They’re Neil from The Young Ones’ favourite band. They were responsible for the sudden upsurge of new-born girls named Kayleigh in the late eighties. And the mere mention of their name conjures up images of Fish aka Derek Dick enduring heartbreak on the streets of Berlin.
Do you remember...? Marillion? No doubt you do. However, the neo-prog band are a lot more than those three memories.
Back in 1997, they pioneered the web-music revolution; cutting out the middle-man, they proved a band could run independently out with the record company, and established the much-heralded pre-sale campaign (funding tours, albums, conventions) that ensured a closer, productive link with their fans.
As guitarist, Steve Rothery suggests, if they didn’t have their fans’ support, there might not be a Marillion at all.
“Our fans are very passionate, and for them it’s more than just about the music. We have regular conventions where the fans get to meet and hang out with the band, and they fly in from all over the world to attend.
“A good few years ago, 13,000 of them came forward to help launch a fan-funded album, an idea that is fairly commonplace amongst bands today. It’s allowed us to continue making albums and function as a band. At first, the record industry didn’t really know what to make of it. Look at it now, though, record shops are going out of business and YouTube is considered the most popular method for people to find out about new music.
“Using the Internet has been a form of gentle evolution.”
Formed in Buckinghamshire in 1979, despite being renowned as a cult band, Marillion never cared for music fashion trends – they have 12 Top 40 singles to their credit and are now working on their 17th studio album.
As anyone familiar with their work will attest, every album is a stark contrast to their previous effort.
“Our current album runs at around 73 minutes, so there’s a lot of music on there, it’s very smooth, very atmospheric,” says Rothery.
“Thing is, we’re all trying to record it whilst on the road. I record my parts on my laptop, Steve Hogarth lays down the vocals and Mark Kelly does the same with the keyboards, before uploading it all onto Dropbox (a large file sharing facility) where our producer Mike Hunter picks it all up. The chemistry in the band is great and there’s a great determination to get it as perfect as possible.”
Currently on a world tour, the five-piece come to the HMV Picture House on Tuesday.
“A wonderful place with lots of great memories,” says Rothery when asked about playing the Capital over the years.
Of course, it would be churlish not to ask Rothery about his visit to Edinburgh without asking ‘the Fish’ question.
As most will know, Fish was Marillion’s singer up until 1988. Leaving to forge a solo career, his large shoes have been filled by Steve Hogarth ever since. A brief reunion did take place at Aylesbury’s Market square in August 2007. However, when asked if Fish might make an appearance at the HMV Picture House, Rothey’s response is swift.
“He might well come along. But he’ll not be singing any songs with us.”
• Marillion, HMV Picture House, Lothian Road, Tuesday, 7pm, £25, 0131-221 2280 / www.venues.meanfiddler.com/hmv-picture-house/home