It has only been a year since I last spoke with Marco Minnemann for his 2014 album EEPS. He has since played on the incredibly well-received Hand.Cannot.Erase by Steven Wilson, toured with Joe Satriani and is about to tour with his other band The Aristocrats. In the midst of all this, Marco took the time out to briefly answer some questions about his latest solo record, Celebration, out now through Lazy Bones Recordings. We talk about his song writing process, and how weird I am for finding this music happy. But he randomly says OINK, so we’re even.
(((o))): Since we spoke a year ago about EEPS, you have been predictably very busy! How would you say being touring and writing with all these different artists has influenced your own work?
Marco: Quite honestly, it’s really about catching the vibe the song needs, rather than thinking about what style to incorporate. So usually when I write, it’s really more like writing a soundtrack to the topic or the vibe that needs to be addressed and then creating an aura. But for sure touring experiences, or anything you experience, can trigger or make a good story.
(((o))): You play with Bryan Beller and Guthrie Govan in The Aristocrats, and work again with each of them separately with Joe Satriani and Steven Wilson, respectively. Have you noticed any different dynamic playing with them separately versus together?
Marco: Well, with the Aristocrats we’re a trio and play and translate our own material. And we’re [not] show-dependent, everything is bare bones about the music. Whereas Steven comes with films and a certain presentation. And Joe is a rock show, with a lot a fun. But yes, these are the main differences described in a fairly short and precise way as far as what comes to mind.
(((o))): One thing that sticks out from listening to Celebration is just how darn happy it is. Was this an intentional choice or something that came out naturally?
Marco: You’re the first person that describes this album as being happy. So let me explain a few songs, please.
The song ‘Celebration’ deals with people that were killed by terror attacks, to then come back to walk the earth in ‘March Of The Living Dead’. The song ‘What Have You Done’ is about a girl coming out of a coma after a terrible car accident, trying to catch up with life. ‘4000’ describes an empty, lifeless planet captured by a camera in the year 4000.
(((o))): *insert awkward silence here*
Marco: But okay, maybe on ‘Print Club’ and ‘How can I help you?’ some comedy effect can be validly observed, hehehe.
(((o))): As with all your solo records, you play all the instruments on the album. Do you ever find the autonomy of creative control restricting if you are unable to bounce ideas off other musicians?
Marco: It’s great. I think to work on your own for this, 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.
(((o))): The monologue from “Everyone Likes A Rainbow” appears twice on the album in two different languages. What are the significance of these words for you?
Marco: That is more about exploiting Mariale’s ability to deliver this in 2 languages, hahaha. I had 2 musical pieces you know, one piano and strings version, very plain. And then one with drums, guitars etc. So I thought it might be a nice idea to also change the language. The significance in the song is that is describes a rainbow, and basically relaxes the listener and puts this image of a rainbow in your head, to then come back fresh to more of that other madness going following on the album :-).
(((o))): Could you say what your favourite track is to play for each of the bands you’ve played in this past year (Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani, The Aristocrats), and why?
Marco: Difficult to tell, as I see importance to play [all] the songs as good and passionate as possible. Let’s see what comes to mind immediately without thinking too much.
Steven Wilson – Ancestral
Joe Satriani – Flying In A Blue Dream and ‘Unstoppable Momentum’
Aristocrats – Desert Tornado, Pigs Day Off.
(((o))): If it were anyone else I wouldn’t ask, as you’ve just released this album and have another Aristocrats record coming out soon, but is there any more new material coming in the near future?
Marco: In fact there is. Soon, this year the most important releases would be Celebration, Shockwave Supernova (Joe), Hand.Cannot.Erase (SW) and Tres Caballeros (Aristocrats). And also I’ve just finished an album I was planning for a while which is called Above The Roses, planned to be released as a vinyl version along with a hi res download code, maybe for X-mas :-).
(((o))): And I can’t end this without asking the question so many Australian Minnemann fans have been bugging me about – are The Aristocrats ever going to make their way down under?
Marco: Seriously, that would be so cool. It’s a matter of finding the right routing and promoter. But we’ll hopefully have some Aristocratic adventures down under soon, OINK!
(((o))): Thanks so much for your time, and thanks for making such a fun record!
Marco: Thank YOU for seeing fun in Celebration. That means it’s entertaining, and that’s important, hehehe.