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Progressive Rock Interviews

The Security Project

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Jerry Marotta of Security Project from 2016

You’ve had quite the career so far. Can you talk about a few of the highlights of your years in music from your own perspective?

Highlights started for me in the summer of 73. I was going to summer school to graduate high school a year early. A week before school ended I had an opportunity to tour with a band on Columbia Records called “Arthur, Hurley & Gottlieb” - very much like Crosby, Stills & Nash - great experience. I took my final exams on the road with me! I was around 16. I also started playing with a great singer/songwriter called “Jim Dawson.”

Not long after that, I auditioned to play with the band Orleans…and got the job! They, at the time, were probably my favorite band on the planet, so you can imagine my excitement. I think I was 18 at the time. Played on my first hit record called “Still the One” - still hear that song on the radio today!

A month after the leader of Orleans quit the band, I was given a record by a singer called “Peter Gabriel” who had been in a band called “Genesis.” Peter was looking for a drummer. I had never heard of either of them and listening to Peter’s first solo record, I was intrigued, to say the least. This was nothing like anything I'd ever heard before and certainly nothing like the music I grew up listening to! I taught myself how to play the drums playing along to Motown and Stax records. Anything Black and Soulful was what I listened to. The Gabriel job started in England and paid well, so I took it with the idea I'd “Broaden my vistas.” That lasted ten years and changed my life in many ways. Other high points were playing with Hall & Oates, Paul McCartney, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, The Indigo Girls, Robbie Robertson, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Suzanne Vega and Cher, to name a few. There were many other high points.

MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
One of two things: psychology or law enforcement - probably a New York State Trooper. I have a lot of respect for law enforcement.
MSJ: What can you tell us about the Security Project?
TSP has been kicking around for three or four years now. Trey Gunn, Michael Cozzi, David Jameson, Brian Cummins and me. Great group of guys - incredible players as well as people. Started out focused on the music of Security, a record I worked on pretty extensively - amazing pieces of music. “Lay Your Hands on Me,” “San Jacinto,” “Emily and the Fishing Net,” “Wallflower,” “Rhythm of the Heat,” “I Have the Touch” – all very unusual. A record that could not have been made without Larry Fast, Tony Levin, David Rhodes and David Lord(producer), among others. We've expanded the repertoire to include songs from earlier recordings like “Family Snapshot,” “White Shadow,” “Humdrum,” “Moribund the Burgermeister” and many others. We have tended to stay away from the songs from SO as Peter probably plays them live. Having said that Brian Cummins (our lead singer) does an amazing rendition of “Mercy Street” solo acoustic and a wonderful version of “Don’t Give Up.” Trey has started work on a new “Trey” version of “Shock the Monkey” that's gonna sound awesome. This year I hope to incorporate original material into our shows, as well as Gabriels' music. Response to the band has been overwhelming.
MSJ: What other projects currently have your attention?
Lots of Production work. New band called “Karma Darwin,” duo record with Flav Martin, my ambient group called “The Fragile Fate” (record called “Lilliam Ocean”), gigging and recording with a killer guitar player in Florida called “Jeff Whitfield,” touring with singer Linda Eder, playing/recording with Krishna Das, Running Dreamland Studios ( in Woodstock, New York, where I live. Scoring film (David Mayer) and TV (“Small Miracles” starring Judd Hirsch) I actually have a part in that show. That's exciting!
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Ahead lies more of the above. I'd like to see TSP touring and recording more. Hopefully 2017 will bring that. Making my own record for sure. Writing a book about my life and experiences including pictures I've taken over the years. I've also started a very interesting project called “Tabula Futura” with Van Bolle, Sonam Targee, Arjun Bruggman, Marc Shulman and me, of course - totally improv. We've done shows where we play for two and a half hours without stopping! Somewhat based on Eastern Music and Kirtan.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Sam & Dave, Smokey Robinson, The Spinners, Thom Bell, The Stylistics, Djavan, Ivan Linns, Joyce, Dori Cayimmi, Stephen Stills, Paul Davis, Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Motown, Stax, Cleveland Ohio, my parents…the list goes on and on. My brother, Jim Keltner, Russ Kunkle, Anjani Thomas, Chuck Rainey, Richard Tee, OY!! The Bee Gees, Neil Young, The Carpenters, America
MSJ: I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
There's no label for it. I'm heavily influenced by classical music, Brazilian music, Fado, Italian artists like Pino Danielle and Claudio Baglione, Eros Ramozotti, Vangelis, The Band, Neil Young, George Jones…
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Steve Winwood has always been a dream. Paul Simon (mostly his recent stuff) Peter Gabriel (again) Tony and Pete Levin,
MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
It's killing the music business for sure. It's devalued music tremendously. Music just doesn't sell anymore because of streaming and downloading!
MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
As long as they're not profiting from it I think it's great - really helps promote music, especially bands that are relatively unknown. I encourage it.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Hmmmmm ... Roger Linn perhaps…

MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
Eric Johnson, Trey Gunn, Tony Levin and me. I played four shows with Eric and Trey. We were called “the Vortexans” - greatest Power Trio in the world, no doubt. Huge disappointment that we never played again after that. Eric and Trey together are stunning.
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
Tower Of Power, Djavan, Krishna Das, TSP, Snarky Puppy, Linda Eder, Rick and Bill Walker, Casey Desmond, Anjani Thomas, Karma Darwin, Groupo Mundo, Pat Metheny with Lyle Mays, Blow Up Hollywood, Nadia Ackerman, James Blake, Joey Epperd
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Procol Harum, The Moody Blues, Lady Antebellum, Adele,  James Blake, Rascal Flatts, Donald Fagan, Melody Gardot
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Jobs, Neil Young autobiography, Carol King autobiography, Pete Townsend autobiography, Flow (a must for everyone), Small Town Talk (about the town I live in, Woodstock)
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Styx. Love them ... even though Tommy Shaw couldn't think of any songs about robots!
Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
I love to go to Broadway shows with my son, Diego. He loves them, as well.I love Broadway! I'm a “Show-tunes” kinda guy. I often break into song in the super market.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Perhaps, when I was working with Paul McCartney I went to London and bought a copy of Spinal Tap (a movie neither he nor Linda had seen)hanging with them in their living room watching the film…the scene where the girlfriend of Michael McKean ends up managing the band and out on stage with them playing tambourine!
If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Abe Lincoln, Thomas Merton, Judy Garland
What would be on the menu?
Spaghetti with oil and garlic, lobster, corn chowder, salad, espresso
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Love, Sing, Play, Think, Care, Forgive, Touch, Breath, Run ... Did I say “love?”
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 4 at
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