Musical excellence is never a guarantee of commercial success, and despite a decade of composing and releasing albums that many progressive rock fans would no doubt adore, Magic Pie are still a relatively unknown proposition.
Indeed, while worldwide acclaim still eludes them, it’s perhaps more surprising to discover that they’re still battling against domestic prejudice and indifference to progressive music in their native Norway.
“There are no radio programmes here that play prog music, so we’re not on the radio and the two main music papers don’t take albums to review from unknown bands,” says singer Eirikur Hauksson with a discernible sigh. “So we feel stuck here. But in Norway, it’s always the way that if you get known abroad, then they suddenly they find you interesting.”
Such obvious frustrations aside, Magic Pie are unquestionably an intriguing act. Fusing a classic 70s Genesis-influenced sound with more contemporary rock trimmings, they’ve now built a solid back catalogue of five albums that defines their approach.
The recruiting of Hauksson (who replaced original singer Allan Olsen prior to the release of 2011’s The Suffering Joy) has given Magic Pie a perceptible heaviness which neatly augments their earlier sound.
“When I joined the band, I was given their first two albums and I really liked the music but aside from that I hardly knew what prog rock was,” he laughs. “I’ve been raised with metal and always been a metal man. Kim [Stenberg, guitarist] was asking me what I listened to in the 70s. and I was always into Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. The rest of the band were always into groups like The Flower Kings. I think that Kim has always had the heavier element in him too, but he never dared to bring it out. But now he has a frontman and co-writer who he knows likes those riffs.”
As a six-piece band, Magic Pie have no shortage of talent. Yet although such an arrangement could allow for more influences to infiltrate their sound, the flipside is that old adage of ‘too many cooks’. Yet Hauksson reveals that the rest of the band are happy to step back from the writing process.
“I think that all the members of the band are big fans of Kim and that they also like the influence that I’ve brought in,” he argues. “They’re all very happy for him and I to take care of business.
“I think that was part of the reason that our previous keyboard player Gilbert Marshall left as he didn’t find the space to write more,” Hauksson adds. “On the new album, we have, of course, the epic which has to be there, but we also have two songs that are perhaps more commercial than before. There’s a song called The Silent Giant which is basically a straight rock song and also Trick Of The Trade which is in my opinion very commercial but very progressive as well. I would just really love our music get to more people.”
Kim Stenberg (guitars, vocals), Jan T. Johannessen (drums), Eirikur Hauksson (lead vocals, guitars, keyboards), Lars Petter Holstad (bass guitar, vocals), Eirik Hanssen (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Erling Henanger (keyboards, vocals)
Early Genesis with a twist of heavy rock
Their new album King For A Day is out now on Karisma Records