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25th July 2010
METAL DISCOVERY: You're touring with Deep Purple later this year. You must be excited.
PETE TREWAVAS: I'm really excited! When I was growing up, Purple were huge back then. 'Machine Head' and 'Made in Japan' albums were classic albums from my youth so I'm looking forward to that very much.
(Pete Trewavas on selecting material for inclusion on a Marillion album)
"We throw away 90% of what we do and keep that good 10%."
Marillion - uncredited promo shot, 2009
Photograph supplied by, and used with permission from, Lucy Jordache
Interview by Elena Francis
MD: Marillion don't support bands very much, do they?
PT: No. That's going to be hard for us. Funnily enough, I was talking to Mike Portnoy because Dream Theater finished supporting Iron Maiden and I was saying "How did it go?" and he said "The concerts were huge and it was good because of that but we didn't like being a support band because you get all the restraints put on you," and it will be the same with Marillion. We're used to having our own way in everything that we do and being told when we're gonna go on stage and when we're gonna go off stage and how much equipment we can use and how much of the PA we can use and all that stuff..."you've got those lights there and we've got the rest of it." That's always going to happen and it's frustrating.
MD: But it's Deep Purple!
PT: Yeah, exactly.
MD: I'm sure you're going to be very happy.
PT: Yeah, I'm sure I'll watch all the shows.
MD: You said earlier you had ideas for the new Marillion album. What can we expect to hear?
PT: At the moment, we've got some interesting musical stuff that we're doing and we've got a few songs. It's very early days. We've just got sketches of ideas that could be developed but good stuff. We throw away 90% of what we do and keep that good 10%.
MD: Do you have any expectations of roughly when it could be released?
PT: We were hoping it could be released early next year but we havenít started recording yet so it probably won't. So it'll be when it will be.
MD: Hopefully sometime next year.
PT: Yeah, sometime next year.
MD: How did the show with Transatlantic go yesterday?
PT: Good.
MD: There seemed to be a bit of a slow start at the beginning.
PT: Yeah, Asia were overrunning a bit. The trouble with Transatlantic is that there's so much equipment. There's so many instruments that we all play. Daniel [Gildenlow], he's a hired hand but he plays like six different instruments on stage and we all sing as well so there's a lot of stuff to check when we're all on stage and it was nice to see so many people. It was quite a crowd.
MD: You thought the show went smoothly and you brought Steve Hackett on stage.
PT: Yeah, I thought the show went well and it was lovely playing with Steve Hackett on stage. He's a lovely man and a great guitar player. When I was growing up, when I was learning to play bass, I was a huge Genesis fan. 'Genesis Live' actually was one of my favourite albums of that era. I used to listen to Yes and that stuff and all sorts of other stuff as well. I always seem to talk about the progressive music I listen to. The truth is I used to listen to everything. I'm a huge pop fan. I love pop music. There's nothing better than a good pop song, in my opinion. The ultimate aim is to write a great pop song really because it can appeal to everybody on every level but I used to listen to a lot of progressive rock because it was interesting to learn to play to and challenging. 'Return of the Giant Hogweed' was a song that I used to play along to so playing on stage with Steve Hackett's guitar sound was amazing. I was back in my bedroom [laughs] all those years ago playing along to the records. It was brilliant.
MD: The whole Transatlantic tour seems to have been great. Well, the London date was.
PT: Yeah, it was really well received. In the past, we've done some touring but it's always been a few days here and there and we've never really been that well rehearsed and not that well received, to be honest. But with this album, it seems to have taken on. The potential has finally been shown.
MD: You taped the London show for the DVD. Why did you choose London from all the dates?
PT: The two main options were London and Tilburg and we'd already done a DVD in Tilburg so I suggested we tape Shepherd's Bush because it's a lovely theatre, it's a nice looking place, so that's what we did. It cost a fortune though! They charge you for everything you do in that place. If you want to record it, it's extra. If you want to film it, it's loads more and then you've got to get the right grants from the local council and anything you do in London costs a fortune but it's gonna be worth it. I've seen some of the footage and it just looks amazing. We chose one of the later [shows] because we were more played in.
