- El Mercurio, Chile
October 28, 1998
- Music Street Journal
September 30, 1998
- Rock Notes On-Line
September 8, 1998
- The Web USA
"It's all my fault!" (The Story behind "Ice Cream Genius")
- Oor (Dutch magazine)
"All performers have an alter ego, that they send on stage"
- XFM in Copenhagen
By Morten Bay, Music Director, XFM
March 14, 1997
- Zondagskrant (free Dutch Sunday-newspaper)
"I do not want to end up like Phil Collins"
March 9, 1997
- Mind Magazine (Dutch magazine)
H, the other Steve Hogarth
- RockStyle (French magazine)
Steve Hogarth: to mock traditions.
- IO Pages (Dutch prog magazine)
Steve Hogarth's big dressing up party
- Music News Network
It's all about belief
- Samson All Areas (Translated from Dutch)
- Big Bang Magazine
- PopMatters.com (external link)
Marillion's Fantastic Power: An Interview with Steve Hogarth
April 9, 2012
El Mercurio, Chile
The following is an E-mail interview with Steve Hogarth about his opinion on the use of new technologies in music and his relationship with computers.
Please, Steve, tell me when, why and how was the first time you used a computer.
Well, not counting calculators.... I was at Stanbridge Farm near Brighton on the south coast of England in 1990. We were writing "Holidays in Eden". The owner of the place had a little word processor computer - I don't remember the name of it (maybe "Commodore") - it had a little monitor with a green screen - really primitive - and I found that when I wrote words in print, I found it easier to objectively judge them than when they were in my own handwriting. I have been using word processor software for writing ever since then.
How have new technologies (software, samplers) modified your career as a musician and as a composer? Do they simplify your work, or not? Why?
The greatest contribution of music technologies is to the creative (or not-so-creative!) artist working alone. I wrote a solo album, "Ice Cream Genius" a couple of years ago and that's when you really need a drum machine, sequencer and samplers. Once you've shelled out a couple of grand (£2000) for the machines, you can create good quality multi-layered recordings with drums, string sections, orchestras etc without any other musicians being involved. This saves time, plane fares, lunch bills, wages, personality clashes, and having to hire a big hall to put all the people in. Obviously, this way of working has a negative aspect - magic can happen through collaboration. It's like the argument about masturbation or having a girlfriend. Which is best? Answers on a postcard please..
Anyway, I wrote most of the songs with machines and then started again recording them with all my favourite players. In one instance, I chose a machine flute overdub for the mix even though I had a real flautist on tape! So there you are!
Some people say computers can even replace "the human touch" at composition and playing. What do you think about it?
Everything computers can do has been programed by humans in the first place, so it all boils down to the sophistication and sensitivity of the programming and of the transducer systems. ALL MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS ARE MACHINES. A piano, after all, is a mechanical device and is limited by it's capacity to interpret the players expressions - similarly the player must learn to operate the piano's "system" so that his ideas become heard the way he (or she) imagines them.
I'm sure computers can be programmed to compose pop songs. I think that's already happening every day. Maybe a time will come soon where elevator music or "muzac" will be generated by a little box which actually composes random symphonies or pop tunes. Everyone could have one in their homes. Perhaps psychiatrists could help program them so that the compositions stimulate parts of the brain which make us feel good. Am I beginning to worry you yet?.. Perhaps people could pay to go to a concert and see the machine hooked up to a big loud PA system and to banks of kaleidoscopic lazers which could shine upon the most beautiful supermodels who could remove their clothes during the show whilst singing into machines which turn their atonal mumblings into beautiful, perfectly pitched voices-of angels singing melodies which are perfect for the music generated by the machine. As systems develop, Drugs, alcohol and prostitution could become a thing of the past. Noone would need them. Certain computers however, may have to be made illegal!
How would you define Marillion's relationship with new technologies?
We all now have laptops. They are all Macintosh. Mark Kelly also has a PSION series 5 palmtop which he carries everywhere for email. Our keyboards are routed via an Opcode system which manages the voice programs and midi interfacing from various keyboards, midi pedals etc. In short, both in the studio and especially live, we are dependent upon the presence of computerised keyboard and midi management. When we record keyboards we use sequencers as well as tape recorders. Live, we don't us sequencers at all. Samplers are very important to us. These are played via various controllers which are routed by computer. I use wireless radio/midi transmitters during the live show. My most recent toy is a cricket bat which has been custom converted to enable me to play it like a remote keybard. I used it to play a saxophone solo during "This Strange Engine".
For yourself, how much importance has the e-mail?
Email is a great tool if you need a speedy response to questions from around the world. It's a very useful business tool - you can write a letter to Australia and have a reply a couple of hours later and, unlike a phonecall, all the details are in print! I use email alot for business stuff. It's handy for approving artwork too because you can download picture files. It's also quite useful for interviews! It would be a shame if the postman was made redundant, though...
How have been your experiences with chat (IRC)?
Great fun. Extremely good for having direct conversations with strangers whilst being able to maintain a discreet distance. In that sense, it's a revolutionary social tool. It breaks down the predjudice of "Strangerism" along with racism, countryism and various other "ism's". Because the net's so international, it's possible to broadcast to the world from your home and have the world listen and reply. It's like having a cross section of the globe in your house for a party, but you don't have to clean up the house afterwards..
What do you think about the Internet, specially about its function as a massive media?
It's potential as a global mass-communication medium-for-all is still to be fully realised. My biggest concern is that the big corporations who now own the world (and let's face it, that's more-or-less the case!) will find a way to restrict personal freedoms within the net, so that their products become prevalent. If that doesn't happen, then the net will continue to increasingly provide an alternative FREE access to a spectrum of information which isn't censored. Band's like Marillion will reach a stage where we can finance a major record release ourselves, simply by marketing and selling direct to our fans. Unfortunately I'm afraid that capitalism will find a way to control such systems - there'll be major record stores on the net which are easier to access than minor ones and people like us will end up needing to pay to sell through these sites if we are to compete. That's my suspicion anyway.
At the moment, the charts here in the UK are easily influenced by the major labels' money. I can't imagine them easily letting go of their high earning investments.
Would you broadcast a concert in real time, through the Internet? Why?
I'm sure it's something we'll be doing quite soon.
Are you a "Web surfer"? Which are your favourite Web sites (besides "The Official H Website")? ;-)
I don't have alot of spare time to sit in front of the computer at home. I carry my laptop with me everywhere. It has an on-board modem for emails but it's a little slow for web-surfing. I know Mark Kelly visits alot of the shareware sites for downloading music software.
He recently acquired a brand new system for my Kurzweil K2500 sampler. I find it mindboggling to think that it's now possible to completely improve and update a musical instrument without loosening a single screw!
If you have the opportunity to make a CD-ROM about Marillion, which things about the band (and yourself) would you include in it? Why?
We're still thinking about all this.. There's a couple of designers in Hamburg, Germany, who are wanting to put one together for us. We're having a meeting in Hamburg in a couple of weeks. At the moment it's too early to say. We don't want to just put out something average, so it's a big decision.
What computer do you have? What do you use it for? (playing games, send e-mails, surfing the Web, writing lyrics...)? Do you take it with you when you're on the road?
At home we have a Mac Performa 5400/180 desktop. I use it mainly for Adobe Photoshop applications, because I can't view them on my laptop. I have a Mac Powerbook160 which only has a black and white screen. I always carry it with me. It contains all my poems and lyrics, my business files, faxes, letters, my year planner, my tour diary, tour itineraries, set lists, my accounts, my address book, and damn nearly everything I need in life!
I don't play games.
Marillion played in Chile on june 25, 1997 (it was really amazing!). How would you define the chilean public? Will Marillion come back to Chile? When?
I'm reluctant to generalise about a nation (slippery slope...) but I really liked all the people I met in Santiago. It's a city with a village atmosphere! I found the people to have the same spiritual vibe as the Brazilians (who I love) but with a slightly calmer spirit - a kind of serenity. Everyone welcomed us an a genuine way.
The show was great - a real surprise.
We'll come back to Chile the first chance we get. I'm afraid it boils down to money - it's expensive for us to bring our equipment and crew so far, and with the problems in the Brazilian economy, it's unlikely that we'll be able to come to Brazil on this forthcoming tour. We're always open to offers!
Also, I need some information about you (if you're married, children; the city where do you live); who are your favourite singers (or bands), and your hobbies.
I've been married since 1980 and I have two children, a girl aged 10 and a boy aged 7. I have lived in many places - all in England - and we're currently living in a small village in the countryside near to Oxford.
My favourite singers: Jeff Buckley, Paul Buchannan, Paddy McAloon, Annie Lennox, John Lennon, Peter Gabriel, Patty Labelle, Ray Charles, Darryl Hall, Sting, Marvin Gaye
Favourite Bands: Beatles, Kinks, The Blue Nile, The Psychedelic Furs, The Who, The Police, Boyzone (only joking!)
Hobbies: Being a husband. Being a dad. Being me.
El Mercurio, Chile
October 28, 1998
Music Street Journal
Music Street Journal:
Where did the title Ice Cream Genius originate?
Producer Craig Leon is something of an eccentric. If he likes something he calls it "genius" and if he dislikes something he calls it "a torture". He expressed his opinions in this way during the entire project. If a particularly good take happened during recording, he would say: "I scream genius on that!" One day we were filling in the track sheets and there was a box at the top which said "Title of Album" and I filled in "Ice Cream Genius" and it just sort-of stuck. It was Craig's idea to do the sleeve with the ice cream on the front and then with it squashed against my head on the back cover.
Music Street Journal:
The personnel choices for Ice Cream Genius are intriguing, how did that come about?
Dave Gregory tells me we first met many years ago in the Townhouse studios when I was in with the Europeans and XTC were in the studio next door. I don't actually remember this. My first memories of Dave were when I was down in Bath with "How We Live" and we needed to hire various bits of equipment for the album. I was looking for a mellotron and David Lord, the producer said Dave had one and gave me his number so I asked if I could hire it for a couple of days and I went round to his house in Swindon to get it. Dave, being Dave, said not to worry about the money so I bought him a bottle of whisky instead and we sort of became chums.
