Tag: The Aristocrats

Marco Minnemann on Drums in my Upcoming Record

Yes indeed! Marco Minnemann has been most very kind to play drums on my upcoming record. I’m super thankful for Bryan Beller helping me get in touch with him. I couldn’t emphasize how excellent Marco’s playing has been, how tasteful and instinctual he was, how kind he has been, how great he engineered the tracks, how efficient he was and how easy he was to work with. I’m such a big fan of The Aristocrats, the records he has been part of for other artists and songs that he has written, so I was initially in absolute shock with disbelieve for a while after he agreed. It took me a full week to calm myself down. I’m not exaggerating.

OK, at this point, I’ve now received all drum tracks back for all the tunes. Prep work for mixing has started and actual mixing should probably begin some time next week/weekend.

Musically, the record is again an instrumental record with elements of Avant-garde, hard rock/metal with elements of experimental Jazz/ modern classical thrown in. I’m very, very excited about this record and the release should probably be some time in Fall 2017. An overly great deal of love and work has been put into this album and I’m really looking forward to sharing this with all of you out there.

 

Consulting with Bryan Beller, Part 2

(In case you missed it, you can find part 1 here.)

On the topic of promotion

One thing I mentioned to Bryan was my discomfort about self-promotion. It’s something that I just very much dislike doing, but I wanted to hear his genuine thoughts about it.

Nobody owes you their time.
Nobody owes you a thing.
You’ve got to go get it. Every time.
You’ve got to go out and tell people about you, because nobody’s going to advocate for you more than you are going to advocate for yourself.

If you think that you’re for whatever reason not worthy of shouting from the rooftops about what it is that you’re doing, then that’s what other people are going to think too.

Part of it is crafting materials that you’re proud of.

– Bryan Beller

Other cool clinic/consulting interviews of Beller can be found here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-GY6aY1mKc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rr-xVodrpgo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwlYXqKnPyk

Consulting with Bryan Beller, Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, I scheduled a consulting session with one my favorite musicians, Bryan Beller. Bryan needs no introduction, but he’s played with Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Mike Keneally, Dethklok and of course his own superhuman band, “The Aristocrats”. He has a solo career too, where his own touring band members are the exact same members as the Mike Keneally Band. I’m a huge fanboy, and always found his bass tones ridiculously amazing. I’m not even really a bass player and I’m a fan. Go figure. While some of the conversation topics shall forever remain private, there are other things that I can share here that may be of interest to folks out there.

On how he got his bass tones from the studio, on the latest Joe Satriani record “Shockwave Supernova”, as well as on his own records (solo, Aristocrats).

For the recent Satriani record, he used the A-Designs REDDI. Distortion came from the Sansamp plugin. The recording chain was decided by the staff, rather than him. There was an AMPEG rig in an isolation room, miced up. DI was duplicated, and SansAmp bass-driver plugin was put on one of them.

On his own records (Aristocrats, Solo), he decides on the recording chains. The signal path is not the same as his live rig. On records, they’re typically DI – one clean DI, one dirty DI, blended together. The dirty DI is done using overdrive pedals.

For the song “Oh No” from The Aristocrats “Culture Clash” album, he used a combination of overdrive/distortion pedals – the Dark Glass Electronics B3K overdrive, and the Dunlop M80 distortion DI together. No mic cabs were used.

On whether the Aristocrats albums were mixed In-The-Box (ITB) or Out-of-The-Box (OTB)

First two albums “The Aristocrats” and “Culture Clash” were completely done ITB – i.e., within protools. The third record “Tres Caballeros” was mixed hybrid – i.e., with both protools and the console. I have always been curious about this because I’ve always really enjoyed the sonics (and the songs) of the 2nd record (“Culture Clash”).

If you’ve watched some of Bryan’s DVD extras for his solo records, you would notice that those albums were all mixed ITB as well (AND sounded awesome).

On how he works through writers block

Time. When forced a deadline, you’re just pushed to write. There was one song that he wrote in 6 hours because of this. But he recommends going away and coming back to it.

“Sometimes you need to live through the life experiences to be able to have something to write about.”

