As part of our continuing coverage of the COVID19 Crisis and the effect it is having on the music industry. We asked ex-Magnum Kingdom of Madness/Grand Slam keyboard player Mark Stanway to tell us of his experiences during this time.
1. Firstly, how have you been Mark during COVID and the lockdown?
I have been keeping well and trying to stay fit cycling etc but get very frustrated not being able to play/record with the guys in KoM
2. How has it affected your musical life?
From the playing live point of view and has had an immense effect but always play and write in my home studio as the inspiration allows.
3. You are best known for your great work in Magnum, but that's not all you've been involved in. Tell us about Grand Slam and Kingdom of Madness?
I was with Magnum for over 36 years of my life and am and always will be proud of everything we achieved together and cherish some of the best times of my life and indeed some of the funniest fun times also. With regards to Grand Slam, I played on the latest album and thought I was still a part of it all especially as I originally formed the band with Phil Lynott. However, Laurence Archer for some reason or other decided he wanted to form a new Grand Slam without me and to date have never been given a reason or explanation. In my opinion it should really be called Laurence Archer’s Grand Slam but either way I bear no malice and wish Laurence all the best with his current line-up. Laurence is still one of my favourite guitarists and miss his friendship greatly. Kingdom of Madness is a total joy to be a part of especially with Micky Barker on drums who was the best drummer Magnum ever had, a real talent and joy to play with. Obviously it is also marvellous to have Magnum’s original keyboard player in the band too, namely Richard Bailey along with Mo Birch (my wife) who has also toured and recorded with Magnum so we have 4 people in the band with a true Magnum legacy. I just can’t wait to be playing all of the Magnum classics live again hopefully (Covid permitting) in 2021.
4. You've got some live shows lined up with Kingdom of Madness haven't you?
Yes indeed, although all dates for this year (2020) have now been rescheduled for 2021 so fingers crossed on that one.
5. How about Grand Slam? Any plans for the band?
I think I have covered this in question 3 😊
6. You use Kawai keyboards. why do you prefer those over other manufacturers like Yamaha?
Yes I have been fortunate to have been sponsored by Kawai on and off since the 80’s and their Digital Pianos are a street above all others in my opinion, with real grand piano wood keys and action etc if you shut your eyes you would not know that you weren’t playing a full concert grand acoustic piano and the midi control to other sound sources from the MP8 is also better than anything I have ever tried so user friendly and perfect for live performance, I’m just glad I don’t have to carry it and set it up personally as they do weigh a ton 😊
7. What do you think of the rock music in the Midlands at the moment?
Well at the moment it is impossible to tell because of this wretched pandemic but I feel Birmingham will always have a wealth of rock talent as it was the birthplace of so many of the great rock bands, Sabbath, Zeppelin, Magnum etc etc.
8. Would you ever re-unite with your own band Magnum?
A lovely thought and personally under the right circumstances I would say yes but I can’t ever see that happening sadly. This would be easier to understand once you read my new book which dedicates a whole chapter with regard to my departure in 2016. I am hoping to have the book finished within a few months.
9. Do you have any advice for a new keyboard player starting out?
Yes. The most important advice I could give is to be totally dedicated and work continually at your craft and always strive for improvement, don’t be intimidated but be inspired by so many greats i.e. if you want to play rock organ just listen to the late great Jon Lord who in my book was the greatest at it.