Thank you to accept to answer to our questions for the french fanzine
ROAD TO JACKSONVILLE,
south rock music website.
First, its a little event because you have created your own
website, that we can now find on the web http://www.michaelcartellone.com
and where we can discover that youre not only a great rock drummer,
but also a big painting fan. For the french fans, for them to know
you better, wed like to ask you some questions.
: First, Ive read that you had began drumming at the age of
9 years old. Where you already, at this age in a musical surrounding,
with your family or friends ? Why did you choose drums ?
Can you also tell us about your career, the groups you played with,
the musicians you played with ?
Cartellone : When I was growing up, I was surrounded with music.
My parents loved Big Band music, my older sisters: the Beatles and
my older brother: British Progressive Rock. Consequently, that list
basically sums up most of my favorite music to this day. No one in
my immediate family played an instrument, but I had an older cousin
named Bert who played drums. Every time we visited Bert and his family,
Id beg him to let me play his drums. My parents saw I was so
determined to play, that they sent me to Berts drum teacher
for lessons at age 9. As for my drumming career, Ive been blessed
to work with a diverse list of brilliant musicians: Damn Yankees,
Accept, John Fogerty, John Wetton, Adrian Belew, Cher, Peter Frampton,
and Freddie Mercury. Of course, Lynyrd Skynyrd is dominant in this
: After playing with many great rock and hard-rock musicians, youre
now Lynyrd Skynyrd official drummer. How did it happen, how were you
chosen ? What was Lynyrd Skynyrd for you when you were a kid ?
Cartellone : In 1998, Skynyrd was recording Edge of Forever in
Nashville, TN. Ron Nevison (who produced both Damn Yankees records)
was producing. I was living in Nashville at the time and stopped down
at the studio to say Hello. One thing led to another and I found myself
playing percussion on the record. They asked me to go on the road
that summer and now six years have flown by. Its turned out
to be a great gig. Theyre all wonderful people and its
a strong, family oriented environment. I was a Skynyrd fan when I
was younger, and really do realize how lucky I am to work with them.
: To play with Damn Yankees and Ted Nugent must have been a great
moment for you, an incredible musical experience. Can you tell us
a little bit more about this wonderful experiment ?
Cartellone : Damn Yankees was an amazing time in my life. Tommy
Shaw, Jack Blades, Ted Nugent and I have all stayed in touch over
the years and remain close friends. In fact, Tommy and Jack happened
to be in my hometown New York City recently and we had dinner together.
Having played bars in small towns up to that point, followed by a
tour as a member of Tommy Shaws solo band, I was basically unknown
when Damn Yankees formed. I couldnt have hoped for more as things
exploded and we sold 3 million records and worked non-stop for five
: Damn Yankees career was, for us, too short. Did you hope that this
lasts longer ?
Why this musical reunion didnt last longer ?
Cartellone : The end of those five years, we thought wed
take a one year break from Damn Yankees (with the intention of getting
back together afterward). During this time, Ted was recording a solo
record and Tommy and Jack a duet record. I ended up recording with
Tommy and Jack and touring with Teds solo band. We did in fact
get back together a year later and started recording demos of new
songs. At this time our record label, Warner Bros. went through major
personnel changes, from executives to Artists on the roster. So, we
found ourselves pursuing other record companies. This went on for
awhile and during the time the four of us started working separately:
Tommy with Styx, Jack with Night Ranger, me with Ted at first and
then Accept. To make a long story short: Damn Yankees never officially
broke up, it just got put on a back burner for 10 years! Its
hard to say if and when we would do Damn Yankees again. I know we
all still have the desire to work together one day, but were
all very happy where we are right now.
: Do you feel a great difference between what is called Southern Rock
Music and hard Rock Music ? Are these two different approaches of
the music ?
Cartellone : There are some differences in playing Southern Rock
and Hard Rock. Its basically the feel with which you play. I
approach Southern Rock with a more Bluesy feel, slightly looser and
behind the beat. I approach Hard Rock with much more aggression and
precision. Its important to note, that I often use those techniques
all at once, regardless of the music I play. I just lean a little
more in the direction of the music, so I play appropriately
: Ted Nugent seems, for us, very close to southern music, generally
speaking. What about you ?
