Ultimate Interviews

Ultimate Interviews

Monday, March 17, 2014

Robert Miniaci

Coda's frontman speaks about performing, Led Zeppelin and Boomer. 

I was first introduced to Robert Miniaci during the summer of 2013, when I approached his Led Zeppelin tribute band CODA-The Raw Led Zeppelin Experience for an interview request for our fan page. His friendly disposition and personality made it easy to work with and along with the other members of the band, who were all equally wonderful, we successfully completed the interview and it was mutually shared on our pages.You can read it here: Coda Interview-2013.

Since then, I've been fortunate to attend various CODA shows around Southern Ontario. You can read the first show review here: Coda Review 2013. Each time, I was very impressed with the degree of professionalism these men have. They all know the material inside and out. They have fun and enjoy themselves on stage. They may not visually be your typical Led Zeppelin tribute band, but, what they lack in costumes, they make up for in music, stage presence and down to earth attitudes. They get on the stage and give the audience what they went there for. Straight up rock and roll, the Led Zeppelin catalogue played with passion, heart and soul. Friendships developed out of that initial interview and it's been my pleasure and honour ever since to support these guys whenever I can. 

When I heard that Robert was given the exciting opportunity to be part of a multimedia Broadway type production, I was happy for him and knew I wanted to help promote the show. Thanks to him, I was put in touch with the show's producer, and was granted an interview. You can read that exciting interview with Brian Walker, producer of 'Boomer' here: Boomer Interview 2014.

Photo: Robert Miniaci
On March 1, 2014, the 'Boomer' show hit the Newmarket Theatre, in Newmarket Ontario. I attended the show with a friend and my teenage son. It was absolutely incredible, and with the aid of visuals, the show did what it promised to do: "overstimulate the heart and mind". Stay tuned for a review of 'Boomer'.

I reached out to Robert and asked if he would be interested in doing an interview with us, regarding his performance in 'Boomer'. He generously agreed. With that said, the following is the outcome of that collaboration. 

LZUFP~How and when did you become aware of the 'Boomer' opportunity? What attracted you to the production? Was the song already chosen?

Robert: I first became aware of the 'Boomer' opportunity when I received an email through my CODA website.  It was an email asking if I'd like to audition for the role of the Led Zeppelin singer and in particular the song 'Black Dog'.  I was excited because this was another opportunity for me to perform in a professional Theatre. So, first off, I sent them my performance I did with 'Classic Albums Live'. They were very happy with what they heard. In the end, I was just excited to be part of a musical that was being geared towards the Theatre. 

LZUFP~You've taken the stage with CODA many times, but take us to the moment when you're just about to take to the stage during 'Boomer'? Anything particular you think about as you approach the microphone?

Coda Photo: LZ~UFP
Robert: It's funny, because with CODA we've must have done a couple of hundred shows. I always feel a bit anxious before a show, but with this I had a particular role to fill at a specific moment in the show.  My part wasn't to take place until after the intermission. I guess with all the waiting, I was feeling more anxious than usual. Very funny indeed. As usual, once I begin to take my place at the microphone, any thoughts or feelings of anxiousness I may have had prior to that point always seem to disappear. There's no more thinking, it's just, "here we go!"

LZUFP~Sometimes artists are their own worst critic.  Having a couple days to reflect back on your performance, watching video of it, how do you feel it went? Would you change anything, the approach to the stage differently?

Robert: Yes, I feel I am my own worst critic. Sometimes, that happens when I over analyze, so I try to avoid that now. Watching the playback now, there may be some slight alterations, but overall I'm quite happy with my performance. I'll turn to my wife and ask her what she thinks. If she says "It's just the way you like it...", then I know it's alright. HaHa!

LZUFP~How do you feel the addition of Led Zeppelin, with their place in history, fit within the production of 'Boomer'?

Robert:  I think the Zeppelin portion of the show fit in perfectly.  I mean, Zeppelin, like several other bands from those years played a big role musically and socially. Zeppelin weren't the most musically political band, but that's not what they were all about anyways. Though they did have an impact on people letting loose, celebrating, and letting go of inhibitions for a couple of hours.  Remember what was inscribed on the run off grooves of Led Zeppelin's third album: "Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the law."

Boomer Photo: LZ~UFP
LZUFP~Did you need to prepare your voice any differently with 'Boomer' compared to a CODA show, or even with a Classic Albums Live show? Also, do you find with the bigger venues, you need to project your voice or sing differently? How do you handle those situations?

Robert:  Well, with the 'Boomer' show, I was focused on really having my voice ready. I mean, here I am going out and singing 'Black Dog', so I wanted to make certain my voice was ready for that. Usually with CODA, 'Black Dog' isn't until the 15th song, so my voice is really worked in and ready to rock.  With the theatre shows, it's actually easier, in regards to sound. They have professional equipment, and you are working with Sound techs and stage hands, so you have a lot of technical help. With the mixes they have there, the sound quality really booms out and it's so clear!

