Ultrasonic Siobhan

Dec 07, 2010

Ultrasonic Siobhan

‘Idol’ fave Magnus cuts loose with Rock Orchestra

Tenley Woodman, Boston Herald, 12/5/2010

“American Idol” songbird Siobhan Magnus is getting back to her roots.

The Cape Cod native and “Idol” Season 9 finalist performs with the 19-piece Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra on Dec. 12, the last date of the group’s three-night stand (Friday to Sunday) at the Regent Theatre in Arlington.

Magnus, 20, has been rehearsing in the URO’s cramped Somerville practice space. Along with 14 other vocalists, she gets to belt out the music she was raised on, songs by David Bowie, Queen, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. It’s a far cry from the restrained group sings of her “Idol” stint.

“With this music, it’s OK to be theatrical,” Magnus said during a break in rehearsal. “I was criticized on ‘Idol’ for that.”

For Magnus, who lives in Marston Mills, singing with the URO is not just a chance to cut loose behind the mike. It’s a family reunion. Her uncle Alan Ware is the URO’s co-founder and drummer.

“Seeing (the URO) really shaped what I wanted to do,” Magnus said. “I’ve wanted to be in this show since the first time I saw it.”

Ware and vocalist/guitarist Sal Clemente founded the band in 2006. The two traveled to Los Angeles to support Magnus during her “Idol” run.

“We wanted to see (Siobhan) participate in something that showcases her voice,” Clemente said.

The ever-quirky Magnus, who ex-“Idol” judge Simon Cowell dubbed a “funny little thing,” blends seamlessly into the URO tapestry.

The group’s power singers not only champion the vocal acrobatics of octave buster Freddie Mercury, but also proudly display an action figure of the late Queen frontman in their practice space.

Unlike “Idol,” the URO is not about traditional solos. Magnus will share lead vocals on Queen’s “Somebody to Love” and “Love of My Life” at the Dec. 12 show.

“We were looking for songs that are soulful, but also range high,” Ware said. “Siobhan has the ability to hit those notes.”

Ware and Clemente added the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” to URO’s repertoire specifically to showcase Magnus’ banshee scream.

“At the end of (‘Hey Jude’), Paul McCartney goes pretty crazy with it,” Ware said. “It seemed like a natural choice for Siobhan.”

To achieve those notes, Magnus admits she makes “ugly singing faces.” Votefortheworst.com, an “Idol” bashing site, took the Barnstable High School musical theater star to task for her facial contortions.

But just try singing Queen’s “Love of My Life” without stretching your mouth wide.

“There are parts of the song where you make funny faces,” Magnus said. “You have to twist parts of your face (to hit the notes). It’s one of the worst singing faces.”

Magnus says that kind of understanding was what was missing from the judges panel on “Idol.” But the lead singer of Aerosmith would empathize.

“I would have loved to have Steven Tyler there instead of Kara (DioGuardi),” Magnus said of the new “Idol” judge.

Week after week, Cowell took shots at Magnus’ choice to accent staid songs with her punk scream. At one point, he said she sounded like “a woman giving birth.”

“I can’t make him understand the feeling of doing that,” she said.

With URO she doesn’t have to explain. Songs such as The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” demand an untethered delivery and pointed screams.

Aside from moonlighting with URO, Magnus is writing and performing with her hometown band Lunar Valve. As a result of Magnus’ “Idol” celebrity, the music they play has become a little more family friendly.

“One of the hardest things with our band,” she said, “because of (‘American Idol’) what we put out little kids will listen to with their parents. You have to be so careful if you want to keep every fan - and you can’t.”

The fourth of six children, Magnus is mindful of the impact her choices have on others.

“I do care (what fans and family think),” she said. “I know everything I do my baby sisters and grandparents will see or hear.”

Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra at the Regent Theatre, Arlington. Dec. 10 and 11, 8 p.m.; Dec. 12, 5:30 p.m. Tickets: $22.50; 781-646-4849.