MARCO MINNEMANN: Right on Time and Out of Tune

Marco Minnemann interview

Marco Minnemann is probably the most wanted-to-work-with drummer in the progressive world. Having appeared on a few dozen of albums as a guest contributor in the past comes in support of that statement. Besides his extremely hectic schedule (one that a mere mortal are hardly to cope with), he still finds time to works on his own music, what recently resulted in the release of a solo album entitled EEPS, released via Lazy Bones Recordings.

I never do demos,” a 43-year old drummer, originally from Hanover in Germany, checks in from Marseille. His new solo album is very much composed and a lot of thought has been put into the compositions.

You can hear that especially on pieces like Live Ghost, Right on Time and Out of Tune, When I Was Gone or the title track Eeps,Marco continues.

Minnemann’s interaction with the music is what makes his work stands out. “If the song is strong enough it’ll start speaking to me somehow and I’ll pursue and finish the piece and it will end up on the album. The improvisational parts maybe happen here and there in some of the solo sections.

Being a record that is completely written and arranged by Minnemann himself, EEPS leaves a lot of space to discover all the benefits and drawbacks of that approach.

Marco Minnemann - EEPSThe benefits are, that I can freely translate and bring my message across. And I don’t have to work around schedules. It’s just very comfortable for me working that way.

Drawbacks, hmmm, well, sometimes I ask friends of mine what they think. It can be useful to have another pair of ears after you’re done with a track.

Having collaborated with many great and stylistically diverse bands and musicians throughout the years, it’s unavoidable to ask about the evolution EEPS brought forward compared with everything else he has been involved in.

Oh, honestly, evolution I don’t know. But I tell you what was different. I had Scott Schorr with his label on board, who has great ideas for marketing, arrangements and he was really great taking this record under his wing I must say. I am very happy with that chemistry and I would love to work more with him in the future.

With all of his incredible schedule in the past three-four years, it must be interesting to capture the moment and transfer it into sound. But technology has made it much easier for the musicians while on the road.

On the road I always carry an UA Apollo interface equipped with DSP plug-ins. And a mini keyboard, guitar and my computer of course which I’m running with a Steinberg Cubase software. And at home I have my recording studio, with 2 drum set ups, amps and kinds of studio stuff and different instruments.

Asked to comment on the connection between the title of his new album and material showcased on it, Marco says: “The title EEPS is basically a ‘burping’ word that I established on tour. You know when everyone after a show drinks something and comes up with funny burping noises. Well, EEPS became my choice then. (laughs)

And I thought it’s a cool title for the CD, because a lot of the songs are just kinda crazy and deliver a very experimental, sort of organized chaos message. So, EEPS it is.

Marco is largely relying on entertainment while creating and performing.

I love writing songs that deliver a certain entertainment and I like surprises in music a lot. Sometimes in a funny or at times in a dark, sad or political way. However I want to point out that it’s important as a composer to be capable of making people laugh or cry with music, in my opinion. There’re so many artists out there that seem only capable to stay in one particular field. Mostly by being melancholic, right? (laughs).

Because it’s easier to express and communicate these feelings to the world by translating them privately into songs and then look for someone else on this planet who feels the same and bonds with the topics. That can be OK. But I also want to bring joy to the people, confuse them or just entertain.

There are people out there that never wrote a tongue in cheek tune. All my favorite artists are the ones that can bring all moods in life across in there music – Zappa, Queen, for example.

Marco Minnemann (photo by Lasse Hoile)

Marco Minnemann (photo by Lasse Hoile)

Quite a few songs on EEPS have pretty interesting titles, such: OC DC, Right on Time and Out of Tune, Sushi Cat Doll.

I’m really glad you got the humor of OC/DC and Right on time/Out of tune. On these I purposely detuned all instruments and just used them in structural and rhythmical form. What a weird experiment I thought at first. But as I went along with writing and recording them, I just found it not only amusing, but also really cool, and felt a certain uniqueness to it. And uniqueness to me is the most important if not essential factor in arts and music.

I know people often like to compare, especially if something is in front of them appearing to be ‘out of the box’.

He is all about creating something new, interesting and unique.

I’m personally not interested in listening to music that is obviously ripped off other artists. I like to explore.

As mentioned, in the last few years Marco’s schedule was very hectic, recording with Steven Wilson, Jordan Rudess and Tony Levin, The Aristocrats, plus touring with Wilson, Mıke Keneally, Aristocrats and Joe Satriani. That leaves him not so much time to switch between all projects or tours.

If the tours are organized well and comfortable, then there’s lots of time you spend in hotels, dressing rooms and beautiful cities as well. I pick the bands I really like to work with and where the chemistry is great. If you can have that all together, you’ll find yourself in a happy spot and creativity flows. Also, in Joe Satriani‘s  and also Steven Wilson‘s band, I’m welcome to play my style, which is important to me. So, there’s not so much switching, it feels natural, and I’m very thankful for that.

Marco is also known for his session work.

That’s interesting. I mostly actually do the recordings at my home studio and then send out the files. So it doesn’t actually feel like a lot of work. Probably it’s the benefit of having the sound and instruments ready along with the dialed in settings. That saves a lot of time. And I love session work, especially if people know what they want and when they let ask you to be yourself in the recording. That’s always a blessing so to say.

There have been rumours that Minnemann would have joined Dream Theater for the purpose of recording an album rather than being a full-time member.

I don’t know if I ever said that. But the full time member conversation was definitely on the table. The message was that DT would have had to be the main obligation. But hey, I just love my bands and releases.

By the end of 2014 he has still lots to do, being on tour with Joe Satriani and The Aristocrats. But he also says that he will be recording a new Steven Wilson album and working on more songs as usual.

Asked about his comment on Prog Sphere’s Progstravaganza compilation series, Marco says: “It’s very cool what you guys do. Lots of artists deserve attention and I appreciate it a lot that Prog Sphere is putting the word out there and supports wonderful music.

Marco Minneman’s solo album EEPS is out now via Lazy Bones Recordings. Buy it here.

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

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