The new instrumental rock-fusion supergroup The Aristocrats, formed after an impromptu NAMM gig in January 2011 featuring Guthrie Govan on guitar, Bryan Beller on bass and Marco Minnemann on drums, will release the much-aniticipated self-titled debut album on September 13, 2011. All three members of this new band have had high-profile solo and sideman careers for nearly two decades but this is the first band in which all of them have equal stake and creative input in a creatively cohesive and complementary manner. Much more than a mere get-together of three brilliant soloists for typical one-time fusion projects, The Aristocrats is a democratic band of members in equal standing - both musically and personality-wise.
What's interesting about this band is that it formed completely by accident. Bryan Beller had been organizing a benefit Bass Bash event for NAMM with a trio featuring Greg Howe on guitar and Marco Minnemann on bass. Howe was forced to drop out due to other engagements and it was then a fan recommended that Beller check out a UK guitar virtuoso named Guthrie Govan. So with only two weeks to go, Beller contacted Govan by email and asked him if he could fill in for Howe for this short NAMM gig. Govan, well aware of Beller and Minnemann's stellar reputation in their respective fields, agreed and immediately immersed himself in learning the material for the gig before flying out to LA.
With just one very short rehearsal under their belt, the newly formed trio performed a 6-song 40-minute set during the Bass Bash at JT Schmid's restaurant in Anaheim, CA on Jan 14, 2011. The gig was so spectacular in terms of musical cohesiveness, personal chemistry, and overall synergy, the members immediately agreed afterwards "to do this again" real soon. With the three members spread far apart geographically (Govan in UK, Beller in Nashville, and Minnemann in Southern Cal), frequent email exchanges sprung the idea for them to form a permanent band and record a studio album of new material in late-April at a studio called Planet 10 in Chicago.
The session was short but intense. Each member had three tunes to contribute and they had limited time to learn each other's songs and record in a virtually live-like setting with almost no overdubs. The idea was to capture the live energy and spontaneity in a controlled studio setting. Despite the enormous challenges of not having played live together more than once and getting the music on tape within 10 days of studio time, the newly formed band succeeded in capturing the musical potential that was so evident during that lone NAMM gig. It was a real testament to the members' individual experience, professionalism and pure virtuosity to pull off a studio album under such circumstances.
The three members, while sharing many similar musical interests, also bring a diverse palette of contrasting musical styles and backgrounds. Govan had released a widely acclaimed solo instrumental album that has already achieved "cult classic" status among the technical guitar aficionados. Govan had also played as a successful sideman for acts and bands ranging from prog-rockers Asia to UK pop-rapper Dizzee Rascal. Beller also has a solo career with three solo albums under his belt and very high-profile sideman gigs with the likes of Steve Vai, Dethklok, and Mike Keanelly. Minnemann, whose virtuosity and versatility allow him to pick and choose gigs ranging from death metal act Necrophagist to a jazz big band like The Buddy Rich Big Band and from Adrian Belew to Kreator, brings intense rock energy and attitude as well as cool sophistication that neatly complements Govan's famous over-the-top command of the guitar and Beller's driving yet controlled bass work.
Each member also brings his own unique compositional voice to this wildly eclectic album that covers the gamut of both traditional and modern musical genres and styles. From a raw and powerful aggression with a decidedly classic rock/metal/shred bent with tunes like 'See You Next Tuesday,' 'I Want A Parrot,' and 'BOING! I'm In The Back,' to the dizzingly complex, playful and imaginative with songs like 'Blues Fuckers,' 'Furtive Jack,' and 'Get It Like That,' and to the melodic and lyrical sensibilities of 'Bad Asteroid,' 'Sweaty Knockers,' and 'Flatlands,' The Aristocrats is an album that brings the listener to the musical world of each very talented individual musician as well as the band as an extremely cohesive and complementary ensemble.