Dan Pinto: Do you feel more prepared now working with the
Carl Palmer: Not more prepared, what we want to go out and show them
because we sound so big now.
Dan Pinto: As a 3 piece you mean.
Carl Palmer: As a band, yeah because of MIDI. I mean we've got MIDI on
the bass guitar, the drums, everything, my grandmother, you
know it's like(Laughing). The band sounds huge!
I mean so the orchestra is just for the hell of it. We don't
actually need them but it's just for a little spice. I mean when you think about it, the
Atlantic years, rock documentary, the live album and we have some
studio material ready, we've entered into it really as part 2 of the life of
Emerson, Lake & Palmer. We just had to stop for 10
Lydia Defretos: Im sure people have asked you, are you going to stay
together, I mean this is not just, you know...
Carl Palmer: Yeah, I have finished my commitments with Asia. I recorded
the album, it's just been number 1 in Japan. I was actually
doing the 2 albums at the same time and when they wanted to
tour, I couldn't tour so they've now got a new drummer. Steve Howe
will be playing guitar.
Dan Pinto: Who is the new drummer for Asia?
Carl Palmer: Trevor Thornton, he's from a band called "Second Nation",
they're like a disco rock band. Quite good. John Wetton is out
again, he's left again. They've got a guy named
John Payne on Bass.
Dan Pinto: What happened with John Wetton?
Carl Palmer: I think he just wanted to concentrate on
Dan Pinto: It was his choice?
Carl Palmer: Yeah, really.
Dan Pinto: What became of Robert Berry from "3"
Carl Palmer: Basically after that tour we did, Keith didn't really want
to pursue that project any further. Robert is self-sufficient
anyway, he has a studio in San Jose and he makes an incredible living
writing ad works for radio and local people.
Dan Pinto: Emerson and Berry, did they get along
Carl Palmer: Oh, yeah, well they're both keyboard players you see.
Robert's father has got one of the biggest piano shops in San Jose,
something like 400 pianos just for rental, that
kind of place, you know. But they hit it off big
Dan Pinto: You keep in touch with Robert?
Carl Palmer: I spoke to Robert about 3 months ago. He called me up to
tell me that he just bought a new Ferrari if you want to
Dan Pinto: I know back in 1977 you would keep yourself in shape with
Karate. Now with this new tour, what are you doing to keep yourself
Carl Palmer: Kind of laying in bed longer(Laughing). Im 42 now, so it's
hard really to, you know. The Karate thing is OK, because I have a
license to teach. I never went for the second
degree. I could have done it, I just never bothered. The last time I
did some teaching was about 3 years ago. I cracked my toe across the joint on a big
one and it kind of hurt me for a while and my finger popped out
again. Basically I can't really participate in any sort of like club
Dan Pinto: You've got a Black belt though
Carl Palmer: I've got my first degree, I got that at Tokyo university,
that was no problem. But I just couldn't pursue it to a level that I
wanted to. I started to when I was like 24. And
I've just got too much to lose, I really enjoy playing. And I've got
a little bit of pain, a bit of rheumatism. What happens is that it's the ones like the Brown
belts that they don't pull punches and they hit you, they kick you
and your done. That's it. You don't get hurt by someone thats the same
level as you. There's the first degree and second degree Black belt.
It's the ones under that have got something to prove, you know, so
your the one that catches it. So, I can't do that. What I'm into now
and have been very successful at it for 2 years that I've been doing
it, I Fence.
Dan Pinto: Really?!
Carl Palmer: Yeah. And I got a Bronze for the Nationals in Spain. I got a
Bronze medal. To enter into it, qualifying as it were. Then you
have to go against the whole of Spain, I just
went for the bottom half(Laughing)
Dan Pinto: What got you into Fencing?
Carl Palmer: I've always wanted to do that to tell you the truth. I went
to an exhibition once and saw these Hungarians. They're great saber
fighters and I said I have to have a go at
that. I like anything one on one. You know, I'm not an aggressive
person, don't get me wrong but I enjoy that, you know. Because it's just like chess, you
know. My reflexes are quick and I manage to obtain a high sort of
level of skill very quickly.
Lydia Defretos: I'm not surprised with the drumming.
Carl Palmer: It's kind of surprising because there's another guy who's
really, really good, Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron
Maiden. He's big time.
Lydia Defretos: He's a fencer? Is that what you call
Carl Palmer: Yeah, He Fences. He does foil, the small one, very dainty.
He goes off to Germany and he stays in hotels for 2 or 3 months
training with the local people. It's a great
sport. It's very, very English, you know. I don't think that there's
a fencing school in New York. I don't know, maybe. I know there's one in California, I went
to one there.
Dan Pinto: How's the equipment changed from the old ELP in terms to
what your doing today. Obviously MIDI is a big part of
Carl Palmer: Well I'm using a unit with a 10 megabyte memory. I've got 2
of those. I use one as a backup.Ive got roughly twelve programs
that I got through in a
Dan Pinto: Are these special effects programs?
