Marillion's Mark Kelly on F*** Everyone and Run (FEAR)

Marillion is thinking big. Really big.

Of course, that's not necessarily news to the band's die-hard fans. Over the course of the group's storied career, Marillion hasn't really lacked for ambition. It has consistently tackled lofty subjects that many other groups won't even touch. Examples include the Middle East ("Gaza"), global warