Interview with Bob Catley

1) You’ve had quite a busy year what with the Magnum DVD, Storytellers Night Anniversary Shows and the Magnum Re-issues and now your solo album. It must be satisfying for you to be so busy?

Yes, it’s been a great year. I’ve just come back off tour with Magnum promoting the Livin’ The Dream DVD and 20 Years of On A Storytellers Night but now I’m in Bob Catley solo mode and have been working hard on my new album.

2) You are due to release your 5th solo album Spirit of Man. When will it be in the shops?

It’s coming out on January 27th so things are starting to get really exciting waiting for the release date.

3) You have changed labels and switched to Frontiers, why the change from Now and Then?

This is my first record for Frontiers. I felt it was time to move on to a different label and I felt Frontiers were the right label to take my career forward.

4) What sort of style can we expect from you on this release?

Just what I always aim for really, an album packed full of good songs, great music, played well, catchy, commercial, varied tempos, heavy, ballads, a good mix of stuff with interesting words and sounds with my vocals firing through the whole album.

5) What would you say are the highlights from the album?

Well, most of them I hope!!! There’s lots of good stuff on there. The guitars and keyboards sound really good. There’s highlights all over the place. “The Spirit of Man” is a very catchy tune; it’s a good sing-a-long type with driving rhythms. You can even dance to a few of that’s a bit of a highlight !!

6) In the past you have provided the voice for talented songwriters such as Tony Clarkin of course and also Gary Hughes. Who has been your main songwriter this time?

Vince O’Regan, who is also my co-producer and guitarist and has been with my band for a long time, has written three songs. There’s also a couple of songwriters who have been working on the album who people may not have heard of just yet…..but they will soon. !! Dave Thompson, who is the guitar player from Lost Weekend and their singer Paul Uttley, have written most of the material. They were the two main songwriters in Lost Weekend and in fact toured with me on the When Empires Burn tour. Lost Weekend are actually going to be on this tour too as the opening act.

7) Have you ever felt the urge to sing your own material?

I’m not very good at writing songs to tell you the truth, but I know a good one when I hear it and that’s when I take over and make it my own as if I had written it.

I need to believe in what I’m singing and I put my heart and soul in to the songs. I really love working with different song writers as it keeps life interesting. I’m very proud and privileged to have worked with Tony Clarkin for all these years and nobody writes songs better then him. That’s what I’m always on the lookout for, people who can approach his level of songwriting. It’s not easy at all, I don’t know how he does it. I can’t write songs but I can take over once they’re written and take them in a different direction to what they could have been. If a song doesn’t work one way, I’ll try another and if it still doesn’t work it’ll be dropped from the album. The 12 songs on the album have worked really well.

8) Who is playing on your album

Al Barrow from Magnum is on the bass, Vince on guitar, Jamie Little, who was on the last album is on drums and Irvin Parrat from Lost Weekend is on the keyboards. Lost Weekend, bless them, rehearsed as a band over a pub in Halifax for 6 months to knock these songs into shape to make them presentable enough to start working on in the studio and I thank them all. Irvin was the perfect choice for the keyboards as Paul Hodson wasn’t around at the time. He knew the songs inside out and came up with some very good orchestration. I wanted to get a sort of string quartet type of sound throughout the album but with the guitars up front t of course. I think it’s worked really well.

9) Will this form the basis of your touring band?

Al won’t be playing bass on the tour as Magnum are now back together and it wouldn’t really be right for him to be playing with my solo band as well. It’s for the best otherwise it would get confusing. It would be like “are you Magnum or Bob Catley??”. So I have to keep it separate. The album has been recorded over a period of 2 years working between the Magnum scenario and Al did his parts a long time ago. Me and Tony had a chat and we decided it wasn’t right for me to use people from Magnum so I decided to get my own band together for the live shows.

I have another bass player and he is called Gavin Cooper and he’s an excellent bassist. I actually nicked him from Statetrooper for my tour which they are OK about…so long it doesn’t interfere with their plans. He looks like a bit of a tall version of Vince !! I am also using Oliver Wakeman as my keyboard player. Jamie who played on the album is also coming out on the road with me.

10) What are your touring plans?

I have some shows booked in the middle of April in England kicking off on 14th in Stourbridge and will go on to play in Sheffield, London, Southampton and other places too. Some European dates will hopefully be arranged either side of that. My manager is taking to a Spanish promoter for some dates in March and a German promoter for more shows in May. We’ll just see how that progresses. I’m trying to get everywhere but it depends on promoters and their interest. I haven’t been to Ireland for a long time so I’m hoping to get over there.

11) How do you manage to juggle Magnum with your solo work?

