Magnum

Interview for DPRP by Menno Von Bruchen Fock, April 2012

Line-up (L-R): Tony Clarkin (guitar), Mark Stanway (keyboards), Bob Catley (vocals), Harry James (drums), Al Barrow (bass)

A Brief History

Magnum in the present day is what we tend to call a ‘mastodon’ in contemporary melodic (heavy) ‘art rock’. They started their impressive career as the house band at Birmingham’s famous Rum Runner night club (later the home of Duran Duran). The line up at the beginning of the seenties, joining Tony Clarkin and Bob Catley, was completed by drummer Kex Gorin and former Uglys and Balls bassist Dave Morgan (later a member of ELO). The band line up remained the same until 1972 when Les Kitcheridge joined temporarily on guitar. Jeff Lynne (ELO) mentioned the band to Jet Records (managing director was Don Arden whose daughter Sharon eventually married Ozzy Osbourne) but it took two more years to record the debut album Kingdom Of Madness. Although Magnum supported Judas Priest in 1977, the first big opportunity came in 1978, when Magnum toured the UK in October/November as support to David Coverdale’s Whitesnake. Leo Lyons, bassist with Ten Years After, produced the follow-up album Magnum II. Tours with a.o. Blue Oyster Cult, Krokus & UFO followed and they toured with Def Leppard in their On Through The Night UK tour in March 1980. For the second leg in April, Mark Stanway took over keyboard duties. Magnum also appeared at the Reading Festival in 1980. April 1981 saw another support tour with Tygers Of Pan Tang on their Spellbound UK tour.

Jeff Glixman (of Kansas fame) produced Chase The Dragon (1982) which reached #17 in the UK, and included several songs that would be mainstays of the bands live set, notably Soldier Of The Line, Sacred Hour and The Spirit. This was the first Magnum release to feature the artwork of fantasy artist Rodney Matthews. The tour included a support slot with Krokus in February on their One Vice at a Time UK tour, as well as a few US dates were played during the summer of 1982, supporting labelmate Ozzy Osbourne – these would ultimately prove to be the only live gigs the band have ever played (to date) outside of the UK and Europe. The band returned to the UK in July for their own headlining tour of the UK, but the big breakthrough didn’t come so far.

A funny story from that period (1982) is that the BBC wanted The Move to play live at a jubilee show and planned the entire thing without having the consent of the members, who had split years before. The only one who was prepared to do the show was Carl Wayne (who died in 2004), but the other members refused. As the show was already confirmed, the BBC needed a stand-in and contacted Magnum via Dave Morgan. The band agreed and backed Carl at the show with Bob doing the background vocals and the tambourine. As the show was broadcast on the radio, there are some quite good quality tapes around, so watch out for them. Parts of the show were even released on a BBC-LP called Heroes and Villains, which is really hard to get by now! On that occasion a Magnum radio session at the BBC was arranged and recorded but not published before the sampler Long Days Black Nights in 2002.

In spite of the release of their final album for Jet Records The Eleventh Hour (artwork again by Rodney Matthews) more trouble was to come. The album did rather well, but was considered to be weaker than Chase The Dragon.

Tony Clarkin’s mother died and Tony subsequently got seriously ill, which hit him so hard that he had to withdraw from the tour and it took him such a long time to recover that the entire rest of the tour had to be staged without him. The rest of the band hired Laurence Archer from Stampede and Grand Slam as a stand-in and he learned the songs as quickly as possible, but he kept his own style nevertheless. The result was quite interesting – Magnum on stage without their mastermind! 
At the end of the tour Tony had still not recovered and the future of the band was doubtful. Mark Stanway decided to leave the band to join Phil Lynott’s Grand Slam along with Laurence Archer. Then Kex left too, he had no other choice as he had a family to feed and a mortgage to pay off. Having already played a tour with Trapeze he now joined Robin George in whose band Mark was meanwhile playing, too. Mark also recorded an album together with their former support band Stampede called Hurricane Town. Robin, Kex and Mark recorded an album called Dangerous Music together. Later Kex played in Roy Wood’s band. The end of Magnum seemed to have come and even Bob couldn’t hold back his tears on stage because those concerts were seemingly the last ones the band would play. As Bob seemed to be forced to look for a new job, he was offered Ronnie James Dio’s job in Rainbow (which he turned down). He asked Malcolm Dome for help to find him a new band and then applied for an audition in Black Sabbath to replace Ozzy Osbourne but that didn’t work out. So the early to mid eighties were not the most pleasant years for the band, also having to deal with legal issues against their former record company, Jet Records.

