Our Guest from Austin,Texas ... Brother Magnum by Catherine Hernandez-Faber

Posted on 8/28/2010 by Catherine

In Texas they Say things come BIG. Well Brother Magnum is no exception to this. With only getting a general image of him thru listening to his CD's and his responses to this interview, I would be comfortable in saying that Brother Magnum is more than a Ten Gallon Hat and an Armadillo has nothing on this Funky, Soul playing Guitarist who sincerely represents a unique, distinctive Austin, Texas sound that covers Blues with more depth than an oil well of Soul, Funk, Delta and true Sizzling Texas Blues.
From the onset of reading the responses I knew choosing Brother Magnum for our Guest this Month was simply going to be a ride that might be comparable to a Bucking Bronco, the Good kinda ride that brings you back for more. When I saw the phrase "Child" come across. Yes, I dug my spurs in and held tight I'm still laughing. From this interview I know a few things. I'm going to Austin, I'm lining some shots up because the journalist in me wants the answer to "Brother Magnum" and this "Child" well wants to Dance!.. I'm so pleased to have had the opportunity to bring to you this interview. American Blues News Readers, I present to you the interview for Brother Magnum, from the "Child". Enjoy!

C: Describing your Style of Blues is like a recipe for a great Texas BBQ sauce where your trying to figure out the secret spice. You have combined all the genres of what you were brought up with and played, Why Blues over all the other areas you have played

BM: I ask myself that question sometimes and still don’t know the answer. I guess the blues decided to choose me. I think life’s circumstances or maybe the vibe of the music itself. I never woke up one day and said “I think I want to start playing the blues”. Everything in my life came full circle and suddenly I had this desire to come back to the cradle. Maybe it’s like the kid who can’t wait to leave for college and experience the world and realizes that what he’s really about was right in his or her face all along, ya know?

C: You started out on drums and self taught with a natural ear, moved on to piano and guitar. Were there any formal lessons?

BM: Never any formal lessons when I was a young buck. I never had a desire to be serious about playing an instrument but more in the mind set of just having fun. And as a kid fun to me wasn’t reading charts and playing scales when there were footballs to be thrown, snakes to be caught and pretty girls to chase! I’ve taken some guitar from my lead player (Mike Barnes) in the last year. I learned a few licks so now I think I’m dangerous. My favorite players aren’t technically the best players but the cats who play with the most feel. There are players today who can play every scale lighting fast and make you say “wow” for the first five minutes but after that you better have something to say or you’ll be playing to the bar staff.
C: Was music a gift that you could just watch and or listen and play it?

BM: It’s definitely a gift. Music has been something that has come naturally. I’ve never had to struggle with learning the fundamentals. My brother was so amazed when he came home one day and I was playing his drum kit. I think I was eleven and I started playing shows by twelve. I even wrote my first song when I was seven and haven’t stopped. It comes to me like an unexpected gift. Whether it’s a melody, guitar riff, or drum beat. Ten minutes later I have another song. It’s a wonderful problem to have!

C: Your first CD "Meet Me In My Daydream", The song titled Cocaine Sheila there is such a cross of old school classic with guitar, drum shuffle and a power sax solo, it is one of the songs out of your 3 CD's that is so uniquely different. Where did this song come from?

BM: Cocaine Sheila was the last song written. It was a cool experience for me because I was in sort of a trance when I recorded it. That’s why it has that chugging/droning feel throughout the whole song on the guitar. When it came time to record the sax I told Hook (Saxophonist Roland Perez) to put his most painful memory in mind and let it bleed out in the solo. After listening to the song it hit me. This song was inspired by the death of my cousin who lost her life to drug abuse. Never knew that until after it was recorded.
C: Your Guitar of choice is? And What is her name and how long has she been with you?

BM: Child! Don’t get me started!! I have about fourteen of those suckers. I am primarily a strat dude and proud of it. I can’t say that any particular is my number one but I have to pay my respects to “Domino”, which is my Black Strat that I’ve had for fifteen years or so. I call her my first wife! Lately I’ve been playing these custom guitars made by my friend Jason Spradley from Jason’s Guitars. He makes them to my custom specs with some of the best wood and hardware and they really feel like extensions of my own soul. His latest creation is my new baby blue custom strat that I have named “Ms. Kandi” and she has kept me satisfied most every night since she came to my stable. I have also been known to spend time with “Butter Bean” (custom made ‘60’s style white strat), and “Megan” (custom made natural tele). I name everyone that I own. It gives them character.

C: The diversity of your upbringing clearly exemplifies itself in your writing style. An Old School Soul Contains itself with you. Out of those Soul Singers, Who do you relate with the most?

BM: Otis Redding. Something about the pain in his voice really got the lyrics across. I loved how the audience fed off his energy. He was also very unique in his musical style and different than most R&B singers that were current at the time. I can really relate to that. Of course I couldn’t mention soul without paying respects to Buddy Guy. He’s one of the old school cats that have really moved me with every note. I also dig Al Green, Smoky Robinson, and Marvin Gaye.

Your latest album released in April of '10 "Feel Like a King" has been out for a little over a year. and shows the growth you have made in which the songs are deeper and richer in context and also carry a sense of humor as in the song "Funky Foot Woman". Are you in the studio now or insight of the studio for a new CD soon?

