Bob Catley from Magnum talks to Planetmosh at the Hardrockhell Festival, 3rd December 2011.
PM: Hi bob and thanks for taking the time to talk to Planetmosh.
Bob Catley: Thanks guys, its always a pleasure.
PM. I know a lot of people here are looking forward to your set, is there going to be any surprises ?
B.C: Well, unfortunately its going to be a shortened set, as we have to abide by the rules, owing that there are bands on before and after us, so we have 1 hour and 15 minutes, we normally play another 3 or 4 songs, so it will be a bit more compressed this evening, but we will be playing all the big ones, “How Far Jerusalem”, kingdom of Madness, all the old stuff, and off course some of the newer songs from “Visitation”, We will be playing “Wild Angels” off course, and a bunch of other stuff, and we will be doing a brand new song, called “Fall” which is on the new compilation called “Evolution” which came out in November, which is selling really well, so that’s the show basically.
PM: How difficult was it to narrow tracks for Evolution ?
B.C: Well Tony and I had to choose two tracks each from the last five albums, and certain ones stuck out for improvement, and others where fine as they where, they were a couple that we fancied revisiting. Technology has moved on so much now, the early tracks are 10 years old now, and that is a long time in recording terms, so we wanted to bring them up to how we sound now, and we now have Harry James back on drums.
PM, he is a very powerful drummer.
B.C: He is, and he was missing from a couple of songs, so the band you see on stage tonight is the band that has done “Evolution”.
PM: So are there some tracks you looked at and thought “We really don’t want to mess with those” ?
B.C: Some where fine, but we wanted to polish some up, we would have liked to have remixed them all, but time was against us, so we just had to choose two, and it was quite hard to do that, but eventually settled on the strongest songs, and its came out really good.
PM: What about your future plans ?
B.C: Tony has already written a load of new songs, but I haven’t heard anything yet, but we should be going into the studio in the new year, hope fully the sooner the better, but it will take most of next year up, as it is a long process, but we are also hoping to get out there and do some festivals, to promote the Evolution album.
PM: Any festivals you have in mind, Europe or here in the UK ?
B.C: Germany, Scandinavia, England, anywhere really. Those are our 3 main markets, so we really need to push for these. We are just waiting for word back from our agents, and then its all systems go, and that should cover the whole of next year really.
The new album is scheduled for January 2013, then there will be a two month tour to support that.
PM: Do you see the festival scene as a good way to hit a newer audience ?
B.C: That is what we do festivals for, to hopefully pick up new fans, people who may not know what we are about, or the old fans who haven’t really heard us in years, there are three different guys in the band now, its still the same songwriter, the same singer, but we have moved on now, but people still expect us to do the old Magnum songs as well, so we do, you have to keep the fans happy, so you need to do festivals, as many as you can really.
PM: When you got back together again as it was, did you sit and think “We need to do this properly, and not live on past glories” ?
B.C That was always the idea, it had been six years since last toured or released an album, Tony wrote the songs for “Breath of Life” and it took him that album to get back in the groove for writing songs for Magnum.
“Breath of Life could have been a Hard Rain album really, as there was only Tony and i in the band, it could have been called anything really.
Brand New Morning was the first real new Magnum record, Tony will agree with this, as it was hard on him to write songs again in the Magnum style, we had six years away, so we asked ourselves, “How do you write Magnum songs” ? its not easy. Tony had to write songs that sounded like our fans expected them to sound like, so here we are, it’s been a steady progression, with each record selling more than the last, its like the old days all over again.
PM: We watched your sound check and there must have been 100 people there, it took me by surprise, as other bands where playing on stage 2 and 3
B.C: Ha ha, we wondered who was clapping, we thought it was the bar staff or something.
PM: Do you feel you lost many Magnum fans when you stopped being Magnum and became Hard Rain ?
B.C: We most certainly did, but we have started again, and have picked up new fans and a lot of the old fans have come back, we may have lost a few along the way, but you cant help that can you, people move on, but saying that, we now have a bigger fan base than we have ever had, Annie talks to our fans all the time now, with New’s letters, and off course, the website. Plus we have better organisation behind the band this time round, we have people who we can trust and rely on, and that wasn’t always the case, so its better all round.
PM: Talking about the hardcore fans, they have never left you, because the music never leaves them.
B.C: No, they have never left, the music may change, but they accept that and move on with you, they love the band, and what the band stands for you know, Magnum still do anti war songs, political songs, love songs, songs that hit you in the heart, songs that make you think. We don’t do bland, we do passionate, blood sweat and tears songs.
PM: So after tonight’s show, what have you got planned ?
B.C We head up to Carlise to do something similar to this, and than that’s the end of the tour, we will then have Christmas off, and then in the new year, we start on the new album.
We have our first festival show at the end of May, the Rockhard festival in Germany.
PM: Are you in negotiations to perform at any UK festivals ?
B.C: We are trying to get on the Download bill, desperately, we really really want to do Download, we know everyman and his dog want to play Download, but we are trying to get in there, we are British, so come on, we should be playing there.
PM: Download do have a Classic Rock day every year.
B.C: Yeah, and we should be a part of that, so were really pushing for that, but we have to record an album as well, so we are trying for a few festivals, as we know we wont get them all, but we really want the UK, German and Sweden ones.
PM: Well we wish you good luck for tonight and next year.
B.C: Thank you, it means a lot, and thank you to the fans for sticking by us.
Interview by Simon Bowyer and David Farrell.
Magnum on the web HERE