Clarkin recovered from his illness just in time to write the music for the one and only release through FM records: the highly successful On A Storytellers Night album, featuring the artwork of Rodney Matthews once more and produced by the renowned Kit Woolven. The album was re-released world wide at a later stage through Polydor. Although Mark Stanway had left Magnum to join Grand Slam, he came back to the fold in 1986 when the band signed a record deal with Polydor. The successor to On A Storytellers Night was co-produced by Queen drummer Roger Taylor in 1986, entitled Vigilante. The line up at the time: Tony Clarkin, Bob Catley, Wally Lowe, Mickey Barker and Mark Stanway. In 1987 work started on the next album Wings of Heaven, which would become Magnum’s commercially most successful album and the band toured a.o. with Marillion. Subsequently the band toured Europe in 1988, the year Tony Clarkin became a grandfather. After a live video, two compilation albums and a live album the band tried to get to the USA and released Goodnight L.A. (1991), but the tour fell through. The contract with Polydor had ended and the successor to Goodnight L.A., entitled Sleepwalking was produced by Tony Clarkin himself and turned out to be a onetime release through the Music For Nations Company. The album saw the return of Rodney Matthews’ artwork. The band toured Europe and a.o. Russia, but again there were problems with the management and the band suffered from bad coordinated tour schedules with the release of the album Rock Art. Eventually this brought the band to the decision to call it a day. In 1995 “The Last Dance” tour commenced and on December 17th Magnum seemingly played their last show, recorded as The Last Dance (Europe) and Stronghold (UK, again with artwork by Rodney Matthews). Mark Stanway had other business interests, while Wally Lowe sold his guitar and pursued his main interest: cycling. Mickey Barker kept on drumming in several bands. Tony and Bob decided to continue their collaboration which resulted in the two Hard Rain albums with in the line up on the bass one Al Barrow.

T2001 marked the reunion of the band and Mark Stanway returns to play keyboards with Magnum. With several hiatuses Harry James is the main drummer for Magnum in the new millennium. Al Barrow is the new bass player for Magnum and is well experienced in IT. He refurbishes and updates the Magnum website to a fully professional level. The albums Breath Of Life, Brand New Morning, Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow and Into The Valley Of The Moonking were released between 2001 en 2009, the latter two celebrating the return of Rodney Matthews as featured artist for the artwork. The double live album Wings Of Heaven Live (artwork also by Rodney Matthews) features two sets, one of those being the album Wings Of Heaven played live in its entirety. The last studio album, which features artwork from both Rodney Matthews and Al Barrow is entitled The Visitation. The band will release the successor to The Visitation in September 2012. The album will be entitled On The 13th Day.

This interview took place in the M2 studio near Birmingham with Bob Catley, Tony Clarkin and Rodney Matthews, the latter present to discuss his preliminary sketch of the artwork for the forthcoming album.

Menno: From the first gigs Bob & Tony did together it’s 40 years, from 1972 -2012… Any special celebrations?

Bob: Yeah that sounds about right (laughing). We’ve been working together for such a long time now and we’ve kept the name Magnum for all these years because it’s a good name and it worked out fine for me and Tony.

Tony: We haven’t thought about any special shows to celebrate yet. What we’re doing now is recording a new album and we certainly will go out on tour after the release of that album but that’s all for now.

Menno: On The 13th Day will be your 18th or (if you count Vintage Magnum and Evolution as studio albums too, the 20th studio album). Where does the title come from?

Tony: The title comes from one of the first songs I wrote for the new album. Actually, when I started to write the lyrics, it was called “On The Twelfth Day” but when I started looking on the internet there were like a million songs and movies called “On The Twelfth Day” so I changed the title into “On The 13th Day”. Of course you have things like that horror film and ‘Friday the 13th’, but in the end I said to myself: okay I’m going to find something completely original anyway. The only other thing I could find was an Indian film that had got to o something with the 13th Day. The 13th has got the dominance and there’s something mystical about it, so that’s why I chose that title.

