Interview With Glen Mollen
Scandinavian has it's fair share of metal, varying from AOR to Black Metal, and at this point in time Progressive Metal seems to becoming more popular with each year passes. With bands like Evergrey, Pain Of Salvation, Beyond Twilight to name a few, Norway has it fair shares of the same music with the likes of Spiral Architect, Conception, and now Circus Maximus, a new band formed by some young and very talented musicians. Circus Maximus are a great band with a lot of potentials and a great addition to the Prog Metal scene. Mixing their blend of Prog Metal roots in the vein of Queensryche, Dream Theater, Fates Warning to name a few makes this band a new hopeful to the addition of Prog Metal scene. The bands debut 'The 1st Chapter' released on Frontier Records, is vast becoming a excellent selling debut album and also sees the band performing live at this years U.S. ProgPower Festival this September 2005, I just wish I was there to c it, along with some other great acts. I managed to chat with Glen Mollen about the formation of the band and the debut album and what the future holds for Norway's new hopefuls. Here is what he had to say.
As you're a new band, most people out there would of never of heard of the band before, so could you enlighten me and the readers to when the band was 1st formed?
"Well I will try, when we first started out we never became a full solid line-up until 2001/02 and in the early days Mats & Truls Haugen are both brothers within the band, Mats been the guitarist & his brother Truls been the drummer. They had been playing and jamming together for many years and I can remember them from school days and they were playing covers songs and I think they got in contact with Mike Eriksen (vocals/ guitar) about 9 yrs ago, who wanted to be the lead vocalist. So they heard him sing and he got the job, so they became a trio just playing together and they wrote a lot of stuff but didn't focus on putting something out. So in 2000 they put out an advertisement in a Norwegian metal magazine called 'Scream' , that they needed a keyboard player and they got in touch with Espen Storo and he lived 8 hrs away from the rest of the band, so he would commune back & forth for about half a year. I later joined the band in 2002. Before I joined the band I wasn't in any band at all, I have been self taught. The average age of the band is between 21 to almost 26."
I believe Mike has released a CD with another band called 'Carnivora', which is a project and he did the label and a couple of concerts but that's all he did with them. His brother Truls played drums on the bands 2nd album, which the music is close to Ozzy, just straight forward hard edge metal!!
So who are the bands influences and how do they reflect within your music?
"That's a tough question, if you take Mikes influences are from the 80's Glam Rock era, and for Mathew he likes Metallica, Megadeth, the Thrash roots and then the Progressive stuff like Queensryche, Dream Theater, Act. As for Truls and myself, we like Pantera, Testament, etc... Espen likes The Flower Kings, and the 70's Progressive Rock stuff. I'm not sure how the influences reflect in our music, that's a difficult questions to answer. We listen to a lot of 80's, 90's metal as well as a lot of Progressive stuff, so I guess they do show somewhat in our music."
Reading your Bio, I see Espen plays in a Ozzy tribute band called 'Ozzmosis', is this the same band what featured the singer on the last Dream Evil album, where a Ozzy clone singer did vocals on 1 track on their last album 'The Book Of HM'?
"I think it was the same singer, but I'm not sure. it is Nil's from Pagan's Mind."
So why did you decide the call the band 'Circus Maximus'? Who came up with the bands name?
"Well the name came from a computer game either from Truls or Mats. I had played the same computer game, were you enter a computer within a computer and the password was 'Circus Maximus'. We didn't have any other names that I can recall, but we thought the name was a really good fit for the bands music we are playing."
How popular are you within Norway, do the press support you as much as you would like to be supported?
"Well I think the people who are into the kind of music are starting to show interest in us, we are starting to make a name for ourselves now. The Norwegian press have given us some really good reviews, especially 'Scream' Magazine. Everywhere around the world the press have been really supportive so far towards us.
Moving on, you recorded 2 demo tapes before the debut album was releases, what song were on those tapes and were there any songs that didn't make the album?
"Well the debut demo which was recorded before I had come into the band. Well the 1st song on that demo is called 'Haunted Dreams', which is also the bonus track on the debut album. The songs on the debut demo were called: The Devil's Lair, The Prophets Mind, and another song I can't remember the title. I can't remember why those songs never made it on our debut album. We have played the songs to our friends and they say that the songs don't even sound like the same band, to what we are doing these days. I think the song 'The Devil's Lair', has some really good parts in it but it seems to lack something to make it whole. I don't think we will ever re-record the songs for the future, but we may take parts from those songs to add to our new material. We didn't sell the debut demo at all. The 2nd demo we recorded had only 2 songs. When I joined the band we sent the demo to Laser's Edge records in the U.S. and they seemed very interested in the band, but asked us to send more material for them to listen too. So the 2nd demo was made with the songs which were Imperial Destruction and Glory Of The Empire. We sent the demo to a couple of other labels too, which were Inside Out, Massacre, and another 1 I can't remember who they were."
So how did you hook up with your management 'Intromental Management' in Denmark?