Incidentally, the same thing happened with Peter Gabriel from whom I also "hired" quite a few studio items, later to find that he never charged me a penny for any of it... Nice people down in that part of the world! ...So Dave Gregory was the first musician I approached - I'm a big fan of XTC and particularly Dave's jangly technique. I was determined to go to the opposite end of the musical universe from Marillion. I had been a fan of Japan in the eighties - Tin Drum was such an outstanding album - and so when I met Richard Barbieri at a gig where Porcupine Tree were opening up for Marillion we swapped numbers and I sent him my demos. He liked the songs, particularly the Deep Water, and said I could count him in. I originally approached Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth - The Talking Heads rhythm section and sent demos to them. Chris called me back to say that they were very busy with their "Heads" project but that if I could go to America with the tapes then they could perhaps record something for me at their own studio. As it turned out, I hadn't the time or the budget to go over although I would have loved to have Chris and Tina play on "Really Like". Craig suggested Clem and Chucho. I had seen Chucho Merchan play live with the Eurythmics in 1990 in Brazil when we did a festival with them so I had a good idea what to expect from him - MAXIMUM VIBE and also a talent for upright string bass. Clem Burke, of course is a legend in his own right and I love the way his style treads that line between loose and tight. Percussionist Louis Jardim (originally from Brazil) has been London's No.1 session percussionist for years - he did "Slave to the Rhythm" and all the "Frankie Goes To Hollywood" stuff. Nuff said!
Music Street Journal:
With what other musicians would you like to work?
When we toured here in Europe I did it with the same players. I needed a second guitarist and by chance I came across Aziz Ibrahim who I jammed with in a bar. Aziz had been with The Stone Roses and more recently co-wrote the Ian Brown album "Unfinished Monkey Business". His parents are from Pakistan although he grew up in Manchester, and he can play all the Indian and Chinese scales. He can make a Les Paul sound like a sitar or a koto and then a full on Les Paul rock guitar from moment to moment. He has this great chemistry with Richard Barbieri and I regret not meeting him until it was too late for him to be involved in the record. I'd like to revisit that chemistry on record at some stage. I really admire Björk as a musical talent. I'd love to collaborate with her. I'd love to sing with Brian Wilson.
Music Street Journal:
The animal within concept in The Evening Shadows reminds me a lot of the Clinton/Lewinsky situation. Has this thought occurred to you?
Well, most of the songs on ICG are about the psyche and about the questions of one's own motives. "Are you proud of the way you've been behaving lately?" I think many of us have a dark side... or a side that others perceive to be dark. Actually I've been recently performing a Marillion song from Afraid of Sunlight called "Gazpacho". Every word of it resonates in the most excruciating way with Bill's current position. You'd swear we wrote it last week specially for him! Personally, I have a lot more sympathy for Bill and Hilary than I have for Monica.
Music Street Journal:
What can you tell us about the new Marillion album?
It's called Radiation and it's very different from anything we've done in the past. Much more electric and raw than This Strange Engine. A lot of different influences from Lenny Kravitz to Living Colour to The Pogues to The Beatles to the "Blues" to Blade Runner to Apocalypse Now to Hare Krishna to Laurel and Hardy... I'm not lying - they're all in there.
Music Street Journal:
What Marillion tour plans are in the works (European and/or US)?
We'll be touring in Europe during November. There is also the possibility now of us coming to the US for some shows Jan/Feb of '99. Fingers crossed!
Music Street Journal:
Any plans to tour for the solo project?
I toured in Europe last year. Everyone concerned would love to do it again and I still have all the keyboard programs. That just leaves the money! I suppose it all comes down to how much success we can generate there with the release.
Music Street Journal:
What is the biggest Spinal Tap moment you have had?
When I was in the Europeans I once ran offstage and crashed out through some exit doors which slammed shut behind me leaving me out in the street in the snow on a cold winters night wet through with sweat from head to foot. I had to run round the building to the front doors where security refused to let me back in. I could hear the band back on stage for the encore as I shivered in the street.
Oh no - there's a worse one than that. It was with How We Live...I had been eating certain substances which are normally smoked in cigarettes. I wouldn't advise you to do this. I ended up completely forgetting everything - my immediate past as well as my distant past and I had to go on stage at Edinburgh Playhouse (sold out) with no idea of how any of the songs went, or any of the words. Two minutes before stage time I was being heartily sick into the car park at the rear of the theatre. I was still outside on my hands and knees when I heard the band strike up. Walking to centre stage with the band already playing and no idea what I would do when I got to the mic. It's one of the outstanding nightmares of my life.
Music Street Journal:
What was the last CD you bought?
Mezzanine by Massive Attack
Music Street Journal:
What was the last concert you attended?
Neil Finn last Monday in Oxford.
Music Street Journal
September 30, 1998
Rock Notes On-Line
Steve Hogarth is the lead vocalist and keyboardist for the progressive rock band Marillion. Last year H, as he's often called, released his first solo record called Ice Cream Genius. He chose an eclectic group of musicians to perform his songs including Dave Gregory (guitars), Richard Barbieri (synthesizers), Clem Burke (drums), Chucho Merchan (bass guitars and upright bass), and Luis Jardim (percussion). Steve talked to us on the phone from his home in England about his solo effort, collaborations, and Marillion.
Can you tell me a little about Ice Cream Genius?
It's an album that was probably a long time coming. Some of the songs have been gradually coming together over a period of years. There were experimental things I wanted to try, and things that were a bit quirky and personal. I finally found a gap in Marillion's schedule in December of 1996 and took about 6 months to make this record. The whole thing was really an experiment and a collaboration between myself and the last musicians on earth you'd expect me to work with. I put together a band that was comprised of heroes of mine, but perhaps not the heroes that one would expect. In many ways, the project was about the unexpected.
In general, do you write lyrics or music first?
The words tend to be there at the beginning. Better Dreams is a very lyric driven song which is essentially a poem which has taken me eight or nine years to put together. I first started writing Better Dreams when I went to Los Angeles while touring with the Europeans back in the mid-80's. My first impressions of LA, which is a town which I didn't think I'd like, were fantastic and proved all my prejudices wrong. The USA is one of those countries where you can form an opinion from afar only to go there and realize how wrong you are...Someone once said that everything good or bad that's ever been said about America is probably true. It's such a vast country...it's a true spectrum.
Do you have a favorite track on ICG?
Deep Water stands out as a precious thing. It's a very rich painting. I tend to think musically in pictures...for me, the music which is the most potent, is the music which paints the picture most accurately. I try to paint emotions like little pictures and I think that Deep Water does it. It's full of ghosts as well. It's painful and it's beautiful. I'm very proud of it.
Did recording at Jimmy Page's old studio have any effect on you?
It's definitely got a vibe. We were using a very old mixing desk and old microphones that had been used to record old Led Zeppelin albums. It was a spooky little room we were working in, and yet at the same time, very very comfortable. A bit like working in an old gentleman's club. Quite the opposite of the sterile technological conditions you're normally surrounded by when you're making a record. It was a very relaxed way of working.
How did you hook up with Marillion?
It was in the back-end of 1988. I was in a band called How We Live which was a band that had grown out of another band called Europeans. How We Live kind of gradually hit the wall, ran out of money, ceased to exist. I was thinking of getting out of the music business, and going away and buying a little house, and watching my kids grow up. I was also looking around for some short time work. My publishing company told me that Marillion was looking for a lyric writer and a singer because Fish had left. They kind of persuaded me to send a tape. So I reluctantly agreed...It really was the last thing on earth that I needed. When I finally met up with the band, we just got along like a house on fire from the moment we met. The rest is history.
I understand that Radiation is the title of the new Marillion release. Can you tell me something about that?
People are telling me that it's very different, which suits me fine. We try to make each record exist as a completely separate entity. And although we don't have any rules in Marillion about the music or the direction, these days things are very wide open, we do have a rule to try not to repeat ourselves. I think we're a bit more radical with the exploration of sound. It's a much more electric album that it's predecessor.
Will there be a tour in support of Radiation?
Well, we're touring here in Europe in November. America remains, as usual, an obstacle for us. In the past it's always cost us a lot of money to tour in the US. Our record label is usually disinclined to invest the $50,000 to cover our losses on a club tour. But everything is possible. Last year, it was our fans who raised $60,000 for us to tour in the States, which was the most incredible use of the internet, from my perspective, so far. [A fan from North Carolina opened a bank account and asked for donations, ultimately raising $60,000. The band toured the US and, as a thank you to the fans, produced a live recording on CD and shipped it to every person who donated.]
What are your thoughts about music today and how Marillion fits in?
I think Marillion fits right in to what's going on in music today, no problem. Where we do have an immense problem is fitting in to the media's perception of us. I think the media's perception of us is quite a long way removed from our music. And that is a serious problem. Nothing we do seems to turn it around. We hear deejays tell us "we can't play stuff like you on the radio." And you think, what on earth is going on, when the deejays aren't allowed to play what they like. Like there's this "kings new clothes" hype thing which is all to do with fashion and money. The radio station has to have an image which is clouded by what is -- on the one hand -- hip, and what is -- on the other hand -- a big money spinner. You know, the two ends of the spectrum. That's the big dilemma that Marillion has at the moment, but I'd even go as far as to say that's the big dilemma that the world has at the moment because once radio becomes that commercial, it's kind of a sad day for everybody. But I'm optimistic in the sense that given the time, there will always be a backlash to that kind of control, to that extent of control. There will always be systems that emerge from passionate people who go, "we've had enough of this, and we're going to set something for up for ourselves, and we're going to fight this." There's no better medium to do that through than the internet because the internet is free. No one has yet worked out how to wrap a string around it and strangle what it doesn't agree with.
We heard that you performed with Dream Theater at the Ronnie Scott's show?
They said they were doing a little gig, and the idea of it was that they wanted to perform songs that had influenced them in their early years. And to collaborate with artists that continue to influence them. I know that the drummer, Mike Portnoy, is a bit of a fan of Marillion and he invited us to perform his favorite song, which was Easter from our Seasons End album. So [Marillion guitarist] Steve Rothery and I performed Easter with Dream Theater. I also did [The Beatles] Happiness Is A Warm Gun, alternating verses with [Dream Theater lead singer] James LaBrie. Mike emailed me actually just this morning and said he's putting together a video for Dream Theater and wanted to include our performance from Ronnie Scott's and did I mind. I told him, of course I didn't mind!
Rock Notes On-Line
September 8, 1998
The Web USA
The Story behind 'Ice Cream Genius'
Words by Steve Hogarth
Assisted by Bonny Alberts
Mixed and Engineered by Dan Sherman
The point of making this record was to fulfill a long-term ambition to make an album about me, and what's going on in my head. It was an opportunity to have some fun, do my own thing and see what happens, off the cuff. It's not like I'm trying to start a solo career or anything, if that was the case it would have been an overtly commercially poppy album. I purposely wanted to make an artistic statement, a variety of styles, to work with an unexpected selection of musicians. In that sense it's utterly selfish. Yeah! It's all my fault!
I called it Ice Cream Genius because, during the recording sessions listening to the band playing, I spent much of the time doing just that! It was a pleasure and a treat to work with the other musicians-hand-picked from some of the best bands in the world-and to discover, first hand, their phenomenal talent and empathy.
Most of it was written since I came back from Krakow in November last year. The evening shadows stretched themselves and stretched me a little and the animal woke up and ideas
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.
