Contemporary Drums
Pat Mastelotto

Image Credits: Pat Mastelotto © Leonardo Schiavone.

May 15, 2017
 
During O.R.K. Italian tour we were very pleased to meet Pat Mastelotto, the Californian drummer founder of Mr. Mister and present member of King Crimson and Stick Men, among the several projects involving him.
 
> Ivano Rossato

Even if you never played this genre, are there any jazz artists that you like or that inspired you?
Even if my roots are found in artists such as the Beatles and Jimy Hendrix, in jazz field I’ve ever loved the Weather Report that, to me, are like “The Beatles” in this genre. In fact, the track “Mr. Gone”, which we used to listen to on the tour bus and we used to play during soundchecks, really inspired the name of “Mr. Mister”. Anyway, I always try not to have preconceptions as far as musical genres are concerned, there is good jazz and very bad jazz, good metal and very bad metal.
 
Do you prefer to fulfil the leader role in a project, or do you fit better as side man?
I don’t love to be the leader. I love democracy in a group and the cooperation among two or three artists (not more than that, otherwise to make decisions becomes complicated!), is absolutely my working philosophy. During my career, I have learnt that the more experience you have as a leader the more you learn to be a good sideman. I realised it during my project Mastica: the leader must think of everything, decide everything, always speak to press, all the interviews… give me a break!
 
How was it to simultaneously play with three drummers in the recent King Crimson line-up?
It was a Robert Fripp’s crazy idea! Before being a part of the group, I thought he was an artist writing everything and telling you what to play. But it’s not like that: Fripp creates the situation, and then it’s up to you to find a way to get out of it. Gavin (Harrison) and Jeremy (Stacey) are awesome drummers, and after spending a lot of time to exchange emails and videos, we found a way to best integrate by finding each one his own space.
 
Can you tell us something about O.R.K., your present project?
It’s a very amusing experience; I met Lorenzo Esposito Farnasari through Lorenzo Feliciati with whom I played about ten years ago. One of the things I most like about this band is that I’m able to distinguish all the instruments very clearly. When I play with the Crimsons as well as with the Stick Men, the sound is very “dense”, while in the O.R.K. the frequencies of the bass played by Colin (Edwin) and of the electric guitar played by Carmelo (Pipitone) do not overlap and everything’s very clear.
 
Which advice can you give to a young drummer who wants to become a professional musician?
Nowadays it’s not like in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s anymore; there are a lot of very good musicians and music everywhere. It is therefore very difficult to assert oneself as a professional. My advice is to cultivate music with passion, but also to have a “back up” job.
 
After a long career so rich in different experiences what are you still looking in a co-operator?
I look for talented persons, as far as jazz, country, rock etc. are considered. I look for talent, something unique, a “gift”. My aim with the music is not to produce a hit or impress somebody, but to realise something genuine and real. A lot of my cooperations don’t have a lot to do with the musician, but rather with the person, with amusing ourselves and staying well together even when we’re not playing.
 
Which is the element you always try to bring in a project?
Something genuine, I try not to have a very rigid agenda about the things to be done, but to take inspiration from the situations that arise. To play the best thing in that specific moment. During the recording, it often happens to me to overdo to impress people, but then I think “Why don’t I simply play the right thing?”
 
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