Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mark Zonder Fateful Side Project by T. Bruce Wittet of Modern Drummer, January 1999

Mark Zonder Fateful Side Project
by T. Bruce Wittet
Modern Drummer, January 1999

Ever wonder what it would be like if Peter Gabriel had never left Genesis? For a glimpse of what might have been, check out the CD Chroma Key; there is something in the blend of Mark Zonder's crystalline drum sounds with ex-Dream Theater Kevin Moore's synth pads that nods to the British prog rock group. Recorded at Bill's Place, Zonder's recording studio/rehearsal complex, Chroma Key is the perfect foil for this usual band, Fates Warning.

Still grasping his sticks with a vary correct traditional grip, Mark plays live to click tracks in order to anchor some frightening transitions in time and feel. He admits: "I'm definitely not a jam-type drummer. In this kind of music you can't just start changing things on people in the middle of a show." One of these things is a biting snare sound. "A lot of it is how you hit it and how it's tuned," Mark explains. "I crank it up and the soundman asks me to tune it down to make it fatter. The GMS white ash drum has the crack, but it's a little more defined in the ghost-note area. It's a kind of cool because if you're not dead-on, it's real obvious. It's not blurring anything."

Similarly, Zonder says he doesn't want to wash out acoustic piano timbres with the wrong cymbals. "My baby was the classic 20" Earth ride," Mark says, "but in Chroma Key it's a 20"K. I play a pair of 12" hi-hats. I've had for years - thick band cymbals. They give me clear 16th notes and 32nd notes and quick opening and closing patterns."
Recently Fates Warning re-emerged with a double live album {Still Life}, a tour and a live video {A Pleasant Shade of Gray}. "We've turned it into a nice business machine," Mark reflects. "We do everything ourselves, including management. With our next record, we're going to make a total right turn - though we're just not sure what that turn is yet. And I would love to do a solo record, but I need a partner; I don't have the ego to do a drum solo record."

Zonder's favorite Chroma Key song is "Undertow", because "it's got that up-tempo Steely Dan-ish beat. Fates Warning never plays that sort of tune. Our fans would throw things at us. I'm looking forward to people looking at me and going, 'He's not just this rock 'n' roll drummer.' Let the fanatics freak!"(...)

Text copyright by Modern Drummer© by kind permission of Suzanne Hurring {with my additional notes}

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