I've got this Rickenbacker electric 12-string that I bought in San Jose on the Holidays in Eden tour. I took it home and plugged it in and was a bit disappointed with the sound of it. Dave came around and fell in love with the very sight of it. He plugged it in at my house and it suddenly sounded like the best guitar in the world-jangling away like a dream! It was a deeply humbling experience... the first of many! Dave's all over this record, a bit like a chameleon when it comes to guitar sounds.
I always got a spooky vibe from Richard Barbieri and his work with Japan and now Porcupine Tree. I asked him to provide ghosts and spirits for the album. He liked the songs and turned up with a Prophet5 and a witch's hat and sprinkled spirits across the top of it all. Everything he did painted exactly the right pictures and took about five minutes. His subtlety is only equalled by his taste.
Craig Leon was introduced to me by Dave. XTC had worked with everybody, Todd Rundgren, Steve Lillywhite, Hugh Padgham, but Dave recommended Craig. He'd signed the Ramones to Sire Records years ago, and he's been producing for ages. The Ramones, Blondie, The Bangles, Talking Heads, Jesus Jones, The Pogues, The Roches, Bob Marley, Kid Creole, The Fall, Front 242, the list goes on. He moved to England and married Cassel Webb, a singer/songwriter signed to Virgin. She used to work with Patti Smith at Electric Ladyland Studios in New York when Hendrix was there. Between them they seem to know everyone in the history of rock and roll. Very Exciting...
Craig put me onto the rhythm section of Clem Burke and Chucho Merchan. They'd been a rhythm section for the Eurythmics at one point, Clem's been in Blondie for years and they've worked together on a number of things in the past. Clem's got that very distinctive thrashy-but-tight energy in his drumming and he had no trouble playing to some of the really free things I'd gotten on tape and wanted to keep. Chucho effortlessly covered all the varying styles. He gave Nothing to Declare a jazz flavour whilst Cage gets into a dub thing at the end, and You Dinosaur Thing has that seventies dinosaur groove thing.
We did the main recording at the Racket Club and moved on to Sol Mill in Cookham to record the vocals. The house and studios were owned by Jimmy Page, but Chris Rea recently bought the place. There's still a little studio in the garage, next to the mill stream which houses a desk and some old valve mics previously used by Led Zeppelin to record all those fantastic albums... We mixed at Van Morrison's place, the Woolhall in Somerset.
We were done by July 20, just in time for a week off before I started on the next Marillion album at the Racket Club. The album was released late February, on Intact through Castle Communications. I went through Castle because, they paid for all the studio time, why not let them release it? -H
Ice Cream Genius
1. Evening Shadows 4:28
2. Really Like 5:21
3. You Dinosaur Thing 5:03
4. The Deep Water 8:02
5. Cage 7:04
6. Until You Fall 3:59
7. Better Dreams 3:59
8. Nothing to Declare 6:33
H - vocals, piano, samples
The following people screamed
genius all over this record:
Dave Gregory - Guitars
Richard Barbieri - Synthesizers
Clem Burke - Drums
Chucho Merchan - Bass guitars
Luis Jardim - Percussion
Written and arranged by H except Cage written by H & Hunter
This record was dreamt up at home and away and was recorded at Brisbane House, The Racket Club, Sol Mill and The Woolhall.
Produced by Craig Leon and H. Mixed by Craig Leon.
Engineered by Stewart Every, Additionally Stuart Epps, Michael Hunter
Here's kind of a run-down on all the songs and what they're really like:
The Evening Shadows is a psycho song about a little creature that wakes up at night and wreaks havoc. It's a bit like Syd Barret meeting Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds in a dark alley.
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 the new Heads project.
You Dinosaur Thing is a sixties-ish homage to old rockers, about the fashion aspect in music and being past it before you've even got started. Straight ahead rocker, slightly evocative. The riff is somewhere between Free's All Right Now and Smoke on the Water. I wrote the riff on my guitar, but Dave plays it so much better!
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 song turns from ambient to rhythmic.
Cage defies description. It's about waiting for a letter, or for the phone to ring. You'll just have to hear it. It's like something Peter Gabriel would have done seven or eight years ago.
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.
Better Dreams is just voice, string quartet and a sprinkle of ambient guitar and flute. It's about Los Angeles for the first time, how it struck me. I remember getting into an elevator lift and when the doors closed I realised it was just me and Debbie Harry. Then it stopped, she got out and Little Richard stepped in!
Nothing to Declare is all over the place in style. We 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. -H
Hogarth and his band of geniuses hit the road in early February for a little promotional jaunt through the countryside. After a warm-up gig in Oswestry, Shropshire, UK, they travelled to London, Amsterdam, Koln, and Paris-yes a reprise of the Made Again Mini-Tour in a way.
The musicians were the same as on his album: H, David Gregory, Richard Barbieri, Chucho Merchan and Clem Burke, plus Aziz Ibrahim on guitar. The set list for all gigs was:
Intro (Aziz & Rich) * Really Like * You Dinosaur Thing * Cage * Better Dreams * King (the Marillion tune!) * The Evening Shadows * The Deep Water * Nothing to Declare * Until You Fall * break * The Last Thing (bonus cut from the single) * Senses Working Overtime (an XTC number) * Living For the City (an old Stevie Wonder number) * break * reprise of You Dinosaur Thing
"In Koln H played Hollow Man and Easter on his own, before the band rejoined him for Dinosaur Thing. It was spine tingling and everyone, H included, shed tears. Amazing." - Rob Crossland, UK
"They were very well received. After King-which I thought they were very brave to do, but they did wonderfully-someone shouted, 'Better than the original' H laughed and said, 'Ssshhh, they're here!' Indeed a couple of 'em were, and they had to queue to get in! "After the gig I thought it would be a giggle to get Steven Wilson to pose with H for a pic for Fish. Steve W. was there to see his compatriate Richard Barbieri play keys. They both agreed and I sent it up to the big bloke. He has printed it in the latest issue of "The Company'!!!" -Jill Douglas, UK
the web usa
Issue 13 - June '97
Page 44, 45
Oor (Dutch magazine)
H is the most important letter of the alphabet. It stands for Hard and Heavy, for mood and humour, for Hans and for Heuvel. And as of recently also for a solo project by Steve Hogarth's, Marillion's singer, who this time is assisted by new wave aces such as Dave Gregory (XTC), Richard Barbieri (Japan) and Clem Burke (Blondie).
The reason to make H the name of the band is actually a bit simpler. 'H has been my nickname since I started singing for Marillion, to avoid confusion with gitarist Steve Rothery', according to the sympathetic frontman who's hair is in two pigtails for this occasion. 'I didn't want to call this project Steve Hogarth, that was too personal. Everyone will think I made up everything and will immediately link it to Marillion. A band I've inhereted. I didn't have to work for the success, it was thrown into my lap.'
Is that a luxury or a burden ?
'The good thing is that people listen to you. But no matter how much contribute to the music, you never feel equally responsible for the succes. The funny thing is that Dave Gregory wasn't an original XTC member either. Dave joined after two albums when keyboardist Barry Andrews left. And he also still feels like the new guy...'
For an outsider it seems as if Hogarth wanted to finalise the new wave-period he so roughly was pulled away from when he joined Marillion, with producer Craig Leon and musicians from XTC, Japan and Blondie. 'Maybe it's true that I was disoriented when I suddenly joined Marillion, that rockband with a capital R. I'm not one of those stereotyped rock singers, a hairy guy with a Harley Davidson and two grams of cocaine in each nostril who's fooling around with groupies all night long. I was always a bit more experimental, poetic too. I never felt good about cliches, whether it was about music, lyrics or image. I loved artrock bands that followed in the wake of punk, such as Talking Heads. With the exception of Jeff Buckley I haven't heard anything after that, that I found as good. So I picked Craig Leon as producer, who has worked with the Ramones, Blondie, the Bangles and more recently The Fall. Craig is a musicologist. He has a phenomenal memory, he knows who recorded what and can even write out the music for you. Other than that, he also knows how you can make music have the atmosphere of a particular time. His only shortcoming is that his vocabulary is a bit limited. When he likes something, he calls it 'genius'. When he thinks something is bad, it's 'torture'. Those are the only two words he uses to communicate. If a take worked out really well, he'd yell: I scream Genius! That's where the album title came from.'
The main difference between Marillion and H are the keyboards that thanks to Richard Barbieri revert to Japan's 'Tin Drum' period. 'I've always had a lot of respect for Japan, especially for that 'Tin Drum' cd. Richard is the most brilliant programmer I've ever met, a phenomenal talent. He doesn't use samples, but analog synthesizers, which he adjusts throughout the song. His choice for sounds and notes and especially the moment when he plays - or not - is beautiful. Richard adds little spirits, sounds, phantoms....'
That fits perfectly with the opening track:
I've got an animal inside of me, it sleeps during the day...
'I'm talking about a second personality everyone has, that can pop up under certain circumstances. A friend of my wife one day was told by her husband that he had fucked all of her girlfriends. He even gave her a list with all their names. Obviously, that woman was completely stupefied and it ended in a divorce... I didn't understand what made that man do this. First of all that he had fucked all those girlfriends, but especially his desire to inform his wife about it in such a course way, inflicting so much extra pain by making such a list. As if that man had been leading a double life, where the animal inside him got the upper hand.'
But at the same time you also have that animal inside you.
How does that express itself with you?
'All performers have an alter ego, that they send on stage. Even if you're not born with it, you notice that a second 'me' emanates during tours. Because you can never be the same person on stage as in your private life. Because the person that gets on stage, leads a very unnatural life. Observed and perhaps adored by a few thousand people, who all want to hear what he has to say, want to see what he wears and what he does. That can't be the same person as the one at the breakfast table in the morning. There are a few performers for whom it was impossible to seperate those two different personalities. Bowie got into a lot of trouble when he started believing he himself was Ziggy Stardust. He had created all those personalities, to find out that his own psyche began to overlap more and more.'
The average American however seems to be in the showbizz contantly...
'But they pay their price for it. If you take a look at the amount of marriages they terminate, the amount of broken hearts and the amount of psychiatrists they go through as a result, you see the price they have to pay for it.'
You now did this solo project, does that take some steam off the kettle with Marillion ? Are you going to pull them less towards new wave now ?
'Since I've been in the band, I have indeed tried to make the musicians in Marillion step out of their own little world. There is room, because we don't have rules. How that works out is limited by everyone's individual taste and technique. You can't ask people to be different. With a solo album you can build everything from the ground up. You can dive into a lake you've never swom in before. Steve and Ian also participated in solo projects. And the way it looks, it worked out well for all of us. We all came back a bit more relaxed towards the direction of the band. The new cd isn't finished yet, but so far it sounds more acoustic than ever. One of the songs is the most progressive rocksong we've ever written, with huge Mellotron and Moog solos. Oddly enough I was the one who started it. I'm now at a stage where I think it's nice to do something retro-progressive.
