Phosphorous Heads

Lit by Atma Anur

Category Archives: THOUGHTS ON LIFE


It doAtma Anur At Workes not happen every day, to be able to interview a world-class musician such as Atma Anur. The British drummer who holds  participation in more than one hundred and forty records, a real war machine that moves nimbly between Latin rhythms, jazz, hip hop, rock and metal. One of the heroes of the extraordinary season of Mike Varney’s Shrapnel Records, a breeding ground of talented guitarists from the 80’s to present day. Atma proves to be a musician that is open to ever more collaborations, one that is always evolving, passionate and generous, even for something like this interview. He has also worked in recent years with some interesting Italian guitarists like Steve Saluto, Marco Sfogli and Luca Zamberlin. I purposely left out any reference to his history and his records, I mention the names of Richie Kotzen and Billy Sheehan, just to give you some clues …


1) Atma, tell us how it was in NYC during the 70’s, both musically and personally. What are your memories of the “vibrations” of those days?

NYC is a magical place in general. Creativity and Passion are everywhere you look. I remember feeling like anything was possible, and I was constantly excited about life. I have rarely had that kind of feeling anywhere else in the world.

The best part about spending my teen years there would be the musical and cultural diversity that is a normal everyday part of living in NYC. I had the chance to see and listen to all kinds of music and dance, performed by the original artists, all the time. Latin, Jazz, Funk, Rock, African, Indian and much, much more.

I also began my formal studies there, attending the Manhattan School of Music and also frequenting the Lincoln Centre Music library.

Playing on the streets of mid-town and down-town Manhattan in different band configurations (from duets to 6-piece Jazz groups) was also a huge learning experience for me in the late 70’s. I met and jammed with some of the best musicians I have ever encountered in that situation.

2) In 1981 you moved to San Francisco. What differences did you find living on the West Coast?

The West Coast of the States is a very beautiful place. Lots of culture and music; and the music industry is quite alive there as well. The people seem to have a different approach to art and music than those on the East Coast though. Both coasts have a lot to offer (as does the whole United States) in terms of being an artist.

Atma AnurI was very fortunate to make some important connections during my years living there.  I had the biggest gigs of my career on the West Coast so far. I also made many dear life-long friends living there.

3) After playing and studying jazz for many years, you worked with Mike Varney, and his team of virtuoso guitarists, for Shrapnel Records. How did that situation come about, and how would you evaluate that experience? 

I began as a rock player. My first experience in listening and trying to play drums was with the music of artists like Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and Deep Purple (although my earliest memories of hearing music were Reggae and Soul music). Then I went on to learning the music of artists like Yes, Genesis, ELP and other popular Prog bands of those days.

I got more into Jazz after hearing Tony Williams, Chick Corea and also The Mahavishnu Orchestra. That led me to listening to Miles Davis and John Coltrane… and the rest is history!

I realized that I wanted to do this (drumming) professionally and needed to really study music. That is when I started looking at music colleges and got my first private teacher. I began playing in church at a young age and also had my first band in NY at about 12 years old.

I first met Mike Varney through my relationship with Peter Marrino (the original Cacophony singer), Peter introduced me to Mike, in 1885, (I had been playing lots of musical styles in many bands between 81 and that point) when he asked me to join his band Lemans, (which was at that time signed to Columbia Records), Mike was their manager.

Soon after that meeting Mike told me about his then new project called Shrapnel Records, and that he wanted to introduce me to some artists he was thinking about doing something with.

As an evaluation of the situation I would say that life is quite complex and that things happen as they are supposed to happen. I am very thankful for all that has happened in my life. Living in NYC and San Francisco were a big part of my musical and personal development.

4) Who is the guitar player that impressed you the most during that period?

For me Tony MacAlpine is the most impressive musician I met through my relationship with Shrapnel Records. That is not to say that people like Jason Becker or Richie Kotzen are any less talented (everyone that Mike Varney chooses to work with is an exceptional talent)… but you asked about who impressed me THE MOST.

Tony is an all round exceptional musician, he sings, writes and plays many instruments on the highest possible level… I only know a handful of others in that category.

