Al Barrow


 Magnum: Q&A with Al Barrow  Mar 26, 2012 

Questions by Dave Evans

MR: Firstly congratulations on Evolution, it seemed to be very well received throughout Europe. What were your feelings about re-visiting older material?

AB: It is something that is not all that often done by Magnum. Sure they have albums in the past re-visiting some songs, and maybe re-recording them in a new way.

It seemed great to be able to go back in the studio and take some songs – that have now become a major part of our live set, and record them in a state we now play them. They do evolve quite a bit live, and with new recording techniques it was great to take the songs and add the more beefy sound, I think we now have?

I understand Tony Clarkin (guitarist and songwriter), is not one to dwell on former glories. How was he convinced to the album?

The album came from a conversation he had with Ollie Hahn at SPV Records. They are a great bunch to work with, and have been so positive in everything Magnum have done in the last ten years or so. After a conversation it seemed a good idea, and it was nice to get in the studio again to be honest. I think it was nice to be able to record without Tony having to really work as hard as he does on writing all new lyrics etc. So it was quite a pleasurable experience for us all. Not to say for one second we didn’t put in the hours of work. It was still lots of blood, sweat and tea.

Were there any songs you re-recorded, but that didn’t make the final cut?

No, we knew exactly which songs we wanted to do. We all got together and wrote out a list, then we all looked at the lists, and found we pretty much agreed on the set that should be recorded.

Has the making of the new album changed how the band look at set-lists, i.e. re-visiting older songs/albums?

Not really, Bob always comes up with the set-lists really. We do sit down and discuss what we feel might be best, but Bob is good at this so we tend to leave it to him. He has done a good job so far I think?

You have been a part of the Magnum family for a number of years now, and are involved in all manner of band activities – website, sleeve design, the Press etc. Could the band possibly do without you?

I am sure they could find someone else who is young, talented, good looking, suave, sophisticated, intelligent, modest – and generally the sex interest of the band. If they looked hard enough. We all bring something to the table. We all play our part. It has been a blast for me to be able to use what talent I have to make something very special, and that gets seen by a lot of people. Being in Magnum has opened up doors to me I may not have even had a chance to look into. I feel very lucky to have been given the chance to be part of something like this.

How do you get on with the iconic, and oft present sleeve designer Rodney Matthews. You both had illustrations on The Visitation. Would you ever collaborate one one single combined image?

Me and Rodders get on very well. It has been a real pleasure knowing an working with him all these years. I don’t think we could work on the same piece of artwork as our styles would conflict. But somehow when we bring my computer graphics, and his hand drawn illustrations together they seem to marry up pretty well. You can never say never though. I had admired his work for many years before I met him, so once again I feel very lucky.

The band have just entered the studio to record a new album I understand. The two new songs on Evolution; ‘The Fall’ and ‘Do You Know Who You Are’ were extremely well received. Is this the direction you envisage the new album to go in. Any song titles, or an album title?

We do have a working title, but I’m sorry I would have to kill you if I told you. We have no set game plan recording new material. As everyone knows, Tony will work in his home studio and tehn bring in the basics of the album. This is when he will get Bob to put on some guide vocals, to set keys and tempos etc. Then one by one we all come in and lay down our parts. I have been spending more and more time sitting in on the recording process as years have gone by. Doing more and more backing vocals, and working on the artwork. Being in constant communication with Bob and Tony about future plans. We spend a lot of time together over the year.I think they need all the help they can get. As I said I am the sexiest and most talented.

You have recently reverted to playing and recording with a Fender Jazz bass guitar. What were the reasons from changing from Warwick?

I still use Warwick basses and amps in the studio and live. I just walked into a shop and saw this Fender Jazz gleaming at me. I tried it out and took it home. I have used it on the last set of dates, and it feels and sounds great. But I will not stop usuing Warwick gear either. Hans at Warwick has been very good to me over these years with fantastic service, and supplying me with some of the best basses in the world. I am not going to forget that over night.

Bringing it back to the beginning. Is there an album from Magnum’s back catalogue you would love to have played on?

All of them if I had chance. I do like Rock Art and there is some nice playing on there. I am very proud of what I have recorded with the guys, and I hope for the fans, it stands up as well as any other previous players Magnum have had. I try hard to bring myself to the band, but not forgetting to stay true to the original recordings when playing back catalogue stuff live.

As you are the youngest member of the band, how do the others keep up with you when you are on tour. I understand Tony is a tea-totaller now, but I bet there are a few hi-jinks that would surprise fans?

From the time I joined the guys I was always the one trying to keep up. You read about all these bands doing the rock and roll thing, but if people only knew the half of it. Magnum made them look like choir boys in comparison. These days the pace is a lot slower and hardly any drinking happens. It is more sedate as you would expect. But, even though I say that, when they do get up to no good they still have a wicked streak. There is a saying; “What happens on tour, stays on tour”. As with any band, it is the un-written rule, so sorry about that..I can’t say.

