Interview: Marillion Guitarist Steven Rothery

Steven Rothery
Wishing Tree
Steve Rothery Band
By: Joseph Suto


Marillion last played a show in Buffalo in June of 1990. They finally returned this past Thursday and put on a show that will not be forgotten anytime soon. We were fortunate to sit down and talk with guitarist Steve Rothery who has been with the band since day one.

RSC: Welcome to Buffalo!

Steven Rothery: Thank you

RSC: You are one cruise and 4 shows into this short USA run of dates. How has it been so far?

SR: Amazing. Really good, I think probably the most positive reaction we ever had on an American tour so far. Some of the shows are a little bit out of the way, like the last show in Greensburg yeah but very good.

Rsc: What was it like playing Cruise to the Edge with all those artists such as Steve Hackett and Yes?

SR: It’s fun. It’s such a surreal experience really. So many prog fans in one place kind of warps the fabric of reality a little bit. It’s really cool. Everywhere you walk on the boat you hear interesting music so it’s good. Good experience.

RSC: You recently recorded a new version of The GTR song When The Heart Rules the Mind. How did that come about?

SR: Well Steve recorded it. I just made a few noises when I went down to his house one day on the recording. It was fun to do. Steve’s a really good friend of mine. We worked on some original music together which will hopefully see the light of day, some point in the future.

RSC: Do you have any plans for another Wishing Tree or solo album in the near future?

SR: I’ve got various plans. The album with Steve Hackett hopefully, the next Steve Rothery band album. I’m also working on another album that’s like an instrumental space themed album. I’ve been kicking around the idea for a while now and of course we are writing the next Marillion album as well.

RSC: The sound of the band and your playing style has changed so much from the early days. Is there anything you don’t like to play anymore or something you wish you could play more often? Is that kind of the idea with your solo gigs?

SR: I play a lot of the early Marillion stuff with my solo gigs so a lot of those songs I wouldn’t otherwise get to do like “Incubus” and “Chelsea Monday”. So it’s a lot of fun to be able to go back and revisit those. I wrote the majority of music in the early days so I feel perfectly justified and go back and play them, people seem to love it, I think my band do the songs justice. It’s kind of like a celebration really, when I play live the first half off of the set is the instrumental and The Ghosts of Pripyot album and the second half is a selection of mainly old but not always old Marillion songs.

RSC: Up until about 1997, “Incommunicado” always seemed to be a major song in your setlists. It seemed to be one of those songs that would stay in the set forever. However; since that time, it has only been played at conventions mainly. Did you guys fall out of favor with it?

SR: Exactly just too many other albums. We’ve got a lot of great music to choose from. When you tour your usually promoting your last album so that forms the basis of most of what your going to do. There’s no reason to fixate on any one song really.

RSC: How do you do guys go about on trying to agree on a setlist?

SR: It takes a while. We try and vary as much as possible because obviously we have toured for a long, long time and we don’t just want to play the obvious songs all the time but then again you don’t want to just play the really obscure songs. It’s finding the right balance. We come up with a setlist and we’ll try out the first three or four shows and maybe start to change it or swap songs out or alternate songs if we are playing in a couple of cities that are geographically close. Many fans travelling to both shows we try and give them a slightly different set even if only its two or three songs that are different.

RSC: That being said you must be coming out of ideas for the Weekend Conventions, you’ve done most of the albums?

SR: We’ve done a lot of them we’re doing Happiness is the Road I think at the next convention. That’s one of the albums we’ll be doing. It seems to come together and to have such an incredible experience for the hardcore fans. I think for a lot of them it’s the social aspect as much as what the band play you know. Have these amazing gatherings of 3000 of the most dedicated fans from around the world especially the one in Port Zealand in the Netherlands. They really just create something very, very unique and special.

RSC: Has Marillion recorded their signature song yet…if so what song do you feel it is and why?

SR: So many signature songs really. For me the song that probably encapsulates what I think what’s great about Marillion is “The Great Escape”. It has all the elements lyrically, musically in attempt what I do, it’s something I’m very happy with. It’s kind of got everything that makes what we do special I think.

RSC: It has been 28 years since you last played Buffalo, that may well be a record between shows by an artist/ band in Buffalo’s history. You did play here a few times in the 80s including a memorable show opening for Rush in 86, and an extremely hot day at an outdoor show at Rally In The Alley. do you have any memories from playing here in the past?

SR: I remember that gig. The buttons on the keyboards started to melt it was so ridiculously hot. We have had some great shows here over the years. Sorry it has taken us 28 years to get back. Hopefully it won’t be 28 years til the next time.

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About Joseph Suto

Location: Buffalo, NY Photographer/Reviewer
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