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25/03/2011 – Interview with MAGIC KINGDOM

The Belgian Neo-Classical Power Metal band MAGIC KINGDOM (official website) released its third album last year, six years after "Metallic Tragedy". Titled "Symphony Of War", the album shows a band with renewed energy and skills that can easily match those of international acts. MAGIC KINGDOM is actually an international band with members from Belgium, France, Germany, ... You can check out the review of this newest release at this location. I was very pleasantly suprised by the quality presented here and for obvious reasons I hope to see the band play those songs live. At least Dushan Petrossi's other band, IRON MASK could finally play at Frostrock back in December. So that's a small compensation, but it was a nice one. In any case, as he's a busy man with these two bands, writing and composing all the stuff, it took some time for him to send back the answers and more time from me to upload it all (it's May when this is online, due to occupational reasons). Anyway, enjoy and do get your hands on "Symphony Of War" and support MAGIC KINGDOM. There are no two such bands in Belgium.

Magic Kingdom logo

"Symphony Of War" is almost 3 months out. Judging from several reviews, you must be a very happy person, right? :-) Does this affect the way you write music?

Sure, it feels cool to get good reviews, but it doesn't affect any of my decisions about a song. I just write music from my heart, don't care if a review is bad or good.

I mean, do you continue like before or are you critical for yourself and try to make each album so that it has to be better the last?

Yeah, I always try to get improve myself, or better said, you get more experience each time and you know better what fans could love, what vocal line works better. This sort of things, you know.

Magic Kingdom - Dushan PetrossiBe that in terms of composition, production, ... "Symphony Of War", you told me, was written a few years ago. At the time of "Metallic Tragedy"?

Yeah, some of the songs only. I started very early after "metallic tragedy" was released, that's correct!

Or did you still have enough work on your hands anni 2007-2010 for this new album?

Well, it was a long composing period of time and some of the songs are of course newer than songs like "Symphony Of War" wich was the first I wrote after "Metallic Tragedy".

Is this new album entirely your doing or did the others have something to say as well (e.g. Phil for the keyboards, Olaf and Roma for the vocals, and so on?

No, I write everything myself. It is so much faster and songs are stronger that way, because it doesn't go in 1000 different directions, as it is the case in some other bands' music. Nothing wrong with it, but that's not the way I hear music.

Speaking of members: the line-up changed. Olaf (LUCA TURILLI) came in on vocals, Phil (FAIRYLAND) is the new keyboardist, Freddy Ortscheid (THORNIUM) took the seat behind the drumkit. What caused this big change?

I wanted top musicians for that record, because I knew it is high level music and arrangements. Olaf is a great singer. He sings it the way it should be sung. Concerning keys, we never had a permanent key guy, so it was time to get a real member and Phil is the one who is perfect as keyboarder. He understands me very fast and knows symphonic Metal well. :-) Freddy is a great fast drummer. We needed someone very fast as some of the songs are very fast.

In an interview with (see here) you said the level (for a keyboardist) wasn't high enough in Belgium. Was it a technical matter? Experience? Are music schools partly responsible? Or was it just among the candidates that you didn't find the right man?

I think it's a bit of all those reasons, you know. Belgium is not really known for melodic Metal. All the guys we tried are amateurs and we couldn't work with those people. Don't get me wrong, Belgium has a lot of musicians, but not specialized in the symphonic Metal genre.

Magic Kingdom bandAlso, MAGIC KINGDOM = IRON MASK (to a large extent) in terms of line-up. Is this a deliberate choice?

I don't agree with that. MAGIC KINGDOM is totally different from IRON MASK. IRON MASK is more a Hard Rock band with touches of Neo-Classical and very catchy choruses.

For the sake of ease perhaps, and because you already work together in the other band? Since Olaf lives in Germany, Phil in France, you in Belgium (I don't know about the others), how does this affect the collaboration, the rehearsals, the recordings, ...

We are used to that, everybody comes to Brussels. We rehearse 2-3 days before we record or go play a gig. Simple as that. :-)

Songwise, it seems all tracks on "Symphony Of War" are war-related and in various contexts. There's mention of Osiris, Thor, Lionheart, The Count of Monte Cristo (a character in the novel from Alexandre Dumas), ... what's the idea behind it all and what inspired you to use these characters for this album?

I love epic movies and books and I like writing about that, which is better than nowadays political shit. People need to escape from reality from time to time, but we also have some very modern theme songs like "Million Sinners World" (about earth warming and pollution). I don't have a special way to write something. If it fits a song, then I will expand the subject to that idea or another.