And finally, Magnum 2012, do you have any immediate plans to tour?

We are at present in the studio recording, and we have some big plans for later in the year. All I can say today is keep an eye on the website for news.

Source: accessed 29th June 2013

10 Questions With: AL BARROW

...another bass player! Al Barrow has played a big part in recent Magnum/Bob Catley events and has still found time to start recording a solo album.

Thanks to Claire Lee for passing on the questions to Al.

1. What are you currently up to?
Well at this precise moment I'm working in my office at home putting together the album design for Ken Tamplin (Now And Then Records). While not on tour or recording I do graphic design and photography. I have done a few for Now and Then artists over the last couple of years. I have had to fit this in between recording the new Bob Catley album. I have just finished all the bass tracks. I think Bob and Magnum fans are going to love this album.

2. What has been the highlight(s) and lowpoint(s) of your career to date?
Highlights are hard to put in to words, there's no one moment but a collection of times, usually on stage when I think, and "it doesn't get much better than this I have a great life and the good fortune to be surrounded by people who believe and support me in what I do. I have made so many new friends by being in Magnum and had opportunities of meeting people I could only admire as a young musician.

Low points are very few. I suppose when I came off a motorbike in Cyprus and badly hurting my hands. I was worried I could not play again.

3. Who have been your biggest influences on your career?
I have many influences but many have changed over the years. I cut my teeth on Rush, When I was younger I would sit and play all there albums and learn them note for note. I was in to the progressive side of things at that time. I don't know whether it getting more mature but I look for more feel in music these days. I spent a long time listening to Pearl Jam. Now I tend to listen to a wide spectrum of music from Willy Porter to Zakk Wylde.I would still say Toto has to be a fave. Feel and great musicianship all in one band.

4. How did the December UK tour with Magnum go? What are the bands plans for 2003?

Very well, we still had a great turn out considering we had toured a short time earlier in the year. Unfortunately ticket prices are on the increase and it shows true fans that will spend hard earned dosh on tickets. It's very touching to know the fans are still there after all these years. Next will be Bob's tour, UK and Europe. When I get back I go into the studio to do the new Magnum album. Then a another tour I suppose. Oh what a life.

5. What are the differences from working with Magnum compared with Bob Catley's solo work? Are you involved in Bob's new album?
With this album being written by Paul Hodson from start to finish I have little to do with the writing side of things. I play the bass and make the tea and get the beer in, oh and smoke all Bobs fags for him. It's a hard job you know.

I have had quite a bit of input into the albums I have done with Magnum and Hard Rain. Although Tony writes the songs he is very open to ideas. He has to be my biggest influence. He has taught me so much.

6. Can you make a full-time living out of music nowadays or do you have to Do it as a spare time activity?

Photography: Martin Kessel

I can earn a good living but that's not why I do it. Ok it's great to get paid for something you love doing. As I said it does not get any better. When I get 5 second this year I will be putting my own album together with lots of guest players. I have written about 5 songs so far. It's a slow process but anything good takes a while, watch this space.

7. You were involved with the band Pulse last year. Could you tell us a little more about this and was this just a one-off?
I played bass and did the album design. I have played music with Vince O`Reagan for more years than I care to mention. I sang some of the demos so he could hear what they would sound like without having to get his then vocalist in, as he was busy. I have done the new designs for the next album but i`m not playing on it this time as I have other commitments. Shame as it can be a scream with Dodgy aka Vince.

8. What do you enjoy doing outside of the music business?
I'm well in to computer design; Macs rule I hasten to add. I love buying gadgets. My social life tends to revolve around music, if i`m not playing I will go and see bands play. Many friends are musicians. I'm really into skiing as well but this can be a bit difficult when you are on a red run and all you can think about is whether you will break your wrists.

Tony and Bob look at me with big frowns when I say I'm off skiing again. You have to live life to the full. I could say I do all the usual stuff like drinking smoking and generally having the best time I can possibly have. Ask any one who knows me; find it hard to stay serious about anything for long. My philosophy is "Live your dreams, play it loud and play it live. Simple. Oh yeh, when anyone says you can't do that...tell him or her to take a hike.

9. Last book that you read...
Instruction book for new Palm pilot, told you I like me gadgets. How not to kill yourself while skiing like a complete idiot. Does my girlfriends "MORE" magazine count?

10. Message for your fans...
I know i`m a new member to the band and I would like to thank all the fans for making me so welcome. If you lot were not turning up still to support Mark, Tony, and Bob. Harry and me would not have met and be having a torrid love affair. Thanks you guys.

