Interview date

Octobre 2009




Interview Pete Trewavas

Hello Pete and many thanks for taking the time to respond to the french WebZine

Bonsoir Didier, how are you?

Few questions on the "Happiness is the road" tour as I had the chance to see you in Lyon early February. It was a real pleasure. To you remember that date in Lyon? Because at the end of the show Steve H said "Good Bye Toulouse"? Was this an English joke?

Did he really say "Goodbye Toulouse", oh dear, actually I remember this now, and I remember thinking "Ho, that's not right". We did quite a number of cities in France, Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse I think, and Strasbourg too. I think that he momentarely lost where he was [laught], which is awful to say but...

The thing that comes up when we watch you and the rest of the band on stage is that you are having a lot of fun. Does this reveal a double sense to "Happiness is the road"?

I guess so. For myself, and I think I speak for all of the band, it's good fun on the road. There is nothing better than playing music you have written, to people who love what you do, and are enjoying the music, that's just a fantastic feeling. So happiness definately is the road. That is of course not the true meaning of the title of the album, but I think we all know that.

We really enjoyed you guys playing Easter that night. It was not on your playlist. Steve H insisted by starting the piano intro but Steve R and Mark seemed to hesitate for a while. What happened?

Yes, we were not meant to play it. Mark did'nt have the right sound programmed to handle it, so he wasn't really ready to play it. But he managed to select one of the other songs from "Happiness is the Road" which has kind of a similar sound and go on with it. But it's good not just to have crowd participate, but also for the people to see that you're doing something different for them. People appreciate that. That goes down very well. People like to see that we can react to those responses. So I think that's very cool.

Anyway for me it was a great moment. Some people ask why you don't play anymore songs from the first 4 albums?

Well, actually we do, but we tend to choose our moment. When you are on tour with a double album of great new material, it's not necessary the time to start looking back that far, you know. I know sometimes people would like to hear us play some of the older songs, and I think that's probably a reflection because we don't play them that often, then when we do, we get an enormous reaction. And then that sometimes kind of puts us off from wanting to play them, because people sometimes reads too much into all of that kind of things. The reason why we are on tour with "Happiness is the road" is to promote "Happiness if the road" not to try and promote the first 4 albums, they kind of promote themselves very well as they are really.

So you keep these for the Marillion Week Ends?

At the week ends we have more freedom to do that kind of things. And you know, we are very lucky, and quite often play in France, and that's good. Because frankly we love France. France is a great place to tour and a great place to visit. France is a lovely, lovely country, great food, great weather. There are certain places where don't get to play a lot, or in fact ever. And sometimes we will vary a show for those reasons. For example in the next leg of the tour we are going to the Baltic countries and we may well play one or two older songs there. I'm a bit tired after the first leg of the tour, sorry, but now that I think about it, for the last night of the first leg of the tour we played in a city called Oberhausen, in Germany, and we played Sugar Mice there, so yes, you know we do sometimes play them.

Few words about the album "Happiness is the road". I inititally had a hard time getting into it. But after the concert somehow it all suddenly made sense and now I love it. Even songs that you didn't play live. How can this be?

Yes, ... well, no I can't really [lol], but once you see the band live it kind of make more sense. And I don't understand it always. Because I guess there is a bit more explanations about the songs, I guess you can see what we are doing musically, what we are doing lyrically with the songs. It kind of comes accross a bit more. It beats me, because there no real viable reason for it. I would have assumed normally it kind of makes more sense the otherway. But it's good, it shows that our live performance is in good light really.

How did the "Happiness is the Road" did, commercially? Compared to others?

