MARCO MINNEMANN - "Celebration" Interview



Multi-instrumentalist MARCO MINNEMANN has every reason to celebrate. He has just released his fourteenth solo-record “Celebration”, published a fantastic new record with THE ARISTOCRATS, and played on JOE SATRIANI’s recent masterpiece “Shockwave Supernova”.  GuitarMania wanted to learn more about the recording of “Celebration” and what it is like to play with two of the greatest guitarists of our time - GUTHRIE GOVAN and JOE SATRIANI.


    
Hello Marco, thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions! First of all, please let us congratulate you on your new solo album. "Celebration“ on which you played all the instruments yourself again. What exactly are you celebrating on "Celebration“?

 
Hah, thanks for having me. Not sure what I’m exactly celebrating, but maybe an album I’m quite happy with. First I wanted to put a cake on the front cover, but since I only had an ol’ dried out rose sitting at home, I though, meh, that’ll have to do (laughs).

    
"Celebration“ sounds, on the one hand, very progressive, experimental, and on the other hand playful, occasionally a little crazy (in a good way, of course), even "zappa-esque“. Did Frank Zappa’s music have any influence on your playing and the way you regard and approach music?

 
My favorite bands are Led Zeppelin, Queen and indeed Frank Zappa. Not so much the prog bands that some people expect me to listen to, which I don’t blame them of course, since I play here and there with prog artists as well. Now, when I write music though, I never ever think about what it could be compared to. I mainly compose to a picture that is in my head, basically like a soundtrack a bit. Technicalities come in second. First is always the idea that counts and translates a vibe I’m going for,

    

 


Do you have concrete plans of how the songs should sound like before you hit the studio, or do some things just happen naturally during the recording process?

 
Both. Sometimes I have a clear picture in my head on how I want the song image to look like, such as in the track ‘4000’. And then all of a sudden a song like ‘Print Club’ just falls from the sky and I just compose as I go along with the parts, unknowing of what comes next, and of a sudden there’s an over 10 minutes long piece of music, and I think, “where the hell did that just come from?” (laughs)

    
"Have A Great 3015“ is one of our favourite tracks on the new album. Can you please tell us what the title is about?

 
Thank you, it’s a piece that goes in two phases. Envisioning the planet in the year 3015, and then I sampled these boat chains at a harbour in Marseille, France, to go for the year ‘4000’. I added reverb and then time stretched guitar chords, which really project this hauntingly, ghostly, beautifully dark vibe. So, it basically tells a fictional story.

 



    
Can you please talk about the way you write, compose and arrange music? Which instrument does come first? A drum beat, a riff on the guitar, or a bass line?

 
That completely varies. Sometimes I just grab a guitar and play something and then a certain chord progression comes along that I think could be worthy pursuing further. And sometimes it’s a synth sound that can inspire, or a groove or bass line. And then like in ‘Everyone Likes A Rainbow’, the vision came first. Many possibilities. ‘Ugly Sunrise’ for example was completely harmonically planned out to create an image, changing consciously between major and minor to create a lingering tension to then finally explode into a beautiful final, basically when the sun comes out.

 



What motivates you to work alone/produce a solo record in the first place?
 
In my studio I am able to translate my ideas fast and in an easy going way. I like that. Nobody interferes and most importantly: If you know what you want, then this is a very satisfying procedure and you don’t have to argue with anyone who wants a slice of the pie you created. Being in charge of your own product avoids any possible hassle with company people, producers or whoever wants to hop on the wagon to profit from the product. I’m very protective of my back catalogue and I would hate it having to deal with multiple labels later on, asking for permission of using your own songs, if you know what I mean. Social media is strong enough to provide good promo these days, if you’re ‘on it’ and care.



    
Being "GuitarMania“ we would be interested to hear what you like most about Guthrie’s and Joe Satriani's playing? How, if at all, does their musicalitiy differ, and in what way?

 
Guthrie is very versatile and we had a great instant playing chemistry. That to me counts, being musically locked. Joe is a very experienced and iconic guitarist, knows how to project his songs and image. I purposely don’t really want to compare them, but they’re both wonderful players AND human beings, which can reflect in the playing and stylistically.

    
We also understand you had a very active role and Joe gave you some leeway in the creation of the drum parts of "Shockwave Supernova“. To what extent did you know what expected you when you entered the Skywalker Sound Studio?

 
In fact there was a lot a freedom. Joe sent the demos and purposely kept the drum parts wide open, so that I could deliver my own take on the pieces. It was a very joyful and fun time recording and I pretty much was able to stretch out on the songs and musically state what I wanted to say. Same btw goes for the work with STEVEN WILSON. I pretty much can create my own parts. 


    
Let us turn to playing live. How is the THE ARISTOCRATS tour going so far? How does the audience like the new songs from "Tres Caballeros“? Which of the new tracks are you playing live?

 
The tour is in fact going VERY well. More audience, better production and “Tres Cabelleros” is doing good, too. Absolutely no complains from our end. Come out and watch us somewhere :-). (note: we will. Watch this space for THE ARISTOCRATS tour dates to be published soon)

 

The Aristocrats "Tres Caballeros" official publicity photo - by Mike Mesker


    
You are a very positive person with an optimistic outlook on life. Was there a time where you struggled with your career choice, or where you hit a wall in your playing that you struggled to overcome? Can you give us a piece of advice on what you did to overcome this obstacle/or a difficult period in your life/playing?

 
Hmm, honestly, to me music is more of a dedication and has to be approached with honestly and joy. So, no, if there was a struggle, which equals no fun, I would not do it, or move for a while into a different territory, I guess. My advice would be to just believe in what you do and create the things you can be happy with.

    
You worked with Jordan Rudess and Tony Levin on the album, LEVIN MINNEMANN RUDESS.  What are your memories from that album?

 
That was great. We worked and composed separately and then sent the files around and put the songs together, in a very friendly environment, free from any deadlines. And I think it shows in the final product. Hang on, actually I never even listened to the final album, hahahah.

 


    
Do you ever have any time off/take a break? And, if yes, what does MARCO MINNEMANN do in his spare time? Where do you spend it?

 
Ohh there’s always free time to do things, even on tour. I love exploring nice cities or landscapes, love riding my bicycle, see, I told you I’m a QUEEN fan :-).

    
You have been very generous with your time Marco. Thank you very much for the interview! We are looking forward to seeing you on European stages, both with THE ARISTOCRATS and JOE SATRIANI.

 


 

For more information, please refer to http://marcominnemann.com/

We would like to thank Scott Schorr for his kind help in facilitating the interview.

 

Here is our review of THE ARISTOCRATS' amazing new album "Tres Caballeros": http://www.guitarmania.eu/index.php/classic/365-the-aristocrats-tres-caballeros.html