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Progressive Rock Interviews

Magic Pie

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Gilbert Marshall of Magic Pie From 2006
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Can you catch the readers up on the history of the band?
The band came together roughly 5 years ago, initally put together by Kim – our main guitar player and composer. We had the notion that we wanted to make progressive music, and we spent a long time rehearsing, turning from starting out with cover songs to wanting to play our own material. We also did a few gigs which caught immediate good response...

Gilbert Marshall: The band came together roughly 5 years ago, initally put together by Kim – our main guitar player and composer. We had the notion that we wanted to make progressive music, and we spent a long time rehearsing, turning from starting out with cover songs to wanting to play our own material. We also did a few gigs which caught immediate good response...

So, after recording some material for demo, we realized that some of this was good enough for putting out as a CD, so after a few changes in arrangements, a couple of new songs and
re-recording some old demoes, we finally released the original Motions Of Desire CD ourselves in a small quantity...


We had previously been contacted by several record companies and after some rounds, we decided to go for Swedish Progress Records - which we are currently at. The CD was remastered and re-released in may/june of 2005. During 2005 and first half of 2006, we did more gigs, receiving more-than positive critics, and that´s roughly where we stand today.
By the way - we have been completely blown away with all the great critics for both the CD and for the gigs.

MSJ: I know artists hate to have their art described or pigeonholed, but how would you describe it?

...By the way - we also hate it... No – just kidding! Well, how would we describe it?




...By the way - we also hate it... No – just kidding! Well, how would we describe it?

We all have these wonderful collective musical memories of up to 30-35 years of rock and progressive music, and I think that we simply want to express all the feelings sorrounding this.

Yes, we set out to make progressive rock, but we never decided in any way wanting to sound like this or that. Kim had a couple of great songs and ideas, I had a few ideas and contributed with one song, and the drummer also composed a song which ended up on the CD.


As you can hear, the musical mix of this CD is derived from many sources, but we never thought of sounding like “that” group or “this” band, although we are fortunate enough to have been compared to many of the great prog bands of the 70´s, 80´s and 90´s. So we must have done something right..

Bottom line is that we want to have fun playing the music we want, whatever comes out.
We constantly remind ourselves that the fun always has to act as the drive for what we are doing – not expectations...

MSJ:
What are your musical influences, both personally and as a band?

My personal influences would be the old “classic” bands of the 70´s and 80´s like Purple, Floyd, Heep, ELP, Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Camel, Jethro Tull, Marillion, Peter Gabriel etc., but also newer bands like Dream Theater, Transatlantic, IQ, The Flower Kings, Spock´s Beard, Pendragon etc – and of course a myriad of other bands in many genres...

As a band, that would be really difficult to say, because all of the guys have so many different musical references. And of course – we don´t want to deliberately place ourselves in any particular shelf or box. What comes, comes...
MSJ: Are there musicians out there with whom you would like to work in the future?

There are so many great musicians we would like to work with, coming from the newer prog bands – IQ, Flower Kings, Spocks Beard, Transatlantic, Dream Theater – to mention a couple.
Personally, It would also be an absolute dream to work with some of the “great” ones from the 70´s – not because they are “great,” but because of the tremendous knowledge and musical experience. I guess, loosely picked, favorites for me would perhaps be Camel, Peter Gabriel, Tony Levin, Steve Hackett, Roger Waters, Keith Emerson – just to mention a few for the sake of the fantasy...
MSJ:
Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It’s been said by the major labels that it’s essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales – would you agree?
I think downloaders definitely should take personal responsability towards the musicians as artists, but personally I don´t think it necessarily a hindrance to musicians careers directly. I like to buy CD´s, but I have to admit that I have downloaded quite a few Mp3´s. In my case, I mean that this has not been to any disadvantage to the artists. I am anyway not able to buy every CD coming from every interesting band, right?
So downloading allows me to listen to more bands. I have bought the CD´s of the ones I find the most interesting – those I keep playing, and there are lots of the downloads of bands I initially wouldn´t have bought as CD, but after listening turned out to be excellent albums, so I bought them, spite of being not “typical” buys for me.