Retro-progressive, do you hear what you're saying?'
Hey, most of the bands who call themselves progressive rockbands are exactly the opposite, right ? That's what we've been trying to avoid for the last six years. We've never let us be influenced by 70's prog bands that much. Much more by The Who. Quadrophenia had more influence on Marillion than Genesis. The Who always experimented with chord structures and concept albums. But they've always maintained a certain anger and an egde that I like a lot more than the drowsy mushroom sound of most progbands.'
Steve Hogarth's solo project got a nice aftermath. Because both the album pictures as the video were in the hands of our very own photographer Niels van Iperen.
How on Earth did Hogarth end up with Niels ?
Hogarth: '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...'
Hans van den Heuvel, Oor
-Translated from Dutch by Mark Bredius
XFM in Copenhagen
This is a transcript of an interview I did on friday the 14th of march with Steve Hogarth on XFM in Copenhagen. It contains a lot of interesting stuff about the new album, about Beyond You and about the new tour and why they tour as they do.
Freak Extraordinaire and...
Music Director, XFM, Copenhagen.
Now, this is probably the hardest interview, I'm ever going to do with anyone, I've got Steve Hogarth on the phone
H. Hello and good morning
M. How are you doing, I thought you were in the Bahamas ?
H. (Laughs) News travels fast, doesn't it.
M. Yeah it does,
H. Everyone seems to know more about what I do than myself these days...yeah, I was in Barbados, that was about two weeks ago, no...must have been about a week ago.
M. Must've been nice ?
S. Yeah, it' was very nice actually
M. With the wife, and two kids and everything....
S. Yeah, we were all....they were all remembering who I was, which is, you know....you have to...you have to do that..
M. Well you have been pretty busy, what with your solo album and This Strange Engine coming out...
S. Yeah, it was quite an intense year last year, I spent just about the whole year in the studio, the first six months or so writing and recording the H album Ice Cream Genius, and the second six months or kind of....what was it August we got back together, so the second eight months or seven months, or whatever it was, six months, five months , my mind's a...(laughs). four months, make it four months...writing and recording the Marillion Strange Engine album, and then of course, as soon as we had finished that I was into touring with the H band
M. Which of course never went to Denmark
S. We didn't go anywhere much to be honest, we only did four shows, one in London, one in Milan, one in Paris and one in Amsterdam, but they were terrific shows, it was a great shame i couldn't just have carried on and on, at least done another couple of weeks, that would've been great.
M. I've heard....I've read on the internet on the freaks list, that everyone seemed to like them anyway....I'm not sure if Mark Kelly has told you this, but you're actually talking to the one radio station in Copenhagen that has had You Dinosaur Thing on Rotation for....what is that....two months now, or something ?
S. Oh Really ? Oh, well that's fantastic ! Well Done, I owe you a drink !
M. Well, er....you WILL get a chance to give me one ! That's one thing, but we did actually have, and this is the connection that Mark should have told this in, we did have Ice Cream Genius up for CD of the Week, which meant that one song off it was played once an hour.
S. Oh, that's terrific, I din't know that, I'm glad we did this interview, 'cause I probably never would have found out....
M. well, that's what I meant by this being the hardest interview, I have ever done, because Marillion has been my all-time favorite band for the last six years or so, (fumbles nervously with the words)......I'm probably just as fanatical as every other Freak.
S. Well, that's terrific, It's always nice to hear from people who have, you know really gotten into the band after I joined the band, (laughs) instead of before I joined the band....
M. Well, I knew Marillion, you know I had heard Kayleigh and Incommunicado and all the hits, you know, but it was just around Holidays in Eden that I really caught on.
But that's...we better get on with the questions, we can always sit and chat about how great Marillion is. (should've been are, but I was nervous, OK ?)
M. Why do you think Marillion ('s music) is so addictive, you know every marillion-freak, is really a FREAK as the song goes, it's really....we're really addicted, and when you start to listen to the first couple of albums, and start to get hooked to them, you've just got to have EVERYTHING !
S. Yeah, it's....it's a fantastic feeling for us, we are one of those bands that either people don't like at all, or they absolutely live and breathe, I think it comes partly, I'd like to think it comes partly from the fact, that we've retained complete sort of honesty over the years, we've made the music, created the music and put the music and the words together for what I'd like to think were the right reasons, because there is a tendency towards dishonesty in music, I think artists become very aware of what's going on and you know, where the trends are going. And they kind of sell out or cheapen themselves to be more alike what's going on....er...
M. But that's what you sing about in You Dinosaur Thing, actually ?
S. (doubtish) Yeah....., I mean YDT is also about me really, it's also about me being an old rocker and the horror of that realization..... 'cause I never thought of myself as an old rocker until about a year ago, I was walking down the street and it hit me like a ton of bricks, that I'd become one, somehow, when I wasn't looking.
M. Well, that's funny, Steve, because I remember an interview on the "From Stoke Row to Ipanema" video, where you were talking about you were listening to a lot of the Psychedelic Furs while you were in Brazil, and Psychedelic Furs has had a huge impact on the sound that is today, I think.
S. Yes, I think so too, they were doing it all quite a while ago, weren't they.....but, the reason I was such a big fan of the Psychedelic Furs wasn't just the music,
and the noise and the anarchy of it, and it wasn't just because Richard tends to write good tunes, because years ago, when I was in the Europeans, I did a gig in Munich we did a gig in club where we opened for the Psychelic Furs, and I only saw him very, very briefly, he was walking through our dressing room on the way to the stage, and he was floating, it was like he was walking on tip-toes, grinning like a cheshire cat, and.....I don't know, he seemed like a magical person, it was like he was all full of something, it radiated from him, it was kind of soft, and really you know, full of, full of kind of...........how can I put it...some kind of peculiar, creative, insane love, eehm, and I must have been in the room with him for about two-and-a-half minutes and that was enough, you know, you know and I thought, I'm gonna find out all about what this guy does, because, he's just got something, one of those things you can't quite put your finger on, but it's very spiritual.
M. This is quite funny, actually, because being a musician myself, and being a singer - this is not just to rub your elbows...this is exactly the same experience I had with you, actually.
S. Well, you know, you...you couldn't flatter me more than to say that, I do sort of try to give out some of what is inside me, you know, this isn't just a way of making a living, and it isn't simply an intellectual exercise, and it's certainly not a commercial exercise...
M. Would've been a very bad one at that,
S. (Laughs) Yeah, exactly, yeah. It's to do with, without getting pomps about, it's about having this view of what life should be about, and the way the world ought to be, and just spreading some of that directly.
M. Well, that something, I've really come to love about you and the rest of the band, that you probably have the most involved.....kind of ......you're the one band I know, who are so much involved in your own music that their own, your own feelings really come out, and it's even so, not that I want to delve into that, but there is a song on AOS that you won't even sing live because of its intensity in it's text...or lyrics....
M+S. ...Beyond You...
S. (Laughs mysteriously) It's funny, you should pick that one out....
M. ...But let's not get into that....
S. There is link, actually between Beyond You and Copenhagen..........but I'm not telling you what it is......!
M. Oh, you're horrible !
S. .....(suddenly very serious) but there is one, so it's curious you should pick that one out.
M. It wouldn't have anything to do with a girl called Vibeke would it ?
S. Called who ?
M. Vibeke or VIbeke ?
S. Vibeke........no ? Nice name....
M. It's just a girl I once met who said that she knew you, and stuff.....but anyway...let's talk about the new album, I find it has...Maybe I should say, that the reason I'm not playing any music between our talk here is that I want to get as much talk with you as possible, then I can always edit the music in later....
S. Sure, I can understand that.
M. But the thing is, I think the new album has everything Marillion has ever done in it, It's kind of an amalgamation of all the Marillion eras...?
S. Well, maybe that's....there's a shred of truth of that, because there are a couple of elements in this album, although this album is probably, you know represents another step foward in time for the band or another jump somewhere that the bands never been....there are some avert moments on this album, that take me right back to the beginning, particularly the synthesizer solo in "This Strange Engine", in fact the third section of it, when it goes back to the tom-toms it takes me back to MSH and all of that...
M. Yeah, that's what I thought....
S. So in that sense there are a couple of moments that go all the way back to those roots, I suppose, but at the same time, I think overall, the album is in many ways the most rarified, we've done, certainly the most acoustic, we've done
M. ....mmmm, with songs like A Man of a Thousand Faces and 80 days.
S. Yeah, a lot of the songs were written....you know, came from acoustic jams and so the thing drifted in that direction and a lot of emphasis on acoustic sounds, hammer dulcimers, organ, piano, horns, trumpets, choirs,
M. ...but the horns were artificial, weren't they...?
S. ...and then perhaps in the past....Some of them were, and some of them weren't...
M. The saxophone solo weren't
S. The Sax solo is real of course, it's Phil Todd, the guy who did the sax solo on Berlin, and there are some real trumpets on A Hope for the Future, as well
M. (Laughs) That's funny, actually, because....
S. Which again...getting real trumpets on a Marillion album was something of an achievement ! (Laughs).
M. The funny thing is that on the Freaks list, which, I should tell our listeners is an internet discussion group, discussing all kinds of Marillion stuff, that Mark Kelly writes to, as well. There was this guy who wrote that Mark Played some horns, and probably now he was going to look stupid, because someone would come along and tell him that those were real horns. And it is real horns ?
S. There's certain real trumpets on "Hope for the Future", but there is also a hunting horn/fluegel horn solo on "80 Days" which wasn't real, that was a keyboard thing, a sample.
M. Okay, now we were at the keyboard things, who plays the string arrangements "Memory of Water" ?
S. That was, eeh, that was both of us actually, what happened was.....wooo...(thinks)....it was one of those things, we handed back and to, the idea for MoW came from one of the songwriting sessions for AoS, where Mark was fiddling about with a string sample, and I just got the melody and the idea of it, almost in a flash, I sang it faster than he could move the strings around, and so a lot of what I sang clashed with what he was doing, but once I'd sang it, I kind of had a vision of how the chords should move, and what should happen. So then, I took it away, I actually demoed MoW for a possible track for the H album...
M. Yeah, but you did a similar track called Better Dreams
S. Well, yeah, Better Dreams was a lot more involved, and chordally and tonally a bit more.....But yeah, it was like a cousin in a way in the sense of it being almost a cappella and strings.. I took MoW away and then arranged it, and then Mark took it away, and then he rearranged it, and then he gave it back to me, and I rearranged it again, so we just kept passing it back and to, so it was a fifty-fifty thing, really, I think Mark went away and played it all again, he took the sequence, I'd actually done, he took that away, changed all the actual sounds, to use better string samples, then he brought it back to me, and I removed a bit, and added a bit, we passed back and to.
