanted to sound like from the vibe, and there we go, that was it. The mission was clear and everything came together very nice, I hope that people will listen to it, it’s great you asked about it : pick up Celebration!”
Saturax : How would you define your personal style?
“I don’t know, you have to tell me that [laughs] I think I’m interested to going in many different ways, because I listen to music, I think in my influences are diverse as well. So of my favourite bands are Queen, Frank Zappa, but also I listen to Richie Sakamoto, or to Slayer, or to Prince you know? It’s lot of diversity I like, and I believe that if you do something that you feel, an energy like in music that you automatically, logically can translate it. So matter if it’s hardcore, if you listen to Aphex Twin, or Kraftwerk of some rock kind of things, I have it all there somehow. Listening to all sort of things and kind of feeling it but then translate it with your own style.
You would be surprised if you see my music selection, when I buy something. You’ll find anything from Van Halen to Kraftwerk! But it is somewhere related because all this guys do something with pure and honest energy and you can feel it. And if you feel it you can automatically understand. That’s why when you listen an album like Celebration that’s why there’s so many things in it. Frank Zappa, he was a good example wasn’t he? He wrote for a lot of musicians I guess and he combined pretty good, that’s a good thing, using all the things that you like, no matters if it’s classical, rock or electronic, or avant-garde, or out like extreme compositions going certain ways that nobody has done before that you want to explore. I like it when people don’t know how to put a certain artist because it’s new, this is like very special. Because people always want to compare, they listen to an album and think like “this sounds like this and that sounds like this” because they have to put it somewhere, this is how the brain works, you need something to compare at first. Before you can make up your mind to kind of define and go like “shit, this is actually unique”. I like, unique does the music, like I said I hope the people can find it in Celebration and see like “oh, this is kind of cool” or something, it’s always an honor when that happens, you know.”
Saturax : For this one I think you can do better than Bryan, can you say a few words in French?
“Ça va, je m’appelle Marco, je suis un batteur avec les baguettes. Mr Leroc est malade, il est au lit il a la grippe… parce qu’il fume une cigarette – My name is Marco, I’m a drummer with the drumsticks. Mr Leroc is sick, he’s in bed he has influenza… because he smokes a cigarette! [laughs]
I used to have a girlfriend in France, and so I saw actually often in Paris, Place de la Nation, that’s where I was actually kind of based for a while. And I also had a place in London so we always pick her up in France, stay there for a bit then we move to London. But I still have a lot of people in France and I love this country and I’m always happy to go back and play.”
Wishal Pirzada (from Pakistan) : How is it working with Joe Satriani, how is he as a musician when it comes to rehearsals, is he strict?
“No, you know what? Actually working with Joe, the way I experience it is actually a very, very musical and open minded way. He’s very much welcoming wht you bring to the table. So he just really gives you even in the older song a lot of freedom, just let’s you do your thing and he just goes like “oooh I like that”, sometimes he would kind of say “ok, well we should kind of go in this direction” but he never restricts you.
And that’s a good thing, I thing that’s a talent to have as a musician, you know. To listen what of his guys doing in the band, an then just letting them do their thing, and be happy about it, and that’s very cool. So working with him is a very musical procedure. And he knows exactly what he wants but he lets you living it, and that’s good. So I have only really, really positive things to say about that.”
SkippyGirl (from Australia) : You’ve performed in so many venues around the world for so many bands. Do you have a preference for the size of the audience you play for? How did you celebrate the release of Tres Caballeros, what did you do?
“It’s not really the size of the audience, it’s more the sound of the venue that matters. Because if you feel comfortable and you can play freely with your instrument, that’s what matters, then you can do anything and feel comfortable. So to me, that is something that is very important, having a good sound on stage. And preferetly with the venue actually as well, and you feel it, there’s like then automatically connexions with the audience happen and also with the band members.
I didn’t celebrate anything with it! [laughs] I celebrated by preparing the songs for the tour again, packing up gear and kind of getting ready, listen to the tunes again and we start rehersing today, that was a celebration. But, when we’re all together, the three of us, like the day after tomorrow, I’m sure we gonna have one or two drinks!” [laughs]
Wes O’Neill (from the UK) : What album would you recommend guitarists should listen to for new rhythmic ideas from a drummer’s perspective?
“I guess he means pretty much also what I listen to, or basically my music influences. You know what, I think you know Van Halen? Eddie Van Halen is a great guitar player, if you listen to albums like Fair Warning, that is so cool I just listen it actually today again and I though like “man, what a cool thing, how great they are locked, how great the brothers are playing together” you know Eddie and Alex, guitar player and drummer and I think they even swap the instruments when they were kids, they were playing both instruments, that’s really cool.
Other than that, if you’re a guitar player or if you want to get rhythmical influences in music, I think listening to Franck Zappa and listening his music is never a bad idea, that’s always actually pretty cool. Led Zeppelin over all, great! Just ideas wise, and just how disciplined the songs were written and just how much force and interaction they have, no matter what happens they always have something really cool about. Guitar players for great ideas, Brian May, guitar orchestration and Queen, if you listen to song like « The Millionaire Waltz » that is something ridiculously great, really nice and really, really well done. That’s something I always recommand. And… I’m sure I’m forgetting someone here but this was what came to mind right now.”
Brad Coudray (from France) : Have you ever played on Joe’s guitars, what do you think about it and what is your favourite?
“That’s a good question because I remember when we were recording, Joe knows I play guitar and I was playing my guitar on the road so we always share our guitar stories. So at the studio he brought some of his guitars, also his old relic guitars. I played a few and every day he would bring like something else, something new and goes like “hey Marco check this out, check out this guitar and that” and I like a few of his guitars. Looks he has some relic guitars he gave me and they we great ones like a pretty good Tele from the 50’s he brought over which was fantastic you know and it felt really good. He had a few good Gibsons and Strats, it’s hard to pick a favourite then you know.
But I guess what Brad means is also like probably Joe’s signature guitars, he had you know a few signature guitars. And Joe gave me one which was really cool, it was like one was made of chrome but it played nice. But here’s a thing that I can give to Brad, it’s like one of those things you know because every guitar has a soul by itself, doesn’t it? You sometimes pick up a guitar, it looks great and maybe doesn’t play that great but you just take this guitar and it connects with you immediately, you know what I mean? And everybody has that. It’s not like that I would say or give Brad the advice like “look, there’s like this one magic guitar Joe has in his collection”. It’s not I think, I mean they are a few but the ones that I played that get stuck in mind I just mentionned it. So obviously the companies are interested in making good guitars so we can play them and they sound good.”
The final word?
“Well, the final word would be play music with ultimate passion, and enjoy and also I would be happy to see you guys on either way the Joe Satriani tour and the The Aristocrat’s tours, have fun with us, come out there. And what things we talk about… my new album Celebration, buy it! [laughs] these are the things that are just out and fresh right now so enjoy that, and enjoy playing music and enjoy listening to music it’s a great thing to live in a great universe!”
Interview recorded on June, 24 2015 on Skype, realised by Saturax. Check also the interview of Bryan Beller we’ve made a few weeks ago on Skype.
Many, many thanks to Marco Minnemann for his kindness and his interest, you rock… now see you on tour!
Credit photo : Kris Claerhout
Special thanks : Lisa.