5) Here I have the first album from Greg Howe. I was only 16 when it was released, but I loved that album! You were the drummer, what do you remember about the recordings, and about Greg and the amazing Billy Sheehan? 

Atma AnurThe situations with those Shrapnel recordings were all just about the same. Very creative and very exciting. Mike is a true visionary and always brought the best out of the people he enlisted to make those records. Mike always worked very fast, and gave us all a short time to come up with the most killer music we had in us at the time.

Meeting Greg was excellent, he is a calm but intense musician with a huge musical vocabulary. His groove and approach to what he is doing on the guitar is really original and inspiring. Greg is simply excellent.

Billy is an awesome person and a killer musician.  I learned a lot from the time we spent together about “sitting” in a phat rock groove. I was most inspired by Billy’s tone, and his ability to play chops that retained the groove that they were a part of. That is an unusual thing for many rock oriented bass players. Both Greg and Billy are very supportive musicians, that makes creativity the next natural step.  They both have a very natural approach to time, I mean odd meters and so on. That record was great fun to make.

6) I’m a great fan of Ritchie Kotzen’s “Mother Head’s Family Reunion”  A wonderful album you made with him. What a fantastic record, isn’t it?

I made quite a few records with Richie and did loads of playing, jamming, writing, rehearsing, touring… the whole deal. Richie Kotzen was the person that I met through Mike Varney that I had the longest and most fruitful relationship with.

The Mother Head’s time was quite magical and lots of fun. Yes that record was awesome… but so are all the others we did together. We also toured with that band and that music quite a bit. The experience of making that CD was quite special also. We had a good budget from Geffen Records so we recorded tracks in quite a few of L.A.’s best recording studios… another great learning experience. Richie is an especially talented person and a good friend.

7)  I have a good friend in Krakow, Poland where you live now. What can you tell us about the music scene in Krakow?

The Polish music scene is just as different to the music scene in the States as is the cultural difference between Poland and The United States. Although the same basic genres of music are present there, the approach and emphasis are completely different.

There is a great love of Jazz in Poland, and some great Jazz clubs and music schools in Krakow it self.  Krakow is also a very beautiful European city with a great cultural history, a very nice city to live in.

There are many excellent musicians of all kinds in Poland., I have played with many on tour and also taught at music schools and given quite a few clinics there. My focus remains mostly outside of that scene however.

8) Do you have any special preparation before you perform? Or any particular method to help your concentration? Or do you follow the flow of your instincts and feelings at the time? 

old school atma pearlsI am a believer in good preparation, and lots of study and practice. One needs to have goals and work toward making them reality… both musically and personally.

As for shows I want to know the music well, know my part in making it a worthwhile experience for the listener, and bring something new and exciting to the moment.

Concentration is something that comes from focus and practice. It can be acquired and increased through practice.

Being in the moment is just as important as preparation in order to be true to the music. Instincts are gained with experience, both in playing and in listening.

9) I know you’ve worked with Luke Zamberlin , Italian guitarist of great talent. How did you get to work in Italy? It seems to me that it’s been a lot of fun playing and recording together. Italy is not a bad place to be, do you agree with me? 

Yes I do agree. I first played and recorded in Italy with Steve Saluto. We did 2 CDs together, with Marco Mendoza, Doug Wimbish and some other well known musicians. I was in Italy recording something for Steve with Piero Trevisan on one occasion, and after one of our sessions we went to a jam, and that is when I met Luca Zamberlin.

Luca and I stayed in contact and have been doing things on and off ever since. So far I have met some wonderful people and killer musicians in Italy (I should mention Marco Sfogli). I hope to continue to play there… and I love the food!

10) You’ have been a professional musician for a long time, and you have recorded an impressive number of albums, 142 by now. What prompted you to become a musician in the beginning? What were your motivations and your feelings about that?

I believe that music chooses those that are destined to express it. I’ve heard stories from my parents about my beating a small toy drum and dancing around from when I was 2 years old. They thought it was strange but also kind of wonderful.