M. What about the rest of the band ?
S. Well, for that song the rest of the band weren't involved at all I don't think.....?
M. They must have said OK for it or something ?
S. Oh yeah, I think Rothers(Steve Rothery, ed.) liked it, he said he liked it, 'cause at one point, I was saying "Should we put this on ?", and he said "oh yeah, I like it", so...
M. I was actually, let me finish off the album with asking this question : What on earth is that effect that is on your voice in that section in "MoaTF", where the song changes its character, it's like...or is it in the end, I can't remember....where your voice goes into pitch, and then continues, digitally into pitch. What happens ?
S. (Laughs) Oh no, that's on...shit, what's that, yeah that's (sings) "took a leap and I landed on the mooooooooooooon" (goes into a very high pitch)
M. Yeah, exactly.
S. It wasn't an effect actually, it was me just going through into falsetto, and then holding a very high falsetto note, we cross-faded it into, I think it was a Moog synthesizer....cross-faded it into a Moog synthesizer, and because in falsetto, my voice happens to be almost as pure as a sine wave up there, so when we crossed it into the synth, you can't really tell where it crosses,
M. Very clever....
S. Once it had crossed, Mark pushed the pitch way,way,way up, so it just whoooooooip (funny noise, that increases in pitch), So that's what it is, it's not actually an effect, it's a voice cross-fading into a synthesizer.
M. What about your voice, Steve, I've noticed, I've had some singing training, and I've noticed that you have a very good technique, but remember reading somewhere, I think, that you haven't actually had any lessons ?
S. No, I haven't...that's not strictly true, 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.
M. When was this, was this in between the Europeans and How We Live or was it after ?
S. Yeah, somewhere around that time...
M. Well you can hear that, actually, because your singing on the "Dryland" album is absolutely fabulous, whereas your singing on the "Recurring Dreams"-album, which is the last Europeans album, is good, but not that good...?
S. Yeah, but that didn't have much to do with it, because you can't really achieve much from three singing lessons, and the only reason, I had three to be honest, was that I fell a little bit in love with the singing teacher, which was a woman called (Tony Something), who was about 80, and who was absolutely enchanting and after the first time I went, she told me that I didn't really need singing lessons, there wasn't much she could teach me at all, but I could come back if I wanted, so I went back a couple of times purely for the pleasure of being around her, but I've had no kind of tuition at all, I never had piano lessons either, I worked it all for myself. There is no better process of a improving than doing it and touring, and it's the years of touring that has done it, really and purely that.
M. Okay, what about the tour you're going on now, if you're not coming to Denmark, I'll go see you in London, I did that the last time. I was at the London gig at the Forum, which was absolutely great by the way, with Jeff getting married, and everything....
S. (Laughs) Yeah, that was amazing, wasn't it ?
M. Especially because Easter is one of my favorite songs as well as Jeffs as well, anyway you made a big pass around Scandinavia this time....
S. Yeah, well it's nothing personal...
M. It's just funny, because the last time you were in Denmark, you sold out the biggest venue for a band your size...twice !
S. Yeah, but it's actually not enough to be honest, in terms of the money we lose, when we come, it costs us so much more to come there than we earn from being there, and we don't mind losing money to play in certain places, but there's a limit to how much we can afford to lose, and that kind of...in a way that varies depending on the rest of the tour, you know, if we earn a lot of money on the rest of the tour, we can finance the places where we lose money. For instance, you know in the past we've gone into Holland, and and played the Ahoy Sportspalace, which will sell out at about 11500 people, and for one nights work, we come away with, I don't know maybe thirty or forty thousand pounds, and we can then spend that on coming up to Copenhagen or going up to Stockholm and Oslo on the amounts of money we lose to play the clubs up there.
M. Is that why Copenhagen wasn't on the BRAVE-tour schedule at first, but was tagged on at the end ?
S. I honestly don't know, It's a complicated affair, as you can imagine, it's all to do with the money, the confidence of promoters, whether or not the right size venue is actually available you know, at the time we need, and then it's down to how much money we're making elsewhere, how much money we feel we can afford to lose here and there, and of course with this tour, we've taken the decision not to play the Ahoy, which earns us all the money, we're not going to do the one big gig in Holland, we're going to do lots of little gigs, that way we get to more people in the country, and we're doing the same in Germany, where instead of playing two or three big shows we're going to do seven or eight little ones. And so obviously part of that decision means that the money becomes very tight, and we can't afford to go places where we lose a lot.
M. Hmmm, what about the summer festivals, the was some rumours, that you might go to some summer festivals ?
S. Well, we're available, get on the phone, if you can persuade a promoter to....
M. Trust me, I'm doing all I can
S. (Laughs) ...to pay us we certainly have nothing against Scandinavia, it's always lots of fun to come up there to play, it's always lots of fun anyway.
M. You played the Midtfyns Festival in '92, there was a lot of people there, I seem to remember...
S. (slowly, thinking) in 92.....
M. Yeah, the summer of '92
S. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah....I remember that.. that was a funny experience for me actually...
M. Why ?
S. I got locked out of the hotel and had to spend the night in a tent !
M. (Laughing) is that true ? Well you've had the real festival spirit, then !
M. (Here I tell Steve that I'm going to try and get hold of some of the other Marillion-interested people in the press to try and get Marillion back on Midtfyn)
S. Yeah, it sounds like you've got a little bit of a vibe happening there
with the airplay and everything, you know we would be more than happy to come up and do something.
M. (rambles on about Midtfyn)
M. Second, I wanted to ask you about your view on the thing that's happening in the States ? This Collection thing that's going on ?
S. Well, it's incredible isn't it, I think it's a first....I know of no other fanbase who has ever physically clubbed together themselves to finance a band's tour, it's amazing, even if they don't manage to raise enough money to do it, it still will be amazing that they tried, as far as I know a only relatively short time into the process, they already have raised 15.000 dollars, which is a phenomenal really, there are certain people who have pledged as much as 2.000. You know the thought of someone spending 2000 dollar to see his favorite band in a club is praise in the eden, very flattering to point of mindblowing...
M. Well, you know that's what we're like...well the good thing is that the relation ship...you give us back....is this good...I mean I've got a friend who received a postcard from you as a reply to the card she sent you for your birthday, there are not (fumbles again) there are not many artists who would do that !
S. Well, you know, we care...we care. We respect our audience because we respect ourselves. They think they're conning their audience, because what they're doing is not necessarily terribly honest, and if someone buys it, they think they've put one over on'em, you know, that line of reasoning isn't true in our case, we've every reason to respect the people that get into us, because we know they get into us for the right reasons........... But I have to go, I'm being waved at !
M. Well, Steve, thanks for talking to us, I'm hoping to see you in the summer, or else I'll see you in may in britain, (I wrap up)
S. Keep the faith, bye, bye !
Zondagskrant (free Dutch Sunday-newspaper)
Ice Cream Genius's music is totally unreachable for any music-critic who is used to give musicians a certain label. One time H is a real singer/songwriter and the next he's doing some sort of hypnotising technopop. It seems that he's done some stuff he never could do with Marillion. At the time the Dutch knew that H would do a solo-gig in Amsterdam, the Dutch-Marillion-fanclub immediately bought most of the tickets. "Each band gets the fans it deserves", says Hogarth. It seems that the fanatism of the Marillion-fans is every now and then a bit too much, even for Hogarth. But on the other hand, he knows a lot of the fans by name. He remembers a girl named Astrid, who once gave him James Redfield's "The Celestian Promise", in Rotterdam. Hogarth: "Redfield seemed to be inspired by "I will walk on water". I can still remember when I got the inspiration for that song. I was in a bus ans suddenly it started to rain. It seemed like I was lifted by the enormous amount of water. It was almost a supernatural experience. That made me think that there's a lot more between earth and heaven.
With ICG, Hogarth showed us something of all the complex music that circulates in his head. Music you did not expect from Marillion's singer. "My solo-project can't be seen totally apart from Marillion. I just wanted to show that there's more to me. Eventhough I thought that the average Marillion-fan would have had major problems with the album, the opposite is true. They all like it. In my heart I actually hoped that they'd hate it. Because if that happened I could be sure of the fact that my music was something totally different, that it confronted them. I do not want everybody to like whatever I do. Each music-listener should have his or her own opinion. I do not like those who walk along with the crowd. People should not follow what's 'in'."
The fans were really enthousiastic and H got a lot of reactions and opinions from them. But not from 'the boys' (Marillion). "Steve said nothing, but I won't ask him either. Mark told me that he liked some of the songs. Pete likes the whole album. He was the only one who asked me for a copy. But on the other hand, they all have their own solo-projects as well. See, we all wish each other the best on our solo-projects, but not too much, since we do not want Marillion to suffer. But it is not like that the other members of Marillion save all their critics on my solo-album and then sum up a list of all that's on the list. The Police's Stewart Copeland did it when Sting made his first solo-stuff. But he was really disappointed that Sting's solo-carreer made an end to the Police. That should not happen to Marillion. But you can never tell how all will develop in the future. I really do enjoy this solo-trip. One of the things i like is the smaller audiences and the smaller places to play. It is a shame that I cannot tour that long solo, it's costing me money. Four show are costing me 60.000 guilders and I do not make that much money to get it even. If I go on like this, I'd have to sell my home. It's not that I earn that much money with Marillion to finance my own solo-carreer.
Marillion has just finished a new CD, and we'll soon start touring. That's at the end of the summer and after that I can continue with my own solo-carreer. But if that happens, it will be someting totally different. Something with trance-music. I met two guys that make awsome trance-mixes and I'd like to do something with them. It's not the ordinary kind of trance, it's far deeper... E.g., they travel to Africa to record the local-primitive tribes and their music for sampling. The same they do with sounds of Aribien streetmarkets and the like, I love it.
On Marillion's new album TSE there's one song called Estonia and for that one I sampled some underwater-recordings. I always want to stay creative and I always want to be looking for new paths to explore. I do not want to end up like Phil Collins - making records that all sound like each other. Happely enough I can still do what I want with Marillion. We offer each other a lot of freedom. With Marillion I can show that I am a performer. Running down a large stage, interaction with thousands of people in the audience. That's a kick as well."
Zondagskrant, March 9, 1997
-Translated by Remko Zuidgeest from an article in Dutch Sunday-newspaper
Mind Magazine (Dutch magazine)
A bit exhausted from touring intensively, the men from Marillion decided to put in some breathing space. Time for a few odd jobs here and there. Singer Steve Hogarth finally found some time to resurrect an old dream of his, a solo project ("H") and of course an accompanying album CD (" Ice Cream Genius"). Is there trouble in the Marillion household, is Steve not satisfied with the others anymore, do we detect arguments and intrigues ? Curious as ever we travelled to Amsterdam and asked the relaxed and above all very sympathetic frontman for an explanation.
First the question that everyone's been dying to ask: why this solo-project ?
