Richard Barbieri/Steve Hogarth interview

Interviews with the band and ex-members

Richard Barbieri/Steve Hogarth interview

Postby inkinthewell on Tue May 20, 2014 12:00 pm

Interview from the march 2014 issue of The Web UK Magazine:

With the Arc Light EP not long released as the follow up to their debut album Not The Weapon But The Hand, Andy Rotherham wanted to get under the skin of the beast to find out how the collaboration worked, why their gigs were pulled and whether they fancied pulling the h-Band out of retirement.

Andy Rotherham: When did you become aware of each other’s work?

Steve Hogarth: I became aware of Richard’s work with the Tin Drum album really, and most notably with the single Ghosts. I had never heard synthesizers sound like that before. It was 1981 and I was touring with The Europeans. Tin Drum and A Walk Across The Rooftops by The Blue Nile were our most listened to albums whilst travelling, They were both albums which concentrated on the importance of the choice of sounds, and the space to hear these sounds. For me, Japan were re-inventing themselves and, along with The Blue Nile, were re-inventing how contemporary music could be played.

Richard Barbieri: I first heard Marillion in Steven Wilson’s car. The Afraid Of Sunlight album. I loved it.

SH: I believe the first time I met Richard was when he came to play on the Ice Cream Genius album. I asked him if he could make a synthesized gong which turned into a jet-engine for the beginning of Nothing To Declare. It took him about two minutes. I could tell then that he was a phenomenal programmer as well as an outstanding musical talent.

RB: Steve was just about to start recording sessions for his solo album Ice Cream Genius and was interested in Steven Wilson producing the record and also me playing synthesizers on it. I’d listened to some demos and Steven had and it sounded quite varied and interesting to me. So I met him at lunch one day with Steven. In the end, Steven actually ended up producing a Fish solo album instead. During the recording sessions we just hit off and have been close ever since.

AR: What is it about the other that makes you work with each other?

RB: I’ve always loved his voice and particularly the delivery of vocals, it’s all emotion. Lyrically, well I think he’s right up there with the very best. He respects and values the space in music and this is a really important part of our work together. Not many musicians seem to have this ability. He is very inventive with arrangements and I guess he often makes sense of my rather abstract ideas. He’s turned a lot of “lost causes” into triumphs. :)

SH: Richard’s music resonates with my soul. There’s something so evocative about his musical and sonic choices. So much of it is moody and pictorial and it gives me a lot of scope to find a lyric which I can marry to it. I find his music very easy to work with because it gives me so much emotional information in the first place. We are very different people and yet I think that, on some other level, we are long-lost brothers somehow.

AR: Arc Light has a very different feel to Not The Weapon But The Hand. In fact at least three of the tracks feel more like a h-Band album. How did this EP develop that way?

RB: Probably Intergalactic and Oil are more dynamic and have a band feel, especially with Aziz on guitars, but I think the other 3 tracks are much in keeping with the flavour of the album, quite personal and introspective pieces. The EP developed overtime in a casual way. We already had Work as a last minute possibility for the album and Steve had Oil pretty much completed a long time ago. I just kept sending over rough ideas to Steve with no pressure or time scale to work on them. I think the EP is a nice companion to the album in style but I feel the next time we write together we’ll be looking at a different sound and vibe which will be a challenge.

SH: Oil is the odd one out, having been ‘composed’ and assembled originally by me - words and music - and then Richard made a contribution to it, along with Aziz and Dal. Unsurprisingly then, there’s an h-Band feel to it. The other songs were written with the same process as Not The Weapon, i.e. Richard sent me music and I married words to his music whilst editing his arrangement to suit the lyric. Any change in character of these is probably simply down to chance and the passing of time…

AR: Can you tell us what went wrong with your gig plans and if there is a chance that we will see you both play this material live in the future?

RB: We needed to have decent pre-sales since the promoters were offering us guaranteed fees but advance ticket sales weren’t good. When Marillion or Porcupine Tree announce a show it sells out pretty quickly but in our case I think people weren’t in a rush to buy tickets. Maybe they were going to show up on the night or possibly wait untile we did a show and see what the set list was like. Anyway it became too much of a gamble with a lot of money at stake, so we cancelled. Of course we could’ve done this in a very stripped down form with a couple of musicians and a lot of the music running on backing tracks but we really wanted to present this sonically complex material in the best way possible. In hindsight, we were maybe too ambitious with it. We did actually get to perform Red Kite and Naked with a large group of fantastic musicians in Sweden recently at the IB EXPO and that was a taste of how good these shows would’ve been.

SH: Yes, if anything, the Swedish experience made the cancellation of the HB tour even more painful! It was a window into what might have been (although I know in my bones that the tour would have gone way beyond what we achieved in Sweden). As Richard said, it was only ‘a taste’ of what could have been an extraordinary project musically and spiritually.

AR: Have you thought of playing any of the Marillion Weekends together?

RB: We haven’t discussed this. I guess the same problem arises as to how many musicians we could bring in for this. Rehearsing and preparing for one show requires as much expense as for a tour. So probably a stripped down version of songs would have to be the way to go.