Menno: There’s no concept behind it?

Tony: Well, there is a concept within the song itself, though it’s not a conceptual album. In the song all kinds of things happen on the thirteenth day so it’s a sort of punch line.

Menno: You probably began your careers making music in the sixties so you both are probably in your sixties as well, an age a lot of people begin to think about retirement. How do you feel about retirement?

Tony: Oh no (laughing), we’re just getting started!

Bob: (grinning too) Well I guess a lot of people our age are considering retirement or have retired so we’re surrounded by people who have already retired but it doesn’t seem to work for us that way. It’s like: retire? Are you joking? What am I to do if I’m not working? I wouldn’t know what else to do so I think I’ll stick to singing, I‘m still enjoying myself too much you know.

Tony: Yeah me too, more than ever. When I was younger I didn’t like it as much as I do know. There was too much hassle: all these managers and record companies telling you “you got to have a hit record and it’s gotta be top five”.

Bob: Yes, there was an awful lot of pressure.

Tony: These days we are our own entity so to speak. I write the songs I wanna write, but I always run them through Bob, tell him what the song is about and make sure he’s comfortable with it. We make our own decisions, not the record company. The company we’re with now is SPV. The guy we liaise with is Olly Hahn (manager of Steamhammer, SPV). He happens to be a big supporter of the band. I write the music and he does the business side of things. That’s exactly how you’d want it so I guess we’re lucky in that aspect.

Menno: So the financial problems SPV ran into didn’t affect you guys?

Tony: No it hasn’t affected us. We re-signed to them and they have been very honest with us. It looked like it was going to be a total disaster but it didn’t turn out like a catastrophe at all! I can’t remember the details though….. because I’m in my sixties you know (grinning).

Bob: Well I’m not! (Tony laughs out loud).

Tony: It was like the last Rock Company would bite the dust but it didn’t happen fortunately.

Menno: I read something about Mark doing some management tasks and I understand Harry James is back full time, so no more Thunder for him?

Tony: That’s another Mark (Mark Stuart)! Mark Stanway however is usally ac ting as our tour manager. Thunder doesn’t really exist anymore. The get together about once a year or so and do a couple of shows, but that’s it.

Menno: Al (Barrow) is involved in the artwork of all the albums?

Tony: Yeah, he sort of puts it all together, finds bits and pieces to make all the t-shirts for when we go on tour and all that. He’s done some good stuff to go with Rodney’s (Matthews) artwork so I’m really looking forward how he will put together the artwork for the forthcoming album!

Menno: I don’t think I’ve seen on your website that you sell albums or DVD’s; are there any restrictions because of the contract with SPV? Do you sell albums (autographed) on the road?

Tony: Well, we do sell some of our stuff on the road and Olly Hahn knows about this, but not through the website, we just don’t do that.

Menno: 2012 also marks the 30th anniversary of Chase The Dragon and the 20th anniversary of Sleepwalking. Are you planning to highlight (one of) these albums in the upcoming tour?

(Bob starts laughing and Tony mesmerises).

Tony: We have done things like that with On A Storytellers Night (and of course Wings Of Heaven) and it was a great success, people loved it. But to be honest I don’t like going back.

Bob: Once you’ve done a couple of those kind of shows you just don’t wanna do them anymore. Although I love the old stuff and we do play older songs on stage but the focus is always on the new stuff, that’s what keeps us going. Tony loves to write and I like to learn new lyrics: to keep going back all the time would be killing. I guess it’s about half and half: half old and half new. And really you can’t win anyway because there are people who only want to hear the old stuff and there are also fans who’d rather want to hear the newer songs.

Menno: Are there any songs you play on each tour?

Bob: Yeah, Kingdom of Madness, How Far Jerusalem and Les Morts Dansant…. there are certain songs they just won’t let us drop, believe me. And they should be there because they deserve to be there. Furthermore we tend to play ‘older’ newer songs in a little different arrangement to keep things fresh and of course we try to push the new songs each time we tour.

Menno: Are you considering to play the whole new album live or one time as a ‘launch’?

Bob and Tony: No!

Bob: That would be silly, it would be too much.