I can’t help thinking that the major labels themselves are the most responsable for the problems with lower sales. After all, who gets the dollars and who gets the cents – It certainly isn´t the artists – except for those selling in huge numbers, of course.

In the 80´s, when the CD format was introduced, phasing out the vinyl (which already was expensive), the recording industry promised low prices on CD´s due to lower expenses in manufacturing. Did this happen – no way. Not until we have the internet companies of today which buy and sell in huge quantities, which – sad enough – squeezes out all the small CD and record enterprises. Whatever happened with the small record store on the corner?

The heart of the problems – I suspect – lies within the companies themselves and their attitudes towards the CD-buying audience, the artists and towards milking “cows” and one-hit wonders, instead of – like the in the“old” days – nuturing bands over time, allowing them to grow...

Of course I could be wrong, but at least I got to deliver my own personal blog on this...


MSJ:
What’s ahead for Magic Pie? Touring, more recording?

We are proud to announce that we are currently in the studio nowadays, recording our next album, which is very exciting indeed. As far as touring, we will - apart from a couple of gigs here in Norway this fall - concentrate on finishing the album.

Although not extensive, there will be slightly more touring in 2007, and we are currently working on several possibilities – both in Norway/Scandinavia and several other countries as well – so we´ll have to see, as this is not yet settled concerning gigs...
MSJ:
Where did the name Magic Pie originate?

I believe it was Kim that came up with the name, having seen it in the Flower Kings album Flower Power, I think... We started thinking “around” the name, and felt that it was quite suitable in the sense that – taking the name literally – using all kinds of musical “ingredients” in making a real mixed “pie” was exactly what we were doing.

To our great amusement we later discovered (being Norwegians in the US), that the term Magic Pie also is used in a quite different way outside Norway.
MSJ:
What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?

The last CD I bought was Dark Matter with IQ – kinda late “discovering” this excellent 2005 release. They have quite extended themselves making this CD - good songs and good lyrics...

Apart from this, I have been listening a lot to Tangent. A place in the queue, ELP - Tarkus, The Flower Kings´ - Paradox Hotel, some old Marillion vinyls, some “older” Spock´s, some Magenta, some Jethro Tull and the list goes onandonandonandonandonandonandon...
MSJ:
What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

Our band manager Erling, our roadie Bjørn and myself visited Gothenburg in Sweden, visiting the annual “Slottsskogen Goes Progressive” Art Rock festival at the slottsskogen (Castle woods) Park. We only got to see the last three bands of the five playing, but they were excellent. First we saw the Swedish band Beardfish with very young members, but with tremendous knowledge of the 70´s and surprising maturety in playing, introducing great songs with much “old” influence.

Secondly we could listen to the Norwegian prog (metal) band Circus Maximus, which played a great set - very energetic and heavy, along with lot of subtleties in both playing and singing.
Last, but definitely not least, we had come for listening to The Tangent which delivered a sparkling set of great jazz/rock/prog with elements of so many different styles. Great sound – great spirit on stage and absolutely worth the trip alone.

Besides that we had a couple of beers, some wine, a small but pleasant nachtspiel, and nightly encounters with the local seals living in this great pool in the park... ...weird...
MSJ:
What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

Well – if not the biggest - I can recall one moment back in the teens not being too great. One dreadful afternoon, during what I thought was a great rehearsal; I had to go down to the local music store to pick up some more guitar strings. When I came back to the rehersal room (which was at my place) it turned out that while I was gone (without saying anything up front) the other three guys had a band meeting, sacked me from the band I started and left the place taking with them absolutely everything. The only thing left was my guitar, my small amp and my improvised old radio speaker – otherwise it was completely empty...

Man, I must have truly sucked playing the guitar back then. There has been a couple of others later though, but those I think I´ll pass on telling about - sorry...
MSJ:
Finally, are there any closing thoughts you’d like to get out there?

We all feel very proud and humble with all the great reactions to our debut CD. Thanks to everyone for supporting us showing up at gigs and buying the album. As I said earlier, these are very exciting times for Magic Pie and we are all grateful for all our fans – Again thank you guys and gals. Hopefully we will show up at a place near you in the nearest future. And thanks, Gary for putting together this interview!
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