As things progressed I found myself feeling a sense of personal responsibility toward music. It occurred to me that I had been given a gift and was supposed to put it to use. So I try to live up to the responsibility that music has chosen me to fulfil.

11) A typical but still important question, What is the most important advice for a drummer? Advice you would give to a beginner or a professional.

The most important single piece of advice I would give a drummer is that the MELODY is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE MUSIC.

With that in mind, learn your instrument and play musically with all your heart… all of the time.

12) I’m a bass player and a great lover of music of any kind. From heavy rock to David Bowie, from the amazing Bill Evans to Miles Davis (one of my faves is the In a Silent Way album). So, please suggest three records to learn something from, as a musician as well as a listener.

Impressions by John Coltrane

The Inner Mounting Flame by The Mahavishnu Orchestra

Sex Machine by James Brown

There are so many other records that I would suggest to anyone for listening, if one is looking for musical enlightenment and enjoyment… but you asked for only 3.

You’re right! I missed a great opportunity, next time I’ll be more careful. Thank so much for your kindness and availability, Atma. See you in Venice, I know for sure you’ll come back!


Check out Atma’s website for even more info, updates, music, videos and photos!

Interview published in Italian on Gene Master Volume on May 12th, 2014.


1. How did you get to know each other, and how did you come up with the idea of working together? 

Atma & Jani

ATMA: If I remember correctly, Jani contacted me on Facebook about the possibility of working on some of his (new) recordings. I had not yet met him but after listening to the things he sent me I thought it would be a cool collaboration (at this point I try to not play music that I don’t enjoy).

We spent a lot of time chatting, getting to know each other. We found we had many things in common and basically had a good time in conversation (his English is much better than he thinks… lol

Jani J. Szentkiralyi JANI: Well, back in 2010 I sent a demo of five songs to Mike Varney (Shrapnel Records) who replied and suggested to record the drums with Atma Anur. So I contacted Atma and sent him the songs, and from that point we started comunicating and systematically working on the songs and the musical ideas that came to us.

2. From which CDs did you know Atma before and which is your favorite one?

JANI: The first CD I heard on which Atma is drumming was Cacophony’s Speed Metal Symphony, and shortly after that Jason Becker’s Perpetual Burn. Both of these are reference CDs for me till today.

It is very hard to pick one, because Atma’s legacy is so wide after playing with so many artists. There are more than 140 CDs (Cacophony, Jason Becker, Tony MacAlpine, Greg Howe, Richie Kotzen …… to name a few) and all of them are outstanding, but for the sake of giving an answer I will pick the Cacophony and Jason Becker CDs because both of them are close to my musical taste and heart.

3. Atma, it seems that you like Hungarian musicians because you are working with two great Hungarian guitarists at the same time, with the same name. Is this a coincidence or something more?

ATMA: The fact that they have the same name is actually quite funny… to me

I like working with good musicians, it’s really as simple as that. I don’t actually care much where someone is from or whatever may or may not be going on with them… other than what the music sounds like.

Atma Anur

With that said, I will also say that I have found many great musicians (especially guitar players) in the Central and Eastern European area since leaving the States… and that’s quite cool I think. Jani and Janos are both talented cool people… so what’s not to like?

4.  How do you remember your first meeting with Jani, and what were your first impressions when you heard his music?

ATMA: We first met in person at the Marty Friedman show in Budapest back in 2011, lots of good fun. Jani showed me quite a lot of Budapest and we had a chance to hang with Marty as well. I made a few other new friends there on that trip as well. Atma & Jani

As for his music, I thought he sounded great, had a cool feel and an exciting vibe. I like playing good music, I love Progressive Rock and Fusion, and I saw an opportunity to play my style and have a good time doing it… Jani also thought that my style would fit his writing… so it was a good match.

JANI: LOL ……. there is always a smile on my face when I remember the moment I met Atma. Besides the awesome time we spent together at Marty Friedman’s gig in Budapest, and having the opportunity to hang with one of my favourite guitar players, Atma and I also started mixing our first recording,  Canon Rock, and I could tell that Atma is an ENERGY BOMB (literally). He is so disciplined that he shocked me (in a positive way). In those moments I realized that I was dealing with one of the best of the best. He is the guy who used to go to sleep the last, no matter what time it was when we went to sleep…and he woke up first (a funny story I remember is that we went home from Marty’s gig very late, I went to sleep but Atma was still doing  things, then I woke up in the morning to Atma was mixing his drum tracks ……. hahaha). In this short period of time we also became close friends, and this relationship is still the same till today.