First let me make it absolutely clear that there's nothing wrong with Marillion and that we are in no way fighting or hating eachother. This being said, we can get back to the order of the day: my project "H". As you may already know, I already had some experience before joining one of the most populair British bands. My career started in the post-punk era in the early 80's with The Europeans and later I strolled across a few other musical trails. I was used to use all my ideas.
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. Luckily there was enough interest for my project and the record company gave me the neccesary (financial) space to work some things out.
You got some help from a few well known musicians. How did you end up picking them for your band ?
When I finally got the approval for "H", I started looking for like-minded persons. Dave Gregory from XTC was the first one I looked up. I've known him for quite a while and apart from being fans of eachother's work, we also became good friends. 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. These aren't exactly mainstream bands and that was exactly what I was looking for. 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 was immediately sold. Initially I was thinking about Chris (Fantz) and Tina (Weymouth) of Talking Heads for the rhythm section. They wanted to work with me, but were in the middle of a 'Heads' project. Of course I couldn't wait any longer, so I talked it over with Craig. He introduced me to Clem Burke (ex-Blondie) and jazz bass player Chucho Merchan. They already worked together live with The Eurythmics and liked my experiment. That's how I surrounded myself with a real "supergroup" in a very short period of time.
There are a few very diverse songs on the album itself, that have nothing to do with eachother. As I understood this was exactly the intention ?
Very true, yes. 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.
Is "H" just Steve Hogarth or did the others have some 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. 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. Now all the attention is directed at this album, we're also going to promote it live. By the way, I'm also here in Amsterdam to make a video with Niels van Iperen, someone you might know from his work with Belgian's dEUS. I really won't run out of work.
Do you know what the other band members think of your solo CD ?
Not directly, no. I learned from mutual acquaintances that they're fairly positive about it. It seems there is a little bit of envy and none of the other guys will give their approval or disapproval face to face. Our bass player's wife even thought some of my solo songs were better than anything she's heard from Marillion so far (laughs). I'm afraid things were probably a bit quiet there for a few days. 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.
Meanwhile, a few members of the fanclub are waiting to meet Steve in the hotel's bar. In the elevator, on our way down, Steve says the new Marillion CD is completely finished and that it's one hell of a strong album. Perhaps somewhat different than before but above all a bit heavier. It will be released in April and until then we'll have to make do with all sorts of solo projects by the band members.
Wim Vander Haegen, Mind Magazine, March, 1997
-Translated by Mark Bredius from an article in a Dutch magazine
RockStyle (French magazine)
Steve Hogarth, the highly gifted singer of Marillion is an aside human being. A bit frustrated, a bit depressed and sometimes totally optimistic. An all on edge character, totally unpredictable, but always charming much like his first solo album "Ice Cream Genius", which sounds like a cross between pop and new-wave, closer to his previous work with "How We Live" or "The Europeans" than the music by Marillion ... but still different. It's a sign that this man doesn't hesitate to explore new ways. We are not surprised to discover Steve, at the record company's office, with a "Hard as Love"-like look and his mischievous face for this frank interview.
First of all, 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.
You have deliberately decided not to associate the name of Marillion with your solo project. Your real name doesn't appear at all in the booklet or the credits.
That was done intentionally. I wish to be considered on my own qualities and not as Marillion's singer. The audience must discover this album without prejudices . I didn't want a fluorescent sticker on the CD-box with "H is the solo project of Marillion's singer". This is because Marillion is not MY band, but a band I have joined, not formed, even if today I'm certainly the one who has invested the most in the band. Steve Rothery has made a different choice. He choose to promote the Whishing Tree on the fact that he is the famous guitarist of you-know-what-band (laughs). It's a different choice and I respect it because Steve has known Marillion since the beginning, this is not my experience.
By the way, what does "Ice Cream Genius" exactly mean ?
(laughs) My producer, Craig Leon speaks like a real kid. When he sees something that he likes or find beautiful, it may be a girl, a car, or a song, he only says "genius". On the other hand, when he dislikes something, he shouts "tragic !" all the time. In fact, I believe he only knows these two words (laughs). In the studio, when he discovered a new song, he always found it "genius", sometimes even "Ice Cream Genius". So one day, before he came to the studio, I wrote this expression "Ice Cream Genius" on the album's tape box. Craig found that it was...
Ice Cream Genius ?
Exactly (laughs). As a result, we decided to use it as the album title !
How did you find the musicians who surround you? They come from very diverse horizons.
Richard Barbieri, the keyboard player, has previously worked with David Sylvian in Japan (a band I like very much) and is now the keyboard player of Porcupine Tree, who opened for us during the English "Made Again" tour. I must say that, from all the bands who opened for Marillion, Porcupine Tree is the only one who made me really enthusiastic. I don't mean at all that the others were bad, but Porcupine Tree was really my taste. Clem Burke was Blondie's drummer when they were most popular. I knew Dave Gregory for a long time, we were neighbours when I was in How We Live. As we didn't have so much equipment to work with, we would usually borrow equipement from eachother (with Tears For Fears too). One day, he took my Mellotron, and since then we're good friends. Early '96, I played two or three songs for him and he really liked 'The Cage', so he asked me if he could contribute to the album. He also recommend me Chucho Merchan, ex-bass player of the Eurythmics Revenge Band. He's a very expansive guy, I had seen him in Rio when we toured with Annie Lennox.
The lyrics are probably the most personal you have ever written. Are they really autobiographical ?
I want to tell you a story. One day, in a hotel, I met a girl, a long time friend of mine. During breakfast she told me the strange story of a guy who has slept around with all our common friends over the past two years. One day he made a list of all these women, our friends. The worst was that I knew this guy. It was so unexpected. And I was told of that by his own wife, the person he give the list to... God ! I ran to my bedroom and wrote "The Evening Shadows" in one go (laughs). So I composed this song thinking of this guy, but some passages are clearly autobiographical, confessions. All my lyrics have at least two or even three reading levels. One literal sense and one transcendental sense, even sometimes one alternate sense. These different interpretations are all relevant regarding the song's theme. According to myself, the best lines are those you can understand in several ways. That's why I'm in the habit of lurking behind one of these hidden senses. When hearing a song, you ask "who are you talkin' about ?", you must consider it's part of me and part of other persons.
The music on the album is also very different of the work you have produced with your previous bands "The Europeans" and "How We Live" ?
You made me happy, but I really don't know ! I tried to make something very different, and if you had said it sounds like everything I've done before, I wouldn't be able to show you the opposite ! I really became involved with this album. It's like wearing different clothes, you don't change because of that ! You're still the same. The people you met say you have not changed at all and you think to yourself "shit, I thought I had a different style" (laughs). In any case, my intention was to try and do something different from my previous work. Of course, you can find similities between "the evening shadows" and "hollow man", because it's the same approach, I'm confessing to myself in the same way. It's always possible to make links but it wasn't intentional. I still think this album is different. This is the result I wanted to get with this musicians association. For example, on the rock tracks, Dave's guitar playing and Craig's production are very distant from the ones of the people with whom I had worked before. I wanted a different sound, and I think we got it. The sound is very clear, some tones are very interesting. I really like it. I'm very satisfied with the sound mixing.
Now the album is released, what are you expecting ?
(laughs) What am I expecting ?.... I don't know. I simply expect not to be disappointed. I think that a positive reaction from the musical critics will make me very happy. If the critics find valuable songs within the album, if they find that it's a different but valuable work, then I'll be happy. But, it won't help me sleep ! I don't expect to become #1 in the charts, but if it happens, I promise I will not complain ! (laughs). I believe I'm mature and pragmatic enough today to realize that this album is not Madonna or Oasis or Simply Red. So perhaps my songs will not hit the charts or will not get any radio airplay at all. I don't know that, and to be honest I don't expect to become #1 !
It's a good question really "What are you expecting ?". If the album becomes successful, my life will become a dreadful chaos because I will have to make difficult decisions and also I will have to give much much much energy in return. I know that the chaos will settle down around me. Speaking of my career, of my relations with Marillion and with my family, it will be chaos. So I'm starting to think that success will be the worst thing to happen ! (laughs). But on the other hand, I suppose that being recognized at my real value, for my artistery is close to my heart. It's my big ambition, now and forever. For the moment, I haven't lived this special moment.
As you know, the different members of Marillion have solo or parallel projects. Ian Mosley and Pete Trewavas with Iris. Steve Rothery with The Wishing Tree. As Iris seems to be a "one-off" project, Rothery has recently declared that "The Wishing Tree" will be a long term project. Is it the same with "H" ?
I will be tempted to say "one-off", but 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, I'd rather make a trance album, more 'machines oriented'. I recently met two French trance remixers who are currently working on Jean-Michel Jarre material and also a guy from Liverpool, K Class, who has worked for Whitney Houston and I found a real interest in observing how they are working. It's possible that I'll go this way, but I have no experience, I've never done anything like that, but actually it's very attractive for me. I must go in another direction, otherwise where's the interest ? Furthermore, if I make another record with the same band, it will be like a tradition to become established, an institutionnal thing, unchanging : the H band. Thinking of this, I have done this solo project because Marillion is an institution. When musicians are together in the same band for many years, they become an institution. When you write a song for this band, you write it consciously or unconsciously so as not to disrupt this tradition. Or on the contrary, you try deliberatly to move away from the tradition. That's what we're trying to do with Marillion: always surprise the audience, not to go where people think we are. In a certain extend, it's restful not go into institutions. That's why, if I make another record with "H", I will be very different. But, I haven't played live with the band yet... If on stage, something happen between us, my first thought will be: 'Fuck, we must absolutely make another record together !'. So what else can I say today ?
Did you start the rehearsals ?
We will begin the rehearsals at the end of January, but I have already started to program the machines, trying to remember how I wrote the songs. I spend the last week listening to the album again to adjust all, to rediscover all and also to fax the music scores to the other musicians. Because Chucho is in Colombia, Clem in the States, etc... We must be ready for the five or six gigs we will do in February in several europeans clubs. By the way, we will be at the Divan du Monde in Paris the 10th of February.
Will you perform all the songs of "ICG" on stage ?
Too soon to give an accurate answer, but probably, yes. For the moment I have the idea to perform the whole "Ice Cream Genius", and to play for the encores a song by each band in which we have played. One song by Japan, one song by XTC, etc... This will give cause to split one's sides !
What about the next Marillion album ?
It's already finished and will be called 'Strange Engine'. We finished recording and mixing the songs in november. It has a very progressive song on it, twenty minutes long. In fact, one year ago, I wrote a very long text speaking of my life, of my father, of my first child memories, of the long way 'till today. Very interesting. Prepare yourself to discover the album in April.
