For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?
Magna Vice is a five man heavy/prog group gaining from Turku, Finland. We started back in 2010 first as a trio (Robin Jansson-Jonne Orrensalo-Esa Karppinen) and began to write the music. Those songs were pretty much the foundation for our “Serpent of wisdom” album. During the first demo-sessions in 2011 we recorded about 2 hours of music and some of that has still remained quite a lot the same. From those sessions we came out also with this one 30 min piece, which we’re really working on at the moment. Maybe it’ll be released later… Wellari Heino joined the band after those sessions and Petri Oksanen a half year later.
We released our first single “Hope you find your way out” back in April 2012 on the bands very first gig and we’ve been playing live since then. And in August 2012 we started to record our album which took about a year to complete. But it was worth it! The album was released by Inverse Records in Finland on 30.8.2013 and worldwide on 20.9.2013.
In the end of year 2013 a minor change was done in the lineup when MV: s former drummer J. Orrensalo stepped aside and Eepi Karppinen climbed in to bang the skins. His first gig was on 2.2.14 and it really worked out fine. He’s brought some new dimensions to our new music under progression with his modern but hats off to old school drumming style and he also updated a little bit the older songs as well.
Recently you have released an album, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical direction the new release has taken?
Musically we come from the old school heavy and hard rock. Our heroes are mostly from the 70’s. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Mahogany Rush and Pink Floyd are a strong influence to our music. But when writing music, we don’t try to copy or redo any of the influences. It’s more like, what you’ve heard and what you dig is what comes through your fingers. That’s the way I take it. As usual, some people always amuses themselves finding out what this and that sounds like, but for me it’s really not a big deal. One of the most important things in our music is the feeling when we compose and write music. We try to be honest to ourselves. As you might know, we aren’t newbies in the making of music; almost all of us have started back in the 80’s in different kinds of bands. We’re trying to mix different styles of rock music and I think we’re pretty much on a right path doing that. Of course we’re pushing us as a band to make things better and better.
“Serpent of wisdom” was a good way to start our musical message and trip, now the old stuff from the closet has been done and we can concentrate on the new music that we’re working on. The feedback that we’ve been receiving about this album is quite interesting. The people who really like this kind of stuff are very impressed by the changing moods on the record and that was exactly the thing we were looking for when recording the album. All the pieces between the actual songs were all done by us. I made a script of all the voices and sequences and described them to Petri Oksanen, who also recorded and mixed the whole album, and then together we started building the atmospheres. And if you close your eyes and let your mind flow into those moods, you might find all kinds of interesting things…
Your musical style is more rooted in the progressive rock/metal sounds, do you feel this style of music has been making a comeback over the years?
For me the progressive genre has been around since I as a kid first found bands like Pink Floyd, Uriah Heep, King Crimson, Moody Blues etc. Later I found out that heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath were quite proggy too, so it’s never really been away from me. I got my first Black Sabbath album at the age of 9, so I think I’ve been into progressive music for more than 30 years…
But in a bigger picture you can say that progressive music has really come back. I think the problem of hearing good progressive music depends on radio stations and television nowadays. Everything has to be in 3 minute simple sing-along bullshit form and a major part of kids really think that’s cool. And their parents too… But there’s always been a very active scene in progmusic, people who really loves the genre. There are many independent record labels and internet radios that keep on spreading the good music. We have got good airplay for example in “The Dutch Treat” on Jawdy’s Basement which is a New Jersey based internet radio. I think progressive music has its own fanbase all around the world and it seems to be alive and well! And when bands like Dream Theater, Rush and Steven Wilson/ Porcupine Tree achieves nominations in annual competitions, it all falls down to progressive music’s bucket. So, the answer is yes and no.
The new recording is a concept album, can you tell us a little bit more about the lyrics you have wrote for this album?