"Well I think Michael did some research into some of the bands he liked and I think Claus company came around when Michael saw some bands he liked who were signed to Claus company. They have started to get some really good bands now signed to their label which is really good for us and the company. We are very happy with the management, they are doing a great job for us so far."
How did the deal with Frontier's come about then? Also how well is the album selling so far to date?
"Well Claus promoted the album over in Europe well enough that he forwarded the album to Frontier's in Italy and they liked what they heard. So they bought the European deal from Laser's Edge in the U.S. to distribute the album in Europe. We are also very happy with Frontier's too as they are doing a great promotional campaign. It's a little difficult for me to say on how well the album is selling, but we did get an email from our manager saying that our pre-sales are 2-5000 copies, but we are hoping for more like 5000."
So let's talk about the title of the debut album, 'The 1st Chapter', do you think it is the perfect title for your debut album?
"Yes I do think it was a good idea to title it 'The 1st Chapter', as it is our 1st album and our 1st release. We did think about other names too, but the title we chose seemed like the perfect choice. I know the next album will not be called 'The 2nd Chapter' (laughing). People have asked us if it will be a continuing story from the debut release, and all we can stay so far is that we do not know yet."
Is the music within the band wrote as a team effort and the lyrics or is there just 1 music writer and 1 lyricalist?
"Well generally for the music parts, Mat's has a great deal to do with it as he and his brother have been making music for a long time together. So sometimes they pull out a riff they have had lying around for 8 yrs which all of a sudden becomes a perfect part for 1 of our songs. Some stuff is made up at our rehearsals and we all start jamming together idea's. Mat's also writes some of the lyrics and also Michael does too. So it is Mat's, Truls and Michael that have been playing together for a long time so they seem to come up with the idea's pretty quickly."
Briefly could you talk me through the songs on the album please, what are they about?
"Ok the 1st song is called 'Sin', that is about the diversity between good and evil, and as it is the 1st song on the album we had to have sounding heavy with some balls behind it. I also think it is the most intense song on the album. Next is 'Alive', which I think is more of a love song, a melodic rock love song!! We use to say it was the Eurovision song contest song, which made us all laugh. Next is 'Glory Of The Empire', that is inspired by the roman history. 'Biosfear', that is an instrumental song and I think we all wanted to have 1 on the album, so we thought that the title would be a great name for the instrumental. I love to play this song live, it has a lot of time changes and it's also hard to play so that is why I like that song. Next is 'Silence From The Angels Above', lyrically it is a story about a guy who murders his loved one and like a schizophrenic. He goes back & forth asking some religious guys and God for forgiveness, but not really getting it. Next is 'Why Am I Here', I would say that this is a multiple riff tune and I feel it is one of the most difficult songs to play, because of all the time changes and hooks, riffs etc.., but it's a great song. Next is 'The Prophecy', this is the most diverse type of song, because it has inspired us from all the different types of music we listen too, the styles of Rock & Metal we listen too. I t also has a end of the world type of feel to it. Next is the Symphony X classic 'The Odessey;, woops Glen I mean 'The 1st Chapter' (laughing). Yeah right Jase!! (ED: it's a great song but too close to that of Symphony X song, kind of like a rip off, do you agree?). No I don't think it's a total rip off, it's difficult to say as we never intended it to sound like them. It's just the way it turned out, I know it is similar but we have our own ideas too you know!! Last song is 'Haunted Dreams', that's about been haunted by the past, dreams that keep haunting you."
Which of all the songs is the most difficult to play live and also rehearse?
"I would have to say the song 'Why Am I Here?'"
I noticed Tommy Hansen mixed the album and the band produced the album, are you happy with the way it turned out?
"Hell yes we are totally happy with the way it turned out. Tommy is a genius, everything he does just turns out great!!
Do you have any new songs already wrote for the next album? If so what ideas or song titles do you have so far?
"Well we have started to think about putting new ideas together for the next album, but we don't have any solid parts put together yet. its all in the idea field right now and I think the music will be a little heavier but always Progressive Metal."
Has the band done any kind of touring so far if so who with??
"Well we have done some shows in Norway so far, we had a release party a while ago on the 14th May, we also did a charity gig somewhere in Norway. We have also played with Pagan's Mind a year before the album was released. We are also playing the Prog Power USA in September 2005, and then we are playing the 'Metal Heart' festival with Pagan's Mind. We are also talking about doing more shows, but we are in talking stages right now so we don't know when they will happen."
Out of all the bands Glen you would play with within reason who would you like to share the same stage with?
"I'm not sure, that is a difficult question to answer, there are so many bands we admire. Symphony X would be a great act to play with."
Well Glen, thanx for taking your time out and doing the interview, best of luck to you all. Do you have anything to ad before we finish?
"Yes thanx to our fans for their loyal support, we hope you like the album and come and check us out live if you can. Good luck with the website too!!"
Editor would like to thank Claus for setting the interview up, thanx again!!
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