interview with Rob Johnson

Interviewed by Rick

Rob Johnson is one of the preeminent guitar players on the metal scene. The veteran of numerous solo CDs, Rob has just released "Reality In Focus" with his group Magnitude 9. Rob graciously agreed to answer a few questions for myself and the readers of


Magnitude 9 is a pretty new band for the readers of so could you give us an overview of who is in the band and your history?

Sure, well Magnitude 9 formed in 1997 I found singer Corey Brown through Leviathan Records owner - David T. Chastain. Corey was in psyco drama , and looking to start a new band/project, so David put me in touch with him . I was doing instrumental guitar CD releases at the time , and I was ready to start a new band . I got in touch with ex. Artension/Edwin dare bass player - Kevin Chown ...ex. Saddleback shark drummer - John Homan ....and keyboardist - Joe Glean. I started writing songs for our debut CD Magnitude 9 - "Chaos To Control" in 1997 after the band was together. The rest is history.


How would you describe the band's music?

I guess I'd call it melodic metal, with touches and hints of progressive and neoclassical elements. We try to express our musicianship, as well as crafting catchy melodic songs.


Where do you see Magnitude 9 fitting into the overall music scene?

I'm not sure, I guess we are classified as "metal" but our style of metal isn't what is on the radio these days, but we are on the radio in Japan, Europe etc, just not here in the USA, we are not Limp Bizkit or k**n its kind of hard for us.


Magnitude 9 has a new CD called REALITY IN FOCUS. Can you tell me a little about the CD?

Yes, it was recorded and written from 1999 through the end of 2000. We are really happy with it! We feel we have made a step forward with this CD. I feel it has some strong songs on it, everyone in the band played great, we are proud of "reality in focus" it is released in USA/Europe by - Insideout / century media and in Japan by - avalon/marquee you can buy it in stores or online everywhere we have really good distribution which helps a lot.


Why so long between CHAOS TO CONTROL and REALITY IN FOCUS?

Honestly, we just didn't want to rush anything. I don't like to rush songwriting, or force it. I just think its best to allow it to happen when it does. We did our writing and recording at a relaxed pace. It might be another 2 years for our next CD to come out, who knows ...we also have families, so we try not to just focus on music all the time.


There is a cover of "Flight of Icarus" on REALITY IN FOCUS. Why cover Iron Maiden and that song in particular? Does it appear on a Maiden Tribute CD?

Actually, we just did that for fun. Its not on any tribute CDs we tracked it, it turned out pretty cool, so we thought, hey ...lets put this on the CD!


Do you have any favourite songs from the CD? If so which ones and why?

I like "what my eyes have seen", "far beyond illusion", "no turning back." I like these songs the best. I feel they are really melodic and powerful they turned out well.


You have also covered "Man on the Silver Mountain" by Dio. Are there any other songs that you would like to cover?

At the moment, I'm not sure. Its fun to do covers sometimes just for a kick. I'm sure we might do more, its just relaxing and fun to turn some of those older metal tunes into something new again .


Is Magnitude 9 planning to do any touring behind this release?

We are not sure. It depends on if we can get some kind of budget to tour. Touring is so expensive, and honestly we don't want to loose a lot of money, so if something comes along worthwhile we would consider it. If not, no big deal. We will start on our 3rd CD soon.


The cover for REALITY IN FOCUS is very unique. Is there a story behind the artwork?

The concept is, a young, innocent child, looking out a window ...discovering a world of great things ...and the not so great things the world has to offer. Reality in focus means kind of a reality check. Meaning ... This is our world we have to be careful how we treat it and its creatures, for our next generations.


Rob you are an accomplished guitar player so when I heard Magnitude 9 I expected to hear lots of shredding etc. What I heard was lots of great songs and not a lot of guitar acrobatics like many other great guitarists. Was it intentional to focus on the songs more so than just your guitar playing?

Well, on our debut CD - "chaos to control" I shredded a lot more. This time around I wanted to focus more on my songwriting and making sure the songs were good, not just the soloing. Yet, there still is some shred on "reality in focus" ...but overall I think the songs should come first.


You have 3 solo CDs that you recorded prior to forming Magnitude 9? Can you tell us a bit about each??

Yes, I recorded three separate solo CDs from 1994 - 1997 they are - Rob Johnson - "guitarchitecture", Rob Johnson - "peripheral", Rob Johnson - "rob johnson". Fans of shredders like Vai, Gilbert, Becker , etc. might like to check out my solo CDs. They have all just been re - released, with bonus tracks and new CD artwork in Europe & USA. You can order them from - or email : or email me direct at :


Why did you feel the need to form a band? Were you bored with solo work?

Honestly, yes I was just ready to do something different solo CDs are a blast, but I wanted to interact with other players magnitude 9 is my main priority now.


Will you be doing anymore solo CDs?

Maybe someday but nothing yet in the works I'm focusing on demoing new magnitude 9 songs for CD # 3.


Have you worked on another other CDs as a hired gun? I'm sure you get lots of offers?

I played a guest solo on a CD by metal blade artist - Jacobs Dream. Also, I played on a song for the last Lars Eric Mattsson CD "Another Dimension." I also just finished a track for the upcoming CD "A tribute to Jason Becker." I wrote a song for that CD, its called - "forcefield." I will play on anything , just email or contact me :)


I see from your bio that you met your vocalist Corey through David T. Chastain of Leviathan Records. David is another great guitar player. Have you ever thought of collaborating with him on any projects?

David t. Chastain is a great player and a nice guy. He helped me out a few years ago and I'm grateful. Maybe in the future we can do something together who knows. I know he's busy with his new group - zanister


When some of my guitar playing friends heard that I was interviewing you they really wanted to find out about your gear so could you give us a rundown on the gear that you use?

Sure, I'm endorsed by - Ibanez, Dimarzio pickups, Rocktron amps, and SIT strings. I play 7 strings for recording gear, I have some Alesis adats I use at home to cut my guitar tracks.


Who would you count among your influences both on the guitar and just overall musically?

I would say: Yngwie Malmsteen, Racer X, Queensryche, Fates Warning, Jason Becker, Megadeth, Steve Vai, John Norum.


What do you think of the metal scene in the USA? Is there a big market for the type of music that Magnitude 9 is playing or do you have to look to Europe?

I think the metal scene in USA is slowly getting better every year. Europe is still more open to all styles of metal. I wish USA radio and video TV would be as open minded. There are good bands in all metal styles.


Is there anything else that you would like to say to the readers of

Yes, thanks for reading this interview....please check out the CDs by magnitude well as my solo CDs, email me anytime at - magnitude 9 website: 


Thanks for your time Rob!

2000 Metal Rules!!

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Saturday, April 28, 2001