The release of Reality In Focus was a good reason to talk to Magnitude 9 mastermind Rob Johnson... But not just to talk about music...
It's quite awhile since your debut got into the stores. Why does it took so long to get the follow-up released?
We wanted to take our time, and not rush our song writing process. It took us 2 years to finish our writing our new CD Reality In Focus, because after Chaos To Control was released, we took a mental break to try and get some new ideas so we would be fresh again.
For many fans Reality In Focus is like your debut. So for the ones who hear about you the first time, tell a little bit about the band's past.
Well, we formed in 1997. Our singer Corey Brown, used to be in a metal band called Psycho Drama. Our bassist Kevin Chown, used to be in a band called Artension. Drummer John Homan & myself (Rob Johnson) have played together for years. And finally, our keyboard player Joe Glean, has never been with any groups, Magnitude 9 is his first band. I started writing our debut CD in 1997-98. It was released in Europe - USA - Japan in 1998. In Europe it is released by InsideOut. I hope fans of Reality In Focus will also check out our debut CD Chaos To Control
And how you came up with the name Magnitude 9?
We wanted to come up with a strange name. Magnitude 9 means "powerful" so we thought it fit our music well.
It seems that now everybody is really focused on Magnitude 9. That the band spend all their power to do the best on Reality In Focus... In the past some members were involved in other bands as well, as far as I know. How much do you think does this focus on the band influenced your work on Reality In Focus?
I think Reality In Focus turned out very well. the songwriting on this new CD of ours is much better and more concentrated. I think that us having members in our band, that have played with other bands, really helps. We are all becoming better, mature musicians. I think it shows on Reality In Focus. We play together very well.
On the currant album the guitar parts are more song orientated. Was this change planned or was it a natural progression?
For me, it was a planned change. I wanted to make sure that the SONG was more important than just my flashy guitar work in every song. I enjoy playing guitar, and shredding, But I realize most people want to hear a great powerful song. So, for this CD, I took that direction. My playing & solos still pleases me, and is intense at times, but I think on this CD the songs really highlight the band.
On the album you have a cover version of Iron Maiden's Flight Of The Icarus. Is Iron Maiden one of your main influences? What other bands inspired you?
Yes, we grew up listening to Iron Maiden in the 80s. They always wrote great melodic metal songs, with hooks....and great playing also. We are also inspired and influenced by bands like: Queensrÿche, Fates Warning, TNT, Dream Theater, Yngwie Malmsteen, Europe. All of those bands, have power, passion & melody in their songs, that is what we all like.
What does the album title mean to you? And what's the message of the cover artwork? And how is it linked to each other?
Yes, they are both link together. The title - Reality In Focus to us means - To take a good look at what there is in this world, what is new & changing everyday, and to be aware of how things are changing fast every year, and to consider its effects, good and bad for our future generations and children. So, on our cover is a little boy, He is looking out the window, standing in an empty room, amazed & curious at the world outside his window he sees. I hope my description makes sense.
Please tell a little bit about the lyrics. It seems that you try to make people think about certain things...
Yes, we always try to have some meaning, purpose, and message with our lyrics. Our singer Corey Brown writes all of the words & melodies. He likes to write about true life & experiences, that happen to all of us. We do not write about fiction or fantasy. We try to connect with others through our words & music.
Do you think that lyrics about social problems or other serious topics influence fans to think about and to change things?
Well, we hope to reach some people. We write about things & topics that concern us. So, I think there might be other people that have the same thoughts & views that we do.
As far as I understood you are worried about the environment, about pollution... What do you think about George W. Bush Jr.'s decision not to support the Kyoto agreement?
Yes, it might seem like a silly thing for a "metal" band to have these concerns, But I have children, so the world & environment is now really important to me. I think when you have a child, it makes the world all scarier & ugly to you eyes, and you notice what is happening to our world with pollution, etc. I personally do not like our new President Bush. He is already a rich man, a millionaire. He was an big oil producer before he was into politics. His thoughts seem to be mostly about money, not the environment, its sad.
What do you think it the reason that the USA as an industrial country is so far behind other industrial countries when it's about pollution control?
I'm not sure, I think the USA companies, factories, need to wake up, and follow to ideas of other countries that are trying to help and make a difference.
Can you point out why the people in the USA are still not into pollution control? Is it just because the government didn't support it?
Yes, your correct. I think the USA government, has to be stronger on this issue. They need to set rules, but it takes time. I hope it will happen
Have you already started working on new material? Or do we have to wait again for several years?
Yes, I have started writing & demoing new Magnitude 9 songs & ideas. We hope we can start recording this fall / winter. We are trying to get this next CD done faster. Yet, we do not want to rush either. So far, I have 4 new songs written.
When you write songs, is there first the music or the lyrics?
Its the music mostly first. I write the songs, we all get together & jam them, add ideas, change things,... Then we give the song to Corey, he listens to it, then thinks of lyrics & melodies to fit the mood of the song.
When it's time to enter the studio, do you do a big pre-production? Is everything arranged or do you work in the studio on the final arrangement?
Our pre-production, is just demoing our songs. We write them, record parts & lyrics, on a demo. Then when it is final time to record them for real. We can do a better job, and we are more focused.
Rob, in the States and in Japan your 3 solo albums are released. I heard that the albums shall be released in Europe.. Can you tell me something about?
Yes, I have 3 solo instrumental CDs, that I recorded prior to Magnitude 9. They are now all - re-released in Europe by the label Heavencross Records (Spain) They are in most stores, or can be bought by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit the website: www.guitar9.com
Do you have any plans for another instrumental album?
No, not at this time. My main concentration is Magnitude 9. But, I did write a new instrumental song for the new upcoming CD: A Tribute To Jason Becker. This CD will be released July 22nd. It is a double CD, with many great guitar players. My song is: Forcefield I hope people will buy this CD, to support Jason Becker all proceeds / money goes to him. More info on this CD is at: www.lionmusic.com
There is a homepage for Magnitude 9 which is www.mistchild.com/magnitude9/.
Is someone from the band is involved? Or do you just pass information to the webmaster?
Yes, we are so busy with music & our lives, so we have a webmaster do the website for us. We pass information on to him.
How were the reactions on Reality In Focus so far? Many people dropped you a note on your website?
So far, the reactions are GREAT! We are getting many emails everyday, the reviews seem to be really good, we are pleased people like the new CD!
Is the internet for you more a blessing or a curse for the human race?
I think it can be good, if used correctly. For us, it has helped a lot. It exposes our band easy, to everyone in the world. The internet has also helped the world economy, so I guess that is good too. Its great for info !
I guess that's one of the top questions by fans... Are there any plans for touring? Europe? USA? Or Japan?
We hope in the future. For now, we want to get a bigger fan base, and release a few more CDs, so that when we do maybe tour someday, we will have many fans that know who we are. Its expensive to tour. So we want to do it when the time is best.
What can we expect from Magnitude 9 in future?
For now, we hope to have a new CD released sometime in 2002 we are writing now, so please stay tuned :)