Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home
Progressive Rock Interviews


Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview Pentwater's Mike Konopka and Tom Orsi From 2003

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 3 at

What lead to the original break up of the band?
Mike Konopka: After over seven years it was just time to move on to new things. Some of the guys got married, started new business careers, but everyone remained musical and most importantly, close friends.

MSJ: How did it come about that you are getting back together?

Mike Konopka: I agree with Tom. Over the ensuing years we have always had a creative hand in the Pentwater world. We spent time archiving our large analog music library, jammed together, built two recording studios, and worked on new recordings, too. Several of these songs will be featured on not only the remastered Pentwater Album re-release this June, but also on our new release "Ab-Dul" due out in August.
MSJ: You are working on a new album and reissuing your older stuff. What can you tell us about that?
Mike Konopka: It was a natural thing to do. We have always had demand for 1977 "The Pentwater Album" of which less than 1000 copies were ever pressed. Record and prog music collectors worldwide prize them and we have heard of copies going for well over $500. One of these people seeking the PW album was Synphonic's Greg Walker. But since the PW was no longer available, Pentwater handpicked some of our most adventurous tracks for the "Out Of The Abyss" CD to license to Greg on Synphonic. That license has since expired and we have decided to re-issue and release new material, as well as classic unreleased tracks on our own Beef Records label via
MSJ: Who are your musical influences, both the band and the individual members?
Tom Orsi: Haydn/John Cage/Lennon/The Bible/Beethoven/The Torah/Machines that need oil/my children laughing in the other room.

Mike Konopka: I'd say The Beatles, The Doors, Crimson, Giant, and our longtime band friend and Pentwater Road Manager, the late David Bell.
MSJ: What is on the agenda for the group now?
Tom Orsi: Rediscovering the Reason, what we're all living for.

Mike Konopka: Yeah, like Tom says there has always been a higher calling with Pentwater's music. At our reunion last summer we all really realized that. Next week we are in the studio (Ron Fox's Timewarp Studio, in Barrington, IL) putting finishing touches on the remixed, remastered Pentwater Album. Our keyboardist, Ken Kappel found sheet music for a 22 minute Pentwater epic that was never recorded. The song "The War" was excerpted from that momentous piece back in 77. Well, we are adding back a few key elements including the original violin & viola introduction.
MSJ: Are there any musicians with whom you would like to get the chance to work?
Tom Orsi: Anyone who is in earnest and full of life and spirit!

Mike Konopka: I get to work with top-level talent all the time, as I've been a recording engineer for over 20 years. There will always be a special music place in my heart for my Pentwater brothers.
MSJ: What have you been listening to lately and/or what was the last CD you bought?
Tom Orsi: The fantastic sound of construction nearby (mixed with) there's a rock formation out in the ocean I like to lay on and listen to the world's sounds//Avril Lave -veeeen! and Michele Bench (as my niece co-wrote the songs with Bench). Also, The latest King Crimson's production is STUNNING! Buy it for that. They need to unstick themselves of Lark's Tongue and get on to the next level, but the production is second to none period, and I can't remember the last time I said that.
MSJ: How about concerts, what was the last show you saw?
Tom Orsi: Long ago, I sat front and center and witnessed Frank Sinatra's penultimate performance. What I've seen after that isn't worth mentioning.

Mike Konopka: I just recorded a live Joe Jackson show in Chicago the other night that was pretty damn good.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Tom Orsi: This is quite the Spinal Tap moment: I came off an awful 5 week tour, my all-time worst, (with the band "Bitch", also known as "Tough Love"), the day the actual Spinal Tap movie was released. My bandmate/girlfriend and I didn't know anything about the movie and spontaneously walked into a downtown Chicago theatre to see it. We just sat there in stunned silence. Unbelievably, among the dozens of EXACT experiences we had just lived through was the scene in a "Dennys"-like eatery, the deli-tray, the album cover, you name it, that movie was the experience we had just witnessed and was glad to be done with it. And to top it off half way through the REAL tour we just came home from the lead singer grabbed her head one night and (long interesting story omitted involving people rising out of the mists of the southernmost tip of the Louisiana Bijou) had to be flown to St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago for (beat) a SPINAL TAP to relieve pressure from her brain! Really. I had to finish the second half of the tour as the lead singer (but the band couldn't/wouldn't change the key!) This one goes on and on and on! No one has every asked me this question - Thank you! Rock'n'Roll is stranger than fiction. We walked out of the theatre and she said, "Did that just happen?"
MSJ: Anything else you would like to share with the MSJ readers?
Tom Orsi: The world has incredibly convincing arguments to the contrary, but I know that Love is always the answer.

Mike Konopka: That, and please visit and watch for the band's new CD's!
More Interviews
Metal/Prog Metal
Progressive Rock

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2024 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./