Exclusive Interview with Bryan Beller and Marco Minnemann of The Aristocrats !!!

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Hey guys how have you been ? Whats happening for you guys lately ?

Bryan : Hey man nice to talk to you. We are right now here near NYC for the G4 Experience with Joe Satriani , Eric Johnson , Steve Vai , Mike Keneally , Alex Sckolnick and lot of other great musicians and its one of these camp experiences where everybody has clinics , gigs and we get to meet the people who signed up for it .

How did The Aristocrats happen ?

Bryan: Well Marco had an opportunity to do a gig in Vladivostok , Russia and he asked me and Greg Howe to be the trio and a few months later i got asked to do a gig at the NAMM show and i thought we should bring this new band together but before the show Greg had something that came up and he couldn’t do the show and there were a few guys we knew ( not very well though ) who told us to check out Guthrie Govan and Marco and I had barely heard of him and we watched some youtube videos and we were like GOD this guy is ridiculous ( laughs ) and so we asked him to play this one show at NAMM for 45 minutes , just two songs each from our solo catalogue and we did the show and it went really well considering it was our first show together and we said lets start a band and lets see what happens and here we are 5 years later touring India !!!

Well we have seen that solo instrumentalist like Joe Satriani , Steve Vai and the likes have always sustained their solo careers with venturing into a full fledged band but you guys on the other hand formed a band together and are doing instrumental music . How did that idea come about ?

 MARCO: I would say that it automatically came together . It was never about the chemistry kind of things , it was more of a when we were in the band , what was the best thing we could get out of the band and thats how it stuck out with the people as well and hence we do shows we tell stories to the people before each song. It was never a masterplan . It just fell from the sky and it was also time something like that happened .

BRYAN: It was also a part of Guthrie’s ethos as he can play anything and everything but he never was kind of like the 80s shredder guy .He is a very group and team oriented person and it was only fitting that we had a band that didn’t have any of our names and instead have a different name , now The Aristocrats and i think that worked from the beginning .

Bryan you started out with an orchestra and have played with huge names over the years . What have you taken from all these years of playing music ? Did you parents support you ?

As far as starting in the orchestra i was ten years and my parents got me into it as the schools didn’t have any modern music prrograms. You know honestly i was lost as a teenager .There was no good outlets and educational systems for me to play rock music so i just hid in my room and played along with records for years before i got into Berkeley College of music when i was 18 and finally got to know people i could relate to and i know it sounds like a very die description but that was really what was going on .If i had one message to give from my experience it would be that – Never give up , just keep on trying and its never too late.My career crashed in my mid 20’s and i had no money , no gigs and even did a corporate job for 8 years and gained a lot of experience but i again got back to doing music at 35 but things only started getting good in my 40s and these things just work out. Keep on trying !!!

And yes my family did support me and i am very grateful for that as my parents were not into music , my dad being a lawyer and my mom being a teacher but they supported me and i thank them considering what a shitty kid i was ( laughs ) .

When we announced about the interview many people requested us questions and this is one question from Khanirup Dutta to Marco and it goes like ” You have worked with Steven Wilson and the album THE RAVEN THAT REFUSED TO SING was huge for any fan . How did the album come about ” ?

It was a great experience to be honest .The funny part was Steven contacted me and i didn’t really know who he was at that point and i looked him up and came to know about him and then we met at one of his shows and we started connecting. The weird part was the email where it quoted ” We want you in our band . We know who you are . No audition needed ” and i was like Ok ! Who are you ( both of them laughs ) . We went to the studios , booked the studio and recorded the entire album in one week, taking 3-4 takes of each songs and Voila! that was the whole album  The chemistry was great with the guys like Nick Beggs and Adam Holzman and so was with Steve too. It was a very chilled out experience, very respectful and some great music !!!

Bryan what is mastering  tone and versatality all about ? Tell us a bit about Jam Play and what it offers ?

When Alfred asked me to do the DVD i looked into all the instructional DVD’s and saw the main focus was on the technique. And know many guys who did that pretty well. My focus was on the sound. How to build a proper bass sound and i think this aspect of playing is something that needs to be practiced. You never get to practice about sound as you are always busy with other things and the wealth of knowledge that is accumulated knowing what your bass is made of , what the woods are ,what electronics do , what pick ups do, what kind of basses make what sound , what kind of pedals make different sounds, what order they should be in , whats a pre amp , whats a power amp etc all add up to one gigantic thing called sound. Well it starts from the very basic thing which is your hand and then choosing the right instruments, the right strings , the right amps and when i say right i mean the thing that is in your head and ho to bridge the gap between the sound that is in your head to the sound you want on your bass.

