STEVE HOGARTH (MARILLION)
Marillion are currently causing a stir with a Top 10 placing for their single 'You're Gone' and a world
tour underway to promote the new album 'Marbles'.
The band's vocalist,co-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Steve Hogarth joined the band in 1988 and tells us about his involvement, and his favourite tracks
on the latest CD.
|1. What are you currently up
I'm talking to Simon Lake our truck driver, in the back of a bus in
Berlin. Last night, rocks fell on his truck, so he's in mild shock.
We're sitting outside the "Columbia Halle" which is where we will play
tonight. The sun is shining and it's good to be on tour. The rest of
the band are in a hotel across town, but I was bored so I came over
here with the crew.
|2. What has been the highlight(s) and low point(s) of your career to
In career terms, I guess this is a high point right now. We/I have a
single in the top ten in England and Holland!
Low points are probably
too numerous to mention, although I was once nearly murdered by a
psychopathic bass player on a ship when I was playing in the band that
provided entertainment in the nightclub. There was no doctor on the
ship and I almost bled to death. I guess that was an outstanding low
|3. How did you come to join Marillion and how long was it before you
felt fully accepted by the hardcore following?
I joined Marillion after my (then) publisher, Rondor music sent the
band a tape of my songs and they liked my words and my music. Believe
it or not, I was accepted by the hardcore following almost immediately
during the very first tour we made together. The fans made their mind
up by the third song in the show each night and nobody has ever really
given me a hard time about it, much to my surprise. I STILL get
journalists asking me about it though even after 15 years and 9 albums.
I guess I always will.
|4. What are your influences, and musical preferences?
Beatles, Kinks, The Who, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Prefab Sprout, Blue Nile, Talk Talk, Glen Campbell, Massive Attack, Rufus Wainright
|5. What are your main memories of the album 'Holidays In Eden'
Decadence, I guess. We spent 6 months living in a manor house just
outside Brighton. We moved in after Duran Duran moved out. That was
just to WRITE it. Then we moved to Hook End Manor - an even more
beautiful place just outside Henley-on-Thames - to record it. I
remember it was sunny enough to swim outdoors in the pool when we
started, and by the time we finished, it was snowing.
What are your favourite songs on that album and why?
"Waiting To Happen". I think it's not a bad lyric, and I like the light
and shade in it. Naturally, I have a weakness for "Dry Land" also as I
co-wrote it with Colin Woore from "How We Live" before I joined
Marillion. "This Town and 100 nights" is an interesting lyric although
musically, it all sounds a bit dated when I hear it now.
|7. Why did the band move away from the commercial sound and almost
singles-based structure that's on 'Holidays In Eden'?
"Holidays In Eden" is without doubt the band's most overtly commercial
sounding album. This was due largely to the choice of producer Chris
Neil, who EMI had suggested. We were initially reticent about using
him, but he assured us that he was really excited about producing us as
his son was a big fan of the band! I think we were Chris's acid test as
we were the first artist he probably EVER produced who didn't have a
top 5 single.
After that we figured there was little point in chasing
the pop charts, so we reverted to type and created a brooding 70 minute
concept album, "Brave", with a producer who is much better suited to
our art, Dave Meegan. Dave produced our most recent album "Marbles". It
is our nature to react to each album we have made by attempting
something very different from it. "Holidays In Eden" was a reaction to
previous album "Season's End", just as "Brave" was a reaction to
"Holidays In Eden"
|8. Marillion have endured some mixed reviews in recent years - very
unfairly in our humble opinion. Did you consciously set out to win back the critics and gain new fans with the new album 'Marbles'? Were there any constraints?
We don't have a manager. We don't have a record company. We don't have
to finance a millionaire lifestyle. We are self-sufficient. So we
don't have any constraints on our music at all. We write, record and
play exactly what excites us and we have no rules. We don't even make
this music for our fans. We make it for ourselves.
We have explored prog-rock, latin american rhythms, dub, rap, funk, jazz and rhythm and
blues, electronic music and even flirted with arabic and chinese
scales in the last four or five albums. We are LONG past caring about
We have NEVER won an award of any sort anywhere in the
world and we have never even been nominated for a Mercury Music prize
or an Ivor Novello, so critical acclaim means absolutely nothing to me
personally. I can see how it helps as a marketing tool and that's all
very well, but I don't need someone else to tell me what is good and
what is bad about what I do. I'm hard enough on myself as it is, and as
a band we pull no punches in commenting on each other's input.
|9. What are your personal favourites on the new album and why?
My favourite songs are probably "The Invisible Man" and "Fantastic
Place". I think these two represent two extremes of our writing and yet
they are probably the strongest ever examples of each style.
"The Invisible Man" has a "progressive" structure i.e. it's a story, and the
music moves forwards without repeating itself for the duration of the
song - over 13 minutes! "Fantastic Place" has a more conventional
structure of verses and choruses although is still an unusual
arrangement and still lasts 6 minutes although, to me it feels like 3.
The writing process is usually the same. I write words, the band jam,
and we try to create accidents which are interesting. The accidents
become the songs. Dave Meegan worked with us during the arrangement
process (when the song structures are written). Anoraknophobia was
written and arranged in this way. The recording process of "Marbles"
was similar except that new technology enabled us to take work home and
contribute to the album via laptop computers. I recorded some of the
lead vocals at home in my kitchen!
|10. What next for Marillion, after the world tour?
We're enjoying a resurgence of public awareness of the band at the
moment, so it's possible that the tour will be extended. I'm hoping to
get into a studio at the end of the year to start work on a new h album
with Richard Barbieri, Aziz Ibrahim and Andy Gangadeen. I guess when
Marillion finish touring we'll do what we always do - start work on
writing something new and as different as possible!
|11. What do you and the guys do in your spare time?
|12. Message for your
Thanks for supporting us. Thanks for understanding us and for trusting us with your money. Take care and don't lose your last marble.
Related>>Feature (Holidays In Eden)
Interview © 2004 David Randall/
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