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Deutsche VersionInterview mit Magnum (25.08.2004)

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One of the great pleasures of the hobby of music journalist are the opportunities to meet your idols, the people that create the music you love. On the Bang Your Head! festival in Balingen at the end of June I had the great honour to meet Tony Clarkin from Magnum and his bandmates Al Barrow and Harry James.

HH: First of all, I come from a Munich webzine named heavyhardes. I'm a very, very big fan of Magnum, from my 17th birthday on. You were my first hard rock band ever to guide me to this kind of music.

Tony: That's nice.

HH: I'm very glad to have this interview with you because if you're here it means you're feeling good.

Tony: Yes, that's right.

HH: How did you recover from your heartstroke? No problems so far? Do you have any instructions from the doctors to keep low, to keep down and not to over-exercise yourself?

Tony: *laughs* Exercise? I've got to take a lot of drugs and things, that's about it, really. I shouldn't smoke and relax a little bit.

HH: What kind of drugs?

Tony: Drugs that regulate blood pressure and things like that, it's a bunch that I have to take. It's alright now, I may look crappy, but I feel fine.

HH: I don't think you look crappy!

Tony: I've put on too much weight, really.

HH: But that looks healthy on you, I think. TC (unbelieving): Really? *laughs*

Al: He carries it well.

HH: This show is also a promotion for your coming album "Brand New Morning", which will come out in August. What will the fans find on this album? Has it the modern influences that showed up in "Breath Of Life" or will it be more back to the roots of Magnum?

Tony: I don't really know, it's just music to me. There is no Big Plan, you know, no masterplan to do this or do that. I just write a song, it just came out like that and everyone came to the studio and added their bits. Al played bass and Harry played the drums and Mark keyboard and it just came out this way. There's no big plan.

HH: How do you write songs? Do you just sit in your studio at home and play on the guitar and keep what feels good or...

Tony: Yes, it's pretty much that. I just sit at home, with guitar and drum shapes, and when I've got it pretty much how I think it will make a good song, I take that to the studio and put more guitars on and Harry put the drums on and Al played the bass and I showed Bob what I thought from the singing point of view. The singing was pretty much the last thing to be put on.

HH: Did you write all the material on Brand New Morning yourselves or did the others contribute riffs or melody lines? Or are you still the sole master in the band?

Tony: Well, no, I'm not the master, but, well... I write the songs. But everyone still has an input, you know, on what they're playing. He *points to Harry* came and played the drums in two days, which, you know, was crap. *laughs*

Harry: They wanted to replace me with somebody else, to come in and make it properly.

Tony: No, really, he just came in and played and in two days in the studio he got the whole album done.

Al: Cheque's in the post.

HH: Brand New Morning is the second album after the Magnum reunion. How did the idea to form this reunion come up in 2001?

Tony: It's a bit of a blur now, but I think our agent called me up and said "Why don't we put Magnum back together? I'm sure a lot of people would like to see Magnum get back together." Bob was already doing solo stuff, but I called him up and said "Are you interested in putting Magnum back together?" And he went "Yeah, good thing!" And that was exactly what happened and I then started to write some songs and that was it, you know?

HH: It was no problem to get Bob back in the boat? He had left Hard Rain in favor of his solo career, after all.

Tony: That's right, he did that. I was surprised, but he just said yes, so... that was good.

HH: So you dug Mark back up and...

Tony: *laughs* Yes, that's the right word!

HH: Yeah, nobody had heard of him in the last years, so...

Tony: That's true.

HH: Why did you get these two guys (Al and Harry) in the band? Was it because Wally (Lowe) and Mickey (Barker) didn't want to play any more?

Tony: Well, Mickey was playing with someone else and.. I mean, he was the first person I asked, but he got a really solid commitment with the band that he was in. We didn't try to get Wally back, because he lives in something like Tenerriffa now, you know, retired...

HH: ...and drinks cocktails...

Tony: ...yeah, something like that.

HH: How will your setlist be today? Will you concentrate on the old classics like Queensryche yesterday did or will you promote your new album and play more songs from Brand New Morning?

Tony: We're doing two songs from Brand New Morning, "Brand New Morning" and "We All Run" we've never have played live yet. That will be a laugh.

HH: How do you like the festival? Were you ever here in Balingen before?

Tony: I think it's the first time. We were supposed to be playing here two years ago but after the heart attack we couldn't. But I like it here. It's a beautiful place, it's a great festival.

HH: Did you see any of the bands?

Tony: No... We didn't arrive until ten o'clock last night, so we went straight to the pub. And I've been here today only about one hour.