Is southern music a particular style, and a special state of mind
that you really feel ?
Cartellone : To be honest, I dont consider Ted Nugent Southern
Rock at all. However, Ted does play with that Bluesy feel I mentioned.
He actually loves Motown and R & B, which I think shows in his
RTJ : Do you love other kind of music ? Have you other musical
Cartellone : As I mentioned in first question, I love everything
I grew up hearing. In addition, I listen to a lot of Classical. I
really love listening to Classical because Im not connected
to it in any way. My head doesnt automatically start analyzing
it like it does when most music is playing, so I can just enjoy it.
I would have to say that Im most influenced by The Beatles and
David Bowie. As a drummer, I love British Progressive Rock: Yes, King
Crimson, UK, Pink Floyd. For years I played in bands that pushed the
limits with time signatures and syncopation. I still enjoy playing
that style today.
RTJ : How were your first steps with Lynyrd Skynyrd ? Did you play
the same way as the former drummers used to play Skynyrd songs, or
did you immediately create your own way to play these songs ? Today
for instance, do you play the new songs in your own way ?
Or do you feel « obliged » to play them in a « Lynyrd
Skynyrd » style ?
Cartellone : When I first joined Skynyrd, I listened to the original
studio recordings and live versions (from The Fox and Steeltown) of
the songs I was asked to learn. It was interesting to hear how the
drumming had developed from studio to live and what each drummer had
kept or discarded. Basically, I kept the kick and snare patterns true
to the original recordings. As for drum fills, there were some that
were integral to the songs and some that I could inject my personal
style. I did that on a song by song basis. The important thing to
mention, is that a lot of these early recordings are ingrained in
the publics memory. So, you have to keep it very authentic or
it just doesnt sound right.
: I think, thats my opinion, that maybe its sometimes
hard to play with Gary, Billy, Johnny and the others
you think about this ?
Cartellone : Playing in Skynyrd is a very natural and easy position
for me. All the members are very talented and we all respect each
others ability. Plus we all get along great.
: In the great rock drummers, which one were your main influences
Cartellone : The drummers who have influenced me the most are
Stewart Copeland and Terry Bozzio.
RTJ : Ive seen, on your website, that you were passionate
with painting. What can you tell us about this real passion ? Who
are your favourite painters, and your favourite styles ?
Cartellone : My love for painting began at age 4, when I attended
Art school during the summer months.
Ive basically painted my whole life since then, developing my
ability as a painter while developing my ability as a musician. I
actually thought Id follow Art as a career until I started playing
in bands at age 11. At that point my energy focused on music, although
I never stopped painting. My favorite painters are: Rene Magritte,
Georges Seurat, Norman Rockwell and MC Escher. It follows suit that
my favorite styles would then be : Post-Impressionism, Surrealism
: We can, on your website, find a part of what you did and what is
called « The Road Series Paintings », that were made during
Lynyrd Skynyrd tours. What do you hope in giving such paintings ?
Cartellone : Ive intended to pursue an Art career, as well
as continuing to be a musician, for years. The Road Series Paintings
have made that goal a reality. I really feel that these paintings
will be attractive to collectors, even if they arent Lynyrd
Skynyrd fans. I have other paintings in the works which I will market
through my website (www.michaelcartellone.com),
as well as a Gallery showing of the The Road Series original canvases
in NYC this coming winter.
: At the end, as it is a tradition on Road to Jacksonville, we ask
this particular question : If you have to finish your life on a desert
island where you can choose and take five cds (and maybe 1 or 2 paintings
if you want), which one would you choose ? (and why ?)
Cartellone : The Desert Island Discs are: Ziggy Stardust (Bowie),
Abbey Road, Rubber Soul, Revolver (Beatles) and a CD called Piano
Classics (various famous pieces by assorted composers).
The Desert Island Paintings are: Circus Sideshow (Seurat) and Triple
RTJ : It is the end (as said Jim Morrison
) I want to really
thank you a lot to accept to answer us to our questions.. and to be
so kind we do hope to see you back in France, with Lynyrd Skynyrd,
as soon as possible
Michael Cartellone : Thanks again. Hope to see you soon in