5. Which are Jani’s most impressive skills? Is there anyone of your previous musical partners who is playing in a similar way to him?

Jani J. Szentkiralyi ATMA: The best thing about Jani is his personality, he is simply a great person. He is quite serious about music and about life in general… I have a lot of respect for those things.

Jani shares a particular quality with most of the exceptional musicians that I have played with, that is Joy. Expressing the joy that is at the core of music is a special but simple element that I find in the best of the best…

I also find Jani to be quite open minded, besides the fact that he is a talented musician.

6. You are very busy and I’m sure you get invitations all the time to take part in various musical endeavors. How do you find time to do such projects and how do you decide to take part in such sessions?

Atma Anur ATMA: As I said before I am always into playing good music, my decisions are based on the music first and the relationship next. I am, and have been a working professional for many years, there is always time for good music. If I like the sound and the vibe of the music I will most likely want to play…

7.  How do you write the songs, how can we imagine the process?

JANI: We started with the songs which were included on my demo but I also shared with Atma all of my musical ideas, and from that point we shared our thoughts and vision. Actually Atma changed almost everything rhythmically….. lol. He’s thoughts and ideas are so brilliant and inspiring.(as we used to say jokingly: These Berklee guys think musically different ……lol)

So, we dont have a specific way of working, we simply just share ideas, thoughts and so on but, I need to mention here that Atma is taking part in the composition section too. On all of the songs he is a co-writer.

8. How would you sum up the essence of the music?  

ATMA: From the drumming side of things I can say that these songs have the groove and the creativity that anyone that likes my style will recognize and enjoy…

JANI: I’m sure that those who like guitar music and especially the ’shred’ style will love it. I feel that sometimes it’s a bit “progressive” influenced, sometimes neo-classical but we also have slow, melancholic lines and parts.

9.  How did Piero Trevisan come into the picture as a bass player?

ATMA: I met Piero when I first met Steve Saluto (Italian guitarist/composer). I worked with Piero on at least 3 recording sessions and also some live shows.

Jani and I were working with a few bass players on the recordings and I also suggested that Jani check out Piero for some possible gigs… So far everything sounds and feels great. Piero has a talent for finding the most groovy simple parts that fit the vibe very well.

10. What we  need to know about the upcoming EP? Will there be a sequel, any concerts?

JANI: The EP will contain 5 songs and it looks like it will be released by a Hungarian label. Sequel? Definitely. Yes, we want to take those songs to the stage, and continue recording.

ATMA: I hope to record a full CD’s worth of songs and do live shows of this music…

11.  What other projects are you working on?

ATMA: Right now I am working on a bunch of things with some European and South American musicians, I am also trying to finish my first solo CD and am writing for my second one… there is a lot to be done still to get these finished!

I am also putting finishing touches on my Theoretical book on rhythmic understanding… I try to stay busy being creative… I want to leave as much of what God has given me to do as possible after I have had my time in this life.

JANI: Right now I’m not working in other projects. I’m doing some studio work, for example I recorded guitars on two songs for Alina Alens (Romanian pop-rock artist).

12.  Which are the best three albums of all times? Atma Anur

 JANI: Speed Metal Symphony by Cacophony

A Dramatic Turn of Events by Dream Theater

1987 by Whitesnake

ATMA: Impressions by John Coltrane

Inner mounting Flame by the Mahavishnu Orchestra

Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix

13. What is the meaning of life?

ATMA: Beauty, Love, Loss… Peace, Anger, Music… Passion and Forgiveness.

To understand time and the basic human condition that we ALL share.

To make something useful of what is presented to you, and to express gratitude and joyfulness in every situation.

Jani J. Szentkiralyi

Life is about relationship… to one another, and to God.

