Steve Hogarth Official Website

"Ice Cream Genius" FAQ



"What's the last thing people would expect from me and who are the last people that I would make music with ? That's when I got on the phone."


H - H
ICG - Ice Cream Genius
YDT - You Dinosaur Thing



Who is H?

H is Steve Hogarth, lead singer of Marillion. Steve was born in Kendal, UK on 14 May, 1959. Two years after H was born, he and his family moved to Doncaster. There he finished school, and then studies to be an engineer. When he was 17 years old, he bought his first piano and learned to play it by himself. At first Steve was a big fan of the Beatles. Later, when he had improved on the piano, he started listening to Yes and Genesis. When he was 18, he attended his first concert which was on Deep Purple's "Machine Head" tour. Since then his musical tastes have continued to broaden to include Joni Mitchell, The Clash, Prefab Sprout, Psychedelic Furs, Jeff Buckley, Talk Talk, Talking Heads, World Party, The Blue Nile, Oasis, Blur and Radiohead.

Why the name "H"?

"Simply because the other members of Marillion call me that. It helped to simplify things because with Rothery there were two Steves in the band. He remains Steve and I became H. H as in Hogarth, of course."

Has H ever had any singing lessons?

"I had three singing lessons once, but I had been singing for years, and I only had them, because I thought I ought to go and find out, if there was anything I should be doing that I wasn't doing.... Just in an attempt, I suppose just in my mind to feel like a proper singer, I thought I'd better go and see a proper singer and find out what it is I should be doing."

Who would H really like to work with?

"I'd love to sing, just for five minutes, with Joni Mitchell because she's a genius. There are really not that many people. I'd like to sing with Peter Gabriel because I respect him as a singer, writer, and good bloke. I admire his honesty - there's not too much honesty in our profession. I've met him a couple of times. He played me "Red Rain" just after he'd mixed it in his own studio. There was only me, the guy I was working with, and Peter and we all just sat together and listened to it. He didn't really know us but he had nonetheless invited us in to hear it. I admire him for that and I admire him because he seems to care. It's important for me to have fun when I'm working so I wouldn't be interested in anyone miserable or pretentious. I'd really like to do something orchestral. I'd like to work with people in different fields of music, really."

The "Ice Cream Genius" project

Why did H record "Ice Cream Genius"?

"With Marillion we play more polarized music, and I can't use all my ideas there anymore. Also we work according to a certain pattern, in which each band member has his say in choosing the songs. It can happen that one of my suggestions is rejected because it doesn't fit in a certain concept or sound. Until now those ideas stayed on the shelf and I'm gratefully using this breather to put some things on an album."

Where did the Ice Cream Genius title come from?

"The idea for the title came from Craig. If he finds something good, he calls it "genius". If he doesn't like something, it's "torture". There's no in between. After a certain take he said "I scream Genius on that" and later, when we were talking about a title I thought it was a fun idea to go with it and do the photograph with the ice cream."

When was Ice Cream Genius written?

"The majority of it was written since November 1995, when we finished the "Afraid Of Sunlight" dates in Poland, and I started writing then. Most of it was written between December 1995 and May 1996."

Why doesn't the album flow well?

"It was never my intention to make a flowing album. This album doesn't have one global sound and doesn't follow a specific concept. It is a sought-after mishmash of unattached ideas from past years. In the studio we worked from song to song, not worrying about the final result. Each track is a seperate idea, that was completed independently from the rest."

What's the story behind the "girl" icon?

"When was it? '94? I'm not good with dates, but during Marillion's "Brave" tour we had a show in Mexico City and I found her on a stall at one of the silver markets. I had been wearing my hair in pigtails for "Hard as Love" and getting inside the feminine part of myself in order to perform the "Brave" album live for months, so she represents a certain alter-ego. She's a Mayan symbol for a girl who must work hard. Well that was me in '94!.. After the "genius" album was conceived, it occurred to me one day that she looks like one of those ice-cream sellers in the cinema with the tray around her neck, so she seemed a perfect icon for the project. That's why I wore my hair in tails for the h tour."

Why is Neil Armstrong thanked in the "Ice Cream Genius" booklet?

