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Dan Pluta - Keyboards


How long have you been playing? 

I took classical piano lessons when I was a kid for about 5 years (starting at age 6). I've been in different bands over the years and have never stopped playing.

Do you play any other instruments besides keyboards?

No, but I do play a mean air guitar.

Can you tell us about your keyboard setup?

I use a wide variety of both analog and digital keyboards and I admittedly am a bit of a keyboard junkie. I just love the technology, the unique differences between the keyboards and the flexibility that they offer.


Here’s my gear: Access Virus Polar, Access Virus TI2, Dave Smith Instruments - Prophet~6, Prophet '08, Pro 2, Estonia 190 6'3" grand piano, Hammond XK-5, John Bowen Solaris, Korg KingKorg, Korg Kronos, Korg Triton Extreme, Kurzweil PC3K6, Mellotron 4000D, Moog Minimoog Voyager, Moog Sub 37, Nord Piano 2 HA88, Nord Wave, Nord Lead A1, Novation Supernova II, Novation UltraNova, Roland System 8, Roland AX-Synth, Studiologic Sledge 2.

I've always struggled with keyboard amps and have never been happy with what's out there. Ultimately, I opted for a PA set-up, using QSC K12 powered speakers and subwoofer, 3,000 watts of power... sounds excessive but it's really not... it's all about getting clean reproduction and having plenty of headroom. I use an Allen and Heath mixer to manage all the boards, a Yamaha SPX2000 Multi-Effect Processor, Rane DEQ 60 EQ, Boss Digital Delay DD-500, Roland Space Echo RE-20 and a Line 6 Relay G50 wireless system when I strap on the Roland AX-synth.

What bands/artists are your biggest influences?

Geez - my influences are so wide and plentiful. I love the classic '70s hard rock and so much of the classic prog music & obscure non-mainstream prog bands as well. I also really like a lot of the prog metal stuff too. In terms of my favorite keyboard players and those that have inspired me, there are many. To name a few of the more recognizable names - from the classic old school players: Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, Tony Banks, Eddie Jobson, Jan Hammer, Chick Corea, and Jon Lord. Then more currently: Vitalij Kuprij, Jens Johansson, Lalle Larsson, Jordon Rudess, Derek Sherinian, Richard Andersson, Gennady IIyin, Keiko Kumagai, Motoi Sakaruba, Toshio Egawa and Eric Norlander. There are many more. This is just the tip of the iceberg.  

What bands or artists did you love when you were a kid/teen?

My older brother brought home some killer albums when he first went to high school so my first exposure to "real" music was in grammar school. Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Robin Trower, Jethro Tull, The Allman Brothers Band and ELP. The '70s was a great time for music... very adventurous and all about the music, before it become all about business. So, the aforementioned bands and then Rush, Thin Lizzy, UFO, Scorpions with Uli Roth, Van Halen... basically good hard rock. In my mid to late teens, I really started getting into progressive music and fusion: King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Yes, Genesis, UK, Kansas, Al DiMeola, Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Brand X. Then I was totally captivated and blown away by Yngwie Malmsteen and the whole neo-classical movement in the '80s. It wasn't until the late '80s that I discovered all the fantastic prog bands from all over the world. The Internet essentially opened up a whole new expansive world to me musically and I gobbled it all up. I discovered so much great '70s international prog music from all over the world that I missed when it was happening. In the early 90s, I wasn't into the whole grunge movement. Prog metal quickly grabbed my attention and passion once I heard Dream Theater's Images and Words CD. I still like all this stuff... hard rock, progressive metal, progressive rock and hard hitting fusion. I really like the old jazz piano players like Art Tatum and Bud Powell. I also love 18th and 19th century classical piano composers - Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Haydn, Schubert, Schumann, etc. 

What do you think of the current music scene?

Mainstream and commercial music for the most part just doesn't move me. There is still an incredible amount of great music out there but one has to search to find it. It's underground, a subculture, but thanks to the Internet, readily discoverable.

How would you describe Carpe Nota's sound?

I see Carpe Nota as an instrumental hard rock band with very strong progressive rock influences. We are not a metal band, nor a prog metal band but we rock hard. We all have strong rock roots so that gives us an accessible sound. It's not too heady or esoteric. It's got grit and balls with a melodic sensibility. We've got a big, full sound with prominent keys, tasteful and ripping guitar, and very importantly, a very solid rhythm section.

What do you most enjoy about being a member of Carpe Nota?

We make great music together. There is something magical about playing live in a band where everything is clicking and you're playing together as one. It's such a rush, such a high. It's hard to communicate and explain the feeling. Everyone in this band is all in the same age bracket, in similar life situations and we all are dedicated and focused. Everyone is committed and we are all on the same page musically and work well together. We are creating and playing music together because we love it and we all believe in what we are doing. And most of all, we're having fun! It's a beautiful thing.

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