RockStyle #19 February/March, 1997
-Translated by Stephane Mayere from an article in a French magazine
IO Pages (Dutch prog magazine)
At first, things were very mysterious. Because who or what was in God's name that "H" I was supposed to interview ? I also asked myself what an 'Ice Cream Genius' was supposed to be. Was I dealing with a famous ice cream manufacturer ? Mister Haägen Danz (famous ice cream brand) himself perhaps ? Soon after it became clear a was singer involved who isn't very unfamiliar in 'our circles'. A singer who managed to produce a very remarkable solo-album, during the break in between albums with 'that' band.
Our meeting was at 1pm and Steve Hogarth just got out of bed. "Bring me the biggest beer available here", is the answer to the question what he wants for breakfast. As the glass touches his lips, Steve starts his story. About H, his solo-album, punk, dressing up parties and how things stand with Marillion.
When Hogarth started the H-project, he thought "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." Deviating from the ordinary. That was the most important factor behind Ice Cream Genius. Hogarth explains. "Doing something other than what I've been doing for the last six years was the basis for this experiment. With my solo-album I'm trying to realize two ambitions: making a totally different album than what people are used from me and working with the most talented people who want to work with me. Moreover - and this I found very important - I also just wanted to have fun. And we really did. Dave Gregory, who used to be in XTC, is an old friend of mine and above all a very good guitarist. Through him, I met producer Craig Leon. You have to know that he is a totally different producer than the one's I've worked with up until now. Also a lot older. He got The Ramones signed up to Sire Records in the late 70's. Besides that, he has produced Blondie and The Bangles in the 80's. He loves to experiment. He also writes ballet music. It surprised me that Craig liked my demo and wanted to work with me. He thought we certainly had some common ground, artistically. Richard Barbieri has been a member of Japan, is now with Porcupine Tree and is of course also known from Jansen & Barbieri. Ik met him when marillion did a gig together with Porcupine Tree. I always loves Japan. Richard is a phenomenal talent. He's a brilliant programmer and doesn't use samples, but he can for instance produce any kind of sound from a Prophet 5. Clem Burke, the drummer, has been with Blondie and bassplayer Chucho Merchan has worked with The Eurythmics. A colorful company.
Most of the musicians on the album have their musical roots in punk or new wave. Does Hogarth have an affinity with that kind of music and/or that period ? "Not much. I find punk schizophrenic. A lot of things happened in the late 70's. That's all for me. The 'punk-effect' on music is very overrated. It got too much exposure and credit. Suddenly, everyone could be in a band; you didn't even have to be good. Punk killed the live music circuit in England. But there were bands that could play very well, like The Clash and The Stranglers. Other bands were asociated with punk, eventhough they absolutely weren't, for instance The Police and Squeeze. The Sex Pistols were more of a pr-idea of Malcolm MacLaren. A lot of shouting the kids could join in with. But punk did express a lot of energy. A band like XTC, who I don't consider to be punk a lot, managed to combine that energy with talent and above all they were ahead of their time. A great band".
Hogarth isn't sure if he's going to make another album with this band. Something he is sure of, is that he's going on tour with the H-project. "I'll see how things go with this band. If things go well, I might continue with them and record a new album next year. I want to experiment some more. Recently, I ran into a trance-mixer who told me he's a big Marillion fan and wants to remix a couple of Marillion songs. I've never been involved with that kind of work. Maybe I'll let him produce my next solo-album. But first we're going to do some shows. It took some time to get everyone together. Except for Dave, everyone's available. Clem seems to be lost in the US; I'm constantly leaving messages on his answering machine, but I think I'll be able to get in touch with him. Chucho is producing an album in Colombia, but sent me a fax that he's in. My fear is, if we'll be able to play the album live. I even have nightmares about it. The album is approximately 48 minutes, but what will we play to fill the show ? I don't know yet. On the other hand, I'm sure not a lot of things can go wrong. When this band jams, they're better than many other bands."
Steve has a very clear answer to the question why he didn't record the album under his own name, but under "H". Didn't he want to asociate it with his own name ? Hogarth: "In fact, I'm not even allowed to use my own name. "H" is my nickname, the crew often uses it. I didn't want to launce myself as a solo-artist as 'the guy who sings for Marillion'. If someone had put a label on my album with that message, I would've been pissed-off. The fans know me better than I do. I'm no longer a secret to them. On the cover of the first single [-ed promo] You Dinosaur Thing I didn't even want to make clear if H was a man or a woman. It has pictures of my feet and my head taken from above. I was in it for the experimenting and the fun. I don't mind if people don't like my album, but I do if they think it's nothing in advance and don't listen to it because of that."
Just like the name of the project, the title also doesn't have a deeper meaning. "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. He called a certain take 'Ice Cream Genius' and I thought that was a catchy title." Speaking of titles: the first single is called You Dinosaur Thing. What's that ? 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. No, not Oasis. 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."
Hogarth wrote most of the songs especially for the H-project, but it also contains a few older compositions. 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. Better Dreams is a poem I wrote long ago: a long story. I could never join the lyrics with music, it's almost rap. I made the grooves decorate the text."
Speaking of decorating: To have as much fun as possible in the studio, Hogarth 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 members of Marillion took some time off to commit themselves to certain projects, solo or together. When members of bands start making solo albums, those bands are blamed of being worn-out. How does Hogarth see this ? Did the rest period make the band stronger ? "Music is business. You sign a record deal and then the viscious circle starts: writing, recording, touring. There's always that pressure. When you've made two or three albums, you need some time off. Working solo means you're more comfortable. Still, the most uncomfortable albums are usually the best ones. Uncomfortable has no influence on the music, but on the musicians. With a solo project you can do something different for a while, or think that it's something different." Hogarth is familiar with the projects of his Marillion-colleages. "I recently heard some of Iris in the tourbus. It reminded me of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. You think it's more Dixie Dregs-like ? That could be, because Ian (Mosley) is a fan of Steve Morse. I find a few pieces of The Wishing Tree very beautiful. Steve (Rothery) loves punky things, but also girls in long dresses, hah hah. I didn't know what kind of influence this rest period would have on Marillion. We got back together in August to work on the new album and frankly I found that this album came about a lot easier than the previous one. Things are looking good."
Ice Cream Genius was announced by the press as "something totally different" than we were used to from Hogarth together with Marillion. Still, the album often resembles the last two Marillion albums, when it comes to atmosphere. "I don't think that's too amazing. Brave is the album that's closest to me: It's a very personal album. It's certainly not the easiest album to listen to. Seventy minutes of continuous music. Who still has seventy minutes these days ? A lot of people thought of Afraid of Sunlight as my album, but that's not true. I certainly feel more relaxed when I sing those more personal songs. It's true that you often have to go through a barrier when you haven't written the song or been involved with it. Still: if I had written Waterloo Sunset, it would've meant as much to me as if I didn't. I'm a singer and sometimes I have more fun singing other people's material. Then you won't have to remember what you were doing when you wrote it. Of course it's true that your own material is more personal. You let your own mind work, your own spirituality."
IO Pages, February, 1997
-Translated from Dutch by Mark Bredius
Music News Network
MNN: What is the significance of the white strings on your fingers?
SH: Right. Well, the significance of the bandages, when I was about 21, (sings) 'it was a very good year,' I had a gig on an ocean liner. One night about three o'clock in the morning, on this ocean liner, 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. (Steve shows us his hand and scars). 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.
MNN: Well, you're very theatrical. Have you ever done any acting?
SH: I did drama at school, I did a bit of mime when I was younger. I haven't really had the opportunity to act in anything outside of our own videos, things that we've done.
MNN: You've got a strong voice, do you do any vocal warm-up before a performance? Have you had any formal vocal training.
SH: I don't do any exercises, but I should. I've never had any vocal or piano lessons. What I do and what I have are a combination of what I've worked out for myself, what goes on inside my brain and the experience having sung for so long and so hard. Every year goes by I know I'm singing a bit better than the year before. It's a really good feeling and that's happened every year of my life since I started singing. I mean, hopefully, if I get up to sing one day and I'm not singing as well as I did last year that would be terribly depressing. That hasn't happened yet; I get better each year. It's purely a combination of caring about it being good, not being careless, and doing it as often as I have to do it. Voice is like any other muscle, it gets fit through use and in my case it gets stronger through use, provided I'm not really stupid with it. The harder I hammer it, the more resillient. Of course, if you overdo it, you can damage something; so far so good.
MNN: Is there anyone you would really like to work with?
SH: 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. I mean everybody says, 'Oh (Marillion's) a progressive band.' Progressive rock doesn't interested me one bit, not one iota. I find it all terribly naive and secondhand for the most part. I'd much rather work with people digging about out in the dark who don't know where they're going rather than people who are busy trying to recreate something retro. I think it's always much more interesting. I have massive respect for David Byrne and what he's always done. I share a birthday with David Byrne, actually. 'Once in a Lifetime' is the story of my life. He wrote the story of my life without even knowing it. (Singing) 'And you might find yourself... this is not my beautiful house...'
MNN: Do you feel flattered that people travel all over the country to see you?
SH: I'm amazed and moved by how far people are willing to travel to see us. I couldn't really conceive of travelling that far to see a band, myself. I've never done it. I'm a musician, so music is very dear to me and when I was younger, there were a lot of musicians I was crazy about, who I'd have crawled over glass to experience. But I never dreamt of travelling massive distances to see a band and I never, ever went up to anyone in my life who was famous and said, 'Hello. I'd just like to say I like your music.'
MNN: Was that a turning point for you? To see that show and think, 'This is something I have to do'?
SH: Yeah, it was a turning point. The first band I ever saw was Deep Purple at Sheffield City Hall. They had an album called Machine Head out. A friend of mine at school lent it to me. I really got into it. I love Ritchy Blackmore's guitar playing. I was never a massive fan of Ian Gillan's singing. I think Ian Gillan's got a lot to answer for, all this (sings) 'Waaaa' stuff which I really don't like and a lot of singers did that afterwards which is a shame. I loved Ian Paice's drumming and Roger Glover's bass playing and of course Jon Lord's Hammond playing. It was just inspirational. I went to see them and I'd never seen a real band before, a serious band. I mean I'd seen bands that are just crap in Doncaster where I lived or in Sheffield. I was just sitting there watching and going, 'Jesus. This is the most exciting thing I've ever seen going on in a room! This is what I should do! What's the point of doing anything else?' That was the point where I decided that I should be performing. I'd already been a singer. I was in a choir when I was a kid. I'd always love to sing, especially on my own in echo-y places. I'd stay behind after school sometimes and sing in the corridors of the empty school to myself for the sheer joy of hearing it. But I never imagined that I would do that until I saw Deep Purple. I just thought, 'Well I can't think of anything anyone could do that is more exciting than this, so I'd be a fool if I didn't do this.' So that is what started me off with this sort of idea of becoming a musician. I persuaded my parents to get me a piano. I started working on it the next day. They got me a piano and I taught myself to play. This is the essence of excellence because this is about belief. It's about commitment, about sensitivity. It's about power. You can't have power without sensitivity. Just as you can't have life without God. You can't have sensitivity without commitment because you have to believe in something to be sensitive. I think Pete Townsend had it. I don't know if he's still got it. He definately had it.
