Working with Marco Minnemann

“You’re ashes and fire” is released and it’s about time to introduce Marco Minneman, whom we’ve been working with for almost a year now.

I have three favourite drummers in the world, and one of them is Marco.

It was while watching the Dream Theatre’s drummer audition that I discovered Marco. I’m sure I’ve heard him somewhere else before… I realise he’s been playing with Steven Wilson, Paul Gilbert and other big names. But it wasn’t until I watched this audition tape – I mean I usually don’t listen that much to Dream Theatre – but this audition is something else and really puts some great drummers on display, and at that time Marco really captured my attention, and I was quick to follow him on FB. And what a drummer he is…

The road to Marco went via Morgan Ågren (favourite drummer no.2), with whom we’ve recoded one song already. Then Morgan took off to Switzerland on an exciting project and we realised he wouldn’t be available any time soon. So, returning to my favourite audition tape saying to myself: “Hmm let’s see… Let’s pick Marco.”

Would Marco be jazzy enough? And would he have the same grove that we’d discovered when collaborating with Morgan?

First off, we sent Marco a 7-minute meditative rock song. One that we’d been struggling with… After the first mix the drum machine just felt so monotonous. In other words, a perfect test to see if a drummer could turn this around.

There are always some nerves involved when hiring musicians. I mean, they have their style, and will they get ours? Will they interpret where we’re going with our songs?

Like Edgar Peña so nicely put it regarding Marco’s interpretation of “Beautiful Lady” (another one of our songs that we’re working on).

“Lovely song, Marco is such an impressive drummer, he adds his own signature sounds to the song without changing the actual essence of it, he’s very good at drumming right at the edge where his style and the song meets.”

It’s a perfect description of how Marco works. He’s got this gift of quickly getting into a song and understanding it, adding to it. On this first 7-minute meditative song he created a totally amazing ambient, epic piece playing on two “different” drumkits. We were instantly amazed.

It was at this point that I got a little bit of hubris. I’ve not only made contact with two of the world’s best drummers, but they were now also playing our music. Can Marco be our Werifesteria ambient drummer? And Morgan our Werifesteria free jazz drummer? And maybe, maybe, could – hello again drum audition tape – Thomas Lang (favourite drummer no.3) be our Werifesteria hard-hitting drummer? The idea sprung to my mind after finding some inspiration from Devin Townsend, and how he worked with different drummers to get different characteristics for his Empath album.

After grounding myself a little bit, I realised that having Marco on our new album is mind-blowing in and off itself. (And of course, let’s not forget, Morgan Ågren on one of the tracks).

Marco is by far the most professional musician we’ve been collaborating with. Some days I haven’t even woken up before he’s done his two takes along with a video for the song I’ve sent him. 16 high-quality tracks from a big sounding drumkit that fits our sound perfect. He really knows his stuff, is super creative and surprise us every time. Even the studio technicians we’ve worked with are super impressed with the quality of the tracks.

But I have to say, there’s a life before working with a drummer, and a life after. How will we ever be able to work with drum machines again after this?