I met Mats two years ago, after a Circus Maximus show at Webster Hall in NYC. We had a great time hanging at the NAMM show last year I think he is a great dude! Mats is more laid back about health and other topics that I usually discuss, Its more about balance for him.
Enjoy this great conversation with Guest and make sure to get on my VIP list at the bottom of the page!
This episode is with Mats Haugen. Mats is the guitarist and one of the founding members of Circus Maximus, an international progressive metal sensation around for almost 20 years. Aside from the band. Mats is based in Oslo, where he is constantly occupied—playing with some of the top rock, pop and hip-hop artists in Norway.
In the past few years, Mats and the rest of his band have been more focused on family, which he said was the most important thing. Now Circus Maximus is currently releasing an EP with some songs written over 11 years ago during the time of their first and second record. They also have a live album coming out. CM will be performing at Tons of Rock festival in Norway in June along with many iconic bands only a few minutes from Mats’ home.
Mats spoke about how video game music holds a special place in his heart. Before we began rolling, he had the music from the introduction to Final Fantasy 7 playing on Spotify. He even admitted to using four measures from One Winged Angel, a track from the end of the game, as part of a riff in Circus Maximus’ Burn After Reading.
Although progressive metal is Mats’ primary style, it has not stopped him from performing with some of the top pop and hip-hip artists in Norway. He is constantly recording music. Speaking on the process, as opposed to the more methodical writing with CM, he said he just jams and they will use whatever they like from a given take.
Aside from performing with groups, Mats works with several equipment brands that really help supply him with the instruments he needs.
Mats does not prescribe to any particular dietary practices, diet and exercise take a backseat in his life and he is a big foodie. His wife is a good cook and takes care of that part of his life. When touring, he enjoys having a beer on stage, but if he is playing with Circus Maximus he will refrain from drinking for the most part due to the complexity of the music. He is a fan of Czech, German and Norwegian beer. He is not a big fan of IPA’s. He generally drinks light beers.
When we spoke about his experience with his parents growing up, Mats praised them highly. He tells us they were very supportive and could not have done anything better. They continue to support him and his brother, the drummer of Circus Maximus.
Mats does not have a specific vision going forward. He just wants to play as much music as he can. He has been considering doing a solo album.
His one message to all musicians is just to be yourself, don’t chase another musician’s sound. He also says you must be a sponge, and draw inspiration from anything.