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Greg Paul: We Can Share These Commonalities

Greg Paul: We Can Share These Commonalities

Courtesy James Stiles

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What makes it unique, I feel, is this collection of men and us spending time together–we are actually friends outside of the band. That really informs our creation.
—Greg Paul
Drummer, composer, and band leader Greg Paul—born in 1987 and raised in Buffalo, NY—remembers his home town as a place of lived community, especially among musicians. That spirit never left him. On the contrary: he took it to the metropolis of Los Angeles where he relocated in 2011 and still lives today as an internationally acknowledged and sought-after musician.

Growing up with gospel music, he gathered his first professional experiences as a drummer at an early age—in the bands of his father who was a church organist and hired him for gigs at weddings and funerals. Like probably every school kid of his generation, he also got exposed to a lot of hip hop and r&b. Another musical language came into his life when he attended Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. At the time he was already an experienced gospel drummer. Approaching the language of jazz meant a significant stylistic change in his playing. On this journey he got trained at the arts school and additional musical mentorship from his maternal great-uncle—Clarence Becton. Over the years they regularly talked and exchanged thoughts, in the last years mostly on the phone.

Studying music—percussion with Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, Peter Erskine, and Aaron Serfaty—at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, where he graduated with a Masters degree in 2013, he quickly connected with the L.A. music world. This led to meaningful professional collaborations and eventually to the formation of the Katalyst Collective—now an eight-member band that he established in 2014.

Connecting with the wider L.A. music scene, he also started working as a drummer for Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad's record series Jazz Is Dead in 2016, this way getting the chance to play with legendary musicians—Roy Ayers, Gary Bartz, and Lonnie Liston Smith among others. Before the pandemic set in, he also toured the world with China Moses and Kamaal Williams (Henry Wu).

His main focus is the Katalyst Collective—an ensemble of talented session musicians, composers, writers, and producers (checkout katalyst-collective). Their sound embodies "elements from the vast spectrum of the African diaspora" (jazz, gospel, soul, blues, samba, etc.) and he feels like "we ... set an example of true unity!," as he put it in two online interviews, with Identify LA and Shoutout LA. The Katalyst Collective has brought out two excellent albums so far—Nine Lives (World Galaxy, 2020) and Katalyst (Jazz is Dead, 2022). Their next album is in the making—currently slowly cooking—and will show new sides of the band, as he revealed.

AllAboutJazz: Can you share some details about your childhood and youth in Buffalo—your family, the music you grew up with and the neighborhood you lived in?

Greg Paul: I grew up on the East Side of Buffalo specifically, which is predominantly black, African American. My family as well grew up in the church, the great-grandparents, my grandparents, my mother, my father. My father is an organist in the church. Growing up in church, as a kid, you either want to draw or you want to sit with somebody who has candy or you just sit with other kids. And so, I was sitting next to my grandmother a lot—this is my father's mother—and she would give me a pen and I would draw little moustaches on the programs, or she would give me a piece of candy. And I can remember the exact moment I took interest to the drums.

AAJ: What happened?

GP: The drummer did something one Sunday—I was about four, five years old—and it just completely captivated me. I remember just turning around and looking—and I asked my grandmother, "Can I go over there?" And at this point she couldn't just say, "No, no, sit down," and give me some more candy or a pen and a piece of paper. She was just like, "Yeah, absolutely—go!" And I really credit her as my first supporter—she really steered me in that direction. So, I went over there. The rest is history—I was a drummer.

AAJ: So, music was in your life right from the beginning.

GP: Yes. My father being a musician would have rehearsals at the house. I would go to sleep listening to music. That's how they would put me to sleep—with different gospel records—really primarily gospel for a long time. That was the music. But growing up in the East Side of Buffalo at my age—once I got to school everybody listened to rap, just the radio—there was a lot of hip hop, a lot of r&b. So, I had that influences as well and I was able to make the connection pretty early, like 'Oh, these rhythms, this groove is also in this music.'

AAJ: Do you remember the time when you started drumming?

GP: I don't know exactly how old I was. I don't think I was really in primary school yet or elementary school. There is a picture of me with a drum set at the house at around two years old.

AAJ: The drum set was from somebody else?

GP: No, no, it was a kiddie drum set.

AAJ: Your parents gave it to you?

GP: Yeah. And my father always tells us the story: he took a bunch of time to set up the drums, got me together, left the room, came back and the cymbals—I reset them up as I wanted it to be. He was like, "What are you doing!?"