JANI: Atma’s answer is so wide ….. so all I can say is that I identify myself with his answer.

Atma Anur’s Friend & Fellow Musician, Will Calhoun, on Breaking Boundaries & Stereotypes in Rock Music

Atma Anur & Will Calhoun From the very beginning,Living Colour broke boundaries and erased stereotypes. If known only for their breakthrough single, “Cult of Personality,” Living Colour’s place in rock ‘n’ roll history would be secure, but the band’s career is much deeper than that.  From a tour stop in Raleigh, North Carolina, and in anticipation of Saturday night’s show at the Kessler Theater, drummer Will Calhoun talked with DC9 about the band’s 25-year anniversary.

This is the 25th anniversary of the band. How has the music business changed since you first got together?

It has changed a lot. We don’t have CD shops. We used to go out and look at albums, at sleeves. Now, you download songs for 99 cents. You can download songs for free. It can be a nightmare with all this technology. Luckily, with Living Colour, we have a very unique live show. It can be improvised in order to create a unique vibe. Music is very immediate now. You can record a show and then get back to your hotel room and the whole show is edited and up online. The people make comments and they judge you. Technology has made it easier to get information out to people and for an artist that is a beautiful thing.

Why do you think vinyl is making a comeback?

It’s the same reason why people might want to drive a standard car over an automatic. Technology doesn’t change the nation. It’s a new way to do things, but not everybody chooses to cross the street. Some people don’t like cell phones or laptops. There are people who don’t use computers and still have answering machine. I have to say that we physiologically are pretty germane to the sound of vinyl. We both give off very similar vibrations. People react to the sound of vinyl. It’s a whole different sound. It’s a combination of things. My generation really enjoyed vinyl, purchasing it, taking a look at the covers. I am from the Bronx and from the whole generation of scratching. When I see people now scratching on a laptop, I know that is not the same art. I think there is an academic response to the vinyl and how it sounds.

You went to the Berklee College of Music. Is it better to be a trained musician or come at it organically like punk bands do?

My way is to be as skilled as possible. I love classical music. I love jazz. I like to read music. Punk was about feeling. They made a commotion. The music is created out of how you feel. To me, there is nothing wrong with that. It comes down to how you want to express yourself. I feel like you do whatever is best to do your job. I think a punk could be just as good of a musician as someone who is trained. Expression is the important thing.

You have played with an amazing array of artists. What was your impression of B.B. King?

I was honored to be in that session. B.B. is a genius. He was always very respectful. I was trying to make everything fit and B.B. said, “Young man, when I turn around and tell you it’s not happening, then it’s not happening.” It was an amazing session and B.B. took it really easy with me.

What about Herb Albert?

Herb was fantastic. He allowed me to produce and write songs for him. I learned many things from Herb. He has a very interesting background. Herb really surprised me with all the techniques that he could play. There are a million things I learned from him. It was an absolute education to be around him.

What about Public Enemy?

That’s one of my favorite bands in the world. They were friends of ours. I loved their music and their message. The production and sampling were amazing. They did some amazing things with sounds and samples. They are like the John Coltrane of rap to me.

There aren’t a lot of African American rock bands. Do you think the rock industry suffers from an inherent racism?

Yes, it’s because of the musicians and it’s because of the market. Not enough folks are aware of the history of music, unaware of the influence of the blues. It’s a simple yes. There are plenty of black musicians out there who play rock music. We’ve met them over the years. The marketing and signing and presentation of it are still segregated in a lot of ways. A band like the Bad Brains should be larger than they are. There are people still writing about the Bad Brains. It was shocking for me, going on the road in America in 1988 and meeting all these black kids who gave us tapes and CDs of their music. It’s been 20 years and we’ve been to France and Germany and there are still people who can’t accept the fact that black musicians play rock ‘n’ roll. It is a fact. Look it up. There are two sides to that, though. Some African Americans had a hard time identifying with rock ‘n’ roll. I had a conversation with B.B. King about that.

Living Colour’s big break was going on tour with the Rolling Stones and Guns ‘N Roses in 1990. Did you have interactions with Jagger and Axl Rose?