Tony: Although I’d like too, it would be too much to rehearse and learn; it isn’t like ‘just go and play’. It would take several weeks of rehearsals maybe for just that one gig, it doesn’t make sense does it?

Menno: No I guess it doesn’t…..So you’ll stick to four or five songs from the new album? (Bob & Tony nod to confirm) Where does the inspiration come from musically: aren’t you afraid to repeat yourself? How do you avoid that?

Tony: Inspiration is never a problem. I have like a million notes in my head and to avoid repeating myself is why I bring all my stuff here. Sometimes Bob goes like: I think you have done that… “whenever”. I write far more songs than that we actually use so there’s so many melodies in my head, it’s a constant buzz. Sometimes I play something to Bob and he says: “wow that sounds great” and we both wonder why we never used it before, but it also happens that I’m contemplating and listening to my own stuff for weeks and when I decide to play it to Bob he goes like: “hey Tony we’ve used this for instance on the Visitation album”. That particular song got turned around so much that I’d forgotten! If it sounds too similar to something else according to Bob, I’ll go home and change it or just discard it.

Menno: Do you use the guitar only for composing purposes or nowadays the computer too? It always starts with a guitar riff?

Tony: Well yeah, I’ll use my guitars, a drum machine, keyboard, a little bit of bass and the computer as well. Usually I just sit around and start with a fairly simple rhythm on the drum machine and then I’ll mess around with my guitar and often suddenly I find something I think sounding good and start from there. Often I’ll go back to these first notes probably the next day or so. One time I think it’s rubbish, the next will be the beginning of a new song, it’s a matter of trial and error.

Menno: Does it occur you think it’s rubbish and Bob thinks otherwise?

Bob: I’m not privileged to that part (pretends to be hugely disappointed).

Tony: (laughing) I’m not bringing in anything I don’t think is worthwhile. I realize there could be stuff people might like but I don’t work on something I don’t particularly like myself, it’s a personal thing you know. Little things can change a song or influence me in a certain direction and what I present to Bob can be nothing more than a rough idea, even without lyrics or as little as what the song would have to be about.

Bob: Sometimes I put my voice down, Tony hears it and takes it from there.

Tony: Usually it’s a finished song but all ‘computered’; most important are the chord sequences. Of course everybody has to come in and do their parts but most of the changes have been made through Bob.

Bob: Most of the time it’s: play that please, but if you can improve it, that’s fine. What Tony comes up with it’s like the guide and we can all work around it.

Menno: Does everyone come in at the same time to record their parts of is it just one by one?

Tony: In the studio here, it’s just me and Bob. We fool around and change tempos and keys hundreds of times.

Bob: Yes, that’s the first thing that happens; is it the right key for my voice? We keep on changing the tempo quite a bit but when we’re done, that’s about how the song is going to be for the biggest part.

Tony: (nodding) Then at first Al comes in and does the bass, then Harry for the drum parts and then Mark to do the keyboards.

Menno: Those lovely instrumental interludes or intro’s, are they brainchildren of Mark?

Tony: Uhm, no. I do those at home and got that all sorted out. Sometimes Mark however suggests to use a piano instead or something like that, but it’s all done by me.

Menno: You will embark on a tour later this year: which countries are you planning to include besides Germany and UK? Any countries you didn’t go to the last 5-10 years including the Netherlands? Germany and the UK are commercially the most important countries for Magnum?

Tony: Germany is certainly a good market for us and a new market we discovered in recent years is the Czech Republic. We’ve gone back there for a couple of times and we will probably go back again. In the Netherlands we used to play the Paradiso years ago but it seems nobody in Holland wants to book us so we’ll have to wait and see (MvBF: currently there is one date confirmed in Kerkrade on November 1st 2012!!, one more in Vosselaar – Belgium and one in Vaureal -France).

Bob: So far we haven’t been to other Eastern European countries but we’d love to play there too. We started to play at one venue in the Czech Republic and we will play in two on the forthcoming tour. It’s a ‘build thing’ you know so we’re hoping to play in countries like Slovenia or Poland at some point, we’ll see.

Menno: How about Japan or the US?

Bob: Well we do sell records in Japan but it’s not enough to warrant a visit, because it’s an expensive endeavour.

