Mike Terrana

Interview date

Septembre 2010




Interview Mike Terrana (face to face)

Hi Mike, thanks a lot for accepting this interview for the french metal webzine http://www.auxportesdumetal.com/

Thank you, thank you for doing it ! You know, I had a manager about four months ago and I was paying her to do independent promotion for my new record SinFonica. I paid for the whole record, there's no more record company and I was paying her, money every month, to be my manager. She had to do some independent promotion and to organize interviews, I got nothing so I had to fire her ! I'm the guy who wants to talk to you (Laughs) !

You're in Paris tonight for a clinic. Can you please tell us more about this clinic tour ?

Drumcraft, a new company in Germany, I've been with them for one and a half year, made me custom sets, I'm helping them to design some new drum equipments and stuff. You can check this stuff on http://www.drumcraft.com/. This clinic tour covers most of Europe : Spain, France, Poland, Germany, Austria and there'll be more to come. This is a seventeen days tour, from the end of the summer until I have to go back on tour with Tarja because I'm starting a world tour with her in September.

Which songs are you going to play ? Are you going to play alone or with samples ?

I'll play with my playbacks from my new record. The new record is called SinFonica, it contains eleven classical tracks. Some who are interested in my music can download it at http://www.terrana.com/, just click on SinFonica and you can download every track for one euro or all eleven songs for eleven euros.

Will this CD be available in stores ?

No, only available through me. I'm releasing my music on USB sticks, tonight you can buy it on USB with videos, the making-of, it's a multimedia package, there's information about the equipment that I use and some videos that I shot of the songs of the tracks I'm playing. I really think that the CD is an ugly dead medium. For the past 10 years, I've been selling my music and my DVDs on the Internet and on the road. I don't believe in record companies anymore. The person who wants music is on his own, he goes to the Internet or the show. It's a come-back to the musicians now, it's our time again like it was in the old days. Now I invite people : come and download from me.

Are your files in compressed (MP3) or uncompressed format ?

They're not MP3. They are AIFF files, high resolution audio files. Not the shit that you get from the iPod. You can put the files in your iPod. Therefore you can get the CD quality over the Internet for the same price that you would get through iTunes or something. I have my customers, I don't want to go to iTunes and to be lost with a billion of other artists.

One of the latest album you play with " Fullblast " from Kiko Loureiro is really amazing. Are you used to brazilian rhythms ?

I learnt some of the brazilian rhythms that Kiko told me about, that he had written for the song and I played them in my own manner. That's my interpretation of the brazilian rhythms.

Kiko is a fantastic guitarist, both solo and rhythm. That must be fun for you to play with him ?

Yeah, that's a great player, he writes nice songs, that was a real pleasure to play on his record. I'm proud of that, I like it very much.

Did you hear the news about Portnoy's leaving Dream Theater ?

Yes I did, that's crazy !

If Petrucci phones you tonight to propose you the job, what will you reply ?

I don't think I would want to do it to be honest. I wouldn't want be the guy who replaces Mike Portnoy because I think these are some big shoes to fill and it's his band, his baby. Also there's a lot of music to learn, that's very complicated to memorize all this stuff, that's a lot of work. I'm curious to know who's gonna do the job but I don't think I'm the man for the job. With all the respect I have for Mister Portnoy and his band.

Would you like to be a full-time member of a band ?

Yeah, I would like to be a band member, it just doesn't seem like the situation exists anymore. Bigger bands now are very corporate, if someone leaves, he won't be a member of the band. I'm fifty years old now, if someone calls me, it depends on the personality factor, it's quite complicated. It's like to be married with four or five different people, being in a band is like being married, it's complicated. For now, as a side-man, it's working pretty good for me : I've been working with Tarja for the past four years. Even if it's not a band, it has a band feeling, she treats everybody very nice. I prefer that, I don't need to be involved in her record cover, pictures...

Like with Rage ?

With Rage, it was very very ugly because it started getting very silly. It was a combination of personality clashes, business disagreements and it just wasn't fun anymore. Then I decided to leave because I couldn't take it anymore. For me, music has to be fun. I don't like working with them because they're not fun. That's all I can say. Maybe they have a different idea of fun than I do but I prefer a different style of working. I was very unhappy on all the samples that they were putting on my drums, they took away my human feelings. I didn't want that but they just basically said "you're the drummer - who cares ?". Who cares about what a drummer thinks ? I said OK, so I left. I became a musician because I want to express myself, I mean expression, not repression. When someone runs a band from a repressive dictarial standpoint like Yngwie Malmsteen for example, he's horrible to work in that situation, it's not fun and it's totally ridiculous.