 Its an instructional website which you can subscribe to and there i have courses on ear training and studio sessions . There are a lot of great guitarists and bassists up there on the site giving out instructions like Billy Sheehan , Tosin Abasi and all. Jam play is a very cool subscription website which everyone should really check out .

 

Marco how did the audition for Dream Theatre happen ? How was the general feeling being amongst them ?

I am dear friend of Jordan Rudess and thats the audition happen when he asked me to come over . I was never planning on doing that, i don’t know much about the band but Jordan and the guitar player approached me and asked me to jam with them . They were good guys and it was a pleasant experience and by the way me , Jordan and Tony Levin have an album coming up . 

When you guys get together to make music what’s the general routine or what do you guys talk about ?

(Both Laugh)

Bryan :There was not a lot of talking in the beginning to be honest .The playing as and is the communication and its the most important part too .

Marco : Its like the Joe Perry album “Let the music do the talking ”  ( Laughs ) and its how its done. Someone might not even know your language but you communicate through your music. And when we are on the road and the gigs are over the last thing we want to discuss is music .

A drummer and a bassist always has a connection in a band. How do you compliment each other ? Where does Guthrie come in ?

Bryan :  The key thing is that Marco and i listen to a lot of the same music and the other thing is that we have a balance between us . Marco is an amazing technical player with all the grooves and the fireworks up there and i am a bit of a reserved player . For eg . and i love Billy Sheehan and don’t get me wrong , but if i was Billy and playing with Marco the activity level  would be way too much maybe and thats where we have the balance because we are opposite .

Marco : Well Guthrie always agrees to the arrangements and somehow we seem to understand each other and there is a balance and nobody is fighting for the prime spot .

How do you both see drums and basses evolving nowadays technically and otherwise from the older times ?

Bryan : Oh God ! Well the iron rule of music is that what we thought was technically impossible while we were growing up we will be able to do that in the future and by the time we do that they are already basic for the next generation. Well take for example bassists from the 60s like Paul Mccartney and James Jamerson to Stanely Clarke and Jaco which was a big leap forward and then in the 80s and 90s you have Marcus Miller , John Pattituci ,  Flea , Richard Bona etc who could do unspeakable things with the bass and now when i see you tube i just close my eyes , the technical development is already to the next level and hopefully it will never stop. What people like Jaco Pastorius did might look not technically difficult now but one can make out that no one can create the sound he did. He was something different.

Marco : Well age is not a matter at all you know . Like Buddy Rich , he will never fade out ever and probably every generation respects his drumming skills , then John Bonham. I am a big fan of Queen .They were never about technicality although their songs were very elaborate and eclectic yet still there are new fans everyday for their music.

Coming to Queen, Freddie Mercury once said that Machines will take over music . What do you say about that and the music industry now ?

Marco : I must say something when we are talking about Freddie Mercury that there is one very interesting interview with Freddie when the synthesizers came out and Freddie said that you can work these machines to death but they will never write a song for you . You have to do that. Full grown robots are making music nowadays . Its not like machines are bad like the music Kraftwerk does. There is always good music and bad music. Its the world’s favourite pastime to talk about it ( laughs ).

Tell us about your touring experiences and how important it is travel ?

Marco : You need to see the world as you need to experience music but we have written music with the experience of the events that happened around us .Desert Tornado would  not have happened if there wasn’t a real desert tornado happening at that point . The song Book-A-Ticket which is about India from my solo album was inspired by a conversation i had with an Indian guy.

Bryan : Its more important for my people in America to travel more . When i first went to Europe i was shocked to see the culture , the different languages , the currency and everything . It was like i was in a different planet and i think people need to experience that if they can.

Tell us about your future projects .

 

Marco-  I am doing a lot of solo projects some being with Jordan Rudess and Tony Levin and i am doing film music as well apart from the music of the The Aristocrats .

Bryan : I take a lot of time with the solo albums and i am dedicating my time with The Aristocrats but yes i have a solo album sitting in my head i will work on it very soon.

Thank you so much Bryan and Marco for doing this interview .

Thank you so much. It was a pleasure and hope to see you guys soon . Bye !!!

 

 

 

Interviewed by : Ashiqur Rohman 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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