It's hard to know these days, you know with illegal downloads and legal downloads, there are plenty of people buying stuff on iTunes or from Amazon or what have you, and it takes a bit longer to get all the information together. I think it did ok for us. There is a story to tell, with something we did with a company called MusicLoo where we put the album out onto torrent sites, for people to download for free with a special attachment which had a little video clip of us telling people a little bit about what we do and why we do it, and asking people to consider, if they liked the album, donating some money, and some people did, some people bought it, there was an option to buy it and there was an option also to go to our web site and look at the concert tickets and what else we were doing, and the tour sold very well so in some respects, that little experiment worked quite well. In other respects it didn't deter people from downloading it for free. But you know, you are never going to do that. Once something like that has started it's going to be impossible to shut that door. We all know the internet, so we all know you can find things that you want without paying for them if you want to.

It's good that you bring that up, because Marillion does seem to do a good job at using technology to communicate with fans and sale music to them, while most of the rest of the industry continues to resist to the adoption of those technologies and just complains about them?

We communicate with our fans very freely and allow them to communicate with us which is great, it's worked very well for us. You can't put your head in the sand and say it's going to go away, or try to legislate against it because I don't know how you do on a global scale, so what we tried to do, is to keep people enlightened about what we do and why we are doing it. I think the more people hear your music, the more people will get into your music. I think it's always going to be the case. So people being able to get stuff for free, is not necessarely such a bad idea. Years and years ago, a band called Grateful Dead, you probably know, used to allow people to bootleg there gigs, and they had a special area where people could just go if they wanted to record shows for their own use or for whatever use, and they became so popular because of that. They had lots of people going to their shows and a lot of their concerts became legendary as people finds out about them.

I got myself a copy of the Lyon concert only a few days after the show from your web site. What a great idea! Was this a commercial success as well?

Yes that worked quite well so far. We did it on the last tour, we were surprised how well they worked actually. We are doing it on the "Less is More" tour as well. And it doesn't just allow people that went to concerts to see us, but for example the "Less is More " tour, is not going to get to America and so Americans can get a chance to hear the concerts.

Let's talk about the "Less is More" album now. How did you come up with the idea of "Less is More"?

Well the idea has been around for a while actually. I guess the very first time we discussed an acoustic album was when we did a show called "Unplugged at The Walls". To cut a long story short, we played two shows in a very nice restaurant in a little town called Oswestry. And we didn't have our equipment with us. We were actually working in a studio in that town. And this restauranter offered us two shows, he said "I'll feed you for the week, if you do a show at the end of it". And we did. And he fed us fantastically because he is a great chef, but the concert was really, really succesful, we had people from all over the world flying in for the concert. Absolutely true. And we recorded it and it became quite a succesful Racket Records release, and it still sells really well today. So we kind of knew that there was an element of our fan base that really enjoyed acoustic stuff. And then since then we have done another show at a brewery in the midlands at Bass Brewery where they make Bass Ale. Steve, Steve and myself also have done various shows where we just go out with a couple of guitars and a piano to do acoustic versions of the songs. After the "Happiness is the Road" album, you know, that was an immense album to write and to record, and we came back off the tour, and, I think probably just before the tour was about to commence we mentally decided that we wanted to have a little break from writing. And we though what we could do is just go back in the studio and have some fun with some existing songs of ours. So we made a short list, over a couple of weeks, of songs that we thought we could do interesting versions of, acoustically. At the same time we decided that we would really embrace the acousticness of the album not just do strum along versions of our easier acoustic songs. And we would actually look at a few songs and radically change them and bring in lots of real instruments. We wanted to use real instruments wherever possible. And we did. We used piano, we used a thing called dulcitone, which is like a piano but the hammers strike tuning forks, we used hammered dulcimer, we used glockenspiel and xylophones, an harmonium and a real church organ. We used as many real instruments as we could. And Steve Rothery used a thing called a portuguese guitar which is half way between a guitar and a cythar really, and it looks amazing, and sounds very different to a guitar and is tuned in a completely different way. I used the xylophone, I play bass guitar and acoustic guitar as well. But I played an acoustic bass guitar, which looks like a big 6 strings guitar, with a long neck and it sounds a little bit like a double bass which is very handy because I cannot really play double bass but I've got the same kind of textures and the same kind of feel with this acoustic bass so...