AAJ: Doing what drummers do (laughs). Do you remember your first professional experience as a drummer?

GP: With my father I had my earliest gigs. He would play at funerals and weddings and it would just be me and him. He would hire me and I would get like fifty bucks, seventy-five when I got a little older. That was my actual paid gig. I had to be there, yeah. And my father would hire bass players that were kind of hard on me, like "Hey, pay attention, you need to know what's going on!"

AAJ: Are there any other instruments you play, or learned to play?

GP: Not growing up. A little later I got into piano.

AAJ: Is that he instrument you compose with?

GP: Yes, yes, I compose—but sometimes on drums. I started to learn piano, because I was attracted to the sound, the chords. You can do things that you can't necessarily do on drums, so I thought. Then I really dug deeper into the drums. And you can absolutely compose from the drums and create harmonies and melodies, just like a piano.

AAJ: Was there any musical education that you took part of in elementary or high school?

GP: Not so much elementary. During my years in elementary school music funding was kind of cut back. When my uncle (Clarence Becton) was in school, you could play and join a band. Learning these instruments was a requirement. And it was limited to requiring just singing when I got to school. So, I didn't have too much interest. There was still a little bit of music. But it was primarily from home, hanging out with my dad and doing gigs. But I did go to an arts high school—Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts.

AAJ: So, musical education in school actually started in high school?

GP: Yeah. That's when I got into reading music and the specifics. My band director in high school—it was in my second or third year—gave me four albums. And that's what really got me into jazz: It was Lee Morgan's Tom Cat (Blue Note, recorded 1964, released 1980), John Coltrane's Meditations (Impulse!, 1966) which is a little more out there, a little tougher to digest, John Scofield's Works For Me (Verve, 2001) with Billy Higgins on drums, and McCoy Tyner's The Real McCoy (Blue Note, 1967)—my goodness, with Elvin Jones, and "Passion Dance."

AAJ: A great album of McCoy Tyner's, yeah.

GP: Ah, and Wayne Shorter's The Soothsayer (Blue Note, 1979), with Tony Williams. That band director—Dave DeWitt is his name, he is a trombonist—gave me those records to check them up. Although there are similarities in gospel music and jazz—it all comes from the same source, the same place—the style and approach is very different and you got an understanding of the separation of the languages. And at that time I was a gospel drummer, like loud, you know what I mean.

AAJ: Is there still this gospel language in your drumming?

GP: A hundred percent—very much so.

AAJ: Can you talk about that a bit?

GP: Growing up in church, you just play hard. I always had that mentality. So, when I got into jazz it was a few years of undoing that and shifting that approach. Even the bass drum, the kick-drum—in gospel music it's very prominent. But in the jazz setting and vocabulary it's almost used as a tom, just the lowest tom. You feather, it's softer, and so it was quite a bit of adjusting—and still adjusting, you know.

AAJ: Do you have an example of gospel drumming?

GP: Yea. I play some contemporary gospel. This is Hezekiah Walker from New York, some music from the Nineties but kind of how I grew up (Walker's music is available on YouTube). From the time of my childhood all the way up into my senior years of high school. And then I really got into jazz—towards the middle to the end of high school. And I said, "Okay, it's a different approach."

AAJ: When you switched to the other approach—what was a main point about this change?

GP: A lot more listening. In this vocabulary it's the pulse you got to focus on, which I mean still is listening. But in jazz you're really listening—anything can change, in any moment. It is "What is this person saying, how can I support this?" There is a lot of feeding off of each other.

AAJ: When did you decide to become a professional musician?

GP: Before high school. At eighth grade you can select which high school you want to go to and my dad asked me, 'What do you want to do, what do you see yourself doing?' And I really didn't have an answer at the time and I said, "Something in electronics, in electricity."

AAJ: Like your great-uncle, Clarence Becton, did at first.

GP: Yeah, exactly. And this is what happened: Usher, the r&b artist, had a DVD out, the 8701 tour and I had that. It was kind of the earliest live band I've seen on TV. And my father said, "You know, you can get paid for that, you can do that," and I was like, "Oh, wow." So, from there I auditioned to go to Performing Arts to further the drumming. That's when I decided I wanted to become a professional musician, be on stage with artists. That was in eighth grade. And I wanted to go to Berkeley College of Music, but that kind of changed. I ended up going to Buffalo State College in Buffalo where I studied classical (laughs).

AAJ: How did you experience Buffalo as a place of music?

