Reed, Robert and Christina Booth (Magenta) (August 2002)

Another Shade Of Reed: The Magenta Interview

Magenta (Rob, Christina; © 2001 Magenta) While the name Magenta may be new to you, the members of the band shouldn't be, as main composer Rob Reed once recorded under the name Cyan, releasing three albums. The first album, For King And Country, was all Reed, but the second (Pictures From The Other Side) and third (The Creeping Vine) also featured future Magneta member Christina (just Christina). Fast forward to 2001(and after another project together Trippa): This time a full band featuring Tim Robinson on drums, Chris Fry on lead guitar, Martin Shellard and Andy Edwards on guitars, and Steve Reed*, who provided the lyrics, joined with Christina on lead vocals and Reed bass, keys, acoustic guitar and tambourine to form Magenta, releasing Revolutions, their debut album. With the follow up, Seven, in the wings, we sit down to talk to Rob and Christina.

Igor Italiani: Hi Rob & Christina. I would like to start asking you if Magenta will be able to do some live shows in support of Revolutions or if you'll focus immediately on new material for the second record?

Magenta - Revolutions (2001)Rob Reed: We are doing both. The new CD is well under way with all the tracks musically written. At the moment there are no lyrics, which are again being written by Steve Reed. It will be a concept CD again, called Seven. Also we are rehearsing for some gigs to coincide with the release of the new CD in the beginning of the 2003.

II: However, the story of Magenta descends directly from the one of Cyan, the first band of yours, Rob. Can you tell me when you had the idea of embarking on this new project, considering also that the prog rock genre is way underground these days, especially in England?

RR: I really wanted to try something a bit bigger. Also I was fed up with all the prog bands who were too scared to admit their influences from the 1970's. I really wanted to make a real "PROG" CD with a capital P! That's why I released a double CD with only four 20-minute songs. With Cyan I was always worried about being too prog or not prog enough, always trying to please everyone. With Magenta I made the album I have always wanted to make, and thankfully a lot of people have liked what they have heard.

II: Rob, can you explain to the audience how the songs, or should I say suites, of Revolutions slowly took shape?

RR: Well, I wrote all the main themes of the CD in 2 weeks, then expanded the themes into the 4 suites. Each suite represents a "revolution." I had the concept worked out with Steve Reed, so I tried to capture the themes in the music as well. I tried to reflect the different revolutions in Prog in the music, too. Early prog bands like Jethro Tull and Genesis influence the first section, with latter day Genesis and Yes influencing the second. The third section is influences by 1980's Prog including Marillion and Pendragon, and the 4th by latter day Yes and Spock's Beard.

II: In the album there's a song that refers to the growing link between man and machines. What future do you envision for men and for the world as a whole?

RR: Well, to be honest with you, I think that the world will be a mess if we don't get some leaders who are not puppets, and will speak from the heart not from the moneybox.

II: Mmh, pretty dark opinion ... however, let's return to the album. Steve Reed wrote the concept, while the music was entirely written by you. Do you think that this dissection of work will be repeated with the new album or not?

RR: Yes. Steve is the man behind the lyrics and the concepts. I find it difficult to write lyrics and prefer to concentrate on the music. It's great when you get the lyrics - it's like flesh on the bones.

II: Now I would like to ask Christina what were her first thoughts when Rob explained this project to her?

Magenta (Christina, Rob; © 2001 Magenta)Christina: I was a little shocked as very few people I know make this type of music in the UK! But I believe it's music from the heart and enjoyed the whole experience. I'm really looking forward to playing live - I love all the theatrics and have already worked out my costume changes!

II: Can you tell me if you there are some singers from whom you draw inspiration?

C: I like good female singers like Kate Bush, Bjork & Annie Lennox.

II: Now returning to you, Rob, what can we expect for the next Magenta record?

RR: Well, it's a little more upbeat, but still with all the Magenta trademarks. Bass pedals, Moogs, Hammond Organs, etc... The songs are a little shorter - there are seven songs on a single CD - so it was a challenge to keep each song to about 12 minutes!

II: Rob, I really loved your statement ("imitation is the highest form of flattery") placed in the middle of the booklet. In fact I think that while Revolutions is clearly inspired by old prog rock, it is still a brilliant effort to reveal a genre that was somewhat lost. How is it difficult to play something already displayed in the past, but moreover to colour it with new emotions?

RR: I love all those old bands like Genesis and Yes, but I'm also inspired by new artists such as Bjork and Massive Attack, and their influences can be heard just as much in my music. Melody is the most important thing that I draw from the classic prog bands.

II: But do you think that progressive rock could return to prominence in the looming future or not?

RR: Yes. Nu-metal is huge in the UK at the moment with bands like Korn, Nickleback, Creed, etc... All the kids are forming bands again, and they will in turn become more technical proficient and will want to play more demanding music. This will lead to prog.

II: You already confessed your love for prog rock, but there is another music genre, which you especially dig nowadays or not?

RR: I love some of the new trance music. It is the truly modern prog. The songs are 12 minutes long and develop throughout. I know that it is all played on synths, but some of it is awesome in its emotion.

II: OK, I think that's all. What would you like to say before the usual round of goodbyes?

RR: I'd just like to say thanks for taking an interest in Magenta and look out for the second CD Seven in early 2003, it's going to be a good one! If you get to one of our gigs, please come up and say hello!

II: I'll certainly do so. So thank you for your time Magenta. I look forward for a gig here in Italy. Until then a big hello!

RR & C: Bye and have a nice summer.

*though his contribution was certainly more than a footnote, we should note that Tim Short played percussion on the debut album [and, in the time since we first published this interview, Magenta have gone on to release a further 6 albums, 2 EPs, a DVD or two... and as of this update, are currently scheduled for Summer's End 2011. -ed.].

Revolutions (2001)
Seven (2004)
Broken (ep) (2004)
Another Time... Another Place (2004)
I'm Alive (ep) (2004)
Home (2006)
New York Suite (2006)
The Singles (2007)
Metamorphosis (2008)
Live At The Point 2007 (2008)
Seven (ltd CD/DVD, remixed/remastered) (2009)
Wonderous Stories (2009)
Home (combo of Home & NY Suite) (2010)
Live At Real World (2010)
Chameleon (2011)
Live: On Our Way To Who Knows Where (2012)
The Lizard King (2013)
The Twenty-Seven Club (2013)

The Gathering (DVD) (2005)
The Metamorphosis Collection (DVD) (2008)
Live At The Point 2007 (DVD) (2009)

Added: August 6th 2002
Interviewer: Igor Italiani

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Language: english

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