Tony: (laughing) Maybe Rod(ney Matthews) can put up a good word for us when he’s there because from the US we haven’t received a call yet. (MvBF – RM is contemplating about a business trip to the USA). UK and Germany, obviously home of the SPV are important for us but also Scandinavia.

Menno: You have been making music for over 40 years now: what are the biggest changes in recording throughout all those years?

Tony: The technology makes a huge difference. I can do anything at home nowadays, in the old days everything was done in the studio. I can reach a far higher level of precision in the songs and how I want them to sound compared to the earlier period. We never worked in the studio as a band even in the early days.

Bob: Although we rehearsed for six weeks as a band when we went to America, but that was for a tour, not for recording an album.

Tony: We set up our own studio over ten years ago and bought a couple of machines, a 48 track recording device, a desk and all that stuff: it’s worth nothing now. It’s all so archaic. Machines we bought for like 15-20 thousand quid are costing no more than 1500 -2000 quid nowadays. I sold the desk for about threepence… I mean technology moved on so quickly when pro-Tools, Logic and things like that came on the market: all the effects you’d ever want, you’ve got in your program: like thousand and thousands of tones you have available you’d have to buy in the old days. Everything is now at your fingertips and you can even make a record in the house, but as Rodney can vouch for, I play very loud and you could never do that in your house (laughing).

Rodney: Yeah, he nearly ruined my hearing once. He was in another room risking his career playing a few notes on one of my projects. I had been going to the toilet or something and when I came back through the studio, his amps and speakers were in the room I was passing through and he suddenly decides to play something ….. what a blast, couldn’t hear anything the rest of the day (all laughing).

Menno: That is what we call “totally blown away”…… What influences has technology played for you as performing artists? Do you use in ears?

Bob: Yeah sure, wouldn’t know what to do without them although I must admit I was rather slow in using them, being an old school artist. I always complained about the monitors until someone suggested in ears and I started fiddling around with them a bit. I tried one, I tried another and in the end I found the ideal ones and it’s just fantastic, makes a huge difference.

Tony: Mark uses in-ears on stage, Al is talking about starting to use them but not for me. I think I have about four monitors around me and that’s the way I like it. It’s a bit of a problem for the engineers to position the monitors in such a way that I’m happy and they don’t disturb the balance in the sound for the first few rows.

Menno: What’s the role of selling cd’s, merchandise and live performances today compared to the seventies? The internet a blessing or a threat?

Bob: Obviously the sales of albums is less than earlier on, but the legal downloading still brings in some money. I would say the internet is a bit of both.

Tony: Without merchandise we wouldn’t be able to tour but a new record is like a promotional tool as well. It lets people know you’re still there and that’s one of the reasons people decide to come and see us play. MP3’s are going up, cd’s are plummeting. Also SPV puts out 12 inch vinyls which is great. They’re not massive sellers but like one each day and that’s terrific.

Menno: Are you involved in all releases by Magnum?

(MvBF – by the way there is a lovely box set The Gathering available with artwork by Rodney Matthews, the original artwork was a commission by and owned by yours truly!!).

Bob: No we’re not. We don’t have control.

Tony: Yeah, they keep putting out albums and some of them aren’t even legal. It’s very irritating.

Menno: Since Magnum will have released six full length studio albums this year since the reunion, the last few years an album every year, so I’d say Magnum has been pretty busy this millennium. Does is mean Bob’s solo career has been put on hold since 2008?

Bob: Yes, there far too much going on with Magnum these last years and I certainly don’t want to put out and concentrate on something at the expense of this, it wouldn’t be right, so indeed it’s on the side at the moment.

Menno: But in the mean time you have been involved with Tobias (“Edguy”) Sammet’s Avantasia? Can you comment on your collaborations with Nolan, Wakeman and Sammet?

Bob: Avantasia is something that comes along every few years when I’m fortunate enough to do it if I’m available and that may happen in the future, I don’t know. Clive Nolan was a long time ago, I did the album Jabberwocky with him and with Oliver Wakeman I did Hound of the Baskervilles but I don’t do these kinds of things anymore, just kept Avantasia. Nolan and Wakeman were purely sessions, I gave them my voice but I wasn’t involved in the making of those albums at all.

Menno: How about this nice chap standing here on the left of me: your collaboration with Mr. Rodney Matthews goes back to some thirty years ago? I believe Chase The Dragon was the first album he did the artwork for didn’t he?