GP: It's the community of it. There is a twenty-year radius that you really connected to—these people. A legendary musician by the name of Jerry Livingston who recently transitioned—he was the bassist for Rick James who is from Buffalo as well—he was just the sweetest man, took time with younger musicians. So, the deep sense of community that just the city has alone is definitely reflected in the music community.

AAJ: A black community?

GP: Yeah, a black community. But everybody, really, because it's so small, not a financially thriving city, so everybody kind of is on pretty much the same level—economically. So, it's like we don't necessarily have that division. Being black, we have our own experience. But in the city of Buffalo it's more communality than like I feel in other cities.

AAJ: You decided to leave Buffalo, go to the West Coast—Los Angeles. How did it come to that?

GP: My father's brother—my uncle Bob—lived in Los Angeles. He passed in 2005. We went to clean out his apartment. That was my first time being in California. It was in December and when we got out of the plane it was warm. I couldn't believe it, like "It's winter time!" Just going around, the overall energy, the sunshine, so many things—I literally felt my horizon broadening. It does something to you. That completely changed me. You know—in Buffalo it gets dark early. You're dealing with that it's cold, you got to shovel yourself out of the snow, push your car. Everybody has a difficult time. At the bare minimum in LA you gonna have a nice thing. No matter what it is, it's still gonna be a decent day outside.

AAJ: You moved there not only because of the climate.

GP: Right. When I went to Buffalo State, my first year, there was also the first year of the new music department chair, and he had just graduated, got his doctorate from USC. He was a percussionist as well. So, he was my percussion teacher and he completely sold me on the idea of going to USC. And it was just a perfect story: I had just been to LA for the first time and he had been there.

AAJ: Do you have some details about USC?

GP: There I've studied with Peter Erskine, who was the drummer for Weather Report, and Ndugu Chancler, who was Michael Jackson's drummer.

AAJ: There is a story about your great-uncle and Ndugu Chancler: In December 1970, Clarence Becton was the drummer in Thelonious Monk's band and Monk's musical director Paul Jeffrey asked him to go on tour with them. But Clarence told them that he had just registered at San Francisco City College to study music and cannot join the band—for him, it was a hard decision to make by the way. The drummer after him was Ndugu Chancler.

GP: Wow. That's actually amazing.

AAJ: Can you tell a little more about your percussion studies at USC?

GP: Yeah. They had two different programs. There was the jazz program and also the popular music program which was fairly new. And Ndugu was the head drum teacher for the popular music, the r&b and the top forty drummers. But he was also a jazz drummer, and I definitely learned from him. Peter Erskine is more about a conceptual teacher. He gives you different things to think about, he structures your lesson specifically to you.

AAJ: And Ndugu Chancler?

GP: Ndugu was kind of no nonsense, like "These are the things you need to learn," very specific, very detailed in terms of learning songs and learning music. He would come in and say "Do you know 'All of Me?'" And I would say, "Oh yeah, I know that." "Okay, sing me the bass line, sing me whatever words to the bridge." I would say "I don't know." And he said: "Oh man, you were lying to me, you said you know the song and you just know the drum part. That's all you know and that's not like knowing this song." He was very specific about learning the music, learning these parts.

AAJ: Was there any other teacher at USC who was important for you?

GP: Yeah, Aaron Serfaty. He was another drum instructor at USC, but his "tuff love" style of teaching transcended to EVERY student and instrumentalist. He was one of those teachers that would stop you in the hallway and check on you or give you a few life gems to carry throughout your day. I still utilize and learn from him to this day.

AAJ: How long did you study at USC?

GP: Two years.

AAJ: What do you think about the function of studying jazz music in an academic institution contributed to become a performing musician?

GP: Oof—it's a tricky one. When people ask me on their thoughts to go to school or not, I don't necessarily recommend going to an institution, especially of that magnitude, to spend that much money. But education is important and mentorship and tutelage is important. So, I always recommend to people—I have a few drum students as well—to seek out the professor, seek out the people you want to learn from and study with them, take lessons, study with these people and go play.

AAJ: Is there any other thing you can benefit from by studying jazz music in an academic institution?

GP: Yeah. The other thing about school that you can't really get anywhere else is—again—the community of peers and young musicians in the same space doing what you're doing. So, you are always constantly surrounded. Sometimes you're isolated—and you really have to have the discipline to keep yourself going. Whereas when you are in school, it's just like you can feed off each other and what you are working on and how you learn your lesson. I can share how I learned my lesson. You can spend time playing together. Whereas you have to really find that if you are not in school. And the other half is actually doing it, being in the field, going to play and executing what you learned.