"I don't know Neil, but both his sons are fans of Marillion and I have become friends with his son Rick. I met Rick after a show in Columbus, Ohio and he was asking me who the astronaut was intended to represent in the publicity shot we'd done for "Afraid of Sunlight" because he said the album was like the story of his dad's life. Well, we had our photograph taken together and he promised to send me the photograph. As it turned out, he also sent me an official NASA shot of his dad, signed and dedicated. He's in the spacesuit with the moon behind him. I hung the picture between the speakers while I was writing the album and whenever I'm feeling desperate and everything seems impossible, I take a good long look at him and he shows me that you can do anything if you're really determined. It was for this inspiration that I placed him at the top of the thanks list."

Recording "Ice Cream Genius"

Did the musicians have any say in the material?

"H is my baby and I take sole responsibility for it. The songs were already finished before we entered the studio. This doesn't mean the guys didn't have any say in the music. I gave everyone enough space and opportunity to contribute to my project, or rather my experiment."

What's the story about the dressing box in the studio?

To have as much fun as possible in the studio, H managed to persuade the musicians to wear different clothes during each take :

"That was fun. I warned everyone that there was a dressing box in the studio. They had to pick something different for each take. This way I had Richard dress himself up as a keyboard-wizard in a long black habit with a tall pointed hat. Chucho is a columbian: I had him turned into a drug lord, complete with a black wig with long hairs. He looked like Lemmy from Mötorhead, hah hah"

The H band (Ice Cream Genius)

Who are in the H band?

Dave Gregory, guitars (XTC)
Richard Barbieri, synthesizers (Porcupine Tree, ex-Japan)
Clem Burke, drums (Blondie)
Chucho Merchan, bass guitar/upright bass (Eurythmics, Pete Townshend)
Luis Jardim, percussion (Asia, Trevor Horn)

How did H find these musicians?

"I met Dave Gregory from XTC years ago when he lent me a mellotron for the How We Live album, and I ran into him again a couple of years back in Milan, where I bought him an ice cream. We talked about doing the album from time to time over pints in Oxford pubs the last few years."

"Through him I ended up with Craig Leon, who took care of the production. He has worked with among others Talking Heads, Ramones, The Bangles and more recently Jesus Jones."

"He introduced me to Clem Burke (ex-Blondie) and jazz bass player Chucho Merchan. They already worked together live with The Eurythmics and liked the demo's."

"I met Richard Barbieri when he opened up for us with Porcupine Tree. I knew him from his work with Japan and when he heard my demo's he agreed to come and contribute."

Did H consider any other musicians?

"Initially I was thinking about Chris Fantz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads for the rhythm section. They expressed interest in doing something, but were in the middle of a "Heads" project."

Also, in an interview, Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree, No-Man) said that he was approached by Steve Hogarth for the "H" project, but they decided against it because he was already working with Fish on his album "Sunsets on Empire". Instead, he introduced Steve to Richard Barbieri, who ended up on Ice Cream Genius.

How did H end up with Niels van Iperen?

"Years ago we had an interview day here in The Netherlands. And in the middle of all the madness there was this smiling guy who led me away to a room upstairs and wanted me to blow up a white balloon. A stupid idea, but he managed to convince me. Much later I got to see his pictures and they were beautiful. Niels had set everything so that the balloon was a light source that was shining on my face, very creative. When I wondered who I would ask to make pictures for my album, I tried to contact him. I wrote him a letter he got six months later, because he was in the US at the time. That letter had been hunting him, so to speak. He wrote me back, telling me he was still alive and still a photographer. And that's how things happened. It was a chance to do everything a bit differently instead of playing safe by making a video with the same people that make all the other videos. It was a risk. For both me and the record company. I took a big risk. But at least we got a chance to come up with something very special."

Live H (Ice Cream Genius)

Has the H band ever performed live?

Yes, the H band did a very short European tour in 1997:

February 9, 1997 - The Garage, London
February 10, 1997 - Divan du Monde, Paris
February 12, 1997 - Milky Way Max, Amsterdam
February 13, 1997 - Luxor, Cologne

Who were in H's live band?

