Re: Thoughts on the new Magnum album (questions for Al Barrow)
Posted by: Al Barrow ()
Date: September 30, 2012 11:56PM

Questions for regular Al Barrow:

What are the guys/your thoughts on the new album - compared to the other recent outputs?

Ye, It`s kind of an over done thing when we say this album, the latest is the best we have done. it`s seems we say that with every album, but I have to say, hand on heart I really mean this when I say it. The new album On the 13th Day has been a labour of love once again. long hours and many many variations have gone into the recording. We try very hard to firstly please ourselves in what we do musically and then try somehow to take on fans opinions and work them in their with out selling out.
We stay true to ourselves and are lucky to be with a record label who allow us to do what ever we wish.
As you know Tony is the songwriter on all Magnum albums. Once he has the raw bones we all come in to the studio and start putting in our parts. tony is a great person to work for and with. He`s open to suggestions but at the same time knows exactly what he wants.
When it gets to the studio recording it is very much a collaboration of all band members but with a strong man at the helm. Too many cooks can make life hard in a studio, if you know what I mean. it`s worked for Magnum for many years and we all like the way it goes.
It seems to work. Predominately, Bob, Tony & myself along with engineer Sheena Seer spend virtually everyday in the studio over a period of about 4 months. Obviously Mark comes in when it`s the time keyboards are required and for his input on the album is called for. He`s a busy guy playing in other bands very much like Mr James (HARRY) who lives further from the studio so spends a little less time there. he can do his tracks in a short space of time due to his ability and talent. He really is one of the best most solid drummers to work with.
Yes, there are those that have issues with comparisons with mickey Barker, thats expected but from a band mamba and song writer we all love what he brings into the band, and as a bass player he gives space and power to songs and is such a professional guy to work with. Theres more to being in a band than just playing flash licks.

It sure sounds like a step more towards classic Magnum and a little more melodic/commercial sounding, which many of us have felt Tony's avoided on purpose lately. So, my question is, is it deliberate to please fans or is it something the band really wanted and just a question of getting it right this time?

I know Tony has not set agendas when writing. He just does what he feels is good. He does get influenced like we all do by our surroundings and what we are listening to and reading at times. I know when we did the Visitation album we had spent 2 months on a tour bus watching Rammstein, so i felt a few influences were laid down there.
The last tour we spent more time listing to a moor e varied commercial set of music so may be something was picked up sublimely there also. But no, no real effort to sit down and say… this is going to be this or that. I hear what people are saying when they say they hear some classic Magnum in the new album and ye, i would agree. You have the nucleus of what makes Magnum who and what they are. Some say the album may be too mid tempo but not to make excuses it would not be Magnum for us to play heavy metal thrashy songs. Bob is, lets say 'mature' but still belts it out. It`s not his or the band style to do those kinds of songs.
if you hear WINGS OF HEAVEN that fine we don't mind it was a great album.
We try to make an album that not only sounds to us but hope to be taken on by the people who have followed the band for so long, but at the sam time try to spark the imagination of some possible younger listeners. This seems to have been working going from our fan mail fanbase and Facebook friends.

I hear differences in terms of production between tracks . . . am I totally off here or are they recorded differently/on different occasions?

All recorded at the same time over a period of a few months in the same place. May be different days make you hear and do things slightly differently. I think the songs are quite varied anyway so they call for a different mix sonically. We try to use the same gear in the studio as we do live. We are always kind of trying to get that live sound we have but as polished as possible without removing all the excitement. It`s hard sometimes getting across the real feel on record and i do think we develop the songs even after recording them into the a live show. So the new songs on the forth coming tour will continue to grow and change a little.
Even some of the older songs we play and some older ones were bringing back on tour this time have been looked at again to make the fresh.
You have to remember that Magnum have been playing for a long time and we to have to make the music enjoyable to play as well as to listen to.
A lot of people ask for very old songs that unfortunately wont get played again. The band are very positive that what we are doing now is a valid as anything the band have done in the past, if we didn't we would just be here for the money!
We want to play lots of nes songs live, as this is what we have tried to create this year in the studio, a Magnum today but still knowing where we came from and the songs that made us popular. It`s a bit of a balancing game in what we want to do and hope people will come on our journey with us and give what we think people want to hear. After all it`s your ticket money that lets us do what we do. So it`s always a debate.

My own thoughts:

I sat down this evening in front of my home stereo with a glass of Caol Ila (for the interested, it's scotch I won in a golf tournament and I'm really struggling with it) and had a serious listening session. Played the whole album from start to finish.
I can safely say that it's the best Magnum album since at least Wings Of Heaven, in my humble opinion. It's got everything and I love all songs included, which is a really rare thing for me. As stated both here on the board and in Andrew's review, there a hints of all classic Magnum eras/albums and all ingredients are there.

The songs seem more worked and thought out this time around and there a subtle differences that highlights parts of the songs that I've missed on the other reunion albums. Like the doubled vocals (harmonizer) on Bob's voice in "Putting Things In Place" and like the choir in "From Within", the space between the instuments and how the songs breathe (perfectly explained by other posters in recent thread), the rhythmic fills by Tony on some songs not just basic riffs (reminds me of Storyteller's Night) etc. etc.

