Mark Zonder’s Fateful Side Project – Modern Drummer (01/1999)
by T. Bruce Wittet
Note: There are some editorial comments in {} from around 1996 or so, by Piotr (fates@poczta.fm).
His original posting of this interview can be found here – http://republika.pl/fates/markan03.htm
Text copyright by Modern Drummer© by kind permission of Suzanne Hurring


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.” {Mark uses Zildjian cymbals exclusively – fates}

Recently Fates Warning re-emerged with a double live album {Still Life it’s called – fates}, a tour and a live video {two live videos now: A Pleasant Shade of Gray and Live at the Dynamo – fates}. “We’ve turned it into a nice business machine,” Mark reflects. “We do everything ourselves, including management. With our next record {disconnected, I suppose – fates}, 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 {yes, please!!! and the instructional video, too! – fates}, 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” {you may download mp3 sample directly from Chroma Key audio site – fates}, 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!”(…)