Bob & Tony: Yes indeed it was.

Rodney: If I remember correctly this is what happened. I read an article in the Music Press by a certain Mr. Tony Clarkin and I bought one of your early albums. I liked your approach to music, the contents of the lyrics and the music itself as well, stuff like Changes for example. So I decided to write to you through your record company -that must have been Jet Records- and I included some of my Michael Moorcock illustrations. When I was looking at Tony’s lyrics at the time there were one or two things that suggested he had read some of the Moorcock stories.

Tony: Yeah, (grinning) I stole them….

Rodney: Well it was not as blatant as the Tygers of Pan Tang but anyway I was convinced Tony was a Moorcock fan so I sent him some of my stuff and he contacted me and he said he liked the illustrations and that he would have a word with Jet Records. That’s how I got to do the Chase The Dragon album which originally was to be entitled The Spirit. I did another thing for the inside spread of that album with the same city on a pinnacle of rock, eventually called Sanctuary. The object in Chase The Dragon was that The Spirit is something eternal. Originally the first one was the city in the desert, the city representing The Spirit. Then a sort time lapse and the city in the same place but the earth around had changed drastically. The title The Spirit got changed into Chase The Dragon and Jet Records didn’t want the folded cover. That’s as far as my memory goes…

Menno: Then the change of cover artist came with Vigilante. Why was that? Record company?

Tony: I’d spoken to Rodney about the cover for Vigilante and he’d come up with some really good stuff and he sent me a pencil drawing, but the record company went “Oh, we got this bloke, you have to see him.” So here I was with this pencil drawing of Rodney’s and this guy sent me his artwork on something like a piece of toilet paper and it looked like he’d been doing that for years and the record company insisted on using this guy’s artwork. I was going crazy and I told them so and I asked them if they had no respect! Anyway I could tell them anything but they forced me into using that guy’s artwork in the end. Fortunately that was then! These days we choose our own artworks. I mean, Polydor certainly did good things for me but there were certain things that were not right in my opinion.

Menno: About the new album: can we expect any unusual instruments, surprises or unexpected changes in style or do you stick to the frame you built your reputation on?

Tony: I don’t know what that frame is, but I suspect people will say that, which is good. I think the songs are really good on this album. It feels like the last album The Visitation which to me was the best album in a long time from the recording, lyrical and musical point of view. Now this thing surpasses it, but I could be talking completely out of my but because we’ve only got one finished song at this moment which sounds real good to me. But it’s my feeling both lyrically -by this I mean poetically- and musically it will be a step forward. You can always say you have a message, but you know, I’m a guitar player, you know what I mean: I ain’t gonna change the world! But again, lyrically, poetically and musically in my mind this album will be a step further on, and that’s exactly how I feel it should be: moving on!

Menno: Some bands tried to change their style or in fact did so like Marillion for instance. Others tried but eventually came back to the style they got popular with, like Saga for instance. Didn’t you ever think about changing?

Tony: I’ve gone through that phase! When Magnum seemed to have disbanded in the nineties I was going completely nuts and I did try other things with Hard Rain but it didn’t sound like Magnum and I wasn’t feeling too comfortable. Now we’ve got this solid entity with a very strong emotional bond. When we get it right, it’s a very powerful thing so all I want to do now is Magnum!

Menno: I guess that’s the ultimate challenge in making music: feeling good about it, pushing it to perfection and makes you feel emotionally in higher spheres?

Tony: Yeah! Exactly! You keep on looking for that perfect tone, sound and emotional message. I prophesize this will be the best Magnum album yet!

Menno: How about composing music and writing lyrics for the new album. Is it always fresh ideas you use or do you use older scribbles too, for some reason not used before?

Tony: Lyrically I always begin with a clean slice, I never go back to old notes and musically it’s the same really. With the exception of that one song I was trying to get Bob to do….. (both Tony & Bob are roaring with laughter). For this album I started writing about fifteen months ago now, just after the release of The Visitation. We did a tour but I already had some songs for this album. For The Visitation I had about sixty ideas, though not completed songs, but I was enjoying myself so much the ideas kept on coming. For the upcoming album I’ve already got around fifty ideas and then I have to chop it all up and go like: this will work and this will take too much time to develop, dump that. And then bit by bit I end up with about twenty songs that I work on and then gradually I keep the best ones for an album, like a whole musical thing.

