Fear Nothing: Steve Hogarth looks back on Marillion's busy year
Steve Hogarth looks back over a busy and successful 2017 for Marillion – prog veterans now – and forward to another year of fearlessly exploring new horizons and also visiting familiar ground
Marillion frontman Steve Hogarth has just returned from the band’s mini-tour of Japan. He might be approaching his 30th year with them, but neither are showing signs of slowing down. And this despite 2017 seeing them still basking in the afterglow of their 2016 album Fuck Everyone And Run (F E A R), play a prestigious gig at London’s Royal Albert Hall and run their biannual Marillion Weekend. As for 2018, it looks similarly busy, with a Cruise To The Edge followed by tours of the US, UK and Scandinavia, plus talk of a Greek amphitheatre show. Then there’s the next album to start. But first there’s an interview with Classic Rock. “It’s a bit early in the day for rock’n’roll,” Hogarth says, laughing. “But let’s press on.”
How was Japan?
We haven’t been since we played the Brave album there in ninety-four, so we didn’t know what to expect, but the gigs were sold out. The audiences are very interesting. They sit and clap politely for the first three songs and by the end they’re up on their feet, cheering. The thing I noticed with the Japanese that’s a bit eccentric is you get a handful who come to the hotel and they’ll wait for you all night, and they’re still there in the morning. It’s only in Japan where you can get up at four a.m. and go down to reception and they’re sitting there.
Marillion always inspired devotion – well, that and critical dislike – but Fuck Everyone And Run (F E A R) has made people take Marillion very seriously.
Well, I’ve been taking them seriously all along [laughs]. I can’t speak for the rest of the band.
Have there been any examples of strange fandom this year?
I did run into a bloke in a hotel in Montreal. I told him what I did, and he went, “Oh god, not you lot!” Turns out he’d just written a thesis on Marillion’s crowd-funding business model for the final year of his degree in Economics at Oxford. I was just flattered that Oxford University had put us on their map. That felt like official recognition. That and The Guardian five-star review [for F E A R_] felt like a vindication of the last 25 years’ struggle. It was a pretty fearsome process making _F E A R, to be honest, I was quite nervous about reactions. Because it’s a protest record, and I’m having a go in no uncertain terms. I thought it might be greeted with a yawn: “Oh god, get off your bloody soap-box, Hogarth.” So the response was a huge relief.