SH: I have been putting off asking the band for a spot because I personally think that the weekends should see me directing all my energies to Marillion. I know Pete Trewavas and now Steve Rothery are looking to do solo spots at the weekends so perhaps there’s a precedent for me to do something without appearing to be hijacking the weekend for my own egoistic gains. As Richard points out - it’s an awful lot of work to put a band together for one show, but perhaps we can do something simpler at some point.

AR: Has the incredible response to Steve Rothery’s Kickstarter sparked any thoughts in you to go down the same route, whether to finance more music or even a tour?

RB: Maybe that would have been a good option for the tour. It’s certainly something worth considering in the future. Possibly even for solo albums. Having said that, I don’t think I can count on the same love and support from the PT fans as Steve Rothery has with the Marillion fan base. :)

SH: it might be worth us trying a ‘sponsored’ tour. It would be good to know in advance that we had enough money to make the thing happen. Last year’s cancellation, as well as being a huge let-down, also represented a considerable waste of time spent planning and preparing for it.

AR: What are the chances of seeing or hearing the h-Band together again?

RB: It’s all about schedules really. There aren’t many periods when we all have the time for something like this but I’d love it to happen at some point and maybe combine h-Band and HB material which would dynamically work really well in a live context. Need you there though to stop me falling out of dressing room windows. :)

SH: It’s tricky finding the time for solo tours and, having found the perfect window last year, well we weren’t able to “fall out of it”. The time-window may present itself in the future, but we may well all have bus-passes by then.

AR: How much input do the members of your own bands have into your solo material? Do they offer suggestions? What about Mike Hunter?

RB: There’s no input whatsoever from any band members on each other’s solo works. The whole point of solo albums is to do exactly what you want and invariably it’s music that is far removed from your own band’s sound and style. Maybe someone features as a guest on a track or two but under the direction of the solo artist. It’s different with Mike Hunter. I’ll certainly ask his opinion and I’m up for any ideas he might have. our album was the first time I’d properly worked with him. he’s very polite and diplomatic and doesn’t always offer suggestions unless pushed a bit. So I made a point of letting him know that I’d welcome any comments. He has a wide musical knowledge and it was a joy to work with him.

SH: Yes. Mike’s someone whose expertise and taste I respect. Always good to have him checking out the overall sound before we go to manufacture.

AR: Does working together re-vitalise you for writing, recording or playing live with your main bands?

RB: Any creative work with musicians gives me inspiration and once in that mode, I just want to continue it whether it be touring, performing or writing in the studio. It’s like a drug for me but unfortunately there are too many inevitable breaks between projects so you lose the momentum and creative energy. I can work on material at home but the real joy for me has always been collaborative projects.

SH: Well, a “change is as good as a rest” and I never get to rest much without the fans offering me solo gigs and asking why the h-Band hasn’t got back together etc. The creative process always benefits from new perspectives. Working with different people can be a ‘pressure release’ valve, an opportunity to exploit ideas which don’t blossom within Marillion and to nurture ideas which have hitherto not worked. ‘Playing away’ can also serve as a reminder to me of the strengths of the musicians in Marillion. So it’s a way of pushing the ‘reset’ button on taking other people’s talent for granted - something you can naturally do if you work with the same people year after year.
Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans - JL 1940-1980
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Re: Richard Barbieri/Steve Hogarth interview

Postby Quiet Visitor on Tue May 20, 2014 2:32 pm

Thanks for posting this.
I've got a rather strange relation with Steve Hogarth's music. As a lover of the music of the first incarnations of Marillion (so with Fish) I had very much trouble with Hogarth when he joined the band. So, there're not so very much Marillion-albums with Steve I own. Yet, when he started working with Richard, I loved the music he made. I guess I don't like his voice in a more progressive rock-vein.
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Re: Richard Barbieri/Steve Hogarth interview

Postby Blemished on Tue May 20, 2014 3:22 pm

Great interview - thanks for posting :D

Hope you don't mind, but moved this into interview section - nice to keep them all together I think

Cheers

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Re: Richard Barbieri/Steve Hogarth interview

Postby inkinthewell on Wed May 21, 2014 4:19 pm

Quiet Visitor wrote:As a lover of the music of the first incarnations of Marillion (so with Fish) I had very much trouble with Hogarth when he joined the band.

Give this a try.
Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans - JL 1940-1980
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Re: Richard Barbieri/Steve Hogarth interview

Postby Quiet Visitor on Thu May 22, 2014 1:44 pm

inkinthewell wrote:
Quiet Visitor wrote:As a lover of the music of the first incarnations of Marillion (so with Fish) I had very much trouble with Hogarth when he joined the band.

Give this a try.


Thanks. Well, I must add to my post that I hear all Marillion's new music, because I co-produce a weekly progressive rock radio-program with a couple of friends and those friends are all hugh Marillion-fans!
Brave and Marbles are two of the albums I like with Hogarth, while there are also individual songs I appreciate. It's just that I loved that emotional, raw talent of Fish, who put his whole heart into the songs.
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