Ever since my fascination with King Crimson began I became quite aware of Pat Mastelotto. His eclectic drum kits and combination of electric and acoustic drums are a symbol to his amazing versatility and his ability to adapt to any situation or need. That all came to a pinnacle when I saw him perform with King Crimson in 2014. Listening to him or watching him perform on a screen is drastically different than seeing him perform. There is a sense of finesse combined with sheer ferocity as he sets up sequences and loops to match his thunderous approach. I realized right then that I just had to pick his brain.
Some scheduling struggles aside we eventually ran into each during his run with Stick Men and he agreed to a quick Q&A via e-mail. During that brief interaction I noticed how unbelievably polite he was to his fans; remembering faces from 10 to 12 years ago and signing every piece of memorabilia that was presented to him. The questions went out in late October, but due to Pat’s extensive touring through Mexico and Europe it took some time for him to respond. Because of this some of the info regarding touring is a little dated.
Finally a few months later I am happy to able to share this brief interview with the ferocious drummer with a warm heart.
- How did the Stickmen tour go? What was it like transitioning from the bigger auditoriums while playing with King Crimson to smaller club shows with Stickmen?
Stick Men tour went well, lots of fun, new tunes, new faces in the audience. All Good.
Transition is not that hard, there is always a little post project depression after every extended gig, or after a recording project has finished, you know you miss the folks and the routine but quickly your thrust into a new group and its like entering the freeway you just merge into traffic and move ahead. Keep moving like a shark, musicians keep playing to stay alive, I guess that’s our ‘air’.
- What is next for Stickmen?
Heading to Mexico tomorrow for the last gig of this tour. Tony and Markus will resume Stick Men next year in Berlin around early Feb to begin work on next record that we hope to release early 2016, Tony has 4 new pieces under construction and Markus has several so could be good if we get to play the tunes in next year before recording. 2015 plans include South America, Europe and Asia. We have some very interesting and exotic offers coming in that we hope align with our schedules.
- Your performance involved a pretty intense and cohesive improvisation. What do you enjoy about improvisations? What is it about Markus and Tony that allows for such a strong improvisation?
Well Markus and Tony are simply great players with keen ears and unique style and sense of taste so it’s a joy to improvise with them. The way the[y] play touch style means they each have [a] huge pallet and could be bass or solo or rhythm, cordial, sound scaper makers I consider it ‘spontaneous composition’ since we all strive for that ‘tune’ feeling and we do release many of these improvs . One of the great things about improvising live in front of an audience is it forces things to happen, no procrastination, get to it or shut up – and when its flows its easy to get absorbed in the moment. . time seems to fly by.
- What was it like playing with Gavin and Bill during the King Crimson tour? What was the process like for developing the drum parts for the songs?
Oh that is just the best feeling a drummer can have , to be nested in with those two amazing players is wonderful. Our process involved lots of skype and emails before we ever touched our kits- then we meet for a week at Gavin’s home studio near London and worked against backing tracks. . Just us three trying things and listening back, discussing and going back to try again. . then we met a 2nd time in June for another week alone in a studio to review and dive deeper . ,. Some songs , like Red for example we did several arrangements- faster, slower, busier, simpler ,w cymbals, with out etc etc – before settling on what we used for the 2014 tour. . then when we finally had full band rehearsals for a week and that’s was the first time the rest of the band heard what we have been up too. . Then the following month after a quick world tour with The Crimson ProjeKct Tony and I joined the guys for our final week of rehearsal at Elstree studio near London followed by another short break for Tony and I to comp[l]ete o[u]r TCP commitments and the Full Moon music camp then the end of August KC met near Woodstock for 12 days of preproduction rehearsals. . So lots of discussion and fine-tuning throughout the process.
- Is there any inclination that a studio album may come from this line-up of King Crimson?
Not that I know of.
- This was the first time a lot of older songs had been played in a very long time. I wonder what your response was when you found out you would be playing a completely different set of King Crimson songs than you had during your tenure. Were there any songs you had wanted to perform that didn’t get included?
I was delighted, of course id like to do just about every KC song ever recorded but lets let Robert pick eh?. Looks like we’ll do this again next year I think a few more tunes will be added.
- With King Crimson, TU, KTU, and Stickmen you use a very interesting combination of electronic and acoustic drumming; sometimes activating samples in the middle of keeping time. What allured you to this type of unique drumming? What do you see as the challenges for this type of drumming?
Well the biggest challenge is monitoring! For me and everyone to get the right blend is very tricky. Plus Acoustic drums have endless dynamics and nuance that Edrums don’t, so I am quite often playing with one had whilst riding the volume of the mixer with the other. . In general it’s a faster move, from idea to presentation, when using and acoustic instrument, the Edrums take a bit of time to ‘find’ the right sounds, patch, volumes. . So I do a lot of the work before we get on stage. . Aligning loops or sequences and pre setting volumes and trying to prepare a palette to pull from when the moment arrives.
What got me into this- it’s just always fascinated me, since the late 60s and early 70 – to use beat boxes, sy[nth]s and samples. . is- I realize that part of it is my inability to drum some of the things I ‘imagine’, you know when you hear in your head a cool part to play but can’t execute it with enough precision I would turn to the beat box. . Trying to use it for what its best at and use me the human for what I do best- things like a sloppy Mikcy Waller hihat with youthful garage energy is hard to pull out of the beat box So that’s why i’ve been doing this hybrid thing for the last 40 plus years. .
- Are there any current drummers that you are following or find particularly interesting?
- What do you see as the future of drumming?
Mmmmm well young drummers I hear today are serious motherfuckers that seem to play everything with excellent timing. . its just amazing – their Indigo drummers.
And our stock questions
- If you could describe your sound in one ‘tweet’ (140 characters) what would it be?
- If you could cover one song of your choosing what would it be?
. . . .still thinking
- What is the perfect sandwich?
I just saw the movie Chef so im very in the mood for a Cubano sandwich.
You can check out Pat Mastelotto’s music on his Bandcamp page: https://patmastelotto.bandcamp.com/music