There have been relatively few so-called Super Groups in the progressive music field over the years – however we now have a chance to see the genuine article in performance at various locations. It’s not everyday that star musicians and singers from the likes of Supertramp, Jethro Tull, and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band among others convene on the stage ready to deliver the cream of their music. Enter sonic alchemist Mandoki and his colourful and fearless project Mandoki Soulmates. Here Glenn and I ask the ace drummer and band leader about his music and influences and the project itself. Enjoy his responses and book your tickets now!
Supplied By Artist
What gear do you currently use for live performances? Which is the newest item and which the most essential?
My kit is very special. Actually its a combination of a traditional Jazz drum kit from Gretsch and a very exotic collection of precision items from all around the world I found during my trips and concerts. So I can play standard drums and also very experimental percussion sounds.
Which two things have you learned NEVER to do on stage?
Wearing sunglasses. I experienced, that you can do everything on stage as longs as it is honest. The audience is really appreciating if they have the feeling knowing you and that that’s not only show but really your passion. To be on stage is also a responsibility. I am always very thankful that the audience is coming in to my life and letting me into theirs. And their love of music prepares our performances. I always feel that the audience is sharing the vision and it is an honor and privilege to communicate through music. So the key element of benign on stage is authenticity and cherish the moment that the room is filled with the love of music.
Name a track – any artist or genre – with a memorable drum introduction
I would like to name Ginger Baker who was inspiring me as a very young kid. In his live interpretation of great Cream classics where he love to lead into.
Suggest an acoustic gem that bears repeated listening. (Artist / title / source album)
There are a lot of songs of the first three Sting records. The deep intellectuality on the lyrical side, very poetical and outstanding musicality. Sting is one of those incredible great musicians shaping our times and creating fundamentals like a generation earlier Ian Anderson was doing.
Which is your favourite Supertramp album? For which tracks &/or solo’s?
Breakfast in America is the one I loved the most. John Helliwell showed us with his incredible musicality and his signature melodies, that rock music can be played with a saxophone.
When was the first Jethro Tull performance that you saw and where was it?
The first time I saw Ian Anderson on stage it was in my hometown in Munich around 30 years ago. It was an acoustic tour as I remember. I was really great and impressing. Ian is always been an inspiration since I was a young teenager.
Its an honor and privilege to call him a friend and that we are recording and sharing the stage for over 20 years now. As I was living behind the iron curtain and I was the proud owner of a fourth generation mono tape copy of „A Passion Play“ I was the king. And even the girls were cueing up to have a listening session in our teenage rooms.
To what extent do you listen to Peter Gabriel? Any favourite tracks of albums?
Peter Gabriel is one of a kind. One of this outstanding artists who had a lot more to say than most of the recording artists. I always listen to every and each tune of him back and forward and repeatedly. My friend Phil Collin, who I had the privilege to work with, is so much different. Both are geniuses in their own kind. I would wish, that they would work together again.
What prompted the name for the band?
Actually our band was called Man Doki similar to Santana or Bon Jovi.
And as we were just looking for the best name for our record back in 2002 and we already had a great selection of 7, my dear friend Al Di Meola said, he had another one. So the title of the album became „Soulmates“. It was very typical. As musicians, we are connected from soul to soul so that it was obvious that we call ourselves „Soulmates“
How did you come to meet Udo Lindenberg? I always thought he was Germany’s Kevin Ayers!
Udo Lindenberg was one of the first concerts I ever visited in Germany. I did’t understand a word, but I felt the passion and the message. Udo stands for a tolerant society in Germany and he was fighting for the reunion of east and west Germany.
So this message and belonging for freedom and free thinking connects us.
Rock music is only important when it becomes relevant in society. Udo’s music and great personality stands for the values we were fighting for behind the iron curtain.
Any thoughts on the musicians of &/or the music of Soft Machine?
As I heard soft machine the first time, it was great inspiration. I loved it.
Which of your own songs or pieces show you at your most a/ reflective ? b/ lively?
There are some very personal songs, like „Last Day Of Sommer“, „Where I Was Born“ , „Am I Strong Enough“ or „Last Day Of Summer“. These are personal „autobiographical-written“ songs. I just wrote them down and created the music for it.
