Grand Magus

author EW date 01/09/12

Fast becoming stalwarts of traditional heavy metal having risen from more doomed roots, Grand Magus remain an act who arguably have not reaped the rewards their powerful discography has deserved. Now 6 albums in and touring for new release “The Hunt” I caught up with guitarist and vocalist JB Christofferson at Bloodstock to ask why they never seem to headline any shows after years of slogging away…

RF.net: Lets start off with the new album, no. 6 – "The Hunt" – which has been out for a couple of months now. I know what bands tend to say about their new album but I’ve got to ask the question anyway, so what are your thoughts on the new album?
JB: The reception has been really, really good overall. I think we are getting the most positive things we ever had yet at the same time there are loads of different opinions about the album, which is a good thing. I think "Hammer of the North" is more direct, but maybe not as long lasting as "The Hunt". It takes a few listens before you get into it, and for me that’s a good thing.

RF.net: Yeah, I think so. You’ve changed style as well gradually over the albums to say you’re possible approaching a different audience than you were in the "Monument" days.

RF.net: What inspirations have gone into your more heavy metal style as opposed to the "Monument" days which is personally when I got into you as a more doom-orientated band?
JB: When we started out, especially around the time of "Monument", we were really doom influenced, especially by Cathedral which is really what we were after somehow but maybe a bit more melodic. But after we've done the "Monument", we thought that this was the start to go into a more heavy direction and also we noticed we were enjoying ourselves live more where we played mid-tempo classic heavy metal type stuff. And finally the last thing is really about honesty. This is the stuff that I grew up on, that’s always been deep for me.

RF.net: You mentioned the honesty which I wanted to ask you about, as you’ve been an antithesis to a lot of extreme metal in that you’re quite a positive band with little negativity. Has that continued through “The Hunt” and is there anything new brought into this one?

JB: For me metal music is about power. I feel energised, I feel the will to conquer when I hear good metal and that’s what we want to project with our music as well. But at the same time, we don’t sing about heavy metal, we don’t sing about partying or having a good time. We sing about struggle and big life-changing things but to me it’s no conflict as with every song I want the audience to feel like.. [clenches a strong fist].

RF.net: You’ve been going about 15 years now, 6 albums in but not having broken into the big league with the likes of Candlemass or Hammerfall. Are you comfortable with where you are now or feel like a bit more recognition is deserved?
JB: Who doesn’t? We pour our heart and souls into the music that we do and of course would love to become a bigger band than we are to…. I think we should be.

RF.net: I think you should be. One thing that has always puzzled me having seen you live 8 times now is why I have never seen Grand Magus headline a show in the UK. I’ve seen you with Angel Witch, Primordial, Candlemass and Cathedral, is there a reason for that?

JB: Well, we’ve done headline tours in Europe - we did one tour in January, which took us through Europe, so we were headlining and we had support bands and that was really successful. We also did a small one in U.K actually with a band called Serpentcult, but, it’s all about logistics and planning and everything; it’s not been until the last few years that we’ve had the management to take care of us. Before we were doing everything for ourselves and still do when it comes to carrying the gear around and stuff like that but if you get an offer to do a support act, you are not gonna say no.

RF.net: Yeah, I was thinking you support a lot of a different style band, has that been a conscious decision or what was offered to you?

JB: I should think people following those bands all like heavy metal. We write good heavy metal songs, so usually people are gonna like us no matter what the other band is.

RF.net: Where have you found your support to be best – does this come in Sweden?

JB: Ahh, definitely not. Sweden is really a bit of a disaster for us, because we’ve always had terrible distribution in Sweden due to unknown reasons and it has continued to plague us so there nothing happens. For us it is Germany, UK, Greece, Italy, France… We’ve never been a Swedish band so to speak - we started our career with Rise Above (British label) and first gigs we ever did were in England.

RF.net: You’ve always come across on stage and in interviews as traditional dyed-in-the-wool heavy metal types; does this still play the same importance to your life as when you were a kid and just getting into it?
JB: Yeah. I mean I’m not 25 anymore, and I am still doing it. I am not doing it because I am rich, so there must be a reason.

RF.net: So still the same passion?

JB: Yeahhh, there has to be a passion, if not it’s pointless. Like I said if we were a huge money-making machine we could go up there and go through the emotions, but for us every gig is a war, and still is.

RF.net: A bit of a sideways question but I’ve seen interviews where you talked about your massive love for Accept, a band I love as well, and was interested to hear what you thought of their last couple of albums.

JB: I think they’re brilliant. I think Mark Tornillo is an amazing singer and we had the honour to tour with them in Scandinavia and Germany and the stuff they deliver every night, it’s just another level. There not so many bands that can deliver that musicianship with the passion that they still have, I am extremely impressed.

RF.net: Ok the last couple of questions. What was the last great new record you’ve heard or bought?
JB: (After much thinking…) The latest Unleashed album.

RF.net: And if you had to duet with anyone outside the metal genre who would it be?

JB: Duet? Mariah Carey.

RF.net: I’d love to see that stage show!

JB: Probably not going to happen!

RF.net: Well I appreciate your time. It’s been great to meet you.

JB: Thanks.

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