On how he keeps himself from repeating himself when coming up with new parts or contributions (on his own records or records for others).

He doesn’t really think about it like that. He just writes whatever works. The parts would always be like “different children from the same parent”.

This is an interesting answer, because I know Mike Keneally has mentioned publicly that he really puts emphasis into not repeating himself. These are very different approaches from two people that have worked so closely together for 20+ years! Fascinating indeed.

On how he approaches his work differently when it is his own project vs supporting another artists

Doesn’t try to approach anything differently. Some artists might want something a bit more basic, and just to play the song as it was written. It’s just whatever that works to serve the song/songwriter.
It’s usually up to the producer to make the balance. For Aristocrats each member produces his own songs. (Typically, each member contributes 3 songs – and their producing styles are quite different.).

On what piece of work he’s most proud of and why

  • “Love Adrenaline” (which happens to be my favorite song he wrote too). Writing process for that: He had a good idea of where he wanted the song to go, and he just ‘chipped away at it’.
  • “Through the Flower” (Aristocrats).
  • Playing-wise, couple of songs from Keneally’s Sluggo album. “Life’s too Small”
  • Proud of “Smuggler’s Corridor” too.
  • He’s more interested in compositions than anything in his playing.
  • Hopefully his playing makes the song better. Otherwise he feels that he’s doing it wrong.
  • Favorite work of his usually are ones that are the better songs and ones that he has an emotional attachment to.

On how he writes

Yes. He grew up playing piano and his writing always comes from it first. The piano is how he visualizes music.

Bonus tidbits if you’re still reading this:

  • I found out that Bryan went to school with Tobias Ralph from The Crimson Projekct (who also played drums on my record)!
  • Bryan finds my music weird. I was a bit surprised to hear that at first, considering some of his past work he’s done, so I’ll more than gladly take it as a compliment (… even if it wasn’t meant to be one!)!

(Continue to Part 2 here)

The Aristocrats Live in San Diego, Tres Caballeros Tour (August 28, 2015)

Please scroll down for pictures…

I don’t remember the exact set list, but these are the songs that were played as far as I could remember (in no specific order, other than the first 3 songs):

  • Stupid 7
  • Jack’s Back
  • Texas Crazypants
  • Pig’s Day Off
  • Smuggler s Corridor
  • Pressure Relief
  • The Kentucky Meat Shower
  • Louisville Stomp
  • Desert Tornado (with Marco Minnemann Drum Solo)
  • Blues Fuckers

As you can see, most of the songs were from the latest record, and the only songs that they didn’t play that night from the record were “ZZ Top” and “Through the Flower”. ZZ Top did get played played live from previous shows on this tour from what I have seen on Youtube. I was actually hoping to hear what Marco Minnemann explain the counting intro at the beginning of the song before the intro… (though I think I have an idea…), but I guess I’ll just have to wait for another day.

(Or maybe those were played! I’ve been losing my memory as of late…)

The band was tight as always and watching/listening up close to how Bryan Beller harmonizes things was incredible. The songs have indeed evolved a bit from the record, which made it really fun to watch. Marco Minnemann’s drum extended solo towards the end of Desert Tornado was such a treat to watch. Of course, Guthrie Govan was in God-Mode the entire show – well the entire band was. It is almost a given whenever these three special entities are up on stage together.

Security guys at UCSD asked everyone to leave soon after the show (around 11:15), which meant we couldn’t wait to meet the band members. That was a first because we were always able to thank them at the Brick by Brick venue, at all the Keneally shows in UCSD, as well as the Calprog show (double bill with Stick Men) last year up in Whittier, CA. The security guys were quite keen to wrap things up so they could go home probably. One thing that I don’t see everyday was that when security asked everyone to leave, one fan pleaded if he could talk to Marco Minnemann, seeing him leaving through the other door. The fan was denied, then cursed at security and tried to force his way through and around the guy anyway. Security got really upset, yelled at the guy and kicked him out….

…AT A ROCK FUSION/ INSTRUMENTAL SHOW!

Man, and I thought I was a crazy passionate fan myself… I’d probably not do that… But given that these guys are the best in the world at what they do, it’s good to see my heroes getting this type of attention….! (I guess)