The crowds were amazing and the Stones were complete gentlemen. You’ve probably heard and most folks know about the interactions with Axl. Personally, it was very colorful, but the rest of the band was cool. Axl has come out and apologized about how he was at that time. Charlie Watts still calls me and I’ve played on a couple of tracks with him. I’ve played on Ronnie Wood’s solo album.

It’s been several years since a new Living Colour album came out. Are you working on a new effort?

Right as we speak, we are five or six songs into a new album. The stuff is coming out great. I think something is going to come out next year, hopefully by Christmas time. We have a very busy schedule at the moment. But I think the new album is going to sound awesome.

Vernon Reid was listed as No. 66 on Rolling Stone magazine’s top guitarist of all time. Should he have been higher?

Yes, I think he deserves higher. If you are asking me straight up, I would have to say yes. But 66 is a nice number. People recognize Vernon as a very unique player who came from a harmolodic school of playing. He has remarkable abilities. He does deserve higher, but it’s nice to recognized at any number.

Are there rock drummers you admire?

John Bonham. Buddy Miles was one of my favorites. Charlie Watts certainly. Terry Bozzio is also amazing.


 Atma Anur writes about his staggering recording experience starting in his teens until now. Read on to find out the story of his collaboration with Bert Elliot for the newly released “Asylum in Playland” CD (2011). Below you can listen to an “Atma Anur” signature re-make of the Billy Cobham classic, “Stratus, from the same album.  


Things have changed so much in the past 10 years. In general, and for me personally, in the way I interface with the music industry. I feel like those 10 years have progressed in a far more different and varied way than the 10 years that passed before them.

Most people, maybe musicians, might know me best as the Shrapnel Records’ ‘house drummer’ of the 80s and 90s, having recorded with many of Mike Varney’s most influential musicians (Tony MacAlpine, Jason Becker, and Greg Howe, to name a few). Some may know me as that guy that won the biggest drum audition of the mid 80s… then seemed to disappear from mass media as quickly as he appeared in it. Fewer people, other than the so-called ‘shredders’, know that Atma Anur has been playing drums, with virtually no break, for 40 years, 27 of those years as a professional drummer, with 128 released CDs to date, in just about every genre being released.

After attending the Berklee College of Music I ventured to California, where most of the afore mentioned CDs were recorded, along with hundreds more un-released recordings. After living and working in San Francisco and Los Angeles for 25 years, playing thousands of live shows, tours, recordings and teaching engagements… I made my move to Europe, where I am originally from.

I was asked to submit this blog post focusing on one of the 25 CDs I have recorded since leaving the US in the late 2000s, Bert Elliot’s “Asylum in Playland”. As has been the bulk of my recorded work, this is an instrumental fusion CD that includes beautiful original funky, bluesy music and a couple of originally interpreted remakes of two well known classics.

The story of this CD, and the story of my relationship to Bert is an example of what I mentioned at the beginning of this personal account… the vast changes that have introduced themselves to the business of making music in the past 10 years.

I first met Bert Elliot in 1979 in NYC. He is, and has been, a close friend of another wonderful musician and personal friend of mine, bass player Frank Di Ganci. Frank and I were in one of my first commercial metal bands, Alien, at a time when I was still attending Berklee in Boston, and becoming the ‘fusion head’ that I am today. Frank invited his ‘bluesy, Beck-influenced’ guitar playing friend to jam with us one night at Om Studios in mid-town Manhattan. That was a very cool evening… and I never saw or thought of Bert again.

Once I left California and arrived in Europe, my home town of London first, I found myself in the well-known situation of virtually starting over again. After having been in London for 6 months I was asked to do a month-long tour in Poland with another very old ‘euro-transplant’ friend of mine from San Francisco. This tour was my personal discovery moment of the artful city of Krakow, Poland, where I currently live. This move is what really gave rise to my awareness of the Internet in general, and the social network revolution to be specific.