HH: Will you go back immediately after you gig or will you remain a few days?

Tony: Tomorrow we'll go back.

Harry: We will chill and have a good time.

HH: Do the other bands at the festival interest you, are you going to watch Iced Earth or whatever or is this music you can't relate to?

Tony: I'm not that really familiar with any of the bands. It's a lot of bands I've never seen or heard of and they too have never heard of me *laughs*.

HH: What music do you listen to in private?

Harry: Britney Spears.

Al: Anything.

Tony: I don't have a preference in the styles of music I listen to.

HH: Do you buy CDs?

Tony: Normally I get them from the record companies where friends work and say "You gotta hear this".

HH: What was the last CD you got and listen to and said "Wow, that's good!"?

Tony: The Rasmus. That's a great band. They're really good.

HH: Do you use the internet?

Tony: Yes, only not me. In the first place, Al does. It's more like "Show me... show me this and that." But we do, yeah.

HH: What do you think of the filesharing problem. There's a big discussion at the moment and I always like to ask the bands what they think about it because what the record label bosses say is clear.

Tony: It's not like the 1990s any more...

HH: But you think it's theft when there's a P2P-network and people trade your songs back and forth?

Tony: I mean... at the end of the day, you have to spend money, we have to spend money to make a record... you've got a record deal with a record company, obviously the record company wants people to buy the record, so that they get back the money they spent on making the album - that's the first part. And then, like the band makes some money, I mean that is how we make a living, you know? It's a strange thing, I think, scary really. You shouldn't be able to... I wouldn't want songs that I've written just to be given away for nothing. You know, it's my job and it might be enjoyable, but it's a bit pricey to give it away and without sort of my permission, if you like. So that's what I think.

HH: What is the biggest difference between the music industry between the late Seventies when you started Magnum and now?

Tony: Probably that what you just said about the internet. I mean, still bands get screwed by record companies *laughs*, I'm sure they do. One would need some way to govern the internet somehow, so the right people get the money. To use an example: It's not like everyone's making the money Britney Spears is making. Some people are making just a really small amount of money. And that will get taken away from them. So it's the people like George Michael and Elton John as well, all they're gonna do is give their music away free. It teaches you then if you're a millionaire, then you can do that.

HH: Do you still have idols, people you look up to?

Tony: Ugh!

HH: Or did you have any?

Tony: Oh, sure I did, but... all my idols are dead *laughs*...do you mean in the music industry or anyway?

HH: Anyway.

Tony: All right. It seems nothing impresses me as much like I was younger, obviously, altough I'd like to marry Cindy Crawford *laughs*...I'm joking. I guess... idol's a bit strong word.

HH: What is the weirdest or funniest thing you ever experienced on tour or recording?

Tony: It was with Mark Stanway. We used to play at a place in Glasgow called "Barren Lands" and it's got a very dark stage. We put the intro music on to introduce the band and we walked around the blackened stage and Mark Stanway fell off the blackened stage, really high, and he fell into a flight case and knocked himself out and ripped his trousers wide out. We were really laughing. He could've really injured himself, but he didn't, but he knocked himself out down there and it was really funny. *laughs*

HH: Is there anything special you want to say to the Munich fans?

Tony: I just hope they like the new album.

HH: Will you come on tour with it?

Tony: Yeah! In October we'll be coming to Germany, September in England and Japan in November.

HH: I'll be there. By the way, are you football fans?

Tony: Only when England is playing.

Al: Harry is a big football fan.

HH: Because England fell out ouf the European tournament and Germany fell out and France too, last night...

Tony: We think only Portugal could win it, but we were wrong.

HH: Do you really think there was a Nordic conspiracy?

Harry: No no, just bad referee judgement.

HH: Thank you very much for the very nice interview, and if you don't have anything to do in the next half hour or so *whips out the booklets of _all_ Magnum albums ever to sign*... ...What album do you like best?

Tony: I like the new one, obviously. *signing the Rock Art cover* I like that one. It sold not that well, but I liked it very much. It's very hard to try and pick something you made yourself.

HH: *to Al* What album do you like most from Magnum?

Al: I must admit, I really liked Rock Art, I like a lot of the stuff they played on it.

HH: It's always Chase The Dragon or Storyteller's Night are always named as THE most influential album and THE best, and I really don't think so.

Tony: I liked On A Storyteller's Night; I don't listen to it now, it just seems so old, really old, in fact, but there was no bad song on it.

HH: And why did you shave off the beard and the hair?

Tony: I'm just such a handsome chap without it :).

HH: Thank you very much again for your time, it's been very great!

Tony: Thank you!


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