Interview with Sergio Ponti

Alternative / Progressive Rock

Hi Sergio! You recently performed at DrumStage – Kick The Spring. Tell us what happened at this event, what are your impressions?

Hi Ana Maria and readers of Din Intunerec!
Yes, I play the DrumStage event for the second time and I enjoyed it very much. Mihnea Grecu and his team do a fantastic work in putting together this kind of events and us drummers are extremely grateful for that. It takes a lot of planning and organizational skills to turn an idea like that into reality and they make it happen every time.
I played three new songs, one from Koneskin and two from my new band Critical Failure, plus Koneskin’s older number “Apart”, and everything was very well received.
I enjoyed the sets from Adrian Tabacaru and Vadrum, who I finally got to meet in Romania although we’re both Italians, and I was blown away by Septimiu Harsan, as usual. I also spent quite a lot of time with him and my wife going around the event and chatting about drums and life, which I was very happy to do. Septimiu is a fantastic musician and a one-of-a-kind human being that I connect with very well.

You are involved in many music projects, can you describe them shortly for our readers? Which one is the closest to your heart?

Actually I cut down to fewer ones in the last year or so, for my happiness and general well-being.
I am involved with Koneskin not only as drummer but also in running the band, as I try to keep track and oversee everything from social medias, booking, travel arrangements, artwork, organizing the rehearsals and booking the studio and generally making sure the band runs smoothly. Although I love what we do very much, I realize we’re still a relatively unknown band and there’s a lot of work to do.

I am also still involved in Beggar’s Farm (since 2003, the band exists since 1996). That’s a very hard working band that evolved from being a Jethro Tull tribute band into going on the road as hired band for  actual Tull alumni. The word of the band being prepared and reliable ran in the prog world and since then we’ve played for musicians of PFM, Banco, Procol Harum, Van Der Graaf Generator and many more.
I think we have 15 different repertoires and my stack of sheet music for this band is at least 60 cms tall. Each of us has a sub so the band can still run smoothly despite all of us taking leaves to pursue other projects, at various times. I have to credit founding member, leader and multi-instrumentalist Franco Taulino for being able to keep this band running for over 20 years, and through some serious personal set-backs in recent times. Beggar’s Farm is still running strong!

The newest band is Critical Failure. I have known some of its musicians for quite a few years and we’ve followed each others’ projects until last year the opportunity to play together came up. I wasn’t really sure at first because the music involves a lot of double bass drumming and at the time I just wanted to get away from that style of playing, but then they played me the songs they wanted me to record and I was sold! We have an album that’s waiting to be mastered and I am extremely proud of it. The songs are strong and look at the life of a few famous and not-so-famous serial killers in a oblique and ironic way, in a almost Devin Townsend-esque fashion. I am sure you will like it!

Let’s talk about your band, Koneskin, a bit. You were in the record studio for the album to be released, again, thank you for revealing some exclusive news about it, here. Please describe us the experiences you and your band had while recording.

A World In Reverse” was recorded very quickly, because we went to the studio very prepared. We wanted to capture the way the band plays live, that’s why to rhythm tracks are mostly played together at the same time (in different rooms obviously) and are either first, second or third takes, at least for the drums. There’s close to no editing at all in the playing, we maybe moved a couple of strokes here and there, but that’s it. You can still record a kick-ass album in 20 studio hours if you show up prepared and you work with competent people. And the music is much more involved this time, there are quite a few polyrhytmic and polymetric parts among the three of us, or irregular note-groups. This might sound complicated, but we only realized about this once I started transcribing the parts, because when we wrote the music we just played and played the songs together and I think they flow really well. Engineer Claudio Cattero was a breeze to work with, the studio sounds great for the drums and when had the assistance of Critical Failure’s guitarist Francesco Salvadeo, who helped tweaking and tracking Gabriele’s great guitar parts. Francesco will also be mixing and mastering the album. Feryanto is just awesome as usual, he goes in there, plays his keyboard parts once or twice and that’s the take we are gonna use. He’s a naturally talented musician that obviously also practiced a lot! His timing is immaculate.

