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The Magnificent: “The chemistry works – although we never met”
The Italian Label Frontiers Records surprised us this year with a series of brilliant Melodic Rock releases, topping it all in the cold season: The Magnificent – consisting of Circus Maximus singer Michael Eriksen and Studio-Guru / Leverage guitarist Torsti Spoof – have created a masterpiece, here our review. While Torsti could reply to our questions only after his well-deserved holidays, Michal wrote back to us right away, even commenting those questions that were supposed to be for Torsti only… Enjoy this entertaining interview with those two funny “partners in crime”…
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Hello guys, hope everything is going well in Norway & Finland. So first of all, can you tell us a bit more about The Magnificent? How did this whole project come up?
Michael: First of all you have Michael here, Torsti is in Gran Canaria enjoying his soda as we speak. The Magnificent started with an email I send to Serafino at Frontiers, telling him that I would love to join in on a cool project if he had one “lying around". He then got me in contact with Torsti, he was writing some songs for a project and needed a vocalist. Torsti and I hit it off and the rest is history.
Where did you guys get to know each other?
Michael: Only by email, we have actually never spoken to each other.
When did the idea for this project come up and what can people expect from The Magnificent?
Michael: The Magnificent is pure melodic rock from beginning to end. If you are a fan of the 80`s you should check out the album for sure. People who enjoy bands such as Europe, Journey and Foreigner are in for a treat, let me tell you.
Torsti: It`s a time-machine trip to the good old days with a modern sound.
On your record you work together with many different musicians, can you tell us who else is involved in the project and why did you choose those musicians and songwriters?
Michael: Most of the songwriters on the album are friends of Torsti and they all live in his home country Finland, so when it came to “picking” song writers for the album, it was an easy choice for Torsti. Mats Haugen ( guitar player of Circus Maximus ) and myself wrote the song Memories for the album, a song I really love.
Torsti Sami Norbacka is playing bass on the album. We play together in Leverage so I knew that his playing would fit great on the album. Rolf Pilve of Status Minor is a super talented young dude. We we`re recording together Status Minor stuff and his playing blew my mind on the sessions. Jukka Karinen ( Status Minor/ Thunderstone) played the keys. He is a great player. I always call Antoni Parviainen when I need incredible vocals. He did a great job on the backing vocals. My wingman in Leverage Tuomas Heikkinen played guitars on 3 of the songs. He is a great player. We sound pretty different as guitar players so his work gave another great flavour on the album.
Songwriters on the album are basicly friends whose work I am very familiar with. Tuomas Heikkinen, Pekka Heino, Tomi Nikulainen & Sami Hyde were kind enough to give their input for the album. Michael and Mats did a great job on “Memories” wich is one of my favourite tracks on the album.
The most important thing is that the chemistry works. It keeps fun going on. It has to be fun for me. This one was truly fun all the way.
Can you tell us how a record like this is made, I can imagine it is quite complicated when so many people are involved? Do you all work in different studios or how does it work?
Michael: Actually the recording process was as smooth as it gets. Torsti wrote and recorded his stuff in Finland while I recorded the vocals here in Oslo. We kept sending emails back and forth with different ideas for each song, quite fun actually.
Torsti: Yeah, it was easy. It was not like we would hit the studio and start thinking “What the hell are gonna do next???”. All the songs were there. The arrangements were ready. We just recorded well prepared material and had loads of fun along the way. Mikey kept on sending his tracks thru internet. I had a 110% trust in him. His vocal tracks blew my mind. That boy can sing....even he`s Norwegian! Hahahahahah!
Why did you choose the name The Magnificent?
Michael: We have nothing to do with the name, it was all in the hands of our record company Frontiers. I guess the second they heard the final result they thought “ Magnificento “ ( they are Italians, hihi ).
Michael, now some questions exclusively for you - can you tell us a bit more about your musical history & background? When did you start singing ect?
Michael: I started playing in a band when I was 12 years old. Playing guitar and doing some singing here and there. Eventually I ended up just singing and since 2004 there have been 12 releases which has my voice on it.
Everyone is waiting for the new record of Circus Maximus - how does it look at the moment, do you already know when the new record will be out and what can people expect from it?
