After the Happiness Is The Road Tour Marillion is back on tour with their Less Is More Acoustic Tour, which will last from October till December. Less Is More is Marillion’s 16 th studio album and it is an acoustic album with old songs, which have been newly arranged. On 8 October, three days after my birthday Marillion played in my home town, Heerlen (The Netherlands) and of course I wanted to talk to one of the guys. As I had already spoken to Steve Hogarth (several times) and Pete Trewavas I was looking forward to have a chance to guitar picker Steve Rothery; so here we go…

So the new album is an acoustic one, could you please tell why?

Well, we have talked about doing an acoustic album for years in the band already, so it is in fact not really a big surprise that we actually made an acoustic one, finally…

We have been in the never ending cycle of writing – recording – rehearsing for the tour and touring for a very long time, so we wanted to do something else this time. We wanted a break and we needed a break in that. This album was a way of doing that, it was much easier, more relaxed and it was also an opportunity to re-examine some of the older songs and re-write certain sections. This really worked rather well, some people are not quite sure what to expect, but most people are really enjoying the shows so far.

So, the set will be completely acoustic tonight?

Nearly, but I will also play some songs on my electric guitar, mainly old songs, so… Further we will be using a couple of curious instruments which I will not tell you about right now, wait and see…

This fantastic theatre is the ideal venue for such a gig?

Yes, it certainly is. Of course it is not a very rock and roll like venue but it has a great ambiance and great acoustic. It is very civilised, but I mean you do not always want to go to those sweaty, hot rock venues, do you?

Do you already have plans for a new album?

No, that is too early. We will finish this rather short tour in December and then we will spend two weeks at home (with Christmas, I hope). After that we will start writing again and the plan is to go to Portugal for the writing process, but there are no ideas yet. However, after Happiness we had enough artistic breathing space, so that will make it easier to come up with a new album, theoretically. We had time to tank new creative energy, so…

Your last album was really amazing…

Thank you. You know, the great thing about this band is that there is still a lot of creativity. We still have plenty ideas, sometimes we even have too many, making it difficult to choose. There is lots of great music in us that is evident.

So, you are nor thinking of retiring then?

Not really. In a couple of years we will not be touring that much. When you do this for so long it defines you really, so what are you going to do when you are NOT doing this, ha ha…. We still have the urge to create something together, so I think we will make 3 or 4 albums before one of us gets too old to do it; 10 years, maybe….

There is still lots of chemistry in the band.

Yes, the creative spark is still there, you are right.

What is the best thing about being a musician?

Good one, ha ha… Being a musician is an amazing thing as you get a chance to express yourself creatively. You can do whatever you like, we have complete artistic freedom and you do not have to get up at seven o clock every morning to go to your boss. It is also strange, as it is undemanding and there is no regime. It possesses you in a kind of way as you can never stop being a musician. Never stop having that mind set, which is frustrating for a partner at some time as your head is always in the clouds.

What is the worst thing about being a musician then?

Being married to a musician, ha ha…..

Which song would you like to be played at your funeral?

Always look at the bright side of life by Monty Python, ha ha…

What is the worst venue you ever played?

So many, ha ha… Let me think, you sometimes when you play in a real shit hole you play an amazing gig. Some of the smaller clubs in the USA are really terrible and you know what is even more depressing, when you come back 20 years later and nothing has changed! There are some rotty, smelly places out there, my friend.

Do you have a dark side?

Um…… everybody has a dark side, I think. But, no, not so much really. I am a laid back person actually. I have two teenage children who drive crazy once in a while…

Albums for a desert island?

Difficult, wish you were here (Pink Floyd), Joni Mitchell’s Court And Spark….

Which Marillion song do you identify with the most?

That is a very tough question…… really hard to say…Probably The Great Escape, because it is so diverse…

Imagine Gene Simmons, Brian May and Fish in a balloon, which of the three would you kick out and why?

Here’s your dark side, I guess, ha ha…. Definitely Gene Simmons, because he is actually a very annoying person, although he is a good businessman…

Plans for the future?

Finish this tour. Celebrate my 50th birthday on 14 October and spending Christmas at home, hopefully…


Martien Koolen for