Carl Palmer: They're complete programs, like for Black Moon, thats a
complete drum program where like the bass drum is 3 sampled
Dan Pinto: Are you combining acoustic sounds and electronic
Carl Palmer: There all electronic sounds, but some of them are acoustic
sounds but they're samples. And then I layer them in with
electronic sounds. My attitude is that I've
tried to approach this situation as if I'd never stopped with
Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Because we've always rode the bull by the horns with technology and
just kept it on the edge all the time. So basically, I just bought
myself whatever it was, I think it was 25,000 dollars worth of
equipment, the best. I've got all of the channels that automatically
change and the EQ is reset on every program. I've got a Midigator foot pedal
that goes up and down through MIDI so that every time I change a
channel, all of the EQ's are automatically reset. So what I send them
out front is exactly what they need to hear. It's all taken from the
record. Once the record was mixed, I then took all the samples again
of how they were affected for the snare and for the toms and for the
Dan Pinto: Now in the studio, that's one way, but when your playing in
a venue, each venue changes the sound. Is that a problem?
Carl Palmer: No, it's not. Because basically what I will send is
something that is very, very close and then he's just got to adjust
it to the building. The overall sort of sonic sound that he's picking
up will be quite different, and every sampleI have is with and
effect and without an effect. So I can actually like build a sound into the hall
and it wouldn't be a problem.
Dan Pinto: On the acoustic drums themselves, obviously you have an
Carl Palmer: Yes
Dan Pinto: What are you using for triggers to trigger the
Carl Palmer: There's a couple of things at the moment. I been using the
old, we call them trixters, I think over hear you call them "Drastic
Plastic". It's like Mickey Mouse really, a
little thing you silicon onto the drum head.
Dan Pinto: Like a little Radio Shack part.
Carl Palmer: Yeah. Then there's the new Yamaha one, I'm using that at the
moment and that's OK, but then the Scandinavians the D
Drum People, they put out another new one. I
just saw it down here in Sam Ash. I just sent a fax to the chap that
does my equipment, I said you better get this for me to have a look at. Since I made
the album, there's been a development within the technology for the
electric percussion. I got these what they call ME 35T's right, and
this is what this does, this enables you to hit the drum and trigger
any sound you want. I mean anything! And not just a drum sound. It's
fantastic. And I bought 4 of these thinking well, I need 2 and I
have 2 spare. You never know, right?(Laughs) And like about a week ago, Yamaha
brought out this DTs 70 or whatever the name and it's got all these
extra parameters on it, it's this, it's that.
Dan Pinto: I know how it is with the equipment's technology that
changes so fast and nowadays it's like every
Carl Palmer: It's frightening. I know that when I'm on tour, something
else will come and I just won't have the time to update, you know?
Thats the problem. But as long as I can produce
the sound that we've created on record. And to tell you the truth, I
have two people now. I can't set them up anyway.(Laughing) I'm no good at
Lydia Defretos: No good with kid's toys
Carl Palmer: I'm OK with doll's houses, I've had a bit of practice with
that. With my daughter, you know. I know what every machine does,
but I just can't sit there and bang the drum
and you know. I just got a guy, a programmer full time. I tell him
what I want. I say "This is wrong, we've got to get that sample sorted out, da, da, da"
Here's the list, I'll be back tomorrow(Laughs). Because otherwise,
what you do is you lose sight of the real thing, the music. And that's
why Mark Mancina produces the albums. We had to have someone. Not
just for me, but for all three of us. The relationship with him is as
follows... We heard a piece of music called "Burning Bridges" which
is a great piece of music, we said, we have to meet this chap. He's
European, right? Lives in California, well we all make
mistakes(laughing), we'll still meet him anyway. Wonderful guy. Really understanding
and extremely knowledgeable about Emerson, Lake & Palmer music
and what we've done. He's a great keyboard player, a great programmer.
He worked with Yes on the last couple of albums programming some
tracks and did some singing, a good singer. We're like, Where
has he been all of our lives, you know, we need him. Fit like a
glove. So we said look, would you like to produce the album? So he took care of
the day to day sort of dirty jobs as it were in the studio. We were
completely freed up so as to keep the creativity up really high. I
personally still take an active part in the business, knowing what
we're doing and how we're doing. I'm very interested in that because I
learned alot through the Asia years. But in the studio, I just want
to play, I don't want to know, I mean I'll read the manual and know what the gadget
can do, but you can work it. I know what to ask for but I don't want
to sit there and do button pushing.
Dan Pinto: Alot of musicians now are coming in with all this new stuff
to learn and it's taking it's toll on the
Carl Palmer: It's hard. Do you know what the problem is? Over the ages we
lost, I personally think, it happened with Asia too, we lost a
certain amount of identity. Because most groups
sounded the same, manufactured. Most records got to sound too
corporate. Like in the 80's you couldn't really put on the radio and hear bands like
a new band lets say like a Jethro Tull or a new band like a Led
Zeppelin, you know what I mean because the identity had been smoothed out.
It was hard and I think that was alot to do with technology. I think
that in the 90s there's a new trend of actually playing the stuff. As
well as using. But we don't use any sequences. It's all played and I
think that's important really. And I think there's a new level now of
people who can really play. That know how to use the stuff but don't
want to be controlled by it. (Keith Emerson walks into the room) And
here he is(laughs) and I'll leave you with Keith.
(Click HERE for Keith Emerson's