The Magnapinna Interview: “We don’t want to be one genre”

the magnapinna interview

Debut EP Sex Tape is out now via Bandcamp.

A magnapinna is an enormous long arm squid that have only been very rarely spotted at great depths. In my imagination, their frightening lengthy arms could envelope you and drag you to an extremely terrifying and watery grave. Which is kind of like what is like to listen to Cork based sludge/alternative rock quintet The Magnapinna. Except with more inspiration from ABBA and Apocalypse Now.

Overblown recently (not so recently) went for a pint with the boys to talk about their sex tape (it exists apparently), their desire not to be pigeonholed, and being called Mega Paedo by mistake. Awkward.

O: A magnapinna is a pretty huge bigfin squid. Why name the band after such a creature?

The Magnapinna: The weird thing about them is they have articulated tentacles. Freaky things. Kind of like a marionette. Obviously a great name for a band as it is a real mouthful and fits on a marquee. People are like, “What are you called? Magnet Penis? Mega Paedo?” You don’t want to be Mega Paedo! We’re the definitive magnapinna though because we are ‘The’ Magnapinna. There’s a Leeds band called just Magnapinna and we hope to play with them someday. Maybe they’ll reform to play with us.

O: I was looking at your Bandcamp page and it suggests that you are from all over the world. What’s the story there?

TM: We’ve all had various experiences outside of the country. That’s how it started. Recording over the phone. We were in Brighton, Australia, Berlin, and Japan and we just started recording over the internet. It didn’t really work very well. It was lo-fi in the extreme. We’d have guitars, cut them up and add drums, and then Christian would add his vocals. We did that on around three tracks. It did help to get through the phase of writing shit stuff at the start so when we physically got together it was out of our system.

O: I think it’s strange that it started like that because the sound on the EP is very live and visceral. It’s very energetic. A lot of bands now opt for over mastering a recording and it just sounds awful.

Answer: The drums were done in the studio but everything else was just done on a laptop. It kept on shutting down. We had to listen to tracks separately one by one and then imagine what it would sound like together. Then we had to render it and listen back. So it would take a half hour just to hear one change we had made. It took months. We’ll record more efficiently in future.

The new songs will have more punch and less space production wise. The new songs are lot more cohesive for sure with a definite shift in quality. Our newer song structures are more based on pop structures like ABBA. More hooks. Most of us started in really aggressive guttural metal bands but we’ve evolved into adults (laughs) and we’ve discovered it’s more fun and easier to play pop songs. And it’s refreshing to sing.

After years of playing in really heavy metal bands, we’re enjoying the lack of restrictions. No one says “no”. We want to able to swing to both sides of the spectrum. A lot of bands are very specific. “We’re a stoner band” or “We’re a thrash” band. Which is really fucking boring. We want people to dance and have a good time. Do guys in black metal bands go home and act all serious the whole time? They don’t. We don’t want to be pigeonholed into one genre.

O: What’s the deal with the sex tape that’s up for sale for €500 on Bandcamp?

TM : You gotta buy it and find out! It does exist and it is a real tangible thing. If someone buys it, they will get something. It’s a real thing and in VHS. They will get their money’s worth and then some.

O: ‘Errand Boy’, the last song on the EP, has clips from the film Apocalypse Now in it. How did that end up being thrown into the track?

TM: The first jam we had… that was one of the tracks we took from the distance recording. We were just looking to do some samples through the iPad and on the phone. So thought let’s find any sample. And just started playing random pieces of Apocalypse Now and then after playing it a number of times it began to become more cohesive. The clip ended up influencing the lyrics of the song. It became a story based on the samples. It was a collaborative lyric writing effort in the band which was a new experience.

We’ve actually put that song to bed. We’ve got about twenty five songs so we’re paring stuff off. The response to it live wasn’t great anyway. We opened up with it in Limerick once and when we finished there was like one clap. By the fourth song though people were into it though. As negative as the reaction was, we loved it.

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O: Like Faith No More, Melvins, or Mr. Bungle there seems to a willingness to play around and go from really heavy stuff to like a ballad.

TM : We actually have a ballad. We’ve played it last few shows. It was a really challenging song for us to do because you’re bare. It’s more vulnerable. Trying to find when to do it in the set is a problem too. We can’t do it first. You can’t do it last.

O: I saw you have Melvins, Faith No More, Neurosis and Tomahawk listed on your Bandcamp. What’s your favourite song from each band?

TM : We did briefly attempt a Melvins cover at the start. ‘Mine Is No Disgrace’ from The Crybaby album. The likes of Neurosis have a very spiritual approach to what they do. They think everything out and it is so intense and authentic. I love it but The Magnapinna is sort of a reaction to that. We’re never going to be that. It’s not a pleasant live experience to see them. But, you feel energised afterwards. We’re all into different things. David Bowie. Toto. Devin Townsend.

O: What is the plan for more recorded music?

TM : We’re probably going to record two songs and a video for one of them. We’re going to go for one off releases and then build up to a larger recordings. We want to do a lot of videos. They’ve done really well for us so far. There’s a lot of potential there. For instance, Beyonce released videos for all her songs on her last album along with the album itself.

O: That reminds that there is this Canadian band that live streams all its shows and their fans subscribe to see the shows. So they play in England and their Canadian fans can watch.

TM : We’ve already stolen this idea. (Laughs) We’re gonna do this. We need fans first though. You could have choose your camera. Drum cam. This is the way it’s going. A kind of vicarious market is getting bigger and bigger. It’s like voyeurism. The after party is extra. That’s how the second sex tape is going get made.

You could live stream a jam, and then ask the viewers what they thought of certain riffs. Write a song with The Magnapinna. People love to feel involved in the process. It’s all about interaction and people feeling like they’re part of something.

If you like this interview with The Magnapinna, you might enjoy our review of their gig with This Place Is Death in Fred Zeppelins

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