Bob: It’ll be eleven songs on this album. Originally we had twelve, but in the end Tony decided not to use one of them.

Menno: The one song I’ve just heard in the studio seems to me just awesome. Your voice is sounding more powerful than on the last couple of albums. How do you do that?

Bob: Well thank you Because it’s inside, you can do it. What you need is a producer who is a slave driver, sits on your back and whip you around the buttocks a lot and than it’s amazing what you can sing! (all laughing).

Tony: Like I said earlier: we spend a lot of time finding the right key, which is really important. Sometimes people don’t realize how important the right key can be. If we find a key which is difficult for Bob to sing and I insist on him singing it in that key, live we would drop the key to make life a bit easier for him. In the studio you can take weeks to record a vocal but live it’s gotta be right then and there! Another key may change the characteristics of the voice and when Bob’s singing on the edge, his voice sounds different (smiling).

Menno: Will there be any special editions or just a jewel case?

Tony: I’m not aware of any special edition yet, but I know for a fact the first edition will not be a simple jewel case. It will be a fold out (almost whispering now) with some amazing artwork…

Menno: Is this your own recording studio?

Tony: No, it isn’t. The M2 “Mad Hat Studio” is owned by Mark Stuart but this is definitely the place where we (pointing to Bob) always come to.

Menno: Any hobbies outside of the music business?

Bob: (laughing) Got no time! No seriously: I like steam railways, you know, both the models of the old steam engines as well as the big ones. I’m a semi-enthusiast. If I get a chance I might be off to the Severn Valley Railway next week and have my picture taken there.

Rodney: I’d better send you a print of my original artwork on a steam engine then….. The Heavy Metal Hero…

Bob: Yeah right, I love steam engines! I’ve had a few offers of Magnum fans who happen to be engine drivers to join them for a ride to for example Yorkshire or Bournemouth. From where I live (Tamworth) to Bournemouth on 125, me as an inspector with people on board and doing a 125 miles an hour! (Joking) I do it all the time but I wouldn’t get my hands dirty throwing coals into the fire…

Tony: Hobbies? Mmmmm, nothing really. Just writing songs… Boring huh? But I like it. It doesn’t feel like working to me.

Menno: How about future plans? Are you going to play any festivals in the summer?

Bob: Yeah we got a few. Rock Hard in Germany and probably one in Switzerland in early August with Toto. The new album is due for release in September so we’ll go on tour in the fall and afterwards we’re going to start working on the next album!

Menno: Thank you all for you cooperation and time and please join me for a few photographs if possible…

Bob, Tony & Rodney: No Problem, we’ll do it right this minute!

Discography:

Kingdom Of Madness 1978
Magnum II 1979
Chase The Dragon 1982
Vintage Magnum (compilation of non album tracks) 1982
The Eleventh Hour 1983
On A Storyteller’s Night 1985
Vigilante 1986
Wings Of Heaven 1988
Goodnight L.A. 1990
Sleepwalking 1992
Keep The Nite Light Burning 1993
Rock Art 1994
Breath Of Life 2002
Brand New Morning 2004
Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow 2007
Into The Valley Of The Moonking 2009
The Visitation 2011
Evolution (remixed/ re-recorded/new) 2011
On The 13th Day 2012

Live Albums:

Marauder 1980
Invasion Live 1989
The Spirit 1991
The Last Dance/Stronghold 1996
Days Of Wonder 2000
The River Sessions 2005
Wings Of Heaven Live 2008

Websites:
www.magnumonline.co.uk
www.bobcatley.com
www.rodneymatthews.com

One Response to Magnum

  1. RICKY TORIBIO says:

    ENJOYNED THE INTERVIEW,ESPECIALLY TONY CLARKIN ANSWERS AND THE PHOTOS THAT YOU PUT THE BELT AND DRAWINGS OF RODNEY MATTHEWS. THANKS FOR HAVING DEDICATED THIS SPACE TO MAGNUM AND MY WARMEST CONGRATULATIONS FOR THE INTERVIEW AND OTHER DATA PROVIDED.THANKS!

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