Magnum – Still going strong

During the 80: s they were one of the world’s greatest and most powerful bands within their genre with songs like Just Like An Arrow and On A Storyteller’s Night. The album covers are high class artwork and the sound their very own, the band Magnum started out in 1972 in Birmingham and are just about to release their nineteenth studio album; Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies. Svip.se talked album release, tour plans, old memories and Eurovision song contest with the singer and front man Mr. Bob Catley.
This is how it sounded when he phoned us…

- So, what would you like to know my darling? (Bob Catley)

I would like you to tell me about your new album…

Yes, Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies… We released our first album Kingdom of Madness in 1978, so this is our nineteenth album. Brilliant, I mean I am amazed that we’re still going and that we’ve done this many albums together. We have had such a good time over the years and we’re still here doing it! It’s a great studio album with a misleading title; some people think it’s all about religion, which it isn’t really.
You know when people take religion and they highjack it, make it their own and put themselves up as Gods, you know… people are doing it around the world and people tend to follow these persons you know, and take their words as gospel. And actually all they are doing is spilling you a line and giving you a load of rubbish, because they are not Gods they’re just pretending to be, you know… And so they lie to you all the time and hence “Divine” Lies, that part of the title. It’s a great song which we’re going to do in the show when we come to Sweden, we’ll be doing four from the new album.
It’s got some great artwork again from Rodney Matthews, who we’ve been using for a long time, he’s an old friend of ours and he started doing artwork for Magnum in 1982 with Chase the Dragon. Tony (Tony Clarkin, guitarist and songwriter in Magnum) will go down to Rodney’s house, he lives in Wales a lovely part of the country close to the seaside, I forgot what I was saying now… And talk about the songs and the meaning of the lyrics, cause that helps Rodney to imagine and capture some images in his head to start the pencil drawing, he’ll start sketching while Tony is down there and then Tony leaves it with him and we wait patiently for the actual painting to come back up, he’s an artist so he actually paints by hand it’s not done on a computer. And it all makes sense you know you’re listening to the music and look at the artwork, and it all falls into place. He always puts his dog in there, unfortunately the dog is not with us anymore but he still puts him in the artwork. So it’s like a thread there between the albums musically and the artwork. We spend a lot of time putting together the running order so each song flows into the next one and so forth, so we spend time doing that so it’s to have people play the album in the order that we put it together you know. We’re all about, Tony Clarkin is all about quality songs, quality lyrics, artwork, everything is about quality you know it’s like top shelf, it’s like a good round of Whisky Magnum…

The song I’ve listened to and which you’ve released a video on is Crazy Old Mothers; please tell me about it…

Yes it’s a great kind of stompy beat Crazy Old Mothers, and it’s actually really to having a go at people of a certain age who’s been coming to see Magnum most of their lives, and other bands off cause. And they’re not as young as they were, either are me and Tony ha ha! When they come to a gig it’s like come on you Crazy Old Mothers, let’s do something crazy and let’s get in trouble tonight. They come and they go ape shit crazy like they were 18 again. I’m the same, I’ll be 18 until the day I die and you know old rockers never die they just try to grow up a little more ha ha. So Crazy Old Mothers is about the audience who’s been seeing us for a long time and still comes to our shows and now bringing their whole families with them, so you have like their children and grandchildren as well…

Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies contains ten new songs, do you have a personal favourite?

From the new album? Yes, well I like all the songs myself you know, I’m hard pushed to go for personal favourites, we’ve made a dosing albums as I said but there is a song we’re doing on stage which is called Princess in Rags and is one of my favourites, such a brilliant song it’s like a rocker, dancing thing with proper old fashion guitar riffs. Another one is; Your Dreams Won’t Die, a ballad which we’re also doing on stage this time and it’s a lovely song and I really enjoy singing that and it’s a bit sad but it ends with lots of hope. It’s about what kind of person you’ve been on earth and if you have been the right kind you never will be gone, you know…

Tour premier April 20th in Gothenburg?

Yes that’s right. We do Gothenburg on the 20th, Stockholm on the 21st, this is April and Örebro on the 22nd and then Malmö the 23rd of April.

Great, we will come and see the show in Örebro April 22nd…

Oh that will be nice! I love singing to people on stage, I tend to sing to individual people, I don’t just sing to the whole crowd well I do sometimes, but with certain songs like ballads or Crazy Old Mothers very, very personal. Then you get a reaction like; - Oh wow he sung to me! I try to make it personal between me and the audience you know, it’s great! I got a good heart and I mean well and I try to involve the people in the audience into the lyrics of the songs. There’s no brick wall between Magnum and the audience, we see them as a part of the band or the show I believe, they are the extra member…

Do you have a special tour memory from Sweden to share with us?

Oh, well yeah… Very expensive over there, ha ha! Tour memory, hm well £9 a pint in the bars, ha ha whatever that is in Euros… My tour memories from Sweden, what a beautiful country with friendly and nice people who make us very welcome, very expensive place but never mind England is getting there as well. That’s it really I mean we have a great time when we come over whether it’s cold and snowy or whatever. Oh, we slipped down a mountain once… We forgot to put the snow chains on the tour bus coming down a mountain, that was pretty scary. I’d forgotten about that, but it won’t happen again…

The next question might sound a bit odd, but the Suede’s love the Eurovision song contest. My question to you is; with the right song, would Magnum consider entering the Eurovision?

Ha ha ha! Well, okay… I don’t know I have to ask Tony about that. Personally I would take this as a huge compliment myself. I do this other thing called Avantasia and we have kind of been mentioned for the Eurovision. I don’t know if it’s a secret so maybe I shouldn’t mention this but I’m just telling you. I think they actually might get passed the first post…

I am sure it would be lovely for Magnum but I can’t speak for Tony, he might say it’s the wrong thing or stage for us. I think you get about three minutes or something and one of our intros are that long so it would be like stop, you’ve had your time…

Most serious rock musicians they poo poo the Eurovision and think it’s embarrassing and all that, I just think it’s a bit of fun. Any exposure is good exposure; I mean how many people don’t watch that? It’s good exposure to get people who don’t know about you into you, I think it could only be a positive thing!

Do you remember the first LP you bought as a young man?

Wow, the first album I ever bought… Hm okay, what could I say…? Wow, I’m talking The Rollin’ Stones I think; I would say the Rollin Stones first album. Which was 1960 something… I remember being at this youth club and we put a band together, a miming band ha ha! I was actually the guitarist Brian Jones since I had the blonde hair. We couldn’t play or sing but that was my first encounter with being a rock star you know. So Mick Jagger is the reason I am talking to you right now, it’s all his fault! Ha ha! I felt like I want a bit of that you know, I want to be on stage singing to a lot of people with screaming women, I should be so lucky ha ha! So my first album was probably the Rollin Stones first album whatever that was called…
Mick Jagger is my ultimate hero, still going around the world, touring and singing, leaping about like a Crazy Old Mother. And I’d love to meet the guy one day…

Finally, is there anything you would like to say to your Swedish fans before you come over in April?

Yes, hello! I hope you are going to enjoy the new album when it comes out and I hope to see you on the tour, we’re doing four shows in Sweden and try and make one of them please. Thank you for all these years of supporting Magnum, you are brilliant and keep flying the flag for Magnum and see you soon people, okay thank you!!

Svip.se would like to thank Bob Catley for your time and a lovely chat; we wish Magnum all the best with the album release and tour plans. Naturally, we would also like to thank Mick Jagger for being Bob Catley’s inspiration!