TRENT GARDNER SPEAKS FRANKLY
WITH DPRP'S MARTIEN KOOLEN
Last year Magellan released “Hundred Year Flood” and now their fifth album in twelve years is put on the market by another record company (Inside Out). All about that split with Magna Carta and the new album will be revealed in this interview I had with Trent; so read and enjoy, I hope ...
“Well, I really had it with that company, they are probably the worst record company you could work for as an artist. They do not treat you right, they lack in making promotion and most of all they do not pay properly. But in the first place they tended to become less and less progressive, they were not interested in our music anymore. I wanted to take the music of Magellan to the next level, but they were not interested in that, they were incompetent or maybe even better unwilling to participate in that process. It was very difficult for me and I wanted to get out of there, but they would not let me. They wanted to hold Trent Gardner with Magna Carta; so I have been fighting for three years to get away from them. I even hired in an attorney and that cost me a lot of money, so now I have to start from scratch actually, I have to start all over almost, I am broke so to say, thanks to you know who ...
I could have released this album much earlier, but I was not allowed to, legally, because Magna Carta said : “f**k you”(for almost three years), but hey I said : “No, f**k, you MC, I will release this material with another company!” I talked with Inside Out two years ago already and they were happy and eager to have me on board; they liked the new stuff and I immediately felt comfortable with them. I think it is a better “home” for me. You know if the guys of MC carry on like this, every artist will leave them, because they are all ripped off by them. Why do you think that members of Dream Theater stopped their side projects with them? I think, there will be an exodus at MC, that label stands on its last legs. They treat people like shit and now they get what they deserve and actually it is rather a shame. Because this label had such a good prospective, there was an opportunity for them, and their artists, to become great, even worldwide. But they played it the wrong way and now the shit hits the fan. I suggested to them to release the Leonardo project as a Magellan album, but they refused, they were not interested and I never got paid for that Leonardo stuff till this day; no royalties, no nothing. I really believe that these pencil pushers are a criminal organisation and it’s therefore that I got myself a lawyer to get my money. I want my money, but I doubt it if I ever get paid ...
If I would have been with a different label then I would have been much further with my musical career, now I feel like I am five years behind just because of them. So it was time to move on and make some decisions; step 1: leave MC as soon as possible, step 2: release a new album and step 3: trying to do some live shows with the help of the new record company.”
“I know that some people might feel/think that 45 minutes is a bit short for an album, but you have to buy the limited edition to get a bonus track, ha ha ha ... No, seriously, I am a musician of the old school, I love vinyl albums and they lasted “only” 40 to 45 minutes and they were great. A CD with 70 or 80 minutes packed with music is too much; if you cannot make your point in 45 minutes then just forget about it!! You need quality and not quantity; I know that the Leonardo project is longer than 45 minutes, but it just took me longer to make my point; it was more complicated.”
The new album is definitely more melodic, am I right?
“I could not agree with you more, I refocused my musical ideas for this album. You know, there are some many bands out there, all doing their best and releasing albums and I think that the music of Magellan should be recognisable; we should stand out of the crowd. Of course it is great when people say: “These guys can really play”, but if you ask them to name a song or even ask them to sing or hum something from that band, and they cannot do so, then you are in trouble. Listeners should remember the songs, they have to recognise a certain melody or feeling in a song and that is I what I tried to do with the new material. It will take maybe two or three albums before we reach that with Magellan songs, but I think that it will pay off in the end.”
Take as example the musical evolution of Rush.
“Exactly, mate. In the beginning they composed very long tracks – “2112” – but later on in the early eighties Rush started to make some changes. They focused on much shorter, melodic and recognisable tracks, like “Tom Sawyer” and that sort of stuff. They got more melodic and they were even more appreciated; I love their work. If you listen very carefully to “Feel The Cross”, near the break, you will hear something from the Rush song “Hold Your Fire” ... Yes, I think that you are making a valid comparison there, and it is always a great compliment if you are compared to such an outstanding progressive rock band.”
How would you describe your music?
“In the first place I would have to say that it is good music, ha ha ha … No, it just straightforward progressive rock music.”
The vocal parts on this album are almost superlative, did you practise a lot?
“I never practise, ha ha ha. It is just that the songs on this album are much better than on the previous one and that makes it all easier. The vocal parts were really easy stuff this time, I sang right through the complete set of songs; the feeling was right and I hope that as a listener you can hear that we really enjoyed ourselves recording this album.”
In songs like “Late For Church” or “Hymn For A Heathen” the lyrics are about religion, how religious are you?
“I certainly do not mean to preach or anything like that, it is just a feeling, an introspective, you can listen to it, read the lyrics, but it is not that important to me.”
Who is the heathen, you ?
“Good question, but I am not going to tell you that. The answer to that question can be read on our website in the near future. Then I will also reveal whose head is on the cover and the answer will blow you away, it is a big surprise. So check out our web site regularly.”
“A World Groove” is rather a strange Magellan song, is it not?
“Yes, it is. Well I tried to make a song with musical aspect from all around the world. I used some ethnic percussion and some strange instruments, but this really was a bitch of a song to record; this was not easy and I wonder how we are going to do this one live ...”
“You know that it is always a question of money to set up a tour and then actually go on tour. As I told you before our financial situation is very poor at the moment, thanks to you know who … and I just hope that Inside Out will be supportive for us regarding live projects. But first of all there must be lots of progressive lovers out there that will buy our new album and than we will make another album and then we have enough material to actually go on tour. I want to be belong to the road warriors, I want to play live and reach my listeners ... But at this moment it is sheer survival for us, so I do not think that in the near future you will have the opportunity to see/hear Magellan live. Maybe we could open up for a band, say like Jethro Tull, but if that happens in 2004 it will be a miracle. However I promise all our fans that we will be coming to Europe, because that is our “base”, but I cannot say when and where exactly.”
“Inside Out are open for all my ideas, they liked my side projects such as Explorer’s Club and Leonardo, so maybe there will be a second Leonardo project … But Magellan is the main band for me and for Inside Out, I am really refocusing on Magellan, top priority!!”
“The reactions/reviews concerning the new album were great. I think that it is very difficult to review a progressive rock album – I don’t envy you – even I, as the maker of the songs, hear new levels in every song every time I listen to them. I really appreciate the opinion of music critics, but still there will always be people who do not like progressive rock music, but so what??? Actually I like bad reviews, maybe it would be a good idea to put all the bad reviews on our site, what do you think?”
If you read a really bad review about one of your albums, are you not angry or upset?
No, I think that maybe I can learn something from a bad review, ha ha ha. My ego is not affected if I read a bad one, so do not worry, I think that I have the right attitude regarding that aspect of the musical business.”
Thanks for your time and interesting answers.
“Thank you and keep up the good work.”