Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Very recently, I was able to exchange some words with an inhabitant of Dootonia, a world where the music of Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart and Sun Ra is highly appreciated. A world where improvised music is regarded as a way to bring together like-minded people (musicians and listeners), and to blend different musical styles and tastes.

Enter Pete Brunelli, bass player and electronics wizard of Doot!.
Doot! has core members Steve Chillemi on drums and percussion and Pete Brunelli on bass.
The band hails from the east coast (CT area) of the u.s.a., and serves as a back-bone for improvisational trio's, quartets, etceteras.
The last couple of years, the band has performed with Nate Trier, André Cholmondeley, Kilissa Cissoko, Tom Fenton, Jerry Outlaw, Alex Pasut, and others.

Go to the band's webpage, or to their United Mutations entry for more info:

Doot! will be performing at the Bad Doberan Street Party on August 13, 2009, at 19.00 h., as part of the 20th anniversary celebration of the Zappanale festival.

UniMuta: Hello Pete,
How are you doing? Getting ready for the trip to Yurrip? When will you be leaving?

Pete Brunelli: Hey Peter! Long time, no type! DOOT! is getting on well. We leave in less than three weeks for dear old Yurrip, and all of our plans are falling into place. We were recently hit hard by the passing of Andre' Cholmondeley's mother, and before that by Hugh Hopper. Andre is an amazing person dealing with some amazingly tough stuff. About Hugh, I had a wonderful hour or so chatting up Hugh at Zappanale 17. He was one of the best. We got on like pals after about one minute. I only met him once and I miss his presence.

As for the bigger picture of our little trip, DOOT! is preparing for an extensive survey of the Herring and Potato Peoples of Northern Yurrip. As amateur ethnomusicologists, we only really want to know what gets them drunk. Take Us To Your Litre! We are stopping in Oslo before Zappanale, then heading to Denmark and Sweden before coming home. I read a lot of polar exploration literature and seeing the Frammuseet (static display of the exploring ship Fram) in Oslo will be a dream come true. Some folks go gaga for Shackleton, but Nansen was the real deal. Each time we have been to Zappanale we talk about the north, but we never made it there. This year we will fix that.

UniMuta: What has Doot! been up to lately?

Pete Brunelli: Zappanale Fever! Catch It!

The amount of musical information that comes from working out with Zappa's music is astonishing. The simple is NEVER simple. I love how there are so many ways to approach Zappa's music. The humor, the rock and heavy guitar, the intricacies, the rhythmic and statistical density, the classicism... any one could occupy a life's work. Harmonia Ensemble, for example, digs for the structure, the formality, and performs brilliantly, while some take a specific band or era and focus on that. I think it plays into the hands of people like myself that have a complex relationship with music. I can go to the Met and see a Wagner opera and be transported, but I also love Muddy Waters and a lot of other music. DOOT! is basically a garage band with heavy leanings towards free jazz, noise rock, and that sort of thing. Zappa might be the straightest thing we do in the course of the year. It is fun, but it is also a lot like hard work. I can't imagine life without Zappa, but it is still one piece of the bigger picture.

We have been working on some other projects. We contributed a track to Andrew Greenaway's upcoming "21 Burnt Weenie Sandwiches" compilation, which seems to have stalled. I would have liked another 12 months to work on it! Andrew! Anyhow, we love doing that kind of thing. I have done some bass playing and recording work for friends here and abroad. We keep busy. To our displeasure, Steve Chillemi and I have had our share of yucky real life stuff to deal with, so the performance schedule dried up kinda fast. We lost our rehearsal space, and Steve's car died, I had some family stuff that needed my attention... you know... Life. But we set up here at my place and are getting things back in order. We will regroup after Zappanale and get back on the good foot. Hotcha!

UniMuta: It's good to hear that Doot! will be featured at Zappanale. It sure is something that I'm looking forward to. I've seen and heard the band in various incarnations, and it has always been a treat. What can we expect? Who will be joining you on the stage?

Pete Brunelli: The could very well be titled "Garage-Rock from Hell", to paraphrase Zappa. Steve and Michel Delville (The Wrong Object) met at Zappanale 19 and talked about doing something together, and Danny Mathys had mentioned TWO to us back in 2006 as a potential collaboration. So we talked Michel into it, which was easy. I had been doing some bass parts and mixing for Norwegian guitarist and fellow Zappateer Ivan Leirvik, of Shirley Wood, and I wanted to have him involved, and he agreed. Violinist Annemarieke Schoonderwaldt, or Ke for short, played with Steve's Anti Aggressive Action Band at Zappanale 19, and with the Foolz, and some shows with Sheik Yerbouti, and she is a great friend. She was on board from the start. We thought we would get Philadelphia saxophonist Elliott Levin to join us but we couldn't find the funding. I didn't feel like we needed to fill it out any more for the small stage, so we have a five piece band of like-minded nutcases. I'm in heaven! We have some Zappa on tap, and some special surprises, and it should be a fun gig. The "rehearsals" have all been done by exchanging audio and ideas over the internet. Steve and I have been working out material together here, but everything else relies on the intestinal fortitude of the band. We love it, yes we do.

UniMuta: This is not your first time at the festival. You've previously been there with Doctor Dark and as Doot!, so as an experienced visitor, what do you expect festival- and music-wise?

Pete Brunelli: This will be my fourth Zappanale, and I think it is Steve's sixth. I owe it all to a chance meeting with Bill Saunders in a New Haven bar, my willingness to talk to him even though (because?) he was wearing a dress, and then meeting Steve. The ARFs always put together a great mix of music. My one piece of advice to newcomers is to get there for the first band each day. Those have consistently been shows that you didn't want to miss. Corrie van Binsbergen and Polytoxicomane Philharmonie come to mind as very special and fun sets. Let's see... this year they moved the stages to a new location, and it seems like they have taken the level of organization up a peg. The heavy space rock, prog rock, and psych rock elements in this year's lineup have me all revved up. I have always dug Gong, but never had a ton of exposure, so I'm looking forward to that a lot. Hillage? Mats and Morgan? Bozzio? Martin? Grande Mothers? P/O? I'm feeling faint. The way I see it, Peter, this should be a very dynamite show, as long as I can still get plenty of nice cold Rostocker Pils!

UniMuta: I've been telling zappa freaks and music aficionado's in general that Bad Doberan / Zappanale is the place to be next August. That they don't really have a choice. Anything you would like to add?

Pete Brunelli: I think that Zappanale should be a "must do" for all Zappa fans, at least once. I had no idea what was out there until my first Zappanale. If someone had told me five years ago that I would have deep feelings for a sleepy seaside town in the far reaches of former East Germany, I'd have sent them to a shrink. Ot at least to an ABBA tribute show. But here we are.

Now... About that Corsendonk....

UniMuta: OK, Pete. I get the picture...
Thanks for your time & see you real soon in Bad Doberan.


  1. wonderful interview,
    so sorry to miss you all this year:(
    hopefully Z21!

  2. Looking forward to the street party on the 13th! What a special treat!!

  3. Will be great to see you (both!) at Zappanale. Mr B, I'm sure you'll appreciate the complexities of cajoling 20-odd folk into arranging and recording stuff, and I'm truly grateful that DOOT! was able to come up with something so quickly for the Burnt Weeny project. And of course you'll have the opportunity to do more when you remix the 21st track. The project has slowed fer sure, but it's still happening. And, most significantly of all, it'll be well worth the wait. Trust me?