Marco Minnemann's drum setup in pictures
The Aristocrats is the demented brainchild of British guitarist Guthrie Govan, American bassist Bryan Beller and German-born drum wizard Marco Minnemann.
With the ability to play the most dizzying polyrhythms and pull off feats of extraordinary limb independence, Marco has been pushing back the boundaries of what can be accomplished on the drum kit for years.
He’s played alongside fretboard heavyweights like Paul Gilbert, Joe Satriani and Mike Keneally, and indulged his metal demons with Kreator and Necrophagist. Now with The Aristocrats, he has a band of equally gifted musicians to help him find new horizons.
The trio’s second album, Culture Clash, features moments of jaw-dropping technical audacity but the music is shot through with the group’s irrepressible sense of humour. Not many bands can boast of earning a Parental Guidance sticker on an album of instrumental music but then that’s what happens when one of your songs is called ‘Blues F**kers’. Other titles include ‘Sweaty Knockers’ and ‘Gaping Head Wound’.
Each member contributed three songs to Culture Clash and they take turns introducing the tracks live, a habit in keeping with the spirit of jazz but with Govan’s overdriven guitar, Beller’s array of effects pedals and Marco’s full throttle drumming, they’re much too rowdy for any jazz club to contain. And that’s just the way they like it.
You haven’t gone for the stereotypical giant prog/fusion drum kit?
“No. I don’t need it. You can do a lot of damage with this drum kit. It’s four toms, 10", 12", 16", 18", two snare drums, then usually a 24" kick drum, three crashes, a ride cymbal, two hi-hats, and a few bells and a splash, double pedal.
"I can do everything I could do with a bigger drumset. With Joe Satriani or Eddie Jobson or at home I have two more toms, an 8" and a gong drum, but I can do without.”
What about in the studio? Do you have a favourite recording snare?
“I have a few snares that I use a lot, like a Noble & Cooley 14"x7" solid maple, that sounds brilliant. Ludwig Supraphonics are always good, the 14"x5" or the 14"x6". These are snares that always come back for some reason.”
What about tuning?
“I’m looking to complement the shell tone. I don’t tune them really too high or too low. The bottom heads are slightly higher than the batter heads, for some reason it creates more mass and I like it that way. The snare drum I crank, pretty much.”