(by Peter Dehenau)
My favorite drummer Pat allowed me to ask him some questions concerning Mr. Mister and
his own career. He also took some time out make some adjustments to my history and
biography pages in order to supply accurate information on the band. It's really great
that your favorite artist appreciates your work and is willing to make some contributions
to the website.
Thanx Pat! (July 21st 1998)
How do you personally look back upon the Mr. Mister era? Did it give you satisfaction as a drummer?
It went by really fast. Sorry, no, I'm never satisfied with my drumming.
Did Mr. Mister go on a sort of tour after the release of "I wear the face" back in 1984 to promote the album? How was the audience responding?
After "I wear the face" we went out for lots of touring gigs. I remember a
West Coast run with Madness and another with Adam Ant, later a long run through the
Midwest with Berlin and a few gigs with Eurythmics.
Our first gig with The Eurythmics was in Cleveland and our gear was late, so they probably incured union overtime. In any event their crew must have hated us. We got one spotlight, and that was always on Farris. Once we figured that out Steve would stand behind Rich as he sang, so he could be lit. When Slug's rental amp blew out they refused to help us, so Slug played through the bass amp with Rich. It would not have mattered much, except we only had 16 inputs (my drums and machines took more than that) at the desk so ... let's say the keys were soft that night.
Audience response was mixed. Most people knew nothing of us, but we did not get booed or pelted so it was o.k.. We even got encores some nights.
What's the sory behind the song "32"?
32 feet per second is the rate of falling objects. I try to avoid this number at airports!
I read a part of the percussion on "Is it love" was played on ashtrays and bottles. Are there other significant percussion parts on other songs?
No. "Is it love" is some Simmons SDS5, a camco snare with an old timbale on
top and lots of Linn Drum. The middle 8 (we called it 'sparticus') I did with the Linn's
lid open and a screw driver tweeking pots as I swept the tuning knobs on the top. Paul
DeVilliers mushed it through a publason effect, just as you hear it, no additional
You might mean "Welcome to the real world". This has me hitting a ladder, ashtray, pie plates and the wall playing the fills at the end. This went through the same publason into an amp, then through an old Yamaha verb with its own weird boxy e.q. I had to play this about a 16th note early so it would be in time after it went through all that gush.
I would like to think that yes there are other significant percussion parts.
How did the band react to the fact that the supreme album "Go on..." didn't sell well?
Supreme??? I don't know if it was or not. I thought that "Go on..." was stiff
sounding, too digital. We did all the tracking on a 32 track Mitsabishi, except for
"Dust". I think the drums and bass suffered. At times the record sounds to
precious to me, not enough angst. And I can hear the struggle between Rich and Farris on
most of the tracks. I never recall Rich unplugging Farris as I read in your history, but I
was there when Farris arrived to find out Rich had cut 3/4 of his solo out of "Stand
and deliver". At this point Steve suggested we needed a guit solo on every song.
The end was in site, Rich brought in "Control" a few days after that.
How did the audience generally respond to the Go on-tour? Was there a worldwide tour like initially had been planned?
We didn't tour much after "Go on...". There were several tours planned and cancelled. The gig in Chile was very enthousiasticly received, altough we almost got killed for Richard Page's statements! We came back an did a benefit in Phoenix for a police officer widow and kids. I think that was about our last gig.
Which covers did the band play?
Covers? "Purple haze" or "Freeway Jam" often, because Farris loved to solo on them. A Stevie Wonder song or two that Rich loved. At soundchecks we often did a version of Weather Report's "Mr. Gone" that I wish I had a copy of. On vocal checks Rich would do Beach Boys' "Don't worry baby" acapella ... stunning! Also Andy Williams' "Lovin' you" or B.S.T.'s "Spinnin' wheel" which were both a hoot. Oh yeah, we also did "Pressed rat and warthog" (Cream) and "All of our old ladies" (to the Police song "Synchronicity", I think), funky stuff the crew and stage hands would love.
What exactly led to the departure of Steve Farris?
Songwriting, and ego.
The Misters really took their time to record the unreleased album "Pull". Were the guitar parts played by one guitarist, or did you use several session players?
We started with James Harrah, but I don't think much got on tape. Then Buzzie Feiten, who lasted about two days in the studio but got a lot done. Then Trevor Rabin who was amazing. He did "Learning to crawl" and "Way oh" (including redoing the bass) and "Like rain falling" and maybe others. Then a Canadian Doug Makaskell who did the guitar solo on "Crazy boy". And finally my friend from Stan Ridgeway's band Peter McRea who did "Surrender". Along the way Rich also did lots of little parts mostly acoustic. Even Paul DeVilliers (producer) strummed a bit. It gives you an idea about how confused we were. At one point I called Adrian Belew but he was going out with David Bowie. Later I found the guy who played on the fantastic P.I.L. generic, but Rich and Slug didn't like him too much, his name was Steve Vai.
Was there a different approach to the recording of "Pull" compared to the former albums?
