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Progressive Rock Interviews

Magellan

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Magellan's Trent Gardner from 2003
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

With both your brother and you being musicians, do you come from a musical family?
We did. My Mom started me on piano, and my Dad played clarinet and sang in various groups. All the kids played some sort of wind instrument.
MSJ: You play the trombone. That is an instrument that is often associated with school bands. Were you in the band in school?
I started out on clarinet, moved to saxophone in Junior high and then by 9th grade found the trombone. As it turns out, my whole entry into music was my own version of "Mr. Holland's Opus". I had one GREAT teacher that connected me to what music was about and took an interest in helping me learn. His name is Rick Luther and without him, I'd probably be doing something else today. I think he still teaches high school groups today. Believe me, somebody like that makes a bigger impact on people than you can imagine.
MSJ: What about the rumors that you at one time wanted to be a cop…what is the story on that?
Actually, I was a police officer in the bay area for almost ten years. I started at age 21 and left shortly after HOUR OF RESTORATION came out. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. I really know people in a way that most never get the chance to. In a strange way, that experience has helped me with what I do now. I can honestly say it's much easier to take down a felon at gunpoint that it is to produce a progressive rock album…way easier! Actually, Wayne used to work for a sheriff's department. He said screw this and cashed out his 401k to finance our 1st album. Magna Carta did very little for us during that time period, so it was up to us to sink or swim.
MSJ: You wear a lot of hats, composer, performer, producer - what common elements are there to all those jobs, and what differs about them?
As composer, the major shift for me is that I now work alone. This is not to suggest that I don't look at other ideas, but the basic process of writing is so personal, that it's difficult to be around anyone while that is happening. Later, when it's time to produce a track, then I can incorporate the ideas of others within the context of my composition. I tend to have very "finished" ideas, so other musicians can come in and know exactly where I want to go, or close to it. The last time Magellan performed was during HOR period in clubs, just to test the waters. It went over very well. Actually, my whole purpose of doing this at the beginning was to play live. Then, with all the opportunities to record and establish myself with recordings I've been too busy to even consider playing live… until now. Magna Carta was never in the business of supporting their acts with tours, so if you played live it was at your expense. The economics of our business didn't always make it possible to do it on an acceptable level for me. I see that changing in the not too distant future.

MSJ: You have been such an integral part of the Magna Carta label. Why are you changing over to InsideOut?
It's very simple. Inside Out is in the position to do a better job of handling my music and developing me as an artist. Leave the funk records, tribute albums, etc. to Magna Carta. I was very disappointed when the music we made became irrelevant and how we as people were really meaningless to the label.
MSJ: With all the musicians you have worked with, and all the projects you have been involved in, what do you see as some of your shining moments?
I think Glossolalia with Steve Walsh, Hundred Year Flood and Leonardo are my favorites, though there is so much I want to do! It's really a matter of circumstances making it possible. There are some really strong moments across the board, but I am always looking for a new day and a better way to do things.
MSJ: Are there musicians out there who you haven't had the chance to work with, but would still like to?
Of course! Jeff Lynn, Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Billy Cobham, Sting, Neal Peart…AND THEN its time to wake up! One can dream. One must. I remember there was a time when I would have scoffed at anyone suggesting that I would one day work with the fantastic musicians I have so far. Life can throw you unexpected curve balls. I always need to be ready to at least swing.
MSJ: What can you tell us about the next Magellan album?
It is entitled IMPOSSIBLE FIGURES. It is a step forward for the band. No more hints for now! The album is recorded, though not yet mixed. I anticipate giving an update fairly soon regarding the schedule.
MSJ: Is there going to another Explorer's Club disc?
I hope so. I want to expand on the boundaries of where the music can go. The whole idea of that project is to do different things. I see no point in covering the same ground repeatedly.
MSJ: Any other projects in the pipeline that we should know about?
I am producing a new artist named Jack Foster. We should be done this summer. It's gonna surprise people. The album is called "The Evolution Of Jazzraptor". You'll get more details on it soon.
MSJ: What have you been listening to lately, or what was the last CD you bought?
The last CD I bought was Tower Of Power live. Actually, I don't have much time to listen to anything. My favorite stuff is Chicago 1-11, which is such genius. I really miss Terry Kath and all those bad a** horn parts. Oh yeah, my dream: Sit it with Chicago live on trombone playing INTRODUCTION and all the hard stuff. I remember talking with Billy Sheehan during the Explorers club project and found out he used to be in a band that covered Chicago. We sang the instrumental section to INTRODUCTION together perfectly the first time. He has my eternal respect for that one!
MSJ: What was the last concert you attended?
I saw the Styx and Kansas tour. Mindblowing. Made me want to quit music. Actually, it inspired me to keep trying to find ways for Magellan to be heard live. It's been a long time since we've performed and I really do miss it. For now, I'll have to be content playing in my other band the TIMEBANDITS. We are really the ultimate party band. We are at www.thetimebandits.com.

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