We had a conversation about the artwork of this album, can you tell us more here, how did you met the graphic designer and how did you end up with this wonderful, delicate images?

I can tell you that the artwork will all be by the young and talented Romanian artist Petra Martin. We liked some of her other past work and just got in touch. She had hardly heard any of the new music and the album title, yet she sent a sketch that perfectly fit the concept of “A World In Reverse”. I liked it right away! You are right, it’s a pretty delicate serie of images, with just a few colors, that I think suits the concept greatly. She’s also designing a proper Koneskin logo. I will show you the artwork as soon as it is ready in its final vest!

Does your future tour with Koneskin begin to shape, and if so, do you think we will be able to see your band live in Romania again?

I am happy to say yes! On June 1st we will play at the Revolution Festival in Timisoara and Graham Robinson of Anglo-Saxon Booking is doing a great job for us in booking other concerts in the same time frame. Graham is great: quick in answering, serious and reliable. I wish I had met him sooner in my career.

You were part of some Romanian bands and you performed several times here, what is your opinion on the local underground stage? Name a couple of things you like / dislike.

You know very well and I have said it in press before, that Romania is my favorite country to play in. The audiences are very receptive and pay great attention to all the aspects of a band’s proposal: the quality of the music and of the performance, the stage presence, they support you buying merch… it’s always an overwhelmingly good feeling to play for them. The music scene for what I see and have experience is full of great people who do a lot to help worthy bands. The above-mentioned Graham Robinson comes to mind, and Doru Catalin from DBE as well. He has been relentlessly putting on an incredible number of great events through the years.

Are there any bands or artists you would like to collaborate with, from Romania or abroad?

When I was 19 I set a goal for myself that I had to try to play with some of my favorite artists and try to learn from them, even the hard way if it was needed! I got to do it with quite a few of them, which became good friends of mine. So there’s just a few bands or artists that I’d like to play with, in my wildest dreams… let me see… well, Queen, even if there would be no Queen without Roger Taylor. I’d like to play in King Crimson sure enough, or with their long-time guitarist and singer Adrian Belew. Sadly, some of these idols of mine passed away too, like Zappa. If Gentle Giant ever reforms, I’d join on drums for sure, and if Freddie ever came back and called Brian May on guitar and John Entwistle on bass, I wouldn’t be bothered if they gave me a call, haha! XTC too.

If you wouldn’t became a drummer, would you choose another instrument? Which one?

I still have so much to do to be the drummer I envision being, that I can’t think of any other instrument. I have the outmost admiration for drummers like Marco Minnemann, Thomas Lang, Nick D’Virgilio and many others that also play bass, guitar, keyboards and sing pretty well. Maybe I am just wired differently but the only thing I dream of doing when holding a guitar, is to smash it to the floor Kurt Cobain-style! Or on its owner’s back, even better!

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time, if any? Do you still teach / play football?

Teaching takes the biggest part of my day, as I love doing it. I teach about 40 students a week, with great satisfaction and serious hard work. I am rewarded with some great results and an increasing passion and ability on their side and we have fun together. Well, sometimes I make them cry too, but that’s because I push them very hard towards perfection and I accept no lame excuses.

I still play football as goalkeeper of course. I reached a semi-pro level as teenager, but quit due to a knee injury and because of the love of drums. I still enjoy doing it and I think I am still decent on the field. But I will not embarrass myself and keep doing it until I become a joke. I will retire well before that and keep the memory of when I could still dive left and right to make saves!

After we got married, we moved to a more remote place in the country side, at the feet of the Alps, which is a great starting point for road trips and gives me the quiet and peace I need away from people. We enjoy going around with our puppy Charlie and hanging out together, just me and my wife watching horror movies and playing video games.

Did you learned to speak Romanian, a bit, after all this time here, and marrying a Romanian lady? If the answer is yes, please say a few words in Romanian for Din Intunerec readers.

Recomand tuturor cu caldura sa se casatoreasca cu Romance. Sper sa ne vedem curand pe scena!




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