"Brave Hearts Collection" magazine interview with
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"
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
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.
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