Some others are very special for me because of their social relevance and musical aspects like „Haunted“, „Aquarelle“ or „Danced Trough My Dreams“ „Life Is like a Strange Song“… So honestly it is very difficult to point out one or two songs because we put only songs we really love on all this Man Doki Soulmates records and I think it is really representing what we are trying to achieve. Reflecting our souls.
Has your music been used in TV or Cinema productions?
As I am not only a musician but a producer as well, I have produced a lot of music for TV and Cinema. For a long time we did the German productions of the soundtracks for Disney. For example Tarzan, Mulan, Atlantis, Brother Bear and Hercules. And I have also produced with my team the soundtrack for the most successful daily TV series in Europe „Sturm der Liebe“.
Venues differ so much as regards acoustic qualities – so far , which place has best suited this lineup?
When you are playing from Shanghai to L.A., from Moscow to New York, you are experiencing totally different acoustic environments. The Hammersmith Apollo is for us the place to be. And I’m very pleased that we have the privilege to play there now.
How do you feel about your music being used in advertisements ? In the UK, a lot of adverts use music from the Queen catalogue at the moment….
It actually depends. For what is this advert? Can I stand for it? I don’t want to combine my music with things I don’t like or have nothing to do with me.
How do you choose a setlist? Might this vary from country to country?
Not really actually. The most important thing for me is, that the setlist does’t feel like an set list. The concert should more feel like a big session or maybe jam session of outstanding musicians.
Is travel a bore for you or an inspiration?
Traveling is a passion of mine. Doesn’t really matter from what reason. But I love to see as much as I can and to get in touch with different cultures and people. So traveling is a big inspiration to me. I feel more like a world citizen than only being home in Germany.
Which film has the best introductory music, for atmosphere? excluding ‘Shaft’ !!
There are a lot. But the first was Easy Rider. When the Steppenwolf song came up „Born To Be Wild“ I said, Okay fine. This is how it should fit into a movie and a movie into a song.
What distinguishes Bill Evans from say Wayne Shorter or Kenny Garrett?
Bill Evans is one of a kind. Very special. He is virtuoso, he is melodic, he feels himself into our Jazz, Rock maybe Funky environment. He never tries to step on the feed of anyone. He is just brilliant. And to have him on the one hand side and John Helliwell on the other side who is playing so incredible and beautiful melodies. It is great to have this two outstanding saxophone players in the band. And every concert or session we have, we all remember our blessed Soulmate Michael Brecker.
Is there a piece of recorded music that – for you – fades too early? Some say this of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’
Honestly I hate fade outs. As a producer who made so many records for different artists, I know that the fade out is always a solution if we are too lazy to treat a great ending.
Describe your hometown of……… in five words, please
My hometown Munich is very cosmopolitan and still authentic Bavarian. Beautiful landscape, safe and the best recording studio scene on the continent. Here is music in the air. As I came to Munich Deep Purple, Queen, David Bowie, Georgio Moroda, Silver Convention and Elton John where all producing their records there. Thats what Munich stands for to me.
Not only for the Oktoberfest.
Billy Cobham records one of your compositions with Herbie Hancock…which title and who plays bass?
When Billy Cobham would record with Herbie Hancock a piece of mine would wish that Jaco Pastorius would be the bass player and I would say the song would be „Haunted“ where Victor Bailey plays the bass. And now I would love to here it with Darryl Jones.
(All Photographs Supplied By Artist)
Leslie Mandoki’s Mandoki’s Soulmates will be performing a one-off UK show as part of their Wings Of Freedom 2017 Tour at Eventim Apollo (Hammersmith Apollo), Hammersmith, London on Friday 3rd March 2017.
Mandoki’s Soulmates includes the following music alumni:
Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band)
Nick Van Eede (Cutting Crew)
Tony Carey (Rainbow)
Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull)
John Helliwell (Supertramp)
Bobby Kimball (Toto)
Tickets are on sale now and are available from Eventim Apollo’s official website here: http://bit.ly/2kNlLBs
For more information visit the band’s official website here: http://bit.ly/2mcrORf