'Raw' Magazine

20th September 1989



Marillion : Back in Business

by Dave Dickson

...New vocalist Steve Hogarth appears to have slotted neatly into the ranks, and with a new single and album under their belts and a December tour to follow, spirits in the camp are both high and hopeful.

But just who is Steve Hogarth? And has he made a difference to the Marillion sound? Answers to follow...

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...The search for a replacement was not going to be easy. Indeed, it took six months, several auditions and a multitude of discarded demo tapes before Marillion approached Steve Hogarth, former keyboard player with The Europeans, to fill Fish's not inconsiderable shoes.

Another six months on, and Marillion are set to release their fifth studio album 'Season's End', before embarking on a Europeans and UK tour to take them up to Christmas... While Hogarth's vocals may not carry the stamp of individuality that Fish's did, they are patently more melodic. His voice appears to embrace the Marillion sound, which in itself has not changed. It is evidently a beneficial marriage.

But who IS Steve Hogarth ?

Well, he was born in Kendal, in the Lake District, where the mint-cake comes from, before being transplanted to Doncaster as his father searched for work. His early life and school career seem devoid of any musical leanings. He left school with a physics A Level to attend Trent Polytechnic and study Electrical Engineering before gaining employment as a design engineer working on control systems. And, in "In amongst all that I once sold fruit and veg on a stall in a market and dug holes in the road for six months laying cables."

While this proved an education, entertainment was found elsewhere, playing in a series of amateur bands in workingmen's clubs. Around the age of seven, Hogarth remembers discovering The Beatles and later The Kinks and The Rolling Stones. As he moved into adolescence, "I got into Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. Purple were the first band I ever saw, at Sheffield City Hall. And I think it was seeing them that took me from being an ardent lover of Rock music to seriously wanting to be in a band..."

Ambition defined, Hogarth persuaded his parents to buy him a piano - "I've got a strangely shaped body" he confesses, "put a guitar on me and it just looks wrong" - and he set about teaching himself to play. So by day he was designing industrial motors for a Doncaster company, by night playing keyboards - "badly, I was really awful then! - in a band called Harlow, as well as writing material.

Bitten by the bug, Hogarth eventually decided he was not cut out for a career in Electrics and quit his job, moving to the metropolis in search of fame and fortune. He found Shepperton - where he lived with his girlfriend - and work as a graphic artist - "Which is a laugh since I can't draw to save my life" - instead. Answering an ad for a keyboard player, he signed up with a band called 'Motion Pictures', who were later to become The Europeans. His dual existence continued, only now he was a graphic artist by day and rehearsing in Chelsea by night - "It was cheaper at night."





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The rehearsal studio was run by a deranged alcoholic who would introduce the band to his non-existent cats, who all had military ranks; he was always on the point of jumping on a plane bound for Nepal in search of his estranged wife, and he never paid his electricity bills...

"We were actually there when the Electricity Board finally pulled the fuses on him. It was underground and you had to go down in an electric lift. We could get out up the fire escape, but it wasn't wide enough to get any of the gear out. So we tried persuade the Electricity Board to restore the power for half-an-hour so we could remove our stuff. We begged them to turn the power back on, but they simply said "NO!" It just shows how unpleasant and uncompromising they can be.

The Europeans survived this trauma, however, and went on to record three albums for A&M, 'Vocabulary' and 'Live' in 1983, which featured occasional vocal appearances by Hogarth, and 'Recurring Dreams' the following year, on which half the songs are topped by Hogarth's lead vocals. But all was not well...

"There were heavy political problems with A&M. We'd just finished our second studio album - which is actually very good - and the day we released it, the Managing Director resigned. After that, A&M just stopped for about 6 months. The A&R department was fired and the whole company completely cleared out. No-one could spend any money at that point, but because The Europeans hadn't made a lot of money we were depending solely on the record company to function, financially. So we negotiated a release from A&M. We tried for new deal but we couldn't get one anywhere."

Hence, the band fragmented leaving massive debts in their wake. Hogarth and guitarist Colin Woore, who had already been writing new songs together, then formed a new band called How We Live and signed to CBS, releasing an album in Spring 1986. There followed, "A lot of trouble, really. I though we made a good album but we got in to a conflict with the MD and, for some reason, I don't think he wanted it happen with us."

And it didn't. How We Live were dropped. The pair continued to write for a bout a year, but Hogarth confesses "My heart was no longer in it." He considered giving it all up and around Christmas 1988 began phoning his contacts in the industry to discover one last project then might appeal. But...


"Trying to get any sense out of anyone in the business in Christmas week is pointless, they're all too drunk! But they started phoning me back in the New Year, offering me a bizarre variey of jobs, including one as the maintenance man at the Eurythmics' studio. And then Marillion's manager John Arnison phoned me up because my publisher had sent him a tape of my music..."

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"... Hogarth appeared at a pre-arranged audition conducted in Pete's Trewavas' garage, sang one of the songs complete with John Helmer's lyrics, 'King of Sunset Town', and 'everything clicked.' For Hogarth, who had previously sung his own lyrics exclusively, this might have presented a problem, but he is quick to deflect such notions. "The boys in the band just said 'Here's some lyrics, sing them the way you feel them. If you have a problem we won't use them. It's not like you've got to do this..."


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