The musicians in H's live band were the same as on the album: H, Dave Gregory, Richard Barbieri, Chucho Merchan and Clem Burke, plus Aziz Ibrahim on guitar.

The warm up gig

Preceding H's short tour, the band did a warm up gig. The gig took place at the Walls Eating House & Restaurant, Oswestry, Shropshire on Friday, February 7th, 1997. It was a public gig, but not many Marillion fans knew about it in advance.

What cover songs has H played live?

Marillion - King
XTC - Senses Working overtime
Stevie Wonder - Living for the City
Marillion - Easter (H on piano)
Marillion - Hollow Man (H on piano)

What is the significance of the white strings on H's fingers?

"When I was about 21, I had a gig on an ocean liner. One night about three o'clock in the morning, the bass player decided to murder the drummer and attacked him with a broken glass with the intent to cut him into small pieces. The rest of the band tried to prevent the drummers demise. We didn't realize the bass player was a psychopath, turned out he was. One of the things you have to be careful about when you join a band. There's more to a band than just four of five guys that play music, you have to be a little cautious, in case one of them's an axe murdered! Anyway, it turned out that I got very badly cut up as a result. He cut my hands up and I very nearly bled to death. There wasn't a doctor on the ship, so I was stitched up by a Swedish sailor. He saved my life. The glass actually severed the tendon in my thumb. I lost the use of my right thumb and it took two years of surgery, physiotherapy and pain to get it going again. My hands were constantly bandaged. I kind of saw the funny side of it; I used to bandage my fingers on stage for nostalgia and from there it turned into a kind of good luck thing. If I don't wear them, terrible things happen. Of course, terrible things happen when I do wear them."


Were there any singles for Ice Cream Genius?

Yes, "You Dinosaur Thing" was released as a single, which also contains "The Deep Water" and a non album track called "The Last Thing". There is also a promo which has "You Dinosaur Thing", "Cage" and "Nothing To Declare" on it.

Why was "The Last Thing" left off "Ice Cream Genius"?

"Producer Craig Leon seemed to have a downer on it. It was the only song I didn't have when we started recording the album. It was written in his absence one Sunday and came from a jam. I programmed the drum pattern on a little Yamaha QY20 and Dave Gregory and Richard Barbieri jammed the music on the spot as I sang over the top. I love it - it's like a big tidal wave of darkness. When we played it live, Aziz Ibrahim added his Asian influences to it and that took it somewhere else that I really liked. It's great on record, though. I'm planning to do an American version of the album which includes "The Last Thing".."


Were there any videos made for Ice Cream Genius?

Yes, a video was made for "You Dinosaur Thing". The video was directed by Niels van Iperen, who is also responsible for the front and back cover photography for "Ice Cream Genius".

Song Meanings

What is "The Evening Shadows" about?

"I'm talking about a second personality everyone has, that can pop up under certain circumstances. I think we all have a private self that we keep secret to some extent from our families and friends. A lot of the h album explores the inner workings of the psyche - mine, and certain other peoples... I suppose most of the songs would fit this description."

What is "Really Like" about?

"Really Like ... I really like you, but I wonder what you're really like? It's a white afro-funk number. The great Luis jardim did the percussion. I was trying to get the Talking Heads rhythm section to do it, but Chris and Tina were busy with their Heads project."

What is "You Dinosaur Thing" about?

"That song has to do with being bored with trends, especially in England. Take for instance all those new and modern bands. Once you get started, you're already out of fashion. It's all hype. Actually, the song is also a bit about myself. When you're in a band for ten years, you feel like an old rocker. It's also a warning to all those young bands. Just listen to the lyrics: What do you know of being young, you're almost 21."

What is "The Deep Water" about?

"The Deep Water is a poem set to music. It's about my own death and my own love. the music is like a movie-very visual and ambient. But at the end the water runs dry to desert and the music reflects this as the rolling of the ocean gives way to the arabic rythm."

What is "Cage" about?

