Pete Brunelli entered my musical world as the bass player of Doctor Dark, performing the music of Captain Beefhart & The Magic Band.
Later, together with Steve Chillemi, he founded Doot!, a duo that was the basis of various musical project. At different moments in space and time, Doot! included Nate Trier, André Cholmondeley, Michel Delville, Killissa Cissoko and Eugene Chadbourne, to name just a few.
More recently, Pete has been performing and recording with The Mayhem Circus Electric, an improvisational collective from around New Haven, CT.
After a couple of memorable performances at Zappanale, Pete Brunelli has now been asked to join the impressive line-up for the Rochfort-En-Accords festival that will be held in France from August 25 - 27, 2011. Time for a short chat.
UniMuta : Hi Pete, I heard that you will be flying to France to participate in the Rochefort-en-Accords festival. You'll be replacing Roy Estrada who won't be able to make it. How did this come about?
Pete Brunelli : Yes, the travel plans are set and I will be heading over to France for the Rochefort-en-Accords festival. The more I learn about the fest, the more I think I am going to enjoy it very much. I can't say that I am replacing Roy at anything. After seeing him at Zappanale 20, and how solid he sounded, I am just hanging on for dear life.
The request came through Christopher Garcia, drummer for the Grande Mothers and lots of other great projects. I have met him a few times and somehow my name came up when Napoleon Murphy Brock started looking for a bass player for this gig. My experience with Doctor Dark was good preparation for this, but many of the tunes I have seen on setlists for Rochefort are not in the Doctor Dark repertoire, so all I have is those practice habits and a few more years of experience under my belt.
UniMuta : As I understood from Philippe Thieyre, there's a timetable that lists artists at a certain venue, but the goal is to have artists collaborating with each other to find unique combinations. And then there's also the Beefheart tribute on Saturday evening, and the Hommage aux Demoiselles on Saturday afternoon.
Pete Brunelli : That is the way I understand the format. I think there will be more structure, at least on my end, as we get closer to the actual dates. I have been asked to play on a few other sets, and am currently trying to keep the workload manageable. As much as I don't like saying "no", I also don't like saying "I forgot how to play the parts on your songs because my brain just exploded"...
So I will be focusing on Beefheart material, and it looks like I will be playing with Moris Tepper on a few things.
Also, I own a harmonica and am not afraid to use it!
UniMuta : Can you elaborate a bit on what is expected from you, who you will be playing with, & what material?
Pete Brunelli : I know that I am expected to be there and be prepared. My job now is to keep working, and try and get an idea of the scope of what I need to be up to speed on. Some pieces are very straightforward, but some are really tricky if you are going to nail the parts. Plus, and I know this from experience, this is a huge leap of faith that the groups can make it work. Luckily, I have a lot of faith in things working out. As for the Beefheart material, I have an idea of what is on tap, and Nicolas Mignot has been great at communicating with me. The set lists seem loaded toward the later albums, which is good considering the headliners. Also, it was just pointed out to me that I might be the only "unattached" bass player at Rochefort... no pressure!
I think, hope, there will be some sharing of the workload... please...
UniMuta : The list of participating artists is quite incredible. I hope that you will be keeping some sort of a diary. It sure looks like it will be great.
Pete Brunelli : That word pops out at me: "artists"... this festival has a super arty lineup. Music as a craft, an art, an obsession... I am getting all wobbly just thinking about it! A player like Gary Lucas is all about the art of the thing, and you can go up and down the lineup and say the same thing about them all. I don't want to start singling people out because I'd have to gush too much. I'll leave that to my bloggings at http://petebrunelli.com I already started with a few introductory posts and I hope I can do some live blogging from Rochefort, even if it is just iPhone photos with captions.
UniMuta : Sounds great. Have fun!
Pete Brunelli : Thanks, Peter. Have a great time at Zappanale 22 and be sure to tip back a Rostocker for me!