Marillion are back in the North-East this month. Mick Burgess catches up with singer Steve Hogarth.

This tour is something of a double anniversary. The 30th anniversary of you joining the band and the 40th anniversary of Marillion forming. It`s going to be quite a celebration?

Within the band we don`t tend to really notice those landmarks, they tend to drift by us. It`s usually down to other people to point them out. I guess it`s quite an achievement to still be together with this line-up that`s been together since I joined the band in 1989.

Is this going to be a celebration of your time in the band focussing more on those albums you recorded or is it encompassing the whole 40 years of the band?

We`ll be looking at the songs that we feel work best with the extra players and the classical element. We`ve just released an album Marillion With Friends From The Orchestra and all of those songs are from 1989 onwards. The oldest song is Season`s End. In the past we used synths and samples to get those sounds on that song so it`s great to use real strings on stage for this tour. There`s nothing quite like the real thing. Michael Hunter has worked on the arrangements and put it all together. It sounds fantastic.

You’re playing some wonderful halls on this tour including The Sage up in Gateshead. Were these venues picked especially for their acoustics and general ambience to fit the more orchestral arrangements of your songs on this tour?

That was something we were bearing in mind. We were looking at those specific halls that have a history of being designed for Classical music even though we are a Rock band. They are beautiful venues. I really enjoyed The Sage last time. It`s a lovely venue, it`s very woody.

Going back 30 years, you first played in Newcastle with Marillion at the City Hall on the Season`s End tour. How did it feel to be playing a such a prestigious venue back then?

It was fantastic for me. It was a major leg up as the only times I`d played in halls like that was as the opening act so to be at the front in the middle headlining was a great privilege. To be welcomed so warmly by Marillion`s fanbase night after night was incredible. I didn`t know what to expect when we went out on the road. When I met the band, we had an obvious chemistry and made Season`s End and we enjoyed that whole process but going out on the road was where it suddenly leapt into my face what I`d taken on. I`d be facing thousands of die-hard fans and I wondered what they made of me. That was scary but I needn`t have been frightened as I was received so warmly. They`d wait three songs to weigh me up and then you`d see this wave of relief going through the crowd.

Season`s End was such an important album for you to make to hit the ground running. What was the writing and recording process like?

There was a rush of creativity. We went away to a residential studio in Brighton and spent a couple of weeks day and night together and wrote the Season`s End album really quickly.

30 years and 14 studio albums later, here we are. How does it all feel now looking back on those tentative early days?

It was always very positive. There was nothing uptight about the situation. We recorded Season`s End very easily. The tough one was Holidays In Eden that came after it. The band had no musical ideas at the start of the process so we started from zero. For Holidays In Eden we had nothing and we needed to define who we were going to be. We were feeling our way forward with that. EMI were keen for us to encourage the Pop sensibilities that I had but the rest of the band were scared of that. There was a lot of pushing and pulling with Chris Neil producing who was more at the Pop end of things.

Your last album F.E.A.R was a Top 5 album and your highest charting album since Clutching At Straws in 1987. Could you have ever imagined when you first joined the band that not only would you still be singing in Marillion 30 years later but having one of your most successful albums?

I didn`t think I`d be alive this long let alone still be in the band. You just never know where your life is going. Life is what happens when you are making other plans and that is so true. I`m really fortunate to be still in this amazing band with this complete freedom to go anywhere we like musically and creatively and also to be happy and healthy with a great family around me. I pinch myself most days.

Talking of albums, it`s been 3 years since F.E.A.R came out. How far are you on with the follow up?

It`s very much in the embryonic stages. We have been touring a lot since then and we don`t tend to write on the road and then we had the Marillion Conventions that take a massive amount of time to prepare for. We were also very quietly and in secret making the Marillion With Friends From The Orchestra record at Real World studios in Bath at the back end of last year. I did some work with Trevor Horn as well and toured with him that was great fun and a great privilege.

What are your plans for the rest of the year and into 2020?

There`s no shows planned for next year as we`ll be working on the new album with the exception of the Cruise To The Edge in March but that will only take us out for a week so unless the Sultan of Oman offers us a million to do his birthday party we`ll be in the studio working on the new record.

  • Marillion with Friends from the Orchestra, The Sage, Gateshead, Wednesday, November 13. Go to or call the box office on 0191 443 4661 for tickets.
  • The new album Marillion With Friends From The Orchestra is out on November 29.