AAJ: Is the academic background important when you become a professional musician? Do artists' agencies or event managers look at that when they hire you?

GP: Oh, my goodness, like not at all. I have a Master of Music degree—I'm using it. But when I have to present a certain piece, any credentials, it's 'Can you play or not?,' and 'Are you easy to work with?' The academic side never matters that much when you are on stage. It's 'Can you do this job?'

AAJ: How did you start working as a drummer after you graduated from USC?

GP: I met a bunch of musicians, obviously players that were around, that have been living in LA longer than I was. So, from school, I'm getting calls for some gigs. It's just me and the community, kind of branching out. There is an amazing jazz guitarist in LA, his name is Jacques Lesure. He hired me for the first non-school gig, with non-school musicians. It was a charity event, just an organ trio—organ, guitar and drums.

AAJ: Which year was that?

GP: 2012.

AAJ: About two years later you established Katalyst—how did it come to that?

GP: I got Brandon, the keyboardist in Katalyst, or one of them—there are two keyboardists in Katalyst. But Brandon Cordoba was also a class student at USC, the only other black male class student in this jazz program. We came in the same year, so we had a lot of the same classes, the same assignments, and we would hang out. There are a bunch of practice rooms at USC. When one was open we would just go and play and jam, and immediately we kind of realized we spoke the same language, come from the gospel background. So, our influences were kind of the same and we are roughly the same age. So we have a lot of similarity and just musically we connected instantly.

AAJ: Where there any other Katalyst musicians you met at USC?

GP: Brandon is from LA. He had a band called Ultrasound. At the time that had David Otis, who is the saxophonist in Katalyst now, and Marlon Spears who is the bassist. They were all in Ultrasound. So, I met these guys and I was set up in this band for the drummer sometimes, when they couldn't make it. Another friend from USC, he wasn't a musician, he was a manager—would do these parties called The Renaissance, where he would just do these collaborations of painters, dancers, musical artists... Sometimes he would have a house, sometimes he had a venue. He would always call me to put together a band and be the house band for these events.

AAJ: So, from there you formed your own band?

GP: I would create this combination of guys from Ultrasound and some horn players from UCLA, just a couple of musicians that you just built chemistry with over the time. And after maybe three or four of those events and really understanding this energy that we had like this specific group of people and the response that we would get from the crowd in these parties, we would just elevate.

AAJ: Can you share some more details about this process?

GP: After maybe the fourth event, it was immediately after the show, I just got together everybody, asking 'Would you do this seriously?' And everybody was just like "Absolutely!." So, a week later, I called them meeting at my house. Everybody came by. I was reading this book on propaganda where the word "catalyst" was just coming up. I thought, "let me see the dictionary definition of it." When I read it, I thought "That's it, that's a cool name." I wasn't looking for band names at the time. I was just talking to a friend and she said this would be a cool band name. And I was gonna say "The Katalystics." I'm glad I didn't (laughs).

AAJ: Is there a core collective with other musicians who change regularly, or is it always the same collective of musicians who play in that group?

GP: It's always the same collective of musicians. I'm the only one that has a sub because the band is so big. We are currently eight of us. There is always this, or less people. We don't really add anybody else. Everybody is a working musician. Corbin Jones is a father—there is a couple of fathers in the band now. So, everybody has busy schedules, everybody can't make everything. But it's more often as less maybe six to seven people.

AAJ: In regards toNine Lives, your album from 2020: is this the lives and experiences of the originally nine Katalyst members?

GP: Yeah. Like Wu Tang or Earth, Wind & Fire—each of these bands had nine people.

AAJ: Your great-uncle would say a nine-piece band.

GP: A nonet (laughs).

AAJ: Another term, the term 'big band'—can you relate to that or does it sound old fashioned to you or in some other way not suitable?

GP: I guess by definition it's a big band. But there is more to it. When I hear that, I think of the genre, like Duke Ellington, Count Basie. It's a very specific language, the swing era.

AAJ: I'd like to know more about the collective musical process with Katalyst. Is there a particular concept, a musical meaning of the term catalyst involved? According to dictionaries a catalyst is a person or thing that precipitates or accelerates an event or thing, or in chemistry: a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.

GP: Right. We want to be agents of change, we want to provoke and stimulate. I mean music—that's what it does. You come into a concert, ideally you want to leave like different. You want to feel something. You want to be informed or inspired. Now, that's what we want to do with our music. And then without changing—of course we all have to change, have to evolve—but staying true to who you are.