Music News Network
March 1996 supplement, Issue #35-Marillion
Samson All Areas
Just imagine: you're a member of a reasonably succesful band, you sell enough records, you have quite some fans, but you can't use all of your musical talent in that [Marillion's] music. So what do you do? Exactly, you make a CD by yourself. Or, as Steve Hogarth, lead singer of symphonic rock band Marillion, says: 'I wanted to experiment a bit with musicians and music which I'm not commonly associated with. I wanted to discover new musical areas with them for me.'
And so he called people like Dave Gregory, XTC's guitarist, and keyboardist Richard Barbieri, a former Japan member and now in Porcupine Tree. 'I really worked terrific, with my own favourite musicians.' says a satisfied Steve. The CD contains a lot of quiet, synthesizer-oriented tracks, in which Hogarth's voice takes the centre spot. Even more so than with Marillion, he shows himself to be a true singer/songwriter, in the tradition of people like Jackson Brown. Experiments have not been shunned, as is shown by the big input of the Brazilian percussionist Luis Jardim. Often, the music is so unconventional it's hard to classify. The band was called H, the album Ice Cream Genius. Steve: 'When the producer, Craig Leon, really went crazy about something, he used to shout 'I scream genius on that!'. And while thinking about an album title I kind of liked this phonetical word joke.'
To promote the CD, H tours Europe this month, but with what line-up? 'Richard Barbieri will certainly come along, as will Dave Gregory, unless XTC hits the studio again. Should that happen, I'll take Aziz along, a guitarist who also played in The Stone Roses. But I'm quite positive they'll all come along.
No matter what, de Melkweg will be filled with critics and most of all Marillion-fans. Steve doesn't realy mind that. 'As long as they give my solo-album an honest chance.' On the other hand, H also has another, not unimportant, goal, according to Steve: 'I think music lovers should listen well to Marillion, because there are a lot of strange and wrong ideas about our music. I hope that, because of my album, people will also listen better to Marillion.'
Samson All Areas, Februari, 1997
-Translated by Martijn Buijs from an article in a Dutch magazine
webdesign by mark bredius 1997-2018
Big Bang Magazine
Interviewer: Why did you decide to use the name "h" instead of your full name ? Is it a way to differentiate this album from Marillion ?
Steve H: Well, first of all, part of the impetus behind making this album in the first place is that, when you've been in a band for a while, you become self-conscious of the fact that you're part of a tradition. And you become self-conscious of the fact that you have become "the lead singer of Marillion, progressive rock band". And personally, I'm quite uncomfortable with that label, because I feel there's so much more to me than that, there's a lot more going on in my head...
Maybe it should be enough, maybe I have a problem, maybe I'm never satisfied, but I want to be not just that. I want to be seen as someone who is somewhere else too. That's part of it. I think the other part of it is, I'm conscious of having inherited the success of Marillion, I didn't start Marillion. I am not the reason why Marillion became famous and went to the top of the charts. I just kinda joined then, later on. And I'm glad I joined then, that's terrific, because it made me quite famous. But I'm constantly worried by the fact that part of the reason that Marillion sell records has nothing to do with me.
So I mean, maybe after seven years I'm a little over-sensitive. But the fact remains that the success was inherited. I don't want to use that inherited success to promote this album. I want this album to be judged as an unknown, for what it is.
Interviewer: That's taking a big risk...
Steve H: Yes it is, but I'm not as stupid as that (laughs). To be honest, I'm also conscious of the fact that our fan-base is so passionate and so loyal, they knew I was making this record before I made it, right ? So they're gonna know. I could call it anything, they'd go and they'd find it.
It's almost as though, I mean it's an over-simplification but, if this record didn't go into the shops and was only available under a stone in the middle of the countryside, these guys would go and find it, they'd find the stone (laughs)! Of course this is an over-simplification because there are other guys who aren't that passionate and wouldn't bother going to the countryside to find the stone, but... I figured what I'd like to do is, okay, the Marillion fanbase, they know I'm making an album, they know what I'm doing, they're either interested in it or they're not. The other people, the rest of the world, in a way, the more anonymous I am, the better, because they might think "oh, that's an album by that guy from Marillion, I know what that's gonna be like, it's gonna be a lot of progressive rock, or Scottish heavy-metal or... (laughs). And I wouldn't like that. I'd rather that those people listen to this once, and... maybe they wouldn't like it either. But at least they'd have heard it, once, you know.
So that's really the reason, it's a combination of all those feelings... You know, if I'd called it "Steve Hogarth", then everyone would have known straight away. At the point when the album is released it's not so crucial, really. It was at the first stage, when I put out the little promo, the 3-track, which went to media, I wanted that to be anonymous, I wanted that to go to magazines and newspapers with no-one having a focussed idea of who it was. And I went through a lot of trouble with the packaging to be anonymous.
There's nothing on that first thing that even says if it's a boy or a girl, it says "h, vocals and songs", there's a picture of some feet, my feet (laughs), and... there's nothing else, it could be anybody... And it lists the players, because I thought if I listed the players, people might listen to it on that strength, they might go "wooh, this is curious, who's got these guys together ?", because you know it's the guitar player from XTC, the drummer from Blondie, and the keyboard player from Japan, the bass player from Eurythmics and Trevor Horn's percussionist... "fuck, what's this?", you know. And I wanted those people to at least put it on to find out, that was the idea...
Interviewer: Had you been thinking of doing a solo album for a long time? How old are the songs ?
Steve H: 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.
Interviewer: Are there songs on the album that were rejected by Marillion?
Steve H: "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.
And the lyrics for "Better Dreams" I've had for quite a long time. 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 everything being fashionable, about image being everything... So that's quite an old lyric.
Interviewer: To what extent do you consider the songs on the album would not fit in the music of Marillion?
Steve H: I don't really consider they wouldn't fit in... But I don't know, you'd have to ask them... I haven't really talked to them that much about it. I played them the three track sampler, with "You Dinosaur Thing", "Cage" and "Nothing To Declare". And I think Ian liked "Nothing To Declare", he liked the power of it when it all came in, cause you know he likes power, he's a drummer. And... I think Mark quite liked "Cage". Steve Rothery said nothing (smiles). And... Pete likes it a lot, I think Pete likes a lot of it, but he doesn't say much... I think, on an ego level, the whole thing's a bit complicated too. So I don't even want to say : "look, what do you think of my album ?", because if they like it, they're not gonna want to tell me, because of the competition aspect, 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".
Interviewer: Was there any song of which you thought, "I could keep this for Marillion"?
Steve H: No, I'm worried (?) about Marillion when we next get to make a record.
Interviewer: Is that a different writing process?
Steve H: Well, on the whole I start with words, and of course words are words, you can add them on anything... You could add my words on Oasis or... well, I don't wanna get in trouble with certain bands (smiles)... But I tend to start with words on my album always. Some of the songs on this album were poems, they weren't even really... Sometimes I write poems that I'm gonna tear up and move around until they make sense as songs. And sometimes I'm so pleased with them as poems I don't want to alter. This is what happened with "Better Dreams". I don't think "Better Dreams" really works, to be honest, as a "song", and I regret that. But there was no way I was gonna change even one line of it. So "Better Dreams" still works as a poem. And if you could bear to accept it as a poem that is set to music, then it makes sense. But if you think of it as a song, then you could say to me it's too long, it's boring, it goes on and on... and I couldn't argue with you because, you know, you'd have a point. But it had to remain a poem. Whereas... sometimes, you tear them up and you have them make sense as songs.
When I was writing the music, I wasn't thinking about that at all, I had no reason to. If anything, I was writing with a desire for it to be different... certainly a desire to experiment. But if something WAS very different, I would get excited at the fact that it was different, you know... Which is not what Marillion usually do, you know. We jam and if I have an idea that's really different, then they go "oh, you know that's a bit different, er...". And I'm the one who goes, "yeah, isn't it great ?!?"... You know, "Cannibal Surf Babe" from the last album.
Interviewer: That's your song?
Steve H: It's not MY song, but I was the one that went "hey, this is a fucking great thing, let's do it, let's do it !"... You know, there are conservative elements, that's what I call them, within the band, that I fight against all the time to push it where they don't necessarily think, where usually they go "this is not progressive rock, this doesn't sound like Pink Floyd to me, this doesn't sound like Genesis to me...". And so I tend to assume the role of shaking things up.
Interviewer: Do you also have a problem as a singer with having to go through long instrumental sequences, that can be boring ?
Steve H: Oh, that's absolutely not the case, because I'm... a fairly accomplished keyboard player. I was a session keyboard player before. When I joined Marillion, I had a choice. Marillion said, we'd like you to be our lead singer? And Matt Johnson from The The said, I'd like you to come and play piano for me on my next tour? So I was faced with a hard choice of either joining the hippest musician in the world, cause he was at the time, and he was saying, I've just done this album with Johnny Marr etc. And then I got Marillion going, we'd like you to be our singer? ...And I was like wow ! what a fucking decision I have to make, you know, I either join the hippest band in the world, or the least hip band in the world, what should I do? And I joined the least hip band in the world...
Interviewer: Why ? (smile)
Steve H: Why ? Because I met them and I liked them. They weren't what I was expecting, as people. The attitude they had towards the future was fantastic. They just said look, we've heard what you do, we've heard the songs you've written and we love them. And we want to do what we do, and we want you to do what you do.
Interviewer: Are you a progressive rock fan ?
Steve H: No, not since... What was the last progressive rock album I got excited about... ? I think the last progressive rock album that moved me at all was "Close To The Edge" by Yes. I was a big fan of Yes, but I think Yes' best album was "The Yes Album", it was my favourite, because it was raw. And I loved "Nursery Cryme", "Foxtrot", but you know, it was a fucking long time ago...
Interviewer: What is progressive to you today ?
Steve H: Well... Marillion ! Yeah, that's what I'd love to think is progressive rock, in the sense that it's experimental, it doesn't work necessarily with a three-minute format, it's deeper than pop music, and it's not derivative. If progressive is derivative, it's a contradiction in terms.
Interviewer: Do you think "Holidays In Eden" was progressive, for Marillion?
Steve H: Well... I think on the whole it was a pop album. The title track wasn't. For me, the title track was disappointing, cause it was neither one or the other, it fell between the two, it was neither. It wasn't really honest, it wasn't really a pop song. This track and "100 Nights" was probably nearer to being, you know, progressive... I think "Holidays In Eden" was our pop album. I think that's common knowledge.
[note : the interview was interrupted at this point as Steve had to rush to the airport to take his plane back to England... sorry for the abrupt end... as one can imagine, we had plenty of other questions to ask...]
(c) 1997 Big Bang Magazine