Hi viewer and welcome to check out an old Mandrill interview (1999-2000). Our Bandmate Dee interviewed Omar Mesa of the Mandrill via Email.
Polygram has just re-released the first four albums from Mandrill on CD. They should be available in Europe now!!!
1. WHEN,WHERE & HOW MANDRILL
FIRST GOT TOGETHER, HOW DID YOU PICK THE NAME FOR THE BAND?
Mandrill was formed by the three Wilson brothers who were born in Panama, but grew up in a tough neighborhood of New York called Beford-Stuyvesant (its where spike lee's movie "do the right thing" was filmed. they had bands before Mandrill as we all did before we got together as Mandrill. The name for the band was suggested by our first drummer Charles Padro, after having walked through the zoo in New York's Central Park. He loved the colors on the animal and he thought it was cool and we agreed it would be a cool name to have since some of our music was African based.
2. WHO / WHAT INFLUENCED
YOU / THE BAND BACK THEN? (MUSICALLY, MENTALLY, SPIRITUALLY).. HOW ABOUT NOWADAYS?
We had so many influences it would be hard to name them all but some of mine were Santana, Jimi Hendrix, BB king, the Beatles Motown, and the guys in Mandrill were also influenced by Caribbean music , Jazz etc. In the early 70's the music scene in America was more open and varied than it is now (thats a long story as to why I think it has changed). Spiritually i was later inspired by the Jazz guitarist John Mclaughlin, and his Guru Sri Chinmoy as was Carlso Santana. I wound up playing with them informally on occasion.
3. WERE THERE ANY PRE-MANDRILL
BANDS YOU WERE IN? ANY RECORDINGS BY THESE?
I had a band as a teenager but we just played around a lot of clubs , weddings etc. we recorded our own single and just sold it in the town where we lived. it was very influenced by the Beatles and other 60's groups.
4. WHICH MANDRILL LP WAS
MOST SUCCESSFUL IN TERMS OF RECORDSALES? WHICH IS YOUR PERSONAL FAVOURITE LP
/ SONG, WAS THERE AN ALBUM WHICH WAS PARTICULARLY EASY / HARD TO MAKE?
I dont know which album sold the most, because i left and they continued to record , but I believe the third album "composite truth" where we got deeper into funk, I think might have sold the most and it was during that time that the band played to the most people. we sold out an 85,000 seat stadium in Washington d.c.
5. WHAT WERE THE METHODS
USED IN RECORDING OF THE ALBUMS? SOME PARTS SEEM TO HAVE HEAVY ORCHESTRATION
ETC.. TELL ABOUT THE STUDIOTECHNIQUES USED TO GET THAT MAGIC MANDRILL SOUND.
You asked about orchestration, well in those days we used real string sections not synthesizers. We always tried to arrive at the closest to a live feel as possible. But we never had the energy on record that we could produce live !! I think its a problem that a lot of musicians have.
6. WHAT´S YOUR FAVOURITE
SET-UP? INSTRUMENT - EFFECT(S) - AMPS AND SO ON?
As far as favorite setup, well i have had many, but just let me say that I love tube amplifiers like Mesa boogies (no relation, ha ha) and right now i am using a Roland Guitar synth also that i love.
7. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CURRENT/FUTURE
PROJECTS, WHO ARE INVOLVED AND WHAT KIND OF SOUND ARE YOU AFTER IN 1998?
I have a solo CD. you can look up my web page at: http://members.aol.com/omar1022 . 10/22 is my birthday I am playing a blend of Pop and Jazz and Funk. some tunes I sing and some are instrumental. Some tunes i play the guitar synth and it sounds like a keyboardist soloing but its a guitar. I have you and your friends have a chance to visit the site.
8. DID YOU TOUR MUCH IN
THE 70'S? IF SO, TELL SOME TOUR STORY (WHICH OTHER BANDS WERE INVOLVED, WHERE,
We toured and played with a lot of different artists from rock to soul to jazz artist. We did shows with Rock bands like the Allman Brothers to Soul artists Like Earth,Wind and Fire, and Patti Labelle to Jazz Artists like Hubert Laws and Duke Ellington.
9. WHAT ABOUT THE REST
OF MANDRILL? DO YOU STILL MEET EACH OTHER?
Its funny you asked if i still am in touch with Mandrill, because there are some possibilty of us getting together to tour in England, Switzerland and Germany in May of 1999. Plans have not been solidified yet though. We would love to come to Finland as well I am sure, but I dont know if Neftali Santiago (current Mandrill drummer) who is booking the tour has any contacts in Finland.
10. HOW DO YOU VIEW THE
CURRENT STATE OF POPULAR MUSIC, ANY CONTEMPORARY FAVOURITES OR ESPECIAL DISLIKES?
(RAP ACTS SAMPLING ETC...)
well you asked me about contemporary artists that i might like. none really impress me too much to be quite honest. it seems that musicianship has taken a back seat to image and other things. I really liked the band the Police and most of the stuff Sting did. I have always liked Peter Gabriel also. I guess if I had to pick one, the most musical is Dave Matthews Band. A lot of the other bands just remind me of other 60's bands I have heard. Also I despise the "evil" looking groups and Satanic type groups like Marilyn Manson (even though he is mainly doing it all for show, a friend of mine grew up with him and said, he isnt really like that).