BM: Well thank you for saying. I’m proud of the writing. I took my time with the latest CD. It was written over a period of six months and took almost a year to record because we were so busy playing live. I think “Feel like a King” is a much more cerebral album and has really established my writing style with a blend of all my influences. Now the song “Funky Foot Woman” was written at a sound check. I was telling my drummer a story about an old girl friend with foot odor. After the laughter he looked at me convincingly and said “I can’t do nothing with a funky foot woman”. I walked to the mic and started singing the chorus and making up the verse as I played. We were laughing so hard when it was over but I didn’t think much of it until I woke up and couldn’t stop singing it. I just had to record it.As far as knew projects, I started recording an acoustic EP called “Brother Magnum….Unthugged”. We will also record a live CD in September and I’m currently writing new material for the next CD. I’m sure we will start recording that in the fall.

C: You keep busy in Austin, TX. which is a competitive Blues circuit buried rich in tradition of Texas and Delta Blues. Who gave Brother Magnum and the Razor Bumps their first break?

BM: Break? Still waiting for one! We are definitely soldiers down here and despite the fact that we can pack a club we still have to pay our dues and play the game. We sound a bit different than most acts in Austin and far too many venues categorize us as a funk band rather than blues for one reason or another. Austin is very competitive because you have so many talented cats from all over the world down here since they were told it’s the place to be for live music. It’s changed so much over the last ten years and in most ways not the best for musicians. Hell, they’ve got DJ’s walking around with MP3 players in this town being called musicians, Child please!!

C: Where does the name Brother Magnum originate from?

BM: He he…You can’t get me drunk enough to confess.

C: How about the name of the band Razor Bumps?

BM: My drummer said it as a joke when I wanted to name the band. After he said it I thought because they can be so irritatingly funky during a show it was appropriate.

C: Any sight of the group coming out of Texas soon and sharing your power of Funky and Soulful Blues on the road?

BM: Nothing planned at the moment but someone needs to give us a call! We get lots of inquiries but I’m not the one for a jacked up Blues-Brother style tour! I guess we’re just waiting for the right call. I really want to play more festival dates in the future. Something about outdoor shows, smoked turkey legs and over-priced beer that makes me wanna get on stage and rock the house!

C: What Venue or Festival would you like to play at any point in time to say with a smile that you played that stage?

BM: I’d love to play Cross Roads Festival because it’s a guitar players paradise and some of the acts on the bill are the people I listen to. I’d also like to play ACL Fest in Austin because every time they have it I don’t see enough of what I like on the bill. You can’t please everyone but since Austin has such a blues history I think it doesn’t get enough representation of what’s made this city so cool.

C: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with on a CD?

BM: I’m such a fan of music. I get moved by so many different artists. Buddy Guy, BB King, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Johnny Lang, U2, Usher, Keith Urban, George Clinton, Prince. Cool thing about Austin is I might run into one of those cats in town. I’ve had John Popper of Blues Traveler sit in with me one night, some of the guys in 311 came to one of my shows and Pinetop Perkins will even come out every now and then. This town is cool like that.

C: For our readers describe what is a Brother Magnum show is like?

BM: Big ol’ sweaty BBQ with your drunken Uncle playing his new guitar. You’re gonna get a stain on your shirt, girls will be dancing, hell, there might be a fight or two, but when it’s all over you know you had fun. A Brother Magnum show is definitely a good time. I really feed off the audience so I do whatever it takes to keep them on their toes. If the music doesn’t get you out of your seat you will be laughing at what I say on the mic. I’m a fun loving dude and when I’m happy I like to pass the vibe. Even though my music is my art, it’s all about entertainment so I don’t take it so seriously that I can’t have a good time.

C: If you were granted 3 wishes in this Blues World what would they be?

BM: Every kid who got the guitar hero video game got a real guitar instead. Jimi, Stevie Ray, and Muddy Water were just on vacation and I’d sacrifice the idea of fame and fortune to help keep the music alive.

C: What would you like Blues Fans to know about Brother Magnum?

BM: That I bare my soul in every song and hope that the life experiences that I share in my music bring comfort or a smile to everyone who listens. My music is color blind and best enjoyed live. If you see me playing in your town or you make it to Austin I will greet you with a smile and a heaping plate full of fun.

C: Who or Whom do you give credit to for being where you at now

BM: Mad Respect to my band, The Razor Bumps. They are a big reason for my progress. I have some musicians in my band with mad skills that make me look more talented than I actually am. They stuck with me when we were playing coffee houses and some of the stanky, lower paying clubs. They have recorded two CD’s with me and have continued to soldier on. I have to credit my Mother and Father too. They’ve taught me to stand up for what I know is right in my heart and be true to myself and that is why I play the Blues. I think we can all agree that’s what most Blues Artist are about. If they were just trying to be the latest thing they wouldn’t follow their hearts and create such soulful music. I also have to thank my Brother for not beating me up for playing his drums when I was a kid. Oh! And that girl after my first gig when I was around twelve or so who introduced me to the benefits of being in a band!

C: In ending .. What words of Blues Philosophy would like to share with the Blues World?

BM: Pay no mind to the latest thing. It will be un-cool next month. Stick with the real thing!

To the readers of American Blues News, let me say. Brother Magnum is the Real Thing! Catch his show or request him near you. Brother Magnum is a must for your CD Collection and a venue or festival near you soon!
Keep The Blues Alive!

Peace, Blessings and Blues!

All Photos Protected and Shared with Permission by Brother Magnum
Article by Catherine Hernandez-Faber
American Blues News

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