An interview with a drummer on GuitarMania? German born drummer MARCO MINNEMANN has just released his brand new solo CD “Eeps”. His thirteenth solo record to date, "Eeps" features, besides his awesome drumming, some badass guitars, bass and keyboards. Basically every single instrument on the CD has been recorded and played by Marco. GuitarMania wanted to learn more from Marco where he found the time to record a new solo album, how much he practices playing the guitar, and what his views are on becoming a professional musician (photo: courtesy of Marco Minnemann/Soccoli).


Born in 1970, Marco started playing organ at the age of six, then switched to drums and guitar at eleven. He is a the author of numerous instructional books, a virtuoso drummer, and an accomplished multi-instrumentalist. The list of artists Marco has played with is mind-blowing: JOE SATRIANI, PAUL GILBERT, STEVEN WILSON, etc. … and, does anyone remember THE FREAKY FUCKIN' WEIRDOZ? And then there are THE ARISTOCRATS, probably the most inspiring Rock trio we have seen in years, where Marco plays the drums in a band with the amazing GUTHRIE GOVAN on guitars, and BRYAN BELLER on bass.


Marco, Thank you for agreeing to an interview with our fanzine. Congratulations on the release of your new solo record „EEPS“. Can you please tell us about the title’s background?


Yes, I very much can! Basically what happened on the JOE SATRIANI tour, we started in the backstage doing silly games like, drinking something then making burping noises.  There’s funny words you can form with burps, and I kind of stumbled upon the word “eeps” which sounds great.  Try to burp it “eeps”.  That became kind of a funny thing so the people started to join me to burp “eeps” and since this topic was up to date then, and still actually is, I decided to write a song about that actually incorporating “eeps” burbs and composing with it.  I kind of called the album after that and so a lot of people will guess what the hell is “eeps”, but here we go.  This is the story.  It’s a kind of experimental (record), no I wouldn’t say experimental, partially experimental, too, but also like …  (let’s say)  it has a very large variety of rock songs, really composed jazz/rock tunes, pop songs and weird stuff (I hope in a positive way).


 Photo: Marco's new solo CD “Eeps” features a wide range of styles: Melodic Rock, Experimental, Progressive Music, and some Pop songs thrown in for good measure. Read the review (in German language) here.

You are in the middle of on an extensive tour with THE ARISTOCRATS, and prior to that, you have been on tour with JOE SATRIANI. Where on earth did you find the time to write and record the songs for your solo album?


Good question.  The thing is the way we tour, especially with Joe, is actually very, very comfortable.  We really get driven to the stage to do our show and the rest of it is actually being in a generous tour bus or in great hotels and I have my recording equipment with me all the time.  So I write, I write music on the road.  It’s very satisfying to me and it’s the same with THE ARISTOCRATS.  Look. What do you do? You play, you go on stage and play a show, which is like what … two hours long?  Well, and the rest of the day you have time.  You go back to explore cities or to write music a little.  So to me, actually that works out perfectly.


Marco, how long did it take you to record the album, and what was your approach?


Hmm, I guess that’s kind of what I answered on the last question.  It automatically happens.  I always write the songs on the road, and when I’m at home I record mainly the drums, because my drums are at home in a proper studio there.  Then on the road I can do guitars and vocals and all kinds of stuff.  So that happens either way at home or on the road.  There are always songs and then I have to determine where they go.  Either way, towards the ARISTOCRATS or to what’s like any other projects, like LMR which I did last year with TONY LEVIN and JORDAN RUDDESS or my solo albums.



 We also understand that you played all instruments on the album, including bass and guitar. We did not know that you can play these instruments so well. How come?


I don’t know how come that you don’t know that I play these instruments (laughs) because I’ve been doing this since 1994.  On all of my solo albums I play pretty much all the instruments because that’s why it’s a solo album (Touché. The editor).  Very funny I know.   I play all the instruments on my records most of the time.  Well, a lot of my fans know that.  The cool thing is that LMR and Scott Schorr, who is the co-producer on this album also, and has the label Lazy Bones is a very musical guy, he’s got a good ear and he brought a lot of new audience to me.  That was very, very rewarding.  “Thank-you Scott”.


How did you go about recording the guitars and bass, and what equipment did you use?


I have quite a collection of my favorite guitars.  My dear friend, John SUHR, he actually built me an amazing guitar, which is probably one of my favorite guitars.  It’s Tele-shaped guitar with a Humbucker and two single coils that are split table.  That one I’ve used a lot and I have my 70’s Tele, which was actually built in 1970, my year of birth.  I have some modified guitars as well.  I usually use John SUHR’s amp “The Badger”, the one that actually Guthrie, my guitar player from THE ARISTOCRATS also used.  I also work with the KEMPER equipment, like the Kemper amp, and it’s actually pretty cool. As for the bass, I sometimes record straight through a Sans amp in the studio.  Like one of those DI boxes.  That gives me a pretty rewarding sound for that.


