Interview with Pete Trewavas

It has been the fourth time when the Polish festival Legends of Rock took place. This year the organizers decided to invite a band which has won hearts of thousands of Polish fans. No wonder as each of their concerts is a masterpiece and every new album is awaited impatiently. In a beautiful scenery of Dolina Charlotty, Marillion filled the whole amphitheatre with audience. The night air was saturated with true magic that created a unique atmosphere of enchantment and made everyone present there feel that they were  taking part in something profound. Before the concert began, right after the rehearsal, the bassist Pete Trewavas, agreed to answer a few questions concerning his work, experience and life in an exclusive interview for Opinia.

Why did you decide to record „Less Is More” that consists of previously released songs but in different versions? I bet lots of your fans were waiting for something brand new.

PT: There are lots of reasons why we decided to do that. Primarily, we wanted to give ourselves some space between writing the next album because we’ve been perpetually on this treadmill of writing the album, recording an album, going on tour with an album and straight away going back in the studio to write the next album. After Marbles, „Happiness Is The Road and „Somewhere Else in the middle, we’d written lot of songs for those three albums and we felt we needed a break and Steve [Hogarth] needed to get some inspiration for new lyrical ideas. We thought a good way of being able to give ourselves a bit of a break and have fun with the music was go back and visit some of our favourite songs and do them acoustically. That came about because quite often we are asked to do little fanclub conventions or various smaller concerts that we don’t feel we can do as a band so we do them acoustically. We’ve done a few shows acoustically as a whole band, and we’ve done some other shows where it’s just three of us: Steve [Hogarth], Steve [Rothery] and myself. That’s all gone down very well as well as some live recordings of us. There’s a couple of albums of us notoriously. „Unplugged at the Walls is quite a popular around there with our fans. So we thought: „Why don’t we go in a studio and do a proper studio album of acoustic songs? But then we were talking to our producer Mike Hunter about it and he said: „Well, if you’re going to do this, you should do it properly acoustic and should use acoustic instruments.  We wanted to rearrange the songs, some of the songs we completely rewritten to fit that genre and style. So we only recorded on acoustic instruments. I learnt to play the glockenspiel, Mark learnt to play the  autoharp, we were using bongos and all kinds of interesting instruments. Steve Rothery was using the Portuguese guitar, Ian was using so interesting percussion that we wouldn’t normally get to play around with. And it was a huge success as an album. It’s gone down very well.

Yes, congratulations on that.Pete Trewavas photo by Bert Treep

PT: Thank you.

Apart from Marillion, you take part in other project like Kino and Transatlantic. What do you find in those bands that you can’t have with Marillion

PT: It’s nice to have sort of a break from Marillion. Marillion is a fantastic thing. We’re all very proud of Marillion, we’re very conscious of how good Marillion is and what a great experience we have. And the fans are just fantastic and our audience is an amazing. We appreciate that immensely. But sometimes it’s very easy when you’ve been together for so many years to take everything for granted and it’s good to get away, do other things. Particularly with Transatlantic, I get to play with some quite formidable players and just get to a have bit of fun with music. And it’s not too serious. The thing about side project is that they’re a bit of fun away from your job. But obviously, I love music. It sounds cliché, but music was my first love and anything I would want to do in life, I’d want to involve music. So, it’s great to be able to get away, do things that I can just have fun with, but also involve music. It’s a good experience for me to stretch myself sometimes and do things I wouldn’t necessarily get to do. On the last Transatlantic album, „The Whirlwind, there’s some fast playing that I wouldn’t normally get around to doing in Marillion because it’s a completely different sort of project. It’s a project where there’re four soloists. It’s like The Who, where we can all just solo and play to our heart’s content, whereas in Marillion it’s more about getting song across. So in Marillion you play what is required and anything else just sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s good fun to be able to stretch and do other things.

Do you think the other projects somehow influence the stuff you do with Marillion?

PT: They not necessarily influence my playing in Marillion, but I get a lot out of them. One thing that I have noticed with playing „The Whirlwind live with Transatlantic was that I had to do a lot of rehearsing because there’s a lot of fast, riffy playing. It’s not what comes naturally to me, so I rehearsed a lot. Since I was also doing stuff with Marillion, that meant that in the end I was playing for about seven or eight hours a day which I don’t normally get to do. That’s what normally professional violinists do. And I noticed that my playing got a lot better. And I was a bit more prolific with my execution. I’ve taken it on board and thought I should do more practising at home, just keep my fingers nimble. So I’m going to do that. It also means that obviously you’re seen in a slightly different light so sometimes it helps you to be able to get your point across. But it’s satisfying for me to know that I’ve achieved something else as well; there’s another thing I’ve ticked off my list of a few more things and to have a few more experiences in life. That’s what it’s all about. I’m at the age where I’ve done a lot of touring – I’m a very fortunate person. For anybody who’s at the stage this weekend and anyone in this business is in a unique situation because they’ve managed to achieved their goals in life. They’ve managed to do that thing that is so rare. Lots of people want to be footballers or airline pilots or musicians and hardly any of us get to do that. And it’s nice for me at my age now to be able to sit back and reflect on that a bit more and think „Oh, this is great. I’m doing things now because I want to do them and I want to take away the experiences. I don’t do it because I think „Oh, I’ve got to do that because it’ll enhance my career! I’ve had a great career in music and I’ve done lots of things and I’ve ticked lots of boxes, I’ve had number one album success, I’ve got singles success, I’ve got gold discs, so I’ve done it really. So it’s nice to be able to be a bit more relaxed about it.

Being active in all sorts of media usually goes together with small or big compromises and there’s nothing wrong in it – it’s that sort of business. But is there anything you would never agree to?

PT: I’d never play naked [laugh]. There are a few things I wouldn’t do. I’ve never wanted to sell out. I’ve never wanted to do things that don’t excite me. And I’ve been quite lucky with Marillion. Although we’ve been signed to major record labels and we’ve had various bits of success and people were trying to push us in certain directions just to give a record company or a management company a little bit more success thinking „Well, if they wrote another song like Kayleigh that’d be a good idea or „If they got back together with Fish, that’d be a good idea. And there are a few things I just wouldn’t do – anything I feel uncomfortable about or I‘ve decided I don’t really want to do.

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