Leslie Mandoki on his favorite albums from the Mandoki Soulmates members and the new album ‘A Memory of Our Future’

New Mandoki Soulmates album ‘A Memory of our Future’ is out May 10th.

Mandoki Soulmates – the international and inter-generational supergroup consisting of rock and fusion grandmasters surrounding founder and mastermind Leslie Mandoki are set to release their latest album ‘A Memory Of Our Future’ on InsideOutMusic on May 10th, 2024.  The album was recorded and mastered entirely in analog, which is a rarity in 2024.  We caught up with Leslie to find out about the album and also ask him about his favorite releases from the other Soulmates’ bands.

TPR: So where did you have the inspiration to make the album all analog and how difficult was it?

LESLIE: Well, first, this album was not planned. It was more that we were on the road, doing anniversary concerts, shows worldwide. We felt the energy in the band. We traveled night by night on a nightliner. As we left Munich one night, about an hour later, I go upstairs and look behind the curtain and Mike Stern (guitarist) was sitting there with headphones and a guitar. It’s about 2:30 at night. He said, ‘That’s good you’re here. In the 42nd bar, this section, I think I wasn’t right on. Can we clear this up?’

If you’re in a band with that dedication to perfection, you feel the energy to write new songs. Everyone said, “Leslie, we have to record it right after the tour.” So we sat and said, “Okay, but how do we find the right balance between content and format? When you learn music, finding a balance for your musical ideas is crucial.”

We thought about my analog equipment. Do I still have it? Yes, in the basement, compact and functional, from 20, 25 years ago. Some parts needed repair, but they looked great. I was checking them technically and then emailed everyone, “We’re going to do it.”

We fixed the date, everyone came to the studio. Everything was written down, but nothing was arranged like, “Here’s an eight-bar saxophone, here’s an eight-bar guitar solo.” Everything developed naturally. That’s why this album stands out for two reasons: technical and musical.

Recording analog has different aspects. The art happens during the recording, not in post-production like in digital recording. You patch together different parts in digital, creating great art, nothing wrong with that. But we went back to sitting together, creating art in the moment.

It must have made the recording process more fun having everyone in the room together.

You could hear the room, the interaction, feel the interaction, how these things are going to interact sound-wise, but also playing-wise. The major difference to explain to someone who’s not a musician between analog and digital recording is like a handwritten love letter to our audience with a pen, with ink. The normal pop music you hear on the radio is like a text message because you can edit until the very end.

How do you approach working with the different soulmates, deciding who plays on which song? Does it sometimes come down to who is available?

Everybody’s available. It’s not about availability. No one left the band in 30 years unless someone joined Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. So, this is a community who truly loves what we’re doing.

I’m writing the songs, I’m producing, yes, I’m recording, but the magic of it is that I’m putting everyone in a space where they’re really giving their own sound aesthetic, may I call it, to the soulmates.As the point is, music, rock music, is not literature, and it’s not like painting because painters or writers work alone. But this is a different art. We have to create that together, so there’s leadership there.

To bring this all together, that’s really important. Very often I get asked, “How can you deal with egos?” Because we don’t have any egos. You know why? Because everybody’s a leader in their own band and leaders know that ego can destroy music.
We all serve music. This is about it because we all want to create something very special. If you just follow your own ego, then you don’t create anything special.

Talk about the opening track and first single “Blood in the Water.”

The world turns out to be a mess, you know. Back in ’89, like it was raining luck, the Cold War was over all of a sudden. Wiping that out, the old Iron Curtain, everything was over, and we had a huge chance to build a new world, very human, with much love in the world. But we messed it up. So, we said on the bus, “Blood is in the water, blood in the water.” Can we feel it? And then, the song was written.

I’m just the privileged guy allowed to create music out of that. That’s why you go through different waves in the song with the keys, Hammond, flute, and cello. Then all the vocals, singing about our young, innocent years and how we’ve lost that social innocence. How could we dare to allow that blood to come into the water?

Another single is “The Big Quit”, how did that one come about?

