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Magnus Daun (Mad Architect)

Interview with Magnus Daun from Mad Architect
by Stephanie Hensley at 28 September 2013, 7:53 PM

MAD ARCHITECT is not a political band. Guitarist Magnus Daun wants you to know that. But in addition to that, MAD ARCHITECT is also unique as hell, and with new singer Snowy Shaw, it goes to even higher places. Magnus talks to Metal Temple’s Stephanie Hensley about the band’s own personal “Journey To Madness” while recording the album and how all that craziness solidifies the foundation of MAD ARCHITECT.

Hello Magnus. Thank you for this opportunity to do an interview.

Well, thank you for your interest in MAD ARCHITECT!

After listening to Journey to Madness, which I have to say I really loved, I was curious: what ideas or maybe even personal experiences might have inspired the songs on this album?

Thank you for your kind words! Inspiration for the music comes from everywhere. It’s like a melting pot where different ingredients are fused together. It’s everything from traditional Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, Goth and Doom, to more extreme stuff - and balanced with some mellow atmospheric passages, even a bit Progressive in some parts. Always metal though! But all this comes out quite naturally. I don’t try to analyze the music too much. If it sounds good, then it is good. That’s my philosophy. When it comes to the lyrics, they are generally about observations of various things in life and reflections on that, things that have an influence on our lives and on how we act and behave. Basically the message in a lot of the songs is that we should use our brains and our own experiences, and dare question established ideas and beliefs. The music always comes first, but I like when there’s some meaning and depth to the lyrics also. Not sure if it comes through to other people, as they are written to make them open for interpretation, depending on ones own experiences. I think that’s a good approach. Works for me anyway! To give you an example, there’s a track called "Strange Machine" which is basically about greed, and especially greed generated from certain systems in our society. What triggered the lyrical idea was what was happening with some European countries, especially Greece, with their economy more or less collapsing. As always it’s the common people who have to pay for mistakes made by politicians and from malfunctioning systems. And of course the common people have to pay the debts from that, even if it will cost them their lives. That’s more or less what "Strange Machine" is about. I’m sure if you hear the lyrics for the first time, you wouldn’t make that connection. But if you know the original idea for the lyrics their meaning will unfold. But again, the music always comes first. MAD ARCHITECT is not a political band.

Did you already have a clear idea of how each song should sound on the album or did the tracks come to life on their own during the recording process?

There’s always an original idea on how the song is supposed to sound like. After the song structure is worked out, we usually make a very simple demo with just drums and guitars. I don’t think one should work too much with the demos as it tends to wear out inspiration, energy, and enthusiasm for the song. At least, that’s my experience. I’d rather work more directly towards the finished song which of course makes it necessary to have the arrangements and structure done at an early stage! In answer to your question, I would say there was from the start a clear idea of how each song should sound. But of course, when adding the other instruments and the vocals there will inevitably be some parts and details that sound a bit different. As long as "different" means "better" I’m perfectly OK with it!

The band as a whole sounds so polished and seasoned and is such a great ensemble. How difficult was it to make the decision as to who was the perfect fit in each role for MAD ARCHITECT?

It wasn’t difficult at all. I played with the drummer (Zven Lindsten) before in other bands, most recently with a band called FRETLESS. We did a US tour with them before turning our attention to finishing the MAD ARCHITECT debut album. Snowy was on top of the list for possible vocalists. Both I and Zven thought he would be the perfect fit for MAD ARCHITECT, with his very unique style of singing. The keyboard player, Jorgen Oscarsson, is a huge fan of the gothic style and as Goth was a flavor we wanted in the mix, Jorgen was the obvious choice. For the bass player, Erik Ferentinos, we have a mutual friend who brought us together. Erik played guitar with Stephen Percy’s RATT, but he is also a great bass player. As you can hear on the album this mix of musicians works great, creating what I think is a great album with a lot of variation. We’re really happy with the result.

Were there any difficulties along the way in making Journey to Madness that the band had to overcome to see it go from dream to reality?

There were constantly difficulties to overcome! It required a lot of determination to get the album done, I can tell you that! But I think that’s what makes the journey more interesting. If there’s a struggle to get there, I think one appreciates the final result more. Somehow I forget what difficulties there was after the album was done. One thing was to get through the whole recording process with a very limited budget, as we didn’t have any financial support. We also had several technical problems we had to deal with. But basically, if you enjoy what you do and are determined enough there’s no use whining. Just solve the problems or find a way around them and work hard to reach the goals you have set. That’s what we did with Journey to Madness. On occasions it was exactly what the album title implies! But you know, in the end it was absolutely worth it! And there will definitely be more albums from MAD ARCHITECT!

Did you audition singers or did you know right away that Snowy Shaw was the one you wanted as the vocalist? Are you involved in any other bands or music projects?