LZUFP~Considering the length of time you've been performing with the guys in CODA (Rick Mercer, Paul Mathur, and Kelly Mauricette), you become comfortable with them, know the way they play etc. What was it like performing 'Black Dog' with a bunch of different musicians? As a singer, do you find it easy to adapt and perform with different guys on stage with you?
Coda Photo: LZ~UFP

Robert:  Yes it's true, after all these years of performing with CODA, we are very comfortable with each other.  Luckily, with the prior rehearsal for 'Boomer' I got to meet the guys in the band. They turned out to be really nice guys, and very approachable and easy to talk to. So, they made it easy for me. Being great musicians, we all knew our parts really well, so in the end it turned out to be a pleasure working and making music with them. For me, when the other musicians are nice fellows and easy to get along with, then that's half the battle.
Paul Mathur/Robert Miniaci at Boomer
LZUFP~In addition to the above question, what was it like having a bandmate in the audience? (Paul Mathur was in attendance with us at the show) Does that make you more nervous to have a band-mate, friends and family in the audience?

Robert:  Having a bandmate in the audience along with family and friends makes me feel very proud. If this were another time, I probably would be a bit nervous having them there. Not these days though. I'm very fortunate to have these opportunities and like I said, I'm proud to have family, friends and bandmates in the audience.

LZUFP~The last number of the night was 'Imagine' with all the cast and crew coming out on stage to finish the song. When the song ended and the show was over, what were you feeling? Were you relieved, would you have liked to have stayed on the stage and performed more? That bittersweet feeling when you work really hard, put on a show and it's done...did that cross your mind?

Photo: Robert Miniaci
Robert:  'Imagine', yes it was the last number of the evening. I was really happy we all came out and sang that one together. I thought that was a great idea, and it was good to encourage the audience to stand up and sing with us. I love audience participation. When the show ended, I was very proud of all the cast and crew, because they really brought their 'A' game to the show. As for wanting to do more after the show, I actually wanted to keep singing right after 'Black Dog'. But I realize I had a specific role to fill in the show, and I did it, so I was satisfied with that. Yes, it was a lot of work, and the show is done now, but maybe we may get to do it again, stay tuned folks!

LZUFP~Brian Walker (producer of the show/guitarist in band), told us in his interview that the production "was designed to over stimulate the viewer".  Despite being a performer, were you at any time fortunate to see any of the footage before hand in rehearsals?

Robert:  Yeah, the show was designed to warm the heart and stimulate the mind. I only saw all the footage at the show as it played out. So, I saw it as the audience was seeing it. Which was kind of cool, because I was in suspense wanting to see it. 

LZUFP~The singers selected for the show were all fantastic in their own roles. Were you watching during their performances from the side of the stage? What did you think of your fellow cast members?

Lee Keeley, Bob Witherspoon, Michele Kreposter, Kevin Bath
Boomer Photo: LZ~UFP
Robert:  Yes, I got to rehearse with two of the other singers, which was really cool. Also, earlier in the day prior to that evening's show, we did a run through. So I went out and sat in a seat, and got to hear all this amazing music happening. Of course, I was also watching and listening in the wings. I feel my fellow cast members are great people, and they are a tremendous talent. Incredible to listen to such voices. 

LZUFP~If the opportunity presented itself to you, would you want to do more 'Boomer' shows? Where would you like to see the production take itself? Example, bigger venues, more cities?

Robert:  Absolutely yes! If the opportunity presents itself, definitely I'd want to be a part of the show. Well, this may just happen. There may be more 'Boomer' shows taking place in other cities, maybe downtown Toronto. You will all have to wait and see!

Boomer Photo: LZ~UFP

Whether he's performing on a large theatre stage, or a tiny club stage with CODA, Robert Miniaci puts 110% into every performance. He works hard and enjoys what he does, and that comes across in the shows. I have witnessed his professionalism, when a rare technical mishap occurred during a show. Instead of stopping the band and restarting the song, he pushed forward, continued on with a smile and gave it all he had. He knows what it takes to be a great frontman, minus the ego that sometimes goes along with that role. 

While waiting for the next theatrical opportunity to come along, Robert continues to tour and perform with his bandmates in CODA. If you are lucky to have CODA performing in your city, be sure to check them out. Witness the Raw Led Zeppelin Experience for yourself - you won't be disappointed. 

I wish nothing but the greatest success for Robert and all the guys in CODA.

Special thanks to Mr. Miniaci for allowing us to be his guests at 'Boomer' and for being so accommodating and generous with his time participating in this interview. 

For tour dates and information on CODA:

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