 It is impressive how well you play these instruments. To what extent have you practiced/do you practice playing these instruments?


I took on this whole stuff when I was a child and started playing music. I always wanted to write and translate the instruments.  I wanted to know how they worked so, I play a fair amount of time.  The thing is, drums became my virtuoso instrument, it’s the one I started playing live most of the time and I really cared about practicing and giving this instrument a lot of attention, or musicality, that I wanted to hear.  With guitars and bass, or keyboard, I really use them for the aspect of composing.  I do practice certain picking techniques or playing with fingers, but most important for all of these instruments is composing and putting them the right way and the sound.  The sound is very important, I think.  But thanks so much for your compliment there.


 Who is singing on the album, is that you again?


That would be me there as well.  Sorry, I hope you like it. (laughs)


You are about to embark on the Asia leg of THE ARISTOCRATS’s Culture Clash Tour? What were the highlights so far? Will you be playing songs from your solo album with THE ARISTOCRATS also live?


Yes, you know what, THE ARISTOCRATS take the liberty and the freedom to play all of our material; stuff from the Aristocrats AND from our solo albums.  This a great vehicle to do that, because it’s a great team.


Photo: courtesy of the THE ARISTOCRATS/Legnano


Did Guthrie or Bryan show you some of their chops (or vice versa)?


To be very honest, no.  Well, on and off it happens automatically, I guess, when we show each other our songs.


Let us turn to your beginnings. What made you choose the drums as your main instrument, as opposed to, say, the guitar or bass, in the first place?


It’s funny, I started first playing keyboards and organ when I was five or six years old.    Then I had a guitar and messed around with it.  Then I started playing drums and for some reason I took the drums very seriously because I think I was featured with that in my first bands as a virtuoso player.  So that made the decision pretty much itself; kind of becoming the drummer of the band, and composing with the other instruments.  That’s basically how that really happened.  The drums are a great instrument, you can just be behind those big fortresses;  a lot of things to hit.


 You and Bryan also toured with JOE SATRIANI during his last world tour. How long did it take you to learn his songs, and prepare for the tour?


Well, that was actually fairly quick because his songs, the songs themselves are kind of easy.  They’re kind of simple to see through, but you have to deliver the right attitude for the songs, and that is great.  It actually didn’t take us too long, but it’s always a chemistry question, isn’t it?   As soon as we started playing we start to lock in the details and then embark for the tour.  In that case it actually worked great.  We have a lot of freedom there, and Joe wants us to have freedom.  He likes to feature us, which is fantastic, I love that.   The tour is still going.  It started in 2013, and it’s still going until the end of 2014, and then there’s probably a new thing coming up that we do with him, which I won’t talk about yet.




We often find that with guitar players, and to a lesser extent bass players, the rhythmic side of their playing is sometimes less developed than their technical skills. How can one improve one’s sense of rhythm playing? Is there a special exercise that you would like to recommend?


Yes, play drums  (laughs).  Sometimes you have guitar players that can shred everything to pieces and then you have a single, eighth note, down stroke in a groove and it’s becoming a problem.  I can remember being in bands and checking out guitar players and think, “okay he can noodle this kind of part, but how come he has such difficulty to strum in eighth notes?”  It’s funny.  Of course one feature I’m very aware of is when people lock in guitars, I just love it when guitars are tight.


If you were to give one piece of advice to someone who wants to make a living of being a professional musician, what advice would that be?


That is quite simple; believe in what you do.  No matter what people really tell you, (of course if you respect someone you listen) no matter, if you believe in something and you feel that it’s right what you do, keep doing that.    Also be passionate about these things.  Don’t do half-assed work.  Believe in what you do, and do it as perfectly as possible, so that you’re satisfied with yourself and the energy will project on to the people.  And the people will bring the energy back.


How much time do you think will a beginner on any instrument have to invest before reaching a professional level?


That really depends; it varies.  Professional level is when you can sell your music, right?  In my opinion it doesn’t matter how skilled you are on an instrument, if you can bring a message across.  Then you’ve won.  There’s FRANK ZAPPA, and then there’s the SEX PISTOLS.  Both are completely valid with their skills, or non-skills because the message is clear.


Last but not last, we would be interested in your five all time favorite albums?


My five favorite albums are:


QUEEN – “Jazz”

LED ZEPPELIN – “Houses of the Holy”

POLICE -  “Synchronicity”

FRANK ZAPPA – (I’m not sure which one to pick, there are so many) maybe “Joe’s Garage” or “Ship Arriving to Late to Save a Drowning Witch”

QUEEN – (there’s also great more stuff) – “News of the World”, or LED ZEPPELIN – “Presence”.  That’s already many right?


That would be six, but please go ahead ...


KATE BUSH – "Hounds of Love"



Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you all the best for the release of your solo record “EEPS”, and the Asia leg of THE ARISTOCRATS tour.


Thank-you so much for the interview.  I hope you got something out of it.


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 Thanks go to Scott Schorr for making this possible.