Source: accessed 29th June 2013
Al Barrow (born 1968, Wolverhampton, England) is the bassist of the British band Magnum.
Barrow joined Magnum in 2001 after he was a member of Hard Rain, a group formed by Magnum members, Bob Catley and Tony Clarkin, while activities around Magnum was set on pause. Officially the band was split, but made a comeback in 2001 with their album. Breath of Life.
Barrow not only plays bass guitar, but also has an interest in design and photography. With his company Generic Designs, he has designed album covers for Magnum and several other artists worldwide. Two Magnum albums, Breath of Life and Brand New Morning, both have had covers designed by Barrow.
Before joining Magnum, Barrow performed as a session musician, both playing bass and as a backing vocalist. He had his own band, Sahara Darc, and planned to re-record some of the songs he wrote in the 1990s. Barrow is an endorsee for Warwick basses and amplifiers. He has two brothers, Rob and Scott (who are both drummers) and a sister Sue, who is a singer. He married his longtime girlfriend Rachael Wilkinson in October 2006.

Source: accessed 29th June 2013

Name? Al Barrow.
Full Name ( Al Jelly Man Barrownio.)
Band? Magnum/Bob Catley/The Jelly Man Projects/ anyone who will hire me and feed me lots of beer.
Weapon Of Choice? Bass. I have been known to produce some big bottom-end sounds in my time.
Who's your superhero? Captain Incredible and Buzz Lightyear. Stupid but big hearted.
Favourite Athlete? Ron Jeremy (Porn star) Don't ask.
Most recent film you saw? The Rise Of Ron Jeremy. I jest. Lord Of the rings part 3, what a load of pants. Nearly as bad as the second one. Just me then, I'll get me coat.
Darkest Hour? There have been times in my life that I have upset people because of my own stupidity, I hate that feeling. I'm stupid at the best of times so there have been a few dark days, but the future is bright.
How often do you get a haircut? Now you are getting silly. Check out the piks over the last 9 years. How many hairstyles can one man have?
What's your favorite magazine? Computer magazines, as long as it's Mac not pc. I like reading my girlfriend's mags as they give me an insight in to the strange world of the female species.
Next big thing? Touring with Magnum and album release. Working on solo project. Generic Designs.
Music or fame? Fame, every time. Nar, just jesting. Just put me on a stage, don't matter if its 10 people or 10,000 you will get a show out of me.
One item to have on a Desert Island? My Girl. If not that just give me my laptop and a power source.
Who cuts your hair? B & Q
Who wears the trousers in the house and in your bands? Rach does the wearing of the trousers in our house and I do the wearing dresses. Oops. That's too much info. As far as the bands concerned they know whose boss.
Best web site?
Last thing you took back? 22' CRT monitor. It was pants. Got a 20" Mac tft. WOW.
Who or what last made you cry?My Wedding day. I look fab but cried like a big girl. With out a dought the best day of my entire life.
Last thing you spent £100 or over on? Computer. I told you I like them. More gadgets.
Who last told you off? Mark Stuart, Mad Hat studios, He said don't leave fag ends out side the door. He has given us a nice new shiny sand filled bucket.
What's your vice? Smoking. But never having money on me to buy any, so I keep bumming a fag. Too much info again.
Are you tattooed? Thinking about it.
Ever loved anyone and been too scared to tell them? Yes.
Who's your fave actor? Ron Jeremy, no, probably Rob DiNero, oh and Buzz Lightyear. Gollum from that film, He was the best actor in it. What's that tell ya?
Like fantasy football...make a mega band, dead or alive. Simon Phillips DRUMS, The Becker Brothers BRASS, Tori Amos KEYS, Zakk Wylde GUITAR, Steve Lukather GUITAR, ME ON BASS. / Tony Levin, BASS. If I could go on tour and play with anyone it would be Peter Gabriel.
Who should be king? Simba, the lion King.
Anyone in the Internet address bar seen you naked? Loads. Not nice at all. Sorry you lot.
What time did you get out of bed today? 8.30ish, it hurt.
Fave food? Faster the better, I like my women, like I like my fast food. In a bag.
Greatest gig u played or have seen? Best Gig seen...Peter Gabriel @ the NIA Brum. Followed by Peter Gabriel at Wembley a week later. My fave gig to play was Astoria. BOL Tour.
Fave musician and why? Tony Levin. Bass player. He finds a way of doing the simplest things and making them look, feel and sound right. He puts in and leaves out just the right amount. I aspire to be as good.
What's your philosophy? Play it live, play it loud. Live life to the full; be true to yourself and others. Laugh lots. LIVE THE DREAM!
Fave saying? Coming to bed, Honey?
Most annoying habit? Tidying up. So I have been told. Being opinunizational. Making words that don`t exist up.
What would you change about you? How long have you got? My socks, they are rank.
Message if any to the fans. Thank you for all you do, coming to see us, sticking with us and accepting me as one of the boys. Cheers
Funniest moment or story u can share with a fan... So many stories...but what happens on the road stays on the road. Sorry. If you get me at a gig just ask I'm bound to have some thing to say. Cheers Al.

Source: accessed 29th June 2013