The Marillion "trilogy" is completed...we started with a review of the Marbles listening party, continued with a live report, and now we have reached the final part, the interview...


Finally after three rather mediocre rock albums, Marillion have released a real progressive rock album again. It is their 13th studio album and it took them almost three years to finish it, but it was worth the wait. A few hours before the gig in Tilburg I have a chat with Pete Trewavas.

Martien: Congratulations with your new album, finally back to your musical roots?

Pete: Well, after Anoraknophobia we went on tour and after the tour was over we decided that we should go back in the studio and start working on new material. We really had no idea what we were going to do. There were 1 or 2 musical ideas left from the Anoraknophobia period, but they were not good enough, so…. We started of with a clean sheet really and we were writing for a very long time and gradually it started to make sense and we started to get some ideas together that we thought were good and we carried on writing and eventually we got Dave Meegan involved. the process of writing was really the same as we always use, we were in our studio and everything was recorded to mini disc and every couple of weeks we sifted through what we have been jamming and recording and all the great moments, or the best bits and we started to realise that we had lots of really strong songs now and we really did not want to loose them. We were in a similar situation a few years ago with the Radiation stuff and what we did then was, we actually made a list of the songs which we would record for Radiation and a list of songs that we would record for But with this album we decided that we would record all the songs and make it a double album this time. When that decision was made Lucy would say: “Well, that’s an interesting idea” and so we started to formulate this whole idea of doing a de-luxe double album, and then we got Carl involved as well, so everybody started to work on this project that really grew and became much more important and special to everybody, which was great and it was nice to be part of that process. You could call it a concept album, in a way it is, but not really, but what is nice about it is the little Marbles sections kind of tie the rest of the album together and give it something more, which is nice of course.

Martien: What is the connection between the Marbles parts and the rest of the album then?

Pete: Well, I guess the other songs are really the serious ones and I mean for me the song The Invisible Man sums it all up, what the album really is about. It seems to be about states of mind to a certain degree, and you know loosing your marbles (means: going insane MK) and then you have the opening line of The Invisible Man which states: “ the world’s going mad” and it really is a look at how things seem to be in your life or the way you perceive certain thing in life. What is going on in the world and the Marbles sections look back when things seem to be more simpler and….

Martien: Going back to your childhood?

Pete: Yeah, well I would say a sort of childhood, yeah, you know, it is more naivety I guess. I am more charmed looking back at that world; it was a more simplistic way of looking at the world. Where you know, one thing took up your whole life, and nowadays everything is more complex, you can read the papers and you watch the news and you think what is going on in the world, ha ha ha. Then there is another rather significant song, which is The Only Unforgivable Thing, which is looking at another state of mind, where you know you are just eaten up by something, like jealousy for example.

Martien: For me the definite highlights are the three epic songs, they are really filled with emotion.

Pete: Indeed, lots of emotion there, you got that right.

Martien: Who came up with these songs actually?

Pete: Well, it was all of us really, we were all working on it together, I mean…

Martien: These songs remind me of your Brave-period.

Pete: Yes, yes, there is a lot of feeling of that kind of thing. I think compared to Anoraknophobia this album is very strong in melody. Every now and again we try and kind of just lash out the preconceptions and change what we believe in and make ourselves be seen in a different way. And Anoraknophobia was one of those moments, we thought we just want to change how we write and we want to change how we sound musically and then Anoraknophobia was more rhythmically driven I would say. A lot more modern drum loops and bass sounds, where as with this new one it really goes back to another style of writing, where melody is very important. It reminds me of early David Bowie albums actually, you know I can hear some of the Marbles sections fitting quite comfortably on e.g. Hunky Dory. I think that this album is an impressive statement. But getting back to writing this thing, um…. These songs were composed in a way like Steve Hogarth would be writing lyrics and singing the lyrics and then certain lyrics would turn into certain feels of music, then we would be jamming a lot of music that was being recorded and later on we would be going through all these jams and pick out the music that seem to be going together because of the way the lyrics were structured. Then everything would be arranged and sometimes the music arranged itself, which is quite interesting of course. The whole approach was really interesting to do, it is also a very frustrating way to write, but…..

Martien: In what way is it frustrating?

Pete: Because it takes such a long time to do it, but it is much better then composing a few songs give all the band members the music and start recording. We are no good at that. The beauty of the way we write really is that we allow ourselves to be completely free, it is the purest form of making music, you can write and compose whatever you want, it is complete freedom. And that is you know where you gave yourselves the time and the freedom to just do what we wanted to do and we care so much about it as well.

Martien: Well, you can really hear that you are proud of what you have achieved here.

Pete: Thanks, that is really nice to hear. You always worry; you know when you come up with something new. What is amazing about Marbles for me is that we spent 3 years on it and I can still sit down and listen to it and just enjoy the music. Normally that is not the case, then I hear all the mistakes, or where we went wrong, or what we should have done better. But on this one it is about as perfect as can be. There are mistakes of course left in there deliberately, because they are just really cool you know. Little things that you normally not do on a record because you threw it all away. On this album we kept some of it, it just seemed to fit with the track.

Martien: How does it feel to have a hit single again?

Pete: Great!!

Martien: It has gone up to no.2 in the Pepsi charts already!

Pete: No.2? That is incredible. I did not realise that we were at no.2, I thought we were at 8. Bloody hell, excuse me…. That really is amazing, we will be in Top of the Pops in a week or so also. Steve Rothery comes in and Pete says to him that You’re Gone is on no.2 in Holland…. Steve: Get out of here, how did that happen. That is horrible, shock horror!