MD: Exactly. How does Transatlantic work when you're writing the music because you all have your own bands obviously?
PT: Mike [Portnoy] doesn't really write as such. He just comes up with ideas and he's more the man with the plan. What actually happens is Neal [Morse], myself and Roine [Stolt] write stuff for Transatlantic. When I realised we were gonna be doing this, six or seven months from when we were due to do the recording, I was with Marillion and I was sketching ideas for a twenty minute or half an hour piece of music that I thought could either be used as a whole or bits of it could be taken. Neal had written a piece called 'The Whirlwind'. Roine writes music all day every day so he already had about twenty songs that he presented to us but, in reality, he probably had hundreds of other things at home that he could just say "I've got this, I've got that." We all sent each other our ideas and Mike said that we would just cherry-pick. Although Neal had the song called 'The Whirlwind', all we did was scrap that as a whole and took basic song elements. The first main theme that we play, I came up with, followed by one of Neal's ideas, followed by Roine's guitar. Drummers are good at finding out what should be happening because, tempo-wise, they've got a good idea of what should be going on in the music. He was heavily involved in the arranging of it all and putting it together. We went to Nashville to Neal's studio and we spent a day arranging it, spent a day demoing it and we spent four days recording it. We recorded all the drums and the bass and sketched parts for all the other instruments in four days and we did the bonus discs as well all at the same time. The thing with Transatlantic is that we have very little time so preparation before hand is everything.
MD: So is this the last thing Transatlantic will be doing for a while?
PT: I guess so, yeah. We were talking about that yesterday in another interview and I think probably, in an ideal world, we'll have a rest in four or five years. In reality, I think Mike will be too busy and I think I will be too busy. Even doing something like this, I have to take time out of my schedule because I have to prepare for this, just going through 'The Whirlwind' just to make sure going on stage, I didn't make a complete fool of myself. The other thing with Transatlantic is that we're never short on ideas. Even if we went to a studio and we weren't prepared in advance, we'd still have ideas. Neal would say "we could start with this." We've always got music constantly going on in our heads. We're never short on what to do and when to do it.
MD: Do you ever feel you have to restrict influences from your own bands because you don't want Transatlantic to do another Marillion album?
PT: Yeah, I do try to partition what I'm doing and who I'm doing it with. If I've got free time at home, I've got a computer with music software on it and I tinker around and I think they'd be good for Kino, because I was in a band called Kino with John Mitchell and John Beck as well. We did an album with Inside Out and we're talking about doing another album, so I'm thinking these ideas are good for Kino or I have ideas to present to Marillion. But Marillion like to jam altogether in the studio and that's the luxury we have because we've got our own studio. I like to bounce ideas off other musicians. And then I have other things where I say "That sounds proggy. I'll save it for Transatlantic," and I'll have some chords where I can imagine Roine soloing on top of it so I keep things in partitions.
MD: Do you have any final words you'd like to say?
PT: I'd like to say that I hope people like what I do in Marillion and Transatlantic. It's great to suddenly be a bit more popular [laughs]! Thank you for taking the time.
MD: Thank you for your time!
Marillion Official Website:
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Script for a Jester's Tear (1983)
Fugazi (1984)
Studio Albums
Misplaced Childhood (1985)
Clutching at Straws (1987)
Thanks to Lucy Jordache for arranging the interview.
Seasons End (1989)
Holidays in Eden (1991)
Brave (1994)
Afraid of Sunlight (1995)
This Strange Engine (1997)
Radiation (1998)
Marillion.com (1999)
Anoraknophobia (2001)
Marbles (2004)
Somewhere Else (2007)
Happiness is the Road (2008)
Less Is More (2009)