In 2019 Marillion celebrate their 40th anniversary. And also the second incarnation of the band celebrates a round anniversary: "Seasons End", the first album with the new frontman Steve Hogarth, was released on September 25th, 1989 and was the starting signal for the eventful second life of a band that many had already written off at that time. In addition, an extensive box will be released dedicated to the "Afraid Of Sunlight" album, which in turn is about to celebrate its 25th birthday. So there are enough reasons to dedicate yourself intensively to the history of this unique band. On the one hand, we want to pay tribute to Marillion's improbable career, but on the other hand we also want to take a special look at the turbulent phase of reorientation and the fixed star "Seasons End". For this purpose we spoke with the two singers as well as with guitarist and founding member Steve Rothery about one of the most fascinating bands in the world and their 40-year history.
If you're seen wearing a Marillion shirt these days or mention the band's name in conversations with people who aren't so familiar with the progressive music scene, the question inevitably comes up: "Does it still exist? They're the ones with 'Kayleigh'!" Which again proves two things: First, that the band has been under the radar of the mainstream for more than thirty years. And secondly, that the name is still present, precisely because of this one world hit. "I sometimes meet young women named Kayleigh," laughs Fish. "And I'll say, 'You know what? "You were named after a song I wrote! And yet the song has little to do with what Marillion stood for in the 1980s. But I still think it's great."
Founded in 1979 by drummer Mick Pointer and guitarist Steve Rothery, the band only got going when in January 1981 the giant Scottish Derek William Dick joined the band and under the pseudonym Fish contributed his poetic lyrics to a sound that was actually completely out of fashion. "But we have found a gap", remembers guitarist Steve Rothery. "The younger siblings of the punk and new wave fans wanted to discover something of their own, and if heavy metal wasn't their thing, they were in good hands with us and bands like Pallas, Twelfth Night or Pendragon." Marillion recognized the audience's need for the music of their 70s heroes like Genesis or Yes and worked hard to perfect their sound. Mick Pointer, the founder of the band, had to give way because they thought his drumming was just not good enough. "With 'Garden Party' we were suddenly in the mainstream", reports Rothery, "and from then on it was a continuous way up." With the single "Kayleigh" and the successful album "Misplaced Childhood" came the international breakthrough, and suddenly a flawless Neoprog band and their theatrical singer had become pop stars.
Fish leaving territorial waters
But the fame increasingly alienated the musicians from their frontman. Who was to blame for what - whether it was Fish's arrogance and delusions of grandeur that broke the band up, or the unwillingness of the four rather introverted musicians to carry on the difficult character of their extroverted and drinkable frontman - has been the subject of numerous rock legends to this day. The fact is that "Clutching At Straws" (1987) became the last studio album of the quintet in this line-up. Although Marillion continued to fill large halls, Fish wrote a letter to his colleagues and the band manager explaining his reasons for not wanting to be part of the group. The result: Fish went into a fight, then radio silence prevailed for years, but
what followed is an even less likely story. Soon Marillion had found a new singer with Steve Hogarth. He had previously played in the only moderately successful bands How We Live and Europeans and was not well known to many experts. But in the thirty years since the release of the Hogarth debut "Seasons End", Marillion have shown new musical and commercial ways, have constantly evolved and always dared new things. The band moved away from traditional prog and developed an increasingly jam-based composition style that made the songs more open and epic. Above all, however, she never shut herself off from current influences; that sometimes went wrong, but mostly worked perfectly.