The Last Tribe of Magnus Karlsson
Last year it was The Ritual, now it is the Witch Dance ... well, regardless of the situation, it seems that Last Tribe are out once again with a beautiful album of music, equally balanced between technique and melody. So, when the opportunity to talk with Magnus Karlsson surfaced, we didn't let it pass us by. Here is our talk...
Igor Italiani: Hi Magnus ... first of all can you explain to us why the band has changed two members that appeared on the debut album, which was already well received by the press and fans?
MK: Well, the change has nothing to do with the results of last album. This time I wanted to provide a less neoclassical and more progressive touch on the music. Kristoffer [Anderson, drums] And Pär [Wallmark, bass] don't work full time with music and didn't have the time it takes to do an album at this level. The fact is that there are no hard feelings in this separation, and they still have a great band on their own called Shadow Nation. However because I wanted to do a more progressive music, who could play it better than Jamie Salazar [drums, ex-Flower Kings] and Dick Löwgren [bass, Armageddon]? They were the best musicians I can imagine to do this album.
II: OK, but do you think you'll be able to play some live shows with this new formation in the coming months?
MK: I really hope so. Witch Dance is music that is made to be played live. You have to keep your fingers crossed.
II: This is a classic question ... what are the main differences, in your opinion, between The Ritual and Witch Dance?
MK: This time the music ... it is for real. The Ritual were leftovers that didn't fit Midnight Sun [the other band that Magnus plays in - II]. The songs were written for Pete Sandberg's voice, instead this time I wrote the songs especially for Rickard Bengtsson's voice.
II: I think that one of the strongest points of the new album is the production. Anders has done another great job, hasn't he?
MK: Yeah, it seems that we understand each other perfectly. He knows what I want and has very good ears. I think I'll stick with him for future albums as well.
II: Magnus, the first time we talked (for Midnight Sun) you told me that Steve Vai is your idol. In fact I think that with Witch Dance this big influence of yours really comes through, even if the music is still very neoclassic. Do you agree with this remark?
MK: I'm very glad when you mention that, because I think Vai is one of the greatest. But I'm not sure that I would call Last Tribe still "very neoclassic." When I hear the "neoclassic" word I think of Malmsteen and that stuff, and with Last Tribe we really try to move to another direction.
II: Did it take a lot of time to write down the songs for the Witch Dance?
MK: I don't know exactly how long it took, because when I make a melody I do a fast recording and then let the melody rest for a couple of weeks. Then I try out some riffs and listen to the melody again and see if I still like it. However I think it went a year between the first and last note on Witch Dance.
II: Are you satisfied with the promotional work of your label, Frontiers, so far?
MK: Yeah, they are doing a great job!
II: Magnus, you are a heck of a guitar player ... can you explain your instrumentation to the guitar fanatics?
MK: Well, Thanx for the compliments! You know, I've been practicing speed and chops for many hours a day. However I always think that beautiful melodies are the most important thing when I do solos or write songs ... and I try to keep my ears open to every kind of music [good, but the instrumentation? - II].
II: Why was the band called Last Tribe?
MK: When I grew up, my friends and me were listening to bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. I saw us as a tribe that was into the same kind of music, but when the "Seattle bands" came, everything changed and it felt like we were the last tribe that listened to "real metal." But now I'm very happy to see that the tribe is growing again.
II: Now I have a harsh question ... don't you think that the neoclassic genre has already explored all it could possibly explore?
MK: No, I don't think so. We have just started to explore, but some bands seem to get stuck in the same thing with every album they release.
II: Magnus, do you have already something in mind for the third album of the band, which is usually considered the most important?
MK: Well, I always write songs and my inspiration is greater than ever, so I think there is more for you that dig Last Tribe.
II: So I think it's enough, Magnus. There's something else you want to add?
MK: Only that if you are into melodic metal you are a member of the Last Tribe!
II: OK ... so bye and thanks for your time. Hope to see you here in Italy sooner or later!
MK: I hope so, too. Take care! All the best, Magnus.
The Ritual (2001)
Witch Dance (2002)