As most modern creative people have done, I became involved in social networking with Myspace, Facebook, and the personal web site frenzy that is basic to daily life in the mid to late 2000s. In doing this, I also discovered the great many fans and ‘Atma appreciaters’ that have exsisted for many years, that I never had the pleasure of meeting personally. At the same time I also discovered what was for me a very new idea… home recording. Well, in my case it actually became ‘home mixing’.

After working with some of the best producers in the business in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles (while recording for various major record labels), I also entered the production game just after 2000, upon my return to San Francisco from Los Angeles, where I lived while working with Richie Kotzen who was on Geffen Records, and DH Peligro on Alternative Tentacles Records (to name a few of those I worked with while living in LA).

Some of my first production experience came working at Hyde Street Studios with some very talented Bay area vocal artists, me working with loads of vintage outboard equpment and mixing on Neve boards with flying faders. With the move to Europe, and the inevitable ‘progress’ in technology, I found myself working at smaller studios with DAW? /Daw based recording equipment. This was truly a revelation to me… I am a drummer after all, and I found a new and exciting possible interface for my creativity… the Internet!

The combination of computer-based recording in a high quality format, and the new social media awareness of the general public made what was in my day an exclusive ‘club’ with very specific rules of entry, into a wide open field of musical and creative possibilities. The Internet also openned up the ‘meeting’ waves to include a ‘San Francisco drummer’ to play music with a guitar player currently living in Indonesia! and so on… It is through my new-found ‘social network refferal service’ that I met, for the first time I thought, Bert Elliot.

Over the past few years I have become yet again a member of the next generation of sidemen… the ‘Internet side man’, to be exact. I am connecting with musicians from all over the world and collaborating with them to realize their musical dreams in much the same way I did for decades while living in California, only these days we almost never actually meet! Bert was a musician that contacted me on line through a social network site. We spoke, hit it off through the written word, and shared some music with each other. Soon the plan for his next CD came into the picture and we were off on the adventure that became “Asylum in Playland”.

Recording instrumental music has become quite natural for me, at least as a drummer. After working with Mike Varney for many years and being produced by Steve Fontano,  I learned how to get creative and exciting performances from myself… quickly and to the point. Working, playing, and recording with people like Greg Allman, Bill Sommers, Richie Kotzen, Carlos Guitarlos and so many other vocally oriented artists, really focused me as a musician on playing correctly in a ‘song’ context as opposed to a ‘compositional’ context (a distinction that I think is important to understand). Bert’s music really bridges the gap between the instrumental and the vocal orientation, and this is what attracted me to his writing first.

Bert Elliot is a soulful musican and has also turned into a good friend. His demos (which included awesome self-programmed drums) convinced me that this could be a great ‘old school’ style musical adventure. When he suggested doing a re-make of the Billy Cobham classic, “Stratus”… I was fully hooked.

Many people that know me, know that the Mahavishnu Orchestra is one of my very most favourite bands, and drummer/composer Billy Cobham has been a great influence on my playing since I first heard him in 1973. I feel honoured and have what I see as a great responsibility to respect Billy’s great contribution to modern drumming. I have been working on swinging and re-grouping 32nd notes and using that as a basis for cut time grooves for many years now, and this is the direction I went in for the solo section in our version of that awesome classic.

Pairing up with my old school mate and virtuoso musician Stu Hamm was another wonderful aspect of being a part of this new CD project. Stu and I have done some other recordings together, mostly durring his time living in the Bay area. This was the first situation where Stu and I just grooved together in support of melodies, rather than playing more complex parts as an instrumental ensemble… what we mostly did in the past. Stu and I will also be the rhythm section for the upcoming Jason Becker’s Not Dead Yet Festival in Amsterdam on November 13, 2011… an evening including many great guitar players from all around the world (Guthrie Govan, Mattias Eklundh, Kiko Loureiro and more).

18 of the 25 CDs that I have recorded so far while living in Europe have been initiated due to social networking, and file sharing. It entails me renting studio time, recording my drum tracks and preparing them in my home studio. Then sending the wav files off around the world to be included in CDs released around the world, by artists that I may never meet. I hope you get a chance to check out Bert Elliot’s “Asylum in Playland”, and I look forward to where our new technology takes music in the future.