Yes, when DeVilliers came back to us we went to a cave and did mushrooms and made a pledge that we must all be happy before we would release the album. This meant no deadline or proper schedule. Paul stressed pushing me and Slug forward, dropping the sequencers and drum machines; experimenting with more piano, organ and real percussion (I asked Luis Conte, with whom I had just done a Cock Robin record, to help); more improvising, writing in the studio, so we stayed at smaller cheaper studios, at one point so we could converse without headphones and glass between us. I set up drums in the control room with everyone else. And we all tracked without headphones listening thru the control room monitors - Tony Levin told me Peter Gabriel did the same thing.
Tell me about some special song.
Special??? Well, "Way oh", an instrumental, was a ditti Slug and I started as Rich went to deal with his gardener. We used to call it "The Gardener's song" since it had no words, until after about a year when it got 'awayooooood'. I did lots of percussion on it, some I even did in the closet.
Problems with the record company, which had been taken over by BMG Music, who wasn't really into the new record caused that "Pull" had never been released. How are your feeling towards "Pull"? Were the other Misters satisfied with the result? Has there never been another record compnay willing to release the album?
My guess is Slug and I were happier than Rich. No, to my knowledge it has never been released. And just for the record we never actually finished the mixing.
What eventually led to the split of Mr. Mister? Have there ever been plans for some kind of reunion?
I think basically lables were more interested in a Richard Page record than a Mr.
Mister record. So the effort was put in that direction by the management.
No, we have never (yet) talked of reforming.
Could you set an exact date to the split of Mr. Mister?
I have a date book somewhere that will have a note of the day we were dropped. It was
within a few weeks of Cock Robin getting dropped by CBS - another note the same day RCA
dropped us they also dropped an amazing team Everything but the Girl.
Here's the exact date: The day I got word we were dropped by the label was on Monday 25th September 1990, a year later than I remembered!
Are there some remarkable events concerning Mr. Mister you will remember all your life?
Many! Beatlemania In Italy or Canada when our cars were smothered. Playing the Grammies and having Stevie Wonder and others stand to clap and sing with "Kyrie" unsoliceted. Mucho goosebumps, almost dropped my sticks. Getting out of Chili alive. All night drives five to a car, up for 3 days to do the "Something real" video, flying to U.K. for 'Top of the Pops' and coming back to do live T.V. in Los Angeles that morning - no rest! Lots of great memories.
What have you been doing after the Misters broke up?
That's another much too long story. Chech the biography page.
I assume you were very glad when you got the opportunity to join King Crimson, one of your all time favorite bands. Was this the kind of thing you always wanted to do? (experimental drumming,...)
K.C. experimental drumming? My drumming is always an experiment. Why do you think the "Kyrie" drums bash in and try to scare you? I have always been a Crim head!
You also worked on a remix for The Rolling Stones?
"Rock and a hard place" from the album "Steel wheels". No band members were there. When I arrived at the record plant Don Was and his engineer were trying to slow down the track from about 145 bpm to 120 bpm (beats per minute). This meant they had to pitch shift things down one at a time. At that point he had most of Keith Richards and half of Mick Jagger. I hung a few hours as they kept working on this. Eventually they played some Mick and Keith pitched up but with glitches, little burps and hicups where the pitch couldn't track, and Charlie all slowed down, funny. Don asked me to play 4 on the floor and disco 16th 'pea soup' hi hats, no snare. We did most of the song in one pass, but there were a couple rough spots we went back and punched in. One spot was sticky and we kept punching it several times. At one point play back was interrupted while I saw Don on the phone. I thought he was calling other drummers like Jeff Porcaro or J.R. Then he holds up the phone and has the track played from the top. I was still at my kit waiting to continue the punch (now I figured he played them with the track), he hangs up and came on the talkback: "They love it!" I asked: "Who?" He replied: "The Stones! They're at Madison Square Garden and I played it over the speakers in their dressing room.". OK, weird, we went back, punched in and moved on. Jeff Lorber was in the control room by now and they used my foot as a clock to trigger a tempo map in the computer, so Jeff could go computer drum crazy. Then he played key bass and all that Paula Abdul stuff. That's about all I did.
What are your favorite albums you've played on?
It's been long enough I could enjoy the Shandi record. "Thrakattak" (King Crimson) is another one where I forgot where the bodies are burried. "Oranges & Lemons" (XTC) is the best batch of songs. As for the Misters I guess "Welcome to the real world" and "Pull".
Are you still in touch with Page, George, Lang and Farris? You all played on Richard Page's solo album "Shelter me".
Yes, I have spoken to all the kids last year, even most of our old crew keeps in touch with me.
Where do you currently live? Any special plans for the future?
I have lived in Austin, Texas since the '94 earthquake, and it's friggin' hot here. I
better sign off before I drip into the putter and it shuts down!
Right now I'm in negotiations to do a track or two for an upcoming Emerson, Lake & Palmer tribute.
Thanks a lot Pat! All the best!