I’ve no idea !!!!! It can be very hard as you can appreciate to get two entities going at the same time. It usually works out that one year I’m doing Magnum and the next I’m doing solo work. This year I’m doing both so I’m going to be a bit on the busy side!!!!

12) What will Tony be doing while you are doing solo work?

Tony will be writing and recording the new Magnum album and I’ll be expected to be there of course. I’m also trying to promote my solo album as well so that should be fun. I’ll be with Tony in the studio as much as I can but I’ll have to give my record a fair go as well.

13) The album artwork has been designed by Ioannis, who has been responsible for album covers by Blue Oyster Cult, Styx and UFO. How did you become involved with him?

The record label Frontiers put me in touch with him. They have used him in the past and thought he’d be ideal for my album. I was looking for something unusual and a bit different for me. I wanted to move away from the more fantasy type of artwork I’ve been associated with in the past. I had seen this painting by Leonardo DaVinci many years ago and I asked him to do something like that which would reflect the “spirit” of the album and I think he’s really been able to show what I’m trying to say. It’ll make a great poster and T-shirt too !!

14) Turning to The Living A Dream DVD, what is there to tempt the fan on this?

There’s the full Storytellers show recorded in April at the Astoria and also all of the old promo videos from when we were on the TV…. when we were “happening”!! They are rather nice to see again. There’s also a version of The Spirit done acoustically specially for the DVD, just me and Tony as well as interviews with the band, crew and the fans, tour documentaries and backstage footage. Hopefully it should be something special for the fans and it’s good value as well.

15) How did the Storytellers shows go?

The show at the Astoria went so well that we had to do it all again before Christmas but over a few dates. It was bigger and better and more people came to see us. We did the full album and a selection of other songs from Brand New Morning and some old favourites. The reaction from the fans was great. Things are really looking good for Magnum at the moment.

16) Did you have any involvement in the re-issues or is this something out of your hands?

We put some sleeve notes in there but the releases were handled by Sanctuary. They’ve been out before but they have different packaging this time and bonus tracks, b-sides and live stuff. Kingdom of Madness has a full bonus disc of extras and outtakes. They are nice collectables for the fans…or anyone else who fancies buying them !! We had a lot of involvement in these. Me and Tony are the accountable pair now. Anyone who wants to put “old” Magnum material out has to ask our permission first.

17) Have you considered a comprehensive box set?

We’ve done box set compilations before with Rodney Mathews artwork but not ones that have covered the whole Magnum period from beginning to present day so maybe someone might want to do that someday? There’s still a lot of interest in the old stuff. We actually pull in quite a new crowd now the second time around and a lot of the younger fans haven’t got these albums so that’s one of the reasons these re-issues have come out.

18) You’ve had a long career in the music industry what do you see as the highpoint?

Oh !! Ahh !! That’s tricky !! I’d have to say most of it really, it’s been most enjoyable. I’ve been very lucky really to have been in this position for so many years. It’s down to our fan base really. They have kept us going. We wouldn’t have lasted half as long if it hadn’t been for them. We also try to keep doing quality albums, music and production. These all go together and I think the fans appreciate that. We do it for ourselves too. We can hold our head up and feel proud with what we’ve done.

19) If you could change anything what would you change?

There’s always things you could go back and change you know. There’s always things where you say “Why didn’t we do it that way?” or “that could’ve been like this” or “that song could have been better” but then it’s easy with hindsight to look at changes you could have made. Then I think, why did we break up in the first place but I think it did us good to have a break. If we hadn’t had the break I probably wouldn’t have ended up having a solo career . We all went our separate ways and did our own things but now we are back bigger and better so it’s all really turned out well.

20) With everything that’s been going on, how do you find time to relax?

Well, there’s not much time for that at the moment but when I do I go to the pub, that’s pretty good for relaxing !! I like spending time with friends and family and going out for meals.

21) As a Midlander you must be into football. Who’s your team?

I support Birmingham City and we’re not doing very well at the moment. Let’s hope they do better over the rest of the season.

22) After your solo album comes out and you go out on tour to promote it, what next?

We will be starting work on the new Magnum. Tony has lots of ideas at the moment and he’ll be in the studio to decide on which songs he wants to work on. He’ll then call me and I’ll join him and work on the songs together. I’m looking forward to working with Tony again. We have a great working relationship and he’s flexible when it comes to my solo work so I think that’s one of the reasons why we have stayed together so long. We’ve worked together for such a long time we just click and we understand each others wants and needs. We’re just good guys working together.

Hopefully you’ll see a new Magnum album sometime this year but first I’m concentrating on promoting my new album and hitting the road on my solo tour and hopefully I’ll get to see lots of people at the shows.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.