Carl Palmer

By: Lori Smerilson Carson

Modern technology has played quite a role with the way todays music is made, but when prior recorded music is brought back to life, you have the new Emerson, Lake & Plamer show Welcome Back – The Return of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Drummer Carl Palmer has put together an amazing concert that brings the past to the present, spotlighting his former bandmates Keith Emerson and Greg Lake. Unfortunately, both Emerson and Lake passed away in 2016, but this new ELP show captures the extraordinary talents of this band that started in 1970 in London, England. They have sold around forty-eight million records world-wide and have nine albums that have reached Gold status in the U.S. alone. Now, Florida fans can see this phenomenon on February 18th at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall in Ponte Vedra Beach, on February 19th at the Savannah Center in The Villages, February 20th at The Parker in Fort Lauderdale, February 21st at Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee, in Immokalee, February 23rd at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, and February 24th at The Plaza Live in Orlando.

Catching up with Palmer just prior to his fourth tour for the Show That Never Ends, he revealed some details about the show, the music, and what fans can look forward to.

SFL Music: What would you say inspired this show?
Carl Palmer: Well, the fact that I could actually do it to the standard that we’re doing it at. And the technology is available for us to reproduce this night after night, which I think is quite a triumphant thing in itself. These aren’t holograms. This is like in sync that we play along with Greg and Keith, but obviously, I’m playing the drums in the actual theater. Their keyboards, bass guitar, lead guitar whatever, these are all being mixed on that night which makes this very, very important because it’s like having Emerson, Lake & Palmer in the room, because it’s being mixed in that room, because the audio tracks that I have are all recording separately which enabled me to wipe my drums, so I could do this in the first place.

SFL Music: I saw the clip of the audio engineer mixing. Explain how he mixed the instruments and the voices to combine with yours?
Palmer: They’re all on separate tracks. So, it’s just like being in a studio. You just pull things up, take them down accordingly to whether you want them higher or lower, and the drums are being played on that night. So, they’re on sperate channels again, and then we just mix it all together that evening for that audience, for that building. The footage is in sync, which is completely in sync with the audio track. You see Greg singing and Keith playing, and it’s all in time along with the audio tracks that are coming out of the PA.

SFL Music: Are you going to be onstage by yourself? Do you have any additional musicians with you?
Palmer: Yes, I do. I have Paul Bielatowicz on lead guitar, and Simon Fitzpatrick on bass guitar and Chapman stick.

SFL Music: Did you all rehearse this?
Palmer: No. It’s roughly split up with about six or seven songs I play with Greg and Keith where they’re on film, and everything is live in the room. Then there’s similar match of songs, seven or eight, I play with Paul and Simon, and they are also Emerson, Lake & Palmer tracks like “Tarkus”, like “Hoedown”, like part of “Welcome Back”, and so forth.

SFL Music: Fans will definitely love that!
Palmer: Everything is kind of intertwined. So, Greg Starts off singing “Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends”, and because the particular recording we have of him from the Royal Albert Hall in London, he didn’t sing all of it. We carry on playing as a band, and Paul carries on singing. Then the next song its “Knife-Edge”, where its Greg and Keith playing all the way through, and Greg singing everything, and I’m playing along with him. Then it gets to another track where it’s called “Hoedown” which is from the Trilogy album, and its Paul, Simon and myself play, and then it goes on like that. We have things like “Lucky Man”, we have things like “Rondo” which featured Keith, we have “Paper Blood”, we have “From The Beginning”. These are all the Emerson, Lake & Palmer tracks that have got Keith and Greg with me.

SFL Music: What inspired you to become a musician? I read that your grandfather was a drummer also, and your grandmother was a violinist.
Palmer: That is what I wanted to do. Whatever made you become a journalist, the same thing made me become a drummer.

SFL Music: What would you say inspires your music?
Palmer: There’s no new music being written. I’m playing music from the Emerson, Lake & Palmer catalogue. So, at the time, every environment that we were in was completely different. I don’t think you can say it’s just one thing that inspired it.

SFL Music: What would you say contributes to the longevity of ELP?
Palmer: I think the quality of the music. We were never and out and out rock band because we were quite eclectic at what we played. Classical music, classical adaptations, some folk music, a bit of jazz. The occasional rock song here and there like “Knife-Edge”, and so forth. We had quite a few ballads which were reasonable hits. So, I think that opened the door on radio, and then once radio got hold of the albums, they realized there was a lot more in-depth music on there as well. So, I think it’s the fact that we had a variety of the style that we played, rather than just being in one genre.

SFL Music: Is there anything you’d recommend to a new musician on how to establish themselves today?
Palmer: It’s just hard work. There’s no golden bullet here. It’s just hard work and unfortunately, you could work really hard, but if you don’t have any luck, then it’s a major problem. You need luck and hard work and obviously, you know, hard work and luck are not worth anything unless you have the talent. So, these are the things you’ve heard a thousand and one times, and they don’t change from one year to the next. It is what it is, and the music business has more outlets today, so there are more ways of getting your songs, you’re playing, or whatever you do across, but there’s more competition because of that. So, it’s a very interesting time, and let’s hope it remains that way.

SFL Music: Was there anything else you want fans to know? Anything else coming up?
Palmer: Well, I have a box set. Carl Palmer Box Set which consists of a DVD in there of me through the years with different people that I’ve met, that have been put together like a picture book. There are some CD’s as well. Some remixes of stuff and most importantly, there’s my autobiography in that book, and that’s going to be coming out some time in March.

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