Pete: I do not know what to say, this is just great.

Martien: I would have thought that Don’t Hurt Yourself would have become the first single and also a hit.

Pete: Well, we could have done that. The thinking behind releasing You’re Gone as a single was that is just a little cooler, it is a little bit more of us. Don’t Hurt Yourself could have been released by several bands like e.g. Crowded House or World Party. There are a few bands who make that sort of music and You’re Gone has got more of a Marillion identity to it, because it has got the nice chords, the e-bow guitar and to follow with your remark about Don’t Hurt Yourself, that has a real commercial feel to it, it is more instant. But we hope that it will also become a hit single of course.

Martien: Lyrically Don’t Hurt Yourself is much heavier, I think it is about Steve Hogarth and his feelings…

Pete: Yeah, I guess it is, although it is a light piece of music, the lyrics are rather heavy and personal. Some of the lyrics on this album are great really, I must say. Steve really puts himself through a lot with the lyrics. I keep promising myself that I write some songs in the future. The hardest part for me, I can write music and can come up with a catchy chorus, but to actually sustain it through a whole song, I find that incredibly hard to do and to come up with good lyrics….. Steve’s lyrics are just amazing on this album, actually the lyrics, the music and the fantastic album cover are managed together in such a way, which gives the whole project much more worth, and it is just great.

Martien: It is your 13th album….

Pete: Yes, I know, unlucky for some, but not for us..ha ha

Martien: How difficult is it to put a set list together as you have so many songs to choose from?

Pete: It is not difficult. There is nothing we must play.

Martien: So, what can we expect tonight, the whole Marbles album?

Pete: No, not all of it. We play a fair percentage of it. We play the retail album version, but we do not play Drilling Holes because that is too difficult to play.

Martien: Is it really?

Pete: Well, it is one of those mad things really so we play The Damage instead, which is quite a mad song in itself also actually. Strangest thing about that song is that I arranged it out of a jam session. One of the things we did while we were making this album was that we were arranging some of the songs and got to a stage with the album where we got very relaxed and we were really enjoying each others musical company, that Dave said before we go into the studio and record and arrange the songs every morning we had to jam for a few hours and one of those days we came up with The Damage and it was a jam for about an hour. Then I sat through that jam and picked out my favourite parts and put them all together in logic and played it to the rest of the guys and asked them if they liked it. Well, they did, we arranged it, added a few sections and that became the final version of The Damage. Getting back to the songs we play, we can really play whatever we like. What we have done actually is that we decided that we will structure the set like we do Marbles and that is quite theatretically, similar to Brave, and then the second set after the break is just more of a usual Marillion set. We looked at various setlists form the last 4, 5 years and decided that we will play songs that we have not played a lot. We do get asked to play certain songs and we do tend to play certain songs always like King or Warm Wet Circles, but not this time. We also asked fans what they wanted to hear, but it is impossible to learn every Marillion song for a tour so we gave them a list of songs to choose from.

Martien: Is it important to play songs from the Fish-period?

Pete: Not really, no, in fact. Most of our fans these days are probably not fans from the Fish period. Some are of course, but that period has become less important to them and lots of people do not even remember that period. We have done 13 albums, so much music, better music or sometimes worse o f course… We are looking forward. You’re Gone is our biggest hit, Kayleigh was only no.14 and Cover My Eyes no.12, so we certainly will play You’re Gone! If it gets to no.1, you never know. The pressure is on and if we play really bad tonight it will go down. It is up to us, is it not? Damn, how could that happen, that is scary, ha ha ha…

Martien: Originally Marillion was called Silmarillion, after a Tolkien book, are you still Tolkien fans and why did you drop the Sil?

Pete: It was not me, it was our former drummer Nick Pointer, and I was not even in the band back then. I would probably have called us The Hobbits. I was a Tolkien fan back then, most people of my age were, and I still am a fan. I had plans to reread the book actually, you know with the movies being released. The movies are excellent, I was afraid that the Hollywood machine would ruin this wonderful book completely, but they did a great job.

Martien: Is there a slight possibility that Transatlantic will release some new material?

Pete: I have been asked this a few times already and it really is a shame about Neal (Morse, MK). I can see why he did it, but I really think that he did not have to make the decision to “leave” Transatlantic. He could have said to us: hey, guys, I want ten years off and explore my solo career. I can appreciate that but he also could have told us that we could get back together as Transatlantic in a few years, because I seriously believe - we did make two great albums – that there is another one in us. I really hope that one day we will get a new album out.

Martien: One of your first Transatlantic gigs was here in Tilburg, right?

Pete: Yeah, that was really scary, there was a lot of pressure then, it was the start of the tour and we were really unrehearsed; you cannot learn all that music in 3 days!! That show was recorded and filmed and that is actually more than you need. But having said that, with the departure of Neil, that DVD/CD became the ultimate collectors’ piece. The box set is great, Inside Out did us proud there, you know it is rough and raw, maybe it would have been better to record the show a few days later. Last question, please, because I have to do my soundcheck.

Martien: What does the future have in store for Marillion?

Pete: What is going to happen, basically we kind of put us in a situation where we got a fairly serious amount of money to spend, on promotion, marketing, the single, the album and the tour. And we hope that it all will lead to more success, more record sales, more new albums and more fans. We will be filming some shows and we are in a great position as it is. We have a hit single and the future is looking bright.

Martien: Thanks for the interview.

Pete: Thank you for showing interest in Marillion and enjoy yourself tonight.

Interview by Martien Koolen
I would like to thank Urban “Wally” Wallstrom for setting up this interview and for supplying me with a few questions.
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