Marco Minnemann's top 5 tips for drummers
“I’m pretty much always writing music,” says master drummer Marco Minnemann, whose new solo album, EEPS, has just been released. “It’s just part of my everyday life. Once there's a certain amount of material that fits on an album and has a stylistic mission, there'll be release coming up. I write, play and produce, so it’s sort of a one-man operation in my studio.”
Minnemann whips up jam-packed, genre-busting stew on the mostly instrumental EEPS – there’s everything from way-out free-jazz to gone-retro New Wave to unhinged prog-rock riffery – and he pairs his frequently irreverent compositions with whacked-out titles such as Cheap As Fuck And Awesome As Hell, Right On Time And Out Of Tune and OC DC. Anybody seeking a leaden, ultra-serious muso fest, feel free to look elsewhere.
“I love being spontaneous and experimental with things,” Minnemann explains. “To me, a good composer can bring all kinds of moods across in music. Some people only seem to write either sad songs or they take themselves way too seriously. If you can write a piece that can make people sad, you should also be able to deliver something that can make people laugh.”
Powerhouse, virtuoso drumming, of course, remains Minnemann’s métier – he’s currently handling sticksman duties on tour with Joe Satriani – and on the following pages, he offers his Top 5 Tips For Drummers.
Always believe in your vision
“Don't shy away from experimenting or exploring new territories. Personally, I always like to insert things into my playing that I haven't heard anywhere else.
“It basically feel natural to me to translate the ideas that I hear in my head rather than playing things that already exist. I just like the surprise factor – it keeps things musically fresh. Don't be scared to step outside the box. It's sort of the only way to create something unique.”
Take care of your sound
“Place mics so that they don't bleed into one another too much. For example, hanging cymbals high – of course, to the extent that it feels comfortable – helps to achieve a nice separation between overheads and toms.
“To me, the drums are divided into 3 EQ layers: high EQ, which is cymbals and snare; mid-range would be the toms; and low end is provided by the kick drums.
“That’s how I pick and tune the instruments, as well – 24-inch kick, 14-inch snare. Preferably a metal or a wooden snare, both of which can provide a nice cracky sound. Cymbals are mainly large, warm crashes, and a ride that has a nice ‘ping’ definition, not too washy.”
Play with passion
“Music is part of my universe, so to speak. I really take my performance very seriously and always try to deliver the best possible energy that I can give.
"This is what you project to the outside world. The energy you give to people will be returned to you. And that's a wonderful thing.”
Play music that you want to play
“There's nothing worse than being a frustrated musician who is kept on a leash by a dictator sort of band leader. Along with that, being forced to play material that you don't like at all.
“Pick something that is fun and truly meaningful to you.”
Sit up straight
“Maintain good posture while playing. It will enable you to breathe normally during your performances. Your creativity will surely benefit from having a relaxed body and mind.
“In general, though, the most important thing about playing and music is this: Enjoy it and have fun with it!"