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Manu Katche's New Album Drops The 'Sledgehammer'

Oct 28, 2012
Originally published on October 28, 2012 10:58 am

Peter Gabriel has just finished up the 25th-anniversary tour of his blockbuster album So. Manu Katche, the drummer who provided the driving beats for "Sledgehammer" and other songs from that record, was right there with Gabriel, helping him celebrate.

Katche has been a sideman for lots of musicians — from Sting to Joni Mitchell to Tears for Fears — and he's been busy putting out his own albums, as well. His fourth comes out Tuesday, called simply Manu Katche.

Katche grew up in the suburbs of Paris, the son of a Haitian French mother and an Ivorian father. He started studying piano when he was 7, and eventually went to the Paris Conservatory to study classical percussion and the timpani. Katche says that helped him approach the drums with an ear for melody.

"I'm tuning those drums like a timpani player," he says. "I'm really aware of the melody of the sound. Even on the cymbals, it's not just bashing the cymbal; I used splashes with different tones. For me, it's mainly the approach of the harmonies and melodies and sounds on the drums."

On the new album, Katche worked with Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer.

"He sings into his trumpet," Katche says of Molvaer. "He's got like a little microphone on the top so you hear him playing a note, and all of the sudden you hear his voice inside the notes, 'cause he's kind of looping the sound. He's really into effects and stuff. It makes it pretty much unique and very original."

Katche says he feels most fulfilled when a composition he hatched alone is brought to life by a full band.

"All of the sudden, you have those amazing talented musicians who are just going to play it," he says. "You just listen and think, 'Wow, this is just beautiful.' And how privileged I am to have someone playing what I wrote on my little corner in France on my piano, and all of a sudden it sounds just amazingly beautiful."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Peter Gabriel has just finished up the 25th anniversary tour of his blockbuster album "So." And the drummer who provided that driving beat on "Sledgehammer" was right there with him helping him celebrate - Manu Katche. Katche has been a sideman for lots of other musicians, too, from Sting to Joni Mitchell to Tears for Fears. He's been busy putting out his own CDs too. His fourth for ECM Records comes out Tuesday, and it's simply called "Manu Katche."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Katche grew up in the suburbs of Paris. He's the son of a Haitian French mother and an Ivoirian father. He started studying piano when he was only seven years old and eventually went to the Paris Conservatory to study classical percussion. He played timpani, those big copper kettle drums that are tuned so they can play low rumbling tones along with a thundering orchestra. Katche says that helped him approach jazz and rock drumming with an ear for melody.

MANU KATCHE: And I'm tuning those drums like a timpani player. I'm really aware of the melody of the sound, and even on the cymbals, it's not just bashing the cymbal, I used splashes with different tones, so for me it's mainly the approach of the harmonies and melodies and sounds on the drums.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KATCHE: The trumpet player is a Norwegian, Nils Petter Molvaer. He sings into his trumpet, he's got like a little microphone on the top, so you hear him playing a note, and all of the sudden you hear his voice inside the notes, 'cause he's kind of looping the sound, he's really like into effects and stuff. And it makes it pretty much unique and very original.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KATCHE: You know when you write something, you write it at home, and you have some ideas in your brain and all of the sudden you have those amazing talented musicians who are just going to play it. It's a lot of emotion in it. And it's funny, you can't see me now, but I got goosebumps just, like, thinking about it. You just like listen and think like wow this is just beautiful. And how privileged I am to have someone playing what I wrote on my little corner in France on my piano, and all of the sudden it sounds just like amazingly beautiful.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Drummer and composer Manu Katche. His self-titled CD comes out Tuesday on ECM Records.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.