AAJ: What about changes that you never saw coming?

GP: Yeah, absolutely. What really kind of established us too and our sound is that we got the opportunity to do a residency at this venue called Del Monte Speakeasy in Venice, California (now called Townhouse). We played there every Saturday, from April 2017 until the pandemic—that type of repetition. That was a free event, people could come there, see us for free. At first we played our material and then we figured out, "Okay, we need to give people a reason to come."

AAJ: In which way did you change the repertoire?

GP: We would just jam and kind of use this as a sacred space to connect as musicians—and whatever we heard in the moment, however we felt on that Saturday, we would go in. And that changed—like we had no idea where the music is gonna evolve and grow into. And even—you asked earlier about the process of creating the music—in this same way it evolved. At first each would bring in these tunes, sketches of tunes that we started to write and once the Katalyst got to it, it was almost a completely different tune. We had no idea about this intention. We would collectively be growing and build our repertoire that way.

AAJ: So, you became the actual collective this way?

GP: We evolved into "We just get together." From the Speakeasy, we took that approach into our music creation, our writings. So, Nine Lives, the music from that—there was a series of writing sessions at my house where nobody brought any music—we were the music. We just played.

AAJ: Kind of spontaneous composition?

GP: Spontaneous composition—but more afterwards, when we were recorded, when we had the intention like, "That's a great idea now, let's make a bridge or go to the studio and kind of refine it."

AAJ: You just described some approaches of playing and the ways of working in the collective. Can you share some thoughts about the music that you play? Maybe there is certain music and musicians that inspired or inspires the Katalyst Collective? Maybe some thoughts about something like a signature sound?

GP: What makes it stand out? I wouldn't say "makes it stand out" necessarily. But what makes it unique, I feel, is this collection of men and us spending time together. We are actually friends outside of the band. That really informs our creation. And again, just like how it was with me and Brandon playing and we could just connect, it's just like a macro version of that—just with eight other people now. And in that time at the Speakeasy—what's that story of The Beatles? Was it in Hamburg, Germany? They spent time there playing all those shows and really refining. The Speakeasy is like our Hamburg, you know. It's funny what catches on and when. Spending that time, I appreciate that, being able to just refine and constantly grow and evolve. Not only as an individual on the drums but as a collective, as a group.

AAJ: There is some more about that title "Nine Lives." It has to do with cats.

GP: Yeah, it's funny. We were struggling to come up with the name. We call ourselves the Kats, so it's the nine lives of a cat. It's a combination of these nine lives.

AAJ: In Germany a cat has seven lives (laughs).

GP: Here it's nine lives (laughs).

AAJ: The music you play on that album, is it music that you played already at the Speakeasy? Did it come from there?

GP: More so the process of how we created—it came from that experience. But the specific music came more so from the meetings at the house. We took maybe two months. Every Sunday we would get together. Not everybody could make it, but whoever could make it ... Yeah, we just started playing the groove. Even the first song on the record, I would just sit at the drums and somebody started playing some chords, Jonah Levine, the trombonist, had the melody and the song is born. I'm glad you ask me to describe it. Because it's something that we just do, we don't actually verbalize it so much.

AAJ: So, your musical source is also the time you spend together—in the now.

GP: Yeah, the now. As a person, you see—I always struggle with being present, you know, being here, like from doing something. I always think I could be doing—as you practice I should be cooking for myself, I should be working out, I should be ... you know. Everything I could be doing, it just comes to mind. But, yeah, when you're playing it's like the moment, the present. It's always changing too like right now.

AAJ: A completely different question: There is this record series of Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad—Jazz is Dead. Can you share some details about how your cooperation with them started?

GP: It's about 2016. There is a musician by the name of Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, he is a violinist and a string arranger and his manager at the time was Andrew Lojero who is the co-owner of Jazz Is Dead. And there was a series of shows I played with Miguel, a residency at the Townhouse. So, Andrew Lojero knew me from that. And when they started Jazz Is Dead and would do a series of sessions with all the musicians—Doug Carn, Henry Franklin, Roy Ayers, João Donato—he would call me to play drums on the session. So, I'm playing drums on a lot of those previous records. And they had heard about Katalyst. That's how that collaboration came about.

AAJ: Let's switch to your other musical cooperation—with Kamaal Williams, China Moses, Marc De Clive-Lowe, and others.