In "Wrapped Up in Time", the solo guitar is electric isn't it?

Yes we did use a little bit of electric guitars.

It might seem like an easier thing in the beginning, no new lyrics, little drums, but is it really in the end?

In terms of not having to compose new music, yes it was easier. Because we were half way to where we would want to be with an album : we had the songs. What we wanted to do is rearrange them in really interesting ways, and we spent about a week demoing lots of different songs and some songs worked better than others. And we've simply chosen the songs that worked well. For example something like "Interior Lulu", where we completely changed the instrumentation and I played the bass line on xylophone. And we shorten a lot of sections, because it sort of made sense to do that. I think these songs have an intimacy that the originals don't have, because there is less instruments going on, there is less noise for the vocals to fight. That means that the meaning of the songs and the lyrics comes accross much more clearly.

Yes that's what I wrote in my review, Steve H is a lot more exposed in this release, he is a bit naked in most of the songs

I think it's good, I think it's nice for people to see that side of us. For a change.

There is one new song "It's not your fault", which seems more like a Steve H solo song as it's only him and his piano isn't?

Yes it's just Steve doing piano and voice

The "Less Is More" tour starts only a few month after the end of the previous one. With the "Less Is More"  album released less than a year after "Happiness Is The Road". Things are accelerating for you guys?

It's good actually, very nice. We have done the first leg, and we have got two more legs to do, we do the Baltic and Scandinavian parts of the world, and then we also go to Italy and Spain. So we go from freezing cold in Norway to boiling hot in Spain, so that'll be good for a cold.

And so the supporting tour is purely acoustic?

Yes it is.

Do you play smaller venues than usual because if this?

Yes we did. What we are trying to do is to play in unusual venues. We were schedule to play in a church in Rome but we could not get the license to play there so we had to move that, but a lot of the shows are in small theaters. Two of the concerts are in caves. There is a cave in England that has its own amphiteather inside the cave and we are going to play there, in a place called Cornwall. And there is another cave where we are going to play, but I forgot where. We picked unusual and nice places, because it's an acoustic show, and it it would not work in a rock club and it would not work in a big place. It works with a more intimate audience.

Did you add other songs than the ones on the "Less Is More" album that you play acoustic?

We are playing the whole of the album for one hour, then we come off stage for 15mn and have an intermission and then we play for another hour some old favorites. So far we have played Beautiful, Cover My Eyes, a very nice version of Easter and a few other things as well.

Tell us a bit about this new Transatlantic album?

It's going to be released on friday in Germany, and monday in the rest of Europe. I think it's a very good album, a very strong album, it's very very Transatlantic, so I think if people liked that kind of things, so it's definetely an album they would want to buy. I always enjoy working with Neal, Roine and Mike. Mike is a fantastic drummer as we all know. There is a lot of good feelings amongst the four of us, particularly now, after having a bit of time away. It's nice to have got back, and had a blast at doing a new album.

Do you think there is going to be some touring with the guys?

Well there is talk of us may be doing a few shows in America. Whether that would be possible for us to then bring the tour to Europe is hard to know, really. Because we all have very busy lives outside of Transatlantic and I'm due to be writing most of next year with Marillion and if the writing goes well then we will start recording so that lives very little time, so I guess we have to wait and see.

Any other solo work going on in Marillion?

At the moment no, although I am working with a good friend of mine called Robin Bolt who played at the last Marillion Convention with me. We did an acoustic thing with 2 acoustic guitars and we are hoping to do an album together. Whether that would be fully acoustic we are not sure yet. Also I'm supposed to be doing an album with Kino, when I get time, that's the project with John Mitchell from Arena and John Beck from It Bites. I'm a busy man.

Are you aware of the small french tribute band to Marillion called Made Again?

Yes I have heard about them through the french fan club actually.

Thank you very much for your time Pete

Thanks Didier, bye bye