"Metallic Tragedy" (on the same-titled album) was one song of 13 minutes length. The second part, on "Symphony Of War" is several songs forming one big song, totalling a length of 29 minutes! Was it originally conceived that there should be a split-up?

Yeah, I wanted different movements as in film score music, it's a very cinematic approach of Metal music. It's a pentalogy, so there are 5 different movements, 5 parts of the story, 5 different singers and styles of singing.

Wouldn't it have been better to put it all on one album, then appropriately called "Metallic Tragedy"?

Last album was already titled like that. :-) I like to add diversity in an album, not only speed or score Metal style songs. That results in a good and solid album. I just get bored with albums sounding all the same.

For the sound you went to Uwe Lulis (ex-GRAVE DIGGER, ex-REBELLION), who had never mixed a symphonic album so far. Why did you choose him?

Actually, the label chose him. He did an ok job, although I would have changed some stuff, but we couldn't wait any longer. So it was time to stop the mixing after the 10th version of the mix I received. *lol*

Of course, you could have chosen, for example, Sascha Paeth (known from his work with KAMELOT, EPICA, RHAPSODY OF FIRE, AVANTASIA, ...), or have gone to Finland. What was it like, working with him?

We met only once at the final stage of mixing. He's nice,and fast, good to work that way. Paeth is a guy too busy, he prefers to work with bigger names. And that's a bit disappointing to say the least...

Magic Kingdom - Symphony Of WarSpeaking of cover art: who made it? And did you give him instructions on how it should be?

Yeah, I explained what we needed. It's still Leo Hao from Moscow, a great artist!

When comparing the three MAGIC KINGDOM albums, you improved with each release, "Symphony Of War" obviously being your best effort to date. When looking back, how do you feel about the first two albums? How they sound, how the songs are composed, the technical level, etc...?

The first album ("The Arrival", 1999) was only a demo that we could remix because the old label didn't agree to remix it. There are a lot things I don't like on that album. But it's a demo, nothing more to me. The second one ("Metallic Tragedy", 2004) is a great album. Lots of money spent in the production and lots of studio hours. To me this is our real first album. The technical level is also great, of course. The way we love to play it. *laughs*

When you're writing songs for MAGIC KINGDOM, they will be more bombastic and orchestral. This is also the biggest difference with IRON MASK. But do you write music with live performances in mind or are studio and gigs 2 different things that should be dealt with differently?

Yeah, exactly. That's the real difference between my two bands. And yes, I always keep in mind we need to play it live. If it kicks ass when we rehearse, then it's a good song!

About those gigs: I could finally see you at work (at least with IRON MASK) back in December at Frostrock (2010). It appears to me that for bands like yours and in this case, MAGIC KINGDOM, it's hard to get booked. Especially in Belgium. Or am I mistaken?

Yeah, that's reality nowadays, which is a shame. It seems you need to get a pair of tits to get better chances to be booked nowadays.

Because you had to cancel Frostrock in 2009, both with IRON MASK and MAGIC KINGDOM and in 2010, I believe, the Barock Heroes tour with AT VANCE and JOE STUMP got cancelled. Is the Belgian scene too much about Extreme Metal (Thrash, Death, Black, ...)?

You know, it's the whole thing: bad bookers, bad agencies, only promisings gigs and nothing confirmed; the only gigs confirmed were the gigs I found myself! It's a pity, because I received many enthusiastic e-mails from fans eager to see those 3 excellent Neo-Classical bands. It would have been great. We'll try again later.

Are there any bookings so far for MAGIC KINGDOM, in Belgium or abroad?

Nothing for the moment. I'm also in the middle of recordings of the new IRON MASK album, so I don't get so much time for any bookings right now.

You're endorsed by Blackstar. What makes this brand better than, say, Engl, Peavey, Marshall, Krank, ...?

Sounds modern and powerful and you get two different kinds of sound to choose: an American and a more UK sort of sound, perfect for studio recordings as well. But I also use my old Plexi Marshall from 1971.

When you're not writing music, is there time for hobbies? How do you fill your time when you need to relax, have something else on your mind, to refresh?

Cinemas, good restaurants, playing with my son, watching football at my brother's team (he's the coach). You know, pretty much normal things, like everybody. :-) And of course GUITAR! That's the best hobby. :-)

That's all from me. Many thanks for taking the time to add answers to the questions. All the best with this new album, the gigs and more. Any final words are yours to add.

Thanks Tim. See you at the festival in Mons!

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