"Cage defies description. It's about waiting for a letter, or for the phone to ring. You'll just have to hear it. People sometimes have those little cages on the back of their letterbox, for the letters to fall into. I sometimes feel like an animal in a zoo myself, although when I say "Do not feed the animals" I'm talking about everyone except me... It's quite quirky and ponderous. Dave Gregory said it reminded him of "Moribund the Burgermeister" from the first Peter Gabriel album. I think he was referring to the groove more than the content."

What is "Until You Fall" about?

"Until You Fall is another head-down rocker, like Julian Cope's World Shut Your Mouth. A sort of Velvet Underground feel, a Lou Reed verse with an XTC chorus. I have known physical pain in my life but, when you fall in love, you're up on level 2 in terms of pain, chaos, confusion and, of course, beauty. It's a potent cocktail of uppers and downers"

What is "Better Dreams" about?

"I actually started with the lyrics for that song after I'd been to Los Angeles the first time, which was about 1982 when I was with the Europeans. I first started wanting to write a song about L.A., about my impressions on the way that people function, and that feeling of being "in" or "out" of "the business" and the lengths people go to in order to realise the big dream. And how they become victim to it whether or not they succeed. I eventually settled on this version of it which is almost entirely voice and strings."

What is "Nothing To Declare" about?

"Nothing to Declare is all over the place in style. Sue and I used to live near Heathrow and I used to watch the 747s climbing over my house. I wondered where they were going. I often thought it must be somewhere warmer and more exciting than rainy old England. I wrote this lyric back then."

"I wrote "Nothing to Declare" back in '88. At first it was a piano-vocals idea. When I travel I often take a pocket-sequencer with me, and in a bed in Washington I worked it all out."

What is "The Last Thing" about?

"It's about truth. ....How time erodes our ideals and our feelings, and how truth seems to evade us. So many of us consider "truth" as the most important ideal in life. However we all seem to dedicate our lives to the construction of some tapestry or other which has "lies" fundamentally interwoven into it. In many ways, not only is truth the last thing we tend to reveal, this song argues that truth is, in fact, the last thing we want to hear."

Marillion on H

Were any Marillion songs considered for Ice Cream Genius?

Yes, "Memory of Water" off of Marillion's "This Strange Engine" was demoed as a possible track for "Ice Cream Genius".

Are there songs on the album that were rejected by Marillion?

""Nothing To Declare", in a different form, was rejected by Marillion a long time ago. When I first joined the band, we were writing "Seasons End", I had a plastic bucket with cassettes, and while we were writing, and jamming, if we ran out of ideas, the boys would say, "have you got anything in the bucket?", you know, and I'd take out a cassette and say, "what do you think of it ?". "Easter" was one of these songs in the bucket, that was on the "Seasons End" album. "Nothing To Declare" was in the bucket too. But at that time it was very different, it was a piano/vocal thing. It changed a lot from that. But I returned to that because I'd always thought it was strong, there was a good feeling about that song."

What does Marillion think of H's album?

"I think Ian and Steve liked "Nothing To Declare". Mark said he liked "Cage". Pete said he likes the whole album. Petes tastes are pretty wide ranging. On an ego level, the whole thing's a bit complicated. I don't want to say : "look, what do you think of my album ?", because if they like it, they're not gonna want to shower me with praise cos they're my workmates, and if they don't like it, they don't wanna tell me, because they know they'd offend me. And if they just think it's okay, they don't wanna tell me it's just okay cause they'd offend me. So it's hard to even ask them, cause I don't think they'd feel comfortable even telling me. But it doesn't matter, cause I never made this album for those guys, I didn't make it for "our audience".

Personally I think people should do what they want to do and I'm not the sort of person who will critically put other people's work under a microscope... especially if I know them"

Beyond "Ice Cream Genius"

Will there be a second "H" album?

"I'd like to make another record with H at the essential condition that it will be very different from the first. Once one thing is over, I must explore new horizons. So, if I do, I will probably keep the name "H", but if I follow my actual impulses. Maybe I'll make a trance album - more "machines oriented"."

"It is possible that my (possible) next CD will be recorded with totally different people and will cover a totally different genre. Everything depends on what "Ice Cream Genius" brings about and what goes on in my head the moment Marillion's activities allow for something similar."
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