GP: Marc De Clive-Lowe is a producer from New Zealand. He lived in the UK for a while. I also met him through the LA community. He has hired me to play on a lot of his shows. And he's actually the one who referred me to Kamaal Williams. Kamaal was doing a US tour and he hit me up and asked me if I wanted to do it—he needed a drummer and a bassist. So, me and Marlon Spears from the Katalyst, we did it. We played with him about the next two or three years. He called us for that in 2018.

AAJ: Kamaal Williams is from the UK, right?

GP: Yeah—he is from South London. That was a really good experience. We did America, eight or ten cities, in that following May we did Asia and then I lived in London—in 2019, from spring to fall, touring and recording one of his albums, Wu Hen (Black Focus, 2020) Kamaal's second album on that label. And China Moses, she is a singer from France. We did a couple of shows right before the pandemic. I haven't worked with her since then but we are still good friends. She still plays the Katalyst music on her radio show—she has a station on Jazz FM.

AAJ: Any other cooperation?

GP: I do a lot of recording with Kelsey Gonzalez—he is a bassist for The Free Nationals. We actually just did a record that is nominated for a Grammy now, with Protoje, a reggae artist—it's a reggae album. And there is another reggae artist—Chronixx, we have a couple of records on. And another one is Sevana, she is a singer from Jamaica.

AAJ: I'd like to know more about your personal musical universe. What inspires you and which musicians or music inspire or inspired you specifically?

GP: I really enjoy travelling, going to these different places. And I'm really like a sponge, like I really get it anywhere. I was at Veganos (in Amsterdam/Holland)—actually last night. Now it gets my better judgement. The orders there were a bunch of beeping—in a way that was just so rhythmic, incredible. After a couple of beers as well, it's just like "What in the world!" like "beep beep beep, beep be beep." And just like being on the train, on the tracks, the rhythm ... Again, that's why I love the drums so much, it's everywhere. Everything is a drum, like Miles used to say: "We all play our drums, your heart, your body." Everything is a rhythm, a tempo. It's about really connecting to that and trying to stay open to that.

AAJ: What about melodies—when you hear something on the radio somewhere?

GP: Yeah. I'm m a sucker for melodies. I get songs stuck in my head a lot, like right now that song "Sailing" by Christopher Cross, he used to sing with The Beach Boys [sings it]—for whatever reason it's like that. Maybe I take a piece of that melody or just the spirit of it. We used to do this in classical, like a visual representation of how the melody moves—just visualizing that and taking that approach: okay I like the canto, the shape of this melody and grab something in that spirit, think of the groove.

AAJ: Kind of a multi-sensory approach.

GP: Yeah, exactly. Sometimes I try to physically draw up. More often it's just how I see it in my head (again sings the melody)—try to grab something around that shape.

AAJ: Are there any musicians who inspire you specifically? Or is there a certain music that is important to you?

GP: John Williams, the film composer—incredible. I used to revere the Star Wars theme, "Imperial March." But my favorite is Home Alone, like a lower budget movie that he did, but it's an incredible story. The score—for whatever reason—has everything like for a classical composer. It grooves, it speaks to me, I still marvel how to achieve that, like I can do this in the same way when I listen to a hip hop track, it's like I can do that almost to somebody's scores—you know, like that goes my mind. For sure John Williams is one. I like Ravel, and again I am a sucker for melodies, like that romantic era of compositions. In terms of drumming: Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, Art Blakey. Blakey is one of my favorite compers—like on that Tom Cat album with Lee Morgan. It's incredible. Are you hip to the drummer Antonio Sanchez?

AAJ: No—but it's good to broaden my musical horizon.

GP: He played a lot with Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock. There is a film called Birdman with Michael Keaton and he composed the entire film score, just from the drums. It is so incredible because you don't miss the strings. And that for me was another eye opener in terms of composing on the drum set and being able to achieve more than just being a foundation of support.

AAJ: Can you reveal some of your future plans in music?

GP: As to Katalyst, we are in the process now. We're kind of getting close to the end, we gonna have more singers and more collaboration on this project. We took the time—we have about twenty songs. We actually have a lot of music that we haven't recorded yet. So, we just gonna spin these next two years or so recording and releasing music like really establishing in the same way that we worked out playing and use the energy. We really want to perfect the art of making records. We are proud of Nine Lives and we definitely still want to keep going, keep evolving. I feel like there is a lot of sound, because there is so many of us—a unified sound that is still broad, you know what I mean, still vast. So, I'm excited to explore that, I feel like this next album ... you will get to see another side of us.

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