Cris Cohen: With the “Three Fates Project” and other such stuff, spending a lot of time working with Keith Emerson, how did he, a keyboardist extraordinaire, influence you as a guitarist?
Marc Bonilla: All through my early formative years. I still have my vinyl of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “Tarkus,” “Trilogy,” and “Brain Salad Surgery” with the binder paper that I had in high school with everything written out. I copped all of his keyboard parts. I would play them because they were just beautiful. I could play all of those records. I couldn't even begin to tell you how much he influenced me. And he was a keyboard player, but he got me into classical music, which was a number of the people that he opened (me up to). You know, “Who's Mussorgsky? ‘Pictures at a what?’ ‘Fanfare for the Common who’?” And then I would go back and I would listen to the originals and go, “Wow! This is great!”
He opened so many players up to the classical world, either opened the door from the rock into classical or from classical into rock. In Munich during the “Three Fates,” so many of the players were coming up to him and going, “If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be here in the orchestra.” And he was floored. He wasn't expecting it.
So my thing with him was to try to pay that back a little bit. He'd never really been in a four-piece band. He was always shouldering the load, you know, in Emerson Lake & Palmer. But now he had a guitar player. We could do stuff together. And his favorite thing was to comp, let me go out there and do stuff and comp and play chords behind it. He could relax a little bit. Then he would come back out and do his thing.
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