There are some, what you could call trade mark sounds from the boys on this album, Bob and Tony know what works for them.

By far the most varied album in terms of both tempo and style of the reunion albums.

Again, it`s not a conscious thing but thats the way it comes out. As I say, the gents are not as young as they were so may be reflected a little in the tempo. What was funny is that I Tony had read Andrews Melodicrock review of the album and agreed with his running order. We spend days looking at so many variations and never seem to be 100%. But there has to be a point when you say…right thats it`!
But Andrew had a point it seems.

There's also a more chiseled out and distinct bass and bottom end on the disc than before. Sounds fantastic (great job Al)!

Thank you very much for that. As I am using Warwick maps still but now use Fender bass swell on the album I think the bottom end has been given a certain thickness Magnum were lacking a little earlier on. I hope so anyway. I am influenced by many payers and styles and do prefer a grittier rancher sound than what is on the Magnum album but again you have to say whats right for the band and the song. Thats the most important thing at the end of the day, is the song!

The choruses are better and standout more . . . but they could've been even bigger with more added background vocals/harmonies on some occasions.

I think Tony has become aware of the big harmony thing and wants to carry a lot of these songs on tour. So we didn't want it to be so overblown that we could not replicate to a good standard live. We are lucky to have Bob with such a strong voice he can carry the band alone but me an Tony always have to be aware of what our vocal duties will be live and don't want to have to compromise anything. Music or vocals. It`s got to be the very best we can do and nothing less.

The ballad is the best they've done in years and I can hear Vigilante all over it and some of the songs are more commercial sounding and melodic than we've heard Magnum in many, many years.

The Ballad?
"Putting things in Place" is the song of the album for me. I love that song and the simplistic structure which lets Bobs voice and emotion come flooding through. It`s an incredibly emotional song for Bob to sing and even I have the old hairs on the neck stood up when he sang it in the studio.

With some slight changes in production, I would've given it 100% but it's not perfect so I agree with Andrew's score on this one. :-)

Thats OK, we do our best, but even after all these years we know we can still strive to be better.

The main beef I have is the drums. The snare and hi-hat is too crashy/splashy for my taste and too prominent in some songs. Works better in some but overall it annoys me a little. It reminds me of how the drums sound on a badly ripped 128 kbps MP3 file (exaggerating on purpose just to explain). Don't know if Harry is to blame here, though he is a very stiff drummer in my opinion, bacause it's more a sound thing for me than the style of the drummer. The sound however makes me very aware of the quite boring beats.

I don't really know how to answer that as it`s a personal point of view i feel.

Overall, a fantastic album and really looking forward to more music from this marvelous band and I love the fact that it's kept to 11 great tracks instead of filling it out with less excellent songs. I have no huge problem with the track running order either to be honest, which have been discussed here.

Thats great you have taken the time to even write this out, we appreciate peoples feedback of course and all we can hope for is an album that you will enjoy and play for many years.
We know were not everyones cup of tea and will not tick all the box`s in what people seem to want out of an album these days. It`s seems to get harder each time trying to get everything just right, as they say everyones a critic these days and thats fine. We all have our opinions and ways of making them heard. Thats what makes web sites like such an interesting place to visit.
It`s always hard to read other peoples opinions when you put heart and sole into something very close to us, but there will always naysayer that hate the band & the album…( Victoria Durham of Kerrapp) (oops did i say that out loud?) ...but generally many people have valid insightful revelations. It makes for some interesting if not sometimes convicting reading.
It would be a very boring world if we all agreed on everything.

Thanks for the mail and the time and for buying the album. hope to see you on tour sometime. Al Barrow.

Favourite songs on the disc at the moment, in order:

See How They Fall
From Within
On The 13th Day
Shadow Town
Didn't Like You Anyway
Blood Red Laughter
Putting Things In Place
So Let It Rain
Dance Of The Black Tattoo
All The Dreamers
Broken Promises

// Figge

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SubjectViewsWritten ByPosted
Thoughts on the new Magnum album (questions for Al Barrow) 897 Figge 09/30/2012 07:03AM
current thoughts (and review) 637 Kevin 09/30/2012 03:13PM
Re: current thoughts (and review) 583 Andrew 09/30/2012 04:50PM
Re: current thoughts (and review) 525 Marty 10/01/2012 12:08AM
Re: current thoughts (and review) 493 Al Barrow 10/01/2012 06:30AM
Re: current thoughts (and review) 428 Kevin 10/01/2012 01:46AM
Re: current thoughts (and review) 400 Figge 10/01/2012 04:09AM
Re: current thoughts (and review) 530 Al Barrow 10/01/2012 12:01AM
Re: current thoughts (and review) 409 Kevin 10/01/2012 01:35AM
Re: current thoughts (and review) 424 Figge 10/01/2012 04:19AM
Re: Thoughts on the new Magnum album (questions for Al Barrow)666 Al Barrow 09/30/2012 11:56PM
Re: Thoughts on the new Magnum album (questions for Al Barrow) 410 aorneil 10/01/2012 01:25AM
Re: Thoughts on the new Magnum album (questions for Al Barrow) 443 Figge 10/01/2012 04:02AM
Re: Thoughts on the new Magnum album (questions for Al Barrow) 476 Andrew 10/01/2012 10:18AM

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