"Brave Hearts Collection" magazine interview with Allen Walker.

How did you hear about the Tribute project?
I came to know about the project through the Marillion website. I read about it in late April '98 but the website said the submission deadline was January '98. Though at this point it was past deadline, I really wanted to get a hold of Jon Epstein, the original Executive Producer, to see if it was too late to submit a demo. After getting the OK from Jon we had a demo sent to him in three days. At that point the demo sat in a box for seven months...and I was so worried about being past deadline.

Why did you decide to contribute a track?
I really admire Marillion's songwriting and musicianship. They're always evolving their sound, but somehow they are able to maintain a consistent signature in their music. I thought it would be great to pay tribute to a band that we respect very much. After being on the "receiving" end for so long, I thought it was time to return the favor. It's rare for a fan to get an opportunity like this.

Why did you choose this particular Marillion track?
I knew I wanted to represent the music from Steve Hogarth's era. I love the focus and emotional intimacy he brings to Marillion's writing. That "whittled" the song catalogue down by half. I'd considered "Runaway" [audio clip], "Alone Again in the Lap of Luxury", "Made Again", and "Out of this World" [audio clip]. Because of its simplicity, we submitted a demo of "Runaway" first, since it was the easiest to produce. The urgency of getting our foot in the door was made more so by virtue of me finding out about the project a month past the original deadline. If we were chosen to contribute to the project there would be better chance of choosing a different song later.

I knew "Out of this World" would be the best song for us to record. Afraid of Sunlight is one of my favorite albums, and it best represents And Again's style. In addition, I thought by reinterpreting it to be about the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, we could pay tribute to both Marillion and the Challenger crew. Though I did have more creative interpretations for other songs, OOTW represents an ethereal quality in Marillion's music that I thought should be represented on the album. And when Gina Achord said she wished someone would do OOTW, I said "That's the one I want to do!"

Before ever knowing who the song was written for, I knew what the song was trying to say. The song was written about the speed king Donald Campbell, whose attempt at breaking the World Speed Record on water cost him his life. But when I heard the song I always thought of the Challenger disaster. Regardless of who it was written for, the message remains the same. It's about the spirit of pushing the envelope, and the loved ones whom must endure the experience and are left behind when it ends in tragedy.

When deciding the production direction, I chose to reinterpret the song's meaning rather than change the structure and ethereal quality of the song. To accomplish this I used keyboard and guitar sounds that were crystalline in sound and used audio segments from the Space Shuttle.

And to further reinforce the meaning I changed the first and third line of the opening lyric. The dialogue and audio recordings from the Space Shuttle alter who the song is about, without changing the general meaning. Marillion's use of sampled dialogue has always helped make their songs more "visual". The song's original structure fits perfectly with the new subject matter and audio samples.

  • Beginning chord repetition represents the almost routine precision during count-down.
  • Lift off sequence: The lyric "things fly" ties in perfectly with the lift-off dialogue. The sound of the rocket taking flight fades into the guitars opening note. (Steve Rothery's original solo is as integral to the song as the vocal melody. A perfect example of why a great melody blows away speed playing any day. Listen to David Gilmour's solo on Pink Floyd's "Time" and you'll know exactly what I mean).
  • The middle vocal section ends leaving the listener suspended during the Shuttle's final moments.
  • The last section's ethereal quality ends with Ronald Reagan's speech which sums up the songs title.
  • Overall, the song starts very heavy and low, then gets lighter at the end, analogous to the ship's flight.

Are you happy with the way it's turned out?
I think it turned out great. Gina Achord was an absolute joy to work with. She was very professional and persevered when others would have given up! You never know what you're going to get when being part of a various artist CD. You do your thing and trust everyone else to do their thing. On the critical side, the CD does seem a little guitar heavy. Aside from Accelerated Decrepitude's song, the CD doesn't make much of a keyboard statement, which I think is such an integral part of Marillion's sound. Need those synths!

Regarding the charity. When Gina mentioned having difficulties with whom to give the charitable donation, I'd recommended Interplast. Interplast is an organization of doctors and nurses who donate their time travelling to third-world countries performing free reconstructive surgery on children. A very good friend of mine, James Kikoshima, is a photographer who documents many of these trips. His photographs have always touched me, depicting a very caring and selfless group of people. There have been a few documentaries about Interplast, one of which won an Academy Award.