There are seven different stories of things that surrounds us which all come together. The considering of war, religions and home are the main themes on this album. I’m trying to put my life on the line when I’m looking for an inspiration. I’m not saying that I write from my own life or my family, but I’m trying to reflect on things that way. Things that I see on TV or in newspapers really piss me off sometimes and on a good day I can just sit down and tell a story. I do write most of the lyrics but Wellari Heino also takes a good part of it as lead singer. Our ways of writing lyrics seems to get together quite easily. On this album the stories seemed to fit together fine, that’s why it ended to be a concept album. I put this character “Ed Diamond” into the story to make it more familiar to anyone who has been fighting with inner demons. I suppose everybody sometimes has to go through hard times and this is one way to express it. If you stick to the context but change the subjects, anybody can identify to this story. And if you ask about the character’s name, I give you just one hint: chess…
What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Magna Vice'?
Maybe we should keep this as a secret. But if you think of the words “Magna Vice” and use your imagination, you might come to a conclusion that satisfies you. Just don’t forget to read between the lines.
What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
We’ve been playing in all kinds of rock clubs and outdoor festivals, but the most memorable gig so far must be the album release gig at Klubi, a major rock club in Turku. The house was packed with good people including families and friends and we introduced our new live show with audiovisual content on video screen. We also had a great lightshow by Otto Tyyskä, who is probably one of the best light engineers ever. It sure was a night to remember!
We’ve been playing live the whole album with all the ambient sounds and that stuff. Petri has done a great job bringing them on stage. Sometimes we perform the whole album in the order as it is on record, sometimes don’t. As bonus tracks we’ve played for example covers of songs by Led Zeppelin, Frank Marino and Queensryche. And who knows what will be next.
Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
At the moment we are going through discussions with our new managing promoter and our cooperation will be published soon. The next leg of “Serpentour of wisdom” will be announced in the near future. The show will contain the full album and then some covers.
On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of metal and progressive rock?
The feedback has been mostly amazing! Sometimes you can tell by the written text that there’s been a totally wrong person listening to our record, but it’s always about opinions.
We have got great reviews from all around the world and that is just unbelievable! We get sometimes email from magazines, webzines and radio stations that really dig our music, sometimes private persons. Fans and listeners are very inspiring and they give us a good kick ahead.
Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
I think we’re on a phase where we start to do things that are more what we really want to do. The new music is getting a bit heavier but with good melodies and tricky instrumental parts. However we are still keeping it very much progressive. The new drummer gives us a lot more choices to play around with the changes of rhythms and he also brings in the double bass drums which we didn’t have before. I’m looking forward that it’s going to lift us to a new level musically. We’ve also put a lot of effort on the keyboards and effects, background vocals will also still be in a major part of Magna Vice’s music. I’d say that we’re getting even more proggy in the future than on “Serpent of wisdom”.
And of course we will continue working with cover art as well. On “Serpent of wisdom” all the designing and creating the cover art was a part of the progress and it really is for us one major thing to keep under control. And when you have the skills inside the band, then why use any outer help.
What are some bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
As mentioned before those 70’s and 80’s progressive heavy and hard rock bands are a huge influence. But we also try to keep our music freshened with cool new synth sounds. There’ll always be Hammond in our music but Petri Oksanen is nicely filling some amazing sounds and other stuff to our compositions. Robin Jansson seems to have an Opethian phase of creating riffs and I just stop every once in a while asking him to do that again. So, we’re going through some interesting moments.
At the moment personally I’m totally gone with Transatlantic, especially their majestic “Whirlwind” album. My car has been filled with Dream Theater for a few last years but nowadays there’s room also for Steven Wilson’s “Raven that refused to sing”, Pain of Salvation and Between the buried and me. The new drummer Eepi Karppinen is so far beyond us all when it comes to listening to music and being inspired and you could just name any band in the world, but here’s one: Ghost.
What are some of your nonmusical interests?
Petri Oksanen is a midi- freak, Wellari Heino likes to go to Vice City when he’s not working on his computers and gizmos, Robin Jansson is a total mystery, Eepi Karppinen is the pretty young boy of the band and you can guess the rest. I like fishing, a lot.
Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Peace and love to everyone.