When Worlds Collide : A Conversation With AE Paterra

In the spring of 2021 I was asked by Andrew Crawshaw to interview AE Paterra(Majeure, Zombi) about the vinyl reissue of Majeure’s excellent cassette-only release Union Of Worlds. Crawshaw had started his own record label, SFI Recordings, and was putting out forward-thinking electronic music in the spirit of 70s/80s Private Press and experimental Komische and modular synth. Along with Majeure, SFI Recordings was also releasing a vinyl reissue of Steve Moore’s Positronic Neural Pathways.

Due to pressing delays and the general malaise of 2021 these releases were delayed by months, but the wait is almost over. On 4/1 Steve Moore will drop and Majeure’s is available now. Today I’m presenting to you my talk with AE Paterra. Due to the fact this was May of 2021 some questions may seem a little dated, so if you’re wondering that’s why. It’s a great talk, so dig in. On 4/1 I’ll be posting my interview with the great Steve Moore as well. Romero ‘Dawn’ fans take note: We get into some Monroeville Mall talk and I could hardly contain myself. So enjoy. – J Hubner

AE Paterra is the drummer and co-founder of the prog/synth duo Zombi. The band has been building a legacy in electronic music for nearly 20 years now. Their mix of Goblin-esque horror soundtrack vibes with the prog rock push of Rush and Krautrock grooves has been influencing and inspiring others in electronic music since the band emerged from Pittsburgh in the early 2000s.

While Paterra is indeed one of the best drummers in modern rock, he’s also quite adept at synths and programming, a side of his musical talent he showcases in his solo project Majeure. Since 2010 and Majeure’s debut release Timespan, Paterra has been making forward-thinking electronic music for labels like Temporary Residence, Constellation Tatsu, and more recently with Holodeck Records in 2019.

Later this year SFI Records will be reissuing Majeure’s 2015 cassette-only release Union Of Worlds in a limited color vinyl run. I recently spoke to Paterra about the reissue and his work in both Majeure and Zombi.

J Hubner: So before we get into the reissue of ‘Union of Worlds’, maybe you could tell me about the new Zombi EP ‘Liquid Crystal’. When did it come together?

AE Paterra: Of course – we recorded Liquid Crystal remotely around the time we were finishing up 2020.

J Hubner: What was the inspiration behind the EP? It’s a bit more nuanced and ambient in sound. 

AE Paterra: The driving force behind this release was simply an onslaught of new ideas.  After 2020 was finished we had a couple of tracks that we were still working on, so instead of shelving them we just kept moving, and added more to the mix.

J Hubner: I also wanted to say how much I loved 2019s Mass Flashback. How did you get involved with Holodeck Records?

AE Paterra: Thank you, I appreciate that. The Holodeck relationship started on a support tour I did with Survive – Adam Jones, who plays in that band and who also runs Holodeck with Amber Goers brought up the idea of working together on a future release.  After primarily working with Temporary Residence, I thought it’d be smart to work with some other people, see if my music could hit some different listeners.

J Hubner: Do you have any plans to release more with Holodeck?

AE Paterra: Not at the moment, but we’re both open to the possibility.

J Hubner: I just recently dove into your 2015 cassette release ‘Union of Worlds’. Absolutely amazing stuff. And it’s now getting a remastered vinyl reissue via SFI Records. What was the idea behind the album? It really stands on its own in terms of the Majeure canon.

AE Paterra: My solo releases have always been a way to get some ideas out either when Zombi isn’t working, or when I know it’s an idea that I wouldn’t consider for Zombi.  It keeps me moving, and I really enjoy the recording and production process, so that end of things is really fulfilling.  I can’t say there was any specific idea behind the album.  Most of my work skews toward sound collage over actual compositions.  I’m just trying to create a little escape and a sonic atmosphere that gels throughout an album.

J Hubner: I love the hazy vibe of tracks like “Overmind”, “Appalachian Winter Blues”, and “Unimara”. The album as a whole feels very dense and ethereal, with less emphasis on the percussive aspects of earlier releases. Was that something you intentionally wanted to do going into the writing process? 

AE Paterra: At the time I didn’t have a proper room or setup for recording drums. Mixing acoustic drums into the electronic world is a challenge.  In my opinion and experience, it’s quite difficult to meld the two worlds unless you have a somewhat clean drum recording.  So without a proper recording setup I was just exploring the ambient side of things so I didn’t have to worry about the drums at all. 

J Hubner: ‘Union of Worlds’ came out a mere week after the release of Zombi’s ‘Shape Shift’ in 2015. Were you writing and recording both at the same time? What’s your writing/recording process like in Majeure? How do you decide what’s a Majeure piece and what’s a Zombi piece? 

AE Paterra: I think that Union of Worlds was probably being wrapped up around the time we started work in earnest on Shape Shift. I seem to remember it took a while for the release to happen.  With writing, usually there are ideas that I really want to work on myself, pieces that are maybe a little more meandering and not as concise as something that Zombi would use.  And also there are times where I’m specifically writing for Majeure, and specifically writing with Steve for Zombi.  

J Hubner: How did you get connected with SFI Records for the reissue?

AE Paterra: We had met Andrew a while back and talked to him for a bit while he was working at Migration Fest in Pittsburgh.  He reached out and introduced SFI, explained his ideas, and I was more than happy to move forward with the release. 

J Hubner: With a new Zombi EP and the ‘Union of Worlds’ reissue dropping later this year, what else do you have planned for 2021? New Majeure? 

AE Paterra: I have nothing planned on the solo end of things – been working on some ideas but not all that enthused with anything.  I move pretty slowly.  I’ve got a few folders on my desktop with random bits n pieces, and I’ll play drums along with these ideas to see if anything jibes, and if so I’ll move forward.  Zombi is planning on touring in 2022, so hopefully that will all work out.  

J Hubner: One last question, did you hang out at the Monroeville Mall growing up in Pittsburgh? Driving thru PA not that long ago I had the urge to find it and visit, but I imagine it looks a little different from what it did in 1978. There’s probably not a Foxmoor Casuals or Brown Derby Steakery Luv Pub anymore. 

AE Paterra: That’s a question for Steve – he worked there!  I grew up in a different part of the city, so that wasn’t my mall.  I did go as a teenager, and went on a guided DOTD tour with Ken Foree a long time ago.  We got to go into the boiler room area which I thought was completely rad.  

Keep up with SFI Recordings and all their current and upcoming releases at their Bandcamp page. Right here.

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