Michael: We will enter the studio end of November, and there we will do the mix of all the instruments. Then in about two weeks I will start the vocal recordings. We have been working on the new album for almost 5 freaking years, but man I can tell you this album is going to kick ass!! People can expect Circus Maximus anno 2012.
How was working with Torsti, I know the guy is always up for some fun, but I can imagine he can be really demanding when it comes to working with him?
Michael: He has been nothing but nice to me. Maybe he has googled my name and found out I have bronze medal in the Norwegian Championship in Kick Boxing ;) And yes he and I are all about fun, if you could hack into our email accounts you`d find some crazy emails send back and forth. (laughs)
Michael, the last one for you: The best/worst habit of Finns?
Best: They take sauna and then drink some beer
Worst: They drink some beer and then take some sauna.
Torsti, now your turn - can you also tell us a bit more about your musical history & background? (Michael could not resist to answer all those questions “on Torsti´s behalf,” too – enjoy… the ed.)
Torsti: I started playing classical piano at the age of 6. Did that for 8 or 9 years. I picked up my first guitar when I was 14. I got really heavily in to playing guitar immediately. I played classical guitar 6 years at the same time. I got really into this neon classical guitar hero thing. My main influences were Yngwie Malmsteen and Paul Gilbert those days. When metal died in Finland in the beginning on the 90`s, I started playing in all sort of different projects. I did a lot of work as a studio musician. Later I got really sick about the whole thing I quit playing completely. When I joined Leverage I hadn`t touched the guitar in 7 years. Now I enjoy playing more than ever. I`ve had my own recording facility with my friend Janne Kettunen for 15 years now. There has been a lot of recording and mixing of different projects thru out the years.
Michael: I started playing guitar when I saw this 12 year old kid playing guitar in Oslo many years ago. He could play and sing at the same time.
Since when do you run your own studio? And how does your daily work in the studio look like when you are not just recording & producing one of your own projects?
Torsti: We work on all sort of different projects and jobs. My personal stuff is just a small part of it. It`s a comercial studio for everyone in need of one. Lately i`ve been writing a lot of orchestral movie soundtrack type of material for different purposes.
Michael: I start my day in the studio watching some youtube footage of Michael Eriksen and then I fall asleep of all the awesomeness. (laughs)
How are the plans for Leverage, you released your record “Circus Colossus” in 2010, so can we expect a new one for 2012?
Torsti: We have been talking about making another album. When will it be out? God only knows.
Michael: Right now I am doing some acoustic guitars for the new album titled “ I bet you can`t play this in a sauna”. There are some cool tracks on the album, for instance the song “ Too hot to handle…………….in the sauna” has a crazy arpeggio-sweep going on in the chorus. Can`t wait to show you.
How was working with Michael? Is he a lazy singer or does he have a good discipline?
Torsti: Yeah he is as lazy as it gets! And untalented too! Hahahaha.! No, seriously he is a great great singer. A very easy guy to work with. Everything he delivered was very good. There was no need for re recording something he all ready had recorded. We had a very similar idea how this album should sound like. He has a somewhat disturbed sense of humor though! Hahahahaha!
Michael: All I can say is MASTER CLASS!! I asked Michael about how much time did it take to record the vocals for the song “Cheated by love”. He asked me how long the song was. I said “05.31“ He then said “ Well it took me 05.31 minutes to record it then.
Last one for you Torsti: The best/worst habit of Norwegian´s?
Best: They are better skiers and have oil ( more money).
Worst: They are better skiers and have oil ( more money).
Best: The men are all just a bunch of hunks.
Worst: There is no such thing as “worst habit of a Norwegian”.
Are you already planning a tour and how would the Live-Band look like? Who would join you guys on tour?
Michael: We won`t have any time for a full tour, especially now that I will be busy with CM for the next 3-5 years. Torsti and I talked about this the other day and if a good offer comes along we would love to play The Magnificent songs live at some cool festival somewhere. When it comes to who would play the songs live, I guess we would try to bring most of the people who have been a part of the album along.
Thanks a lot for taking the time and answering my questions. I wish you both all the best with The Magnificent! Best wishes Sandy
Michael: Thank you so much Sandy and thanks for spreading the word about The Magnificent. All the best.
Author: Sandy Mahrer, photos: The Magnificent
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