It’s pretty much the same period of time. Big Quit was written in a crazy moment. We were in a small lineup, just played for friends in Tuscany, on a hot summer night. It was a gathering of leaders, decision makers, and industry. A friend of ours had a huge birthday. We were partying, had a couple of great red wines open, and there was a piano. We were fooling around, playing music, talking about life.

Then it came, “Hard times create hard people, hard people create easy times, easy times create easy people, and easy people create hard times again.” That’s where we are now. And suddenly, around 2:30 in the night, I went to one of the rooms to have a little sleep. I had to write that down. I was singing the whole melody onto my iPhone. Life often writes those.
The rest was just playing, coming to the studio, reinventing for that song, using it in every other song as well. We don’t have structured solos, just playing, looking at each other, sharing here. It’s not about four bars, eight bars, 16 bars, but about figures, melodic statements. That makes it so different.

All the Soulmates come from incredible bands and have released great albums of their own over the years. What are some of your favorites?

As a musician, we listen sometimes a little differently to each other’s work. But of course, I’m happy to mention, like when I first heard Corey Henry jamming with the band in 2018. Wow, wow, wow. So we had to get him in the band. There was Richard Bona’s Bonafide in 2013, and this was just a wow.

But, you know, how did Richard come to the band? It was as a founding member, the late Jack Bruce. At the funeral, Jack was our captain; we all loved him as a very close friend. Eric Clapton, myself, and the family, we were at, after the funeral, we had a long night and at the end of that long night in London, my mobile phone was making some noise in my pocket, and there was Quincy Jones. He said, “Okay, you were at the funeral, and then, in four days, you will meet Richard Bona because you need a new bass player.”

I loved Al DiMeola on Romantic Warrior. Do you remember that piece, “Majestic Dance” on Return to Forever’s album, Romantic Warrior?

With Tull, it’s difficult because Ian’s such a genius that if you say Aqualung, okay, fine, but really whatever Ian was doing in his life, it still the same energy. He’s just a guiding light, musically, lyrically, production-wise.

Toto was always special because I love the way Jeff Porcaro was playing. He was in a different ball game. If you listen to “Rosanna,” a simple song, but the way he plays makes it so much different. I mean, he was a genius. And Bobby [Kimball] was, of course, one of the founding members.

Nick van Eede (Cutting Crew) is an incredible singer and songwriter. So, I’m very pleased that he’s always with us.
And of course, Breakfast in America by Supertramp really changed a lot of things there.

Some of the old Manfred Mann Earth Band stuff like “Blinded by the Light,” where my soulmate Chris Thompson is singing.
Brecker Brothers ‘Heavy Metal Bebop’, incredible. Or Blood Sweat & Tears, fantastic stuff. ‘Bitchs’ Brew’ with Mike Stern and Bill Evans performing with Miles Davis, you know, so, I’m really very proud.

Do you enjoy the studio or being on stage more?

Honestly, both belong to each other. So, I wouldn’t love my life so much if I only did studio things. I wouldn’t love my life if I only did live things, you know. That keeps you young because, during a certain period of the year, you’re touring, and during another period, you’re in the studio. And that’s good. It’s good to have both.

Order A Memory Of Our Future here:


1. Blood in the Water – 06:54
2. Enigma of Reason – 10:06
3. The Wanderer – 05:03
4. The Big Quit – 08:35
5. Devil’s Encyclopedia – 05:47
6. A Memory of My Future – 06:26
7. I Am Because You Are – 04:32
8. My Share of Your Life – 07:48
9. Age of Thought – 04:38
10. Matchbox Racing – 06:56
11. We Stay Loud – 05:25
12. Melting Pot – 05:51

Line-Up on this album:
Leslie Mandoki
Ian Anderson
Al Di Meola
Mike Stern
Randy Brecker
Bill Evans
Till Brönner
Tony Carey
Cory Henry
Nick Van Eede
Simon Phillips
Jesse Siebenberg
John Helliwell
Mark Hart
Julia Mandoki
Steve Bailey
Richard Bona


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