You have worked with a lot of great guitarists : Axel Rudi Pell, Yngwie Malmsteen, Kiko Loureiro, Tony MacAlpine, Roland Grapow... What was your best collaboration and your worst one ?

I like working with Steve Lukather, it's very easy to work with Roland Grapow, Tony MacAlpine was also very easy to with with. Kiko is fun, we jam a lot, you can hear the result, he lets me play, we have a lot of fun together, we've a similar mentality. Again, Yngwie Malmsteen was really really "no fun", he wants everything the way he wants, very egotistical, very childish. He likes to think that he is a genious but he's not. It's always like with people who think they're genious, they walk around and tell everybody that they are smarter, I think that's very funny, that's ridiculous. Mozart was a genious, Beethoven also. When your music can live three hundred years, that separates the genious from the not genious. Perhaps, I shouldn't speak too soon. Maybe some people will listen to Yngwie Malmsteen's music three hundred years from now. What I don't like is, if someone is a very good musician, sometimes they think that this gives them the license or the right to treat anybody like an asshole and I really don't like that. I've met a lot of good musicians who treat everybody nice, then you have the best of both worlds : you have good music, good musicianship and a good feeling. And people can feel that ! People can feel that ugly egotistical bullshit.

You mean, like Axl Rose ?

Sure ! People like him, they can decide whether or not they wanna come on stage. But people paid for the ticket ! Don't be such a fuckin' pussy rockstar, go out and play. You know that there are a lot of people who work hard for living. I'm very lucky, I wake up every morning and I know I can play my drums for living, it's a gift, it's not a right. I don't like these people who have this ego, some people like that because they think "this guy is a rockstar because he's such an asshole". I don't like it ! I won't work with this kind of people anymore, I spent 2 years with Yngwie. In defense of Yngwie, I have to say that sometimes he was nice to me, he let me do a drum solo but it was a hard 2 years and I'm glad that I got through it, I will never work with him again ! (Laughs) I prefer working in McDonalds before I play drums for this guy again and I'm not joking (Laughs)

Can you present us your new album SinFonica ?

It's an eleven songs record. Before, I played fusion music, I like fusion music. In certain parts of the world, some people still like this kind of 70s fusion music, I grew up with Jeff Beck, I still think it's cool, I like all that. I wanted to play fusion but it doesn't seem that people are still interested in that. This kind of instrumental fusion style doesn't work anymore. Maybe it'll comeback in a while. I did two records of this fusion music, that was very hard. Then, I started thinking "What can I do ?", I wanted to do something to celebrate my fifty years birthday and I thought "What if I play along to classical music ?", it's instrumental music, it's challenging, it's beautiful. I could have played something very complicated and very obscure. But I decided to take the most famous classical pieces I could find. These are eleven hits, everybody knows these songs. For example, everybody knows the William's Overture , you've heard it in commercials, you've heard it in cartoons. It's me playing drums on music that everybody knows, these are hits. Bigger hits than Lady Gaga will ever have, Lady Gaga's music won't be around three hundred years from now, I fuckin' hope not, I really hope not. For SinFonica, I financed the whole thing myself, I shot two videos for the project, it's fun.

On the latest Axel Rudi Pell DVD, we can you see you picking the microphone and singing some Sinatra stuff. Are you a fan ?

I love Frank Sinatra, I love everything that Frank Sinatra has done, I don't know why. When I was a kid, I loved it. When I grew up, I just realised it was really good music. I like good music, I don't care what it is : death metal, punk, I listen everything. But when it comes to big band swing music, Frank Sinatra is the king, there's only one Sinatra. It's like Elvis, there won't ever be another Elvis.

In your whole career, which records are you the most proud of ?

I have to say the last record I just made with Tarja, I really like working with her. I got a chance to play in a kind of rock/pop format, my drums sound very good, the songs are very good. And I'm also proud of my new record SinFonica. I think these are the 2 best things I've done recently.

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