Interview with Pat Mastelotto in Lollipop
Date Submitted: 20-Nov-1996
Submitted By: David Kirkdorffer (SayAaahh at aol dot com)
An interview with Pat Mastelotto
by Nik Rainey
Lollipop Freezine #30
Q. This is more or less he third incarnation of King Crimson – how does Mach III compare with the 70's / 80's lineups?
PAT -- I'd put them in three categories – song based category, the poppy stuff with strong lyrics and melody; the instrumental aspect, which is something Crimson's always done; and third, something that 70's and 90's Crimson have most in common, improvisation. "Thrak," for example, is wide open. It could go anywhere -- from string quartet to a wild Burundi drum excursion, what ever happens. It's a question of reacting to the person standing next to you. Whoever takes the lead, the rest fall in place behind him. That's the premise behind THRAK ATTAK, which just came out on Robert's Discipline label. It all came from our improvs last year.
Q. How did you hookup with Crimson in the first place?
PAT – Specifically, I came to work with Robert on his tour with David Sylvian following their "The First Day" album. Jerry Marotta, who drummed on the album, kind of fell out before the tour. I heard about the gig, flew over to England, auditioned, then wound up on the tour that resulted in "Damage," the live album. Afterwards I kind of stuck around, and here I am.
Q. What are your musical influences? You and Bill Bruford obviously have different approaches…
PAT – Yeah, I don't have proper credentials. I don't read music or know proper drum rudiments, I'm more a seat-of-the-pants bar-band kid who's played in bands all his life. Bill has much more of the jazz/symphonic percussion background. My roots are more in he Beatles, Zeppelin, the whole 60's side. It works well in terms of Robert's two trio concept; the others sometimes joke that Bill's Elvin Jones and I'm Ringo Starr. So together we're Elvo and Ringvin.
Bill and I came up with a strategy pretty quickly in that we don't try to play unison parts, like the Doobie Brothers, or the Jim Gordon/Jim Keltner "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" thing. We're more like the Coleman approach were one guy plays electric and the other acoustic, only Bill and I both play hybrid electric/acoustic kits – so we don't try and fall on the same beats in the bar or the same timbre. If Bill jumps into something that relies on a lot of cymbals, I'll jump into something that relies on a lot of skin sounds; if he goes into metal tones, I'll go into wood, and so on. I basically play in his holes. He play a lot faster and with more finesse that I do, so it usually comes down to me playing the bombastic heavy shit, and Bill skittering around inside it, like wheels turning within wheels. It tends to be very polymetric – we'll pull different meters. He could play in 5 and I'll play in 7, and there's always a bit of math involved where you figure out where we'll coincide again. It might sound like chaos but there's always a strategy that'll lead us back home
Q. One thing I'm really curious about is why you played the H.O.R.D.E. Tour. It seemed like those other bands appeal to a different crowd that you.
PAT – What sort of crowd do you think that would be?
Q. Uh… Well, hippies. I mean even in the hippie era, Crimson was not exactly embraced by those people.
PAT – Yeah, we'll scare some of 'em. I played H.O.R.D.E. last year with my friends, The Rembrandts (no comment -- ed.). I'd played on all of their albums. It was kind of my last hurrah with them because Crimson keeps me pretty busy. Anyway, when we were trying to figure out where to tour this year, I suggested H.O.R.D.E. because it would mean playing o a different crowd that usually comes to our shows. We have a very loyal fan base, the kind tat buys the record the day it comes out, sees every show, and that's fantastic, but what about the people who would never hear about our band? We don't et played on MTV or the radio, we don't do pop singles, so I though the H.O.R.D.E. crowd would be good for us. I always thought they were nice, receptive-to-anything-across-the-board-type-kids – not a purely metal or a world beat crowd, they like diverse stuff. And it would be a challenge – we'd be going on early in the day, so we'd have no light setup. It'd be a different atmosphere than we're accustomed to. And yes, some put their fingers in their ears and walked out, but some an back to the stage to check us out, so it was actually pretty fantastic. And Robert enjoyed it, too. We were worried that he couldn't deal with the lack of privacy. He's a very withdrawn, private man, and here he is sharing a dressing-room with Neil Young and navigating through hallways full of people – and he dug it! Surprise, surprise! There he is sitting in the wings, checking out Lenny Kravitz and liking it! Wow!
Q. So I guess the H.O.R.D.E. m.o. is kind of like what you do with music itself – go against the norm.
PAT – Well, I'm jaded. I've loved King Crimson since I was 13, but I've always thought that if you give 'em a chance, they'll love us. Now I know that's not entirely true after some of the reactions we got at H.O.R.D.E., but to my mind, the more diverse, the better. That's he key and that's why I'm here.