No other singers were auditioned. Snowy was number one on the list. I think he’s a great singer, adding his fair share of madness to the songs of MAD ARCHITECT. He is in my opinion the perfect fit for this style of music. All the guys involved in MAD ARCHITECT work with other bands and projects also. For myself, I recently split from a band called FRETLESS a few months ago. FRETLESS is a great band, kind of old-school metal, but I felt I had to make a choice in order to finish the MAD ARCHITECT album. Other than that I occasionally play with SNOWBLIND, a BLACK SABBATH & Ozzy cover band. It’s lots of fun, even though it’s not as creative playing other people’s songs. I also play with a MOTORHEAD cover band now and then. It’s lots of fun, but playing with them is just for the hell of it - a reason as good as any! I’m also working with sort of a semi-acoustic project, but it’s in a very early stage. Main focus for me right now musically is getting basic tracks done for a forthcoming second MAD ARCHITECT album. I think we will be ready to record the drum tracks in December 2013 or January 2014 and then the rest during the spring of 2014. No need to rush, but no need to be lazy either!

How has the album been received by critics and metal fans so far?

Most of the reviews have been positive, actually, very positive and it’s been coming from all over the world. There was one reviewer for a Swedish magazine who was someone who didn’t take the time to listen obviously. Or, as was apparent in that particular review, didn’t even like the musical style of MAD ARCHITECT. So why even make a review then, one might ask? Well, we all have different taste in music. You can’t win them all. It is a bit difficult to put a label on MAD ARCHITECT and our album Journey to Madness, as there’s a lot of variation. For me that’s something positive and that´s the way the music turned out quite naturally. We didn’t have a template and we didn’t try to sound like something else. The songs and the sound just came together as naturally as can be. The most important thing is that we get great response from metal fans all over the world. Metal fans seem to have a universal language and community - no matter what country or culture they come from. It feels great to be able to contribute to that!

Will there be any live shows to support this album?

Nothing is planned at the moment. I think there will be another album done before we consider doing any live shows, but never say never. We’ll see. I think the most important thing now is to make the music available to metal fans out there, and to get the word out what MAD ARCHITEXT is about. So, the focus now will be to build up a fanbase, promote the album, and work on new material. If there’s a huge demand for live shows, we will surely cover that area too!

Any funny stories from the studio you might have to share?

For myself I try to be very focused and well prepared when I go into the studio to record. Same thing for the mixing process. However, no matter how well prepared you are, unexpected things are bound to happen! Those things usually become funny stories later on.  But when “the unexpected” happens, at the time it can feel like total disaster. Especially for me, when I try to be in control! There are a few things I could mention, but I’ll save that for later. Right now some of the “near disaster” situations haven’t turned to funny stories yet. In time they will though. Ask me again next year or so!

Were you or any of the other members of Mad Architect allowed a lot of creative input in the final stages of the mixing and editing of the album?

Definitely! The album was mixed and mastered by Andy La Rocque. He has his studio only about an hour drive from where I live so I had plenty of opportunity to disturb him in his work! Snowy spent some time there to get the vocals mixed the way he wanted, and then Zven to get the drums right. I think I was in the studio for about 3 days or so during the mixing process. We were on a tight schedule, and Andy was about to go to Germany to rehearse for the upcoming King Diamond tour. Again, with a lot of determination, we managed to get everything done just in time! As you can hear on the album, Andy did a great job! I think we got it where we wanted. I should mention we produced the album ourselves. I would have preferred to have a proper producer, but as we had a tight budget it wasn’t possible. Maybe next time.

The guitars sounded incredible on Journey to Madness. At what age did you begin playing guitar, what inspired you to learn, and how often do you practice?

Thank you for saying that! I started to play piano when I was about nine, later on switched to classical guitar in my early teens. The inspiration to learn was basically because I really liked the sound, for example fingerstyle arpeggios on the classical guitar. I don’t remember what music in particular originally inspired me. When I started to play electric guitar it was Ritchie Blackmore who was my initial inspiration because he had such a great sound and for his approach to guitar playing. He seemed to be a guy who played for the right reasons, for the love of music that is. Basically I’m self-taught on guitar. I got my basic musical theory from playing the piano. I also spent a year in Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, which was helpful to get the theory right from a guitarist’s perspective. How often I practice? There was a time when I practiced a lot, just with technique. Nowadays I still play every day, but I practice more or less only around musical ideas that I can use. And if one of those ideas requires a certain technique, then I focus on that technique, but only in order to get the music right where I want it. For example, I don’t practice scales up and down with no purpose. I used to do stuff like that a lot, but not anymore. Now I’m more into music than technique.

Was there a lot of support from family, friends, and maybe even others in the music business for the band during the recording of Journey to Madness?

There was some support from here and there. Not a whole lot really, which is understandable as this was a totally new band doing a debut album. I think there will be more support in the future now when we have an album and a sound to relate to. After the first EP (Dreamworld, 2012) there were some who picked up on what we we’re doing, and then continued to support us while recording the album. But not a whole lot, no. We didn’t really advertise that we were recording an album, and we didn’t communicate through any social media at all. Just a few weeks ago we got our Facebook page started. I think that will be helpful to communicate with people who appreciate our music. Hopefully we will get some support and inspiration through that channel. By the way, you can find us on our Facebook page at “madarchitectofficial"!

Is there anything in the near future in the works for MAD ARCHITECT? Videos, shows, collaborations or anything fans might want to know?

As I mentioned earlier, focus in the near future will be to make the music of Mad Architect available to all metal fans out there who may be interested to hear it. And hopefully to build up a fanbase who will inspire us for the recordings of our next album! 


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