Ziegler: “So back to our common ground – we have the rock and the jazz thing going on. When we started Volto!, we were doing half instrumental tunes and half vocal tunes, everything from Allman Brothers to Zeppelin to Mahavishu and Tony Williams. Slowly, we started incorporating original material.”
Danny, was improvisation something you really wanted to explore as a contrast to Tool?
Carey: Definitely. That’s one of the biggest reasons for me to do it; I wanted to work on my improv. It broadens your horizons anytime you play with somebody new. John and Lance and Matt are all great musicians in a whole different way from the guys in Tool. I learn something new every time I play with them.”
Originally, Volto! was going to be a vocal band. What happened there?
Ziegler: “At first, our keyboard player was Kirk Covington, who in addition to being one of the best drummers in the world also plays keyboards. The guy’s like an idiot savant. [Laughs] He’s can play keyboards in the vein of Herbie Hancock and Jan Hammer, but could also sing his ass off on the Zeppelin and Allman Brothers stuff. But the band is really a vehicle for us to do solos – not to put vocals down or anything. We were going to do the original tunes with vocals, but right when we decided to do the record, Kirk decided he didn’t want to do it. Plus, he was moving to Texas, so that pretty much killed that.”
Even though the music is improvisational, does somebody in the band start to tunes? Who brings in raw sketches of songs?
Carey: “For the most part, John is the main writer. He’ll come in with a basic idea, and then we’ll help him arrange. There is a framework that we work from, and some of its pretty intense – some complicated heads and changes. There’s a level of consistency we strive for as far as actual form, but we always leave room for improv.”
Ziegler: “I might come in with the ideas, but I consider Danny to be the real writer. Playing with him for a long time now, I won’t bring him something that won’t fit his skills. I know what his strengths are, and so when bring him something, I have his playing in my head. He’s got his own voice on the drums, so that’s something you want to use.”
Danny, speaking to that, were there elements of your playing with Tool – your technique, your approach and even your equipment – that you didn’t want to bring to this band?
Carey: “No, that’s never really come up. I think we’re all true to our situations. It’s just a different combustible mixture when the four of us get in a room together compared to the four members of Tool. We’ve never had to think about sounding too much like each other. There’s definitely some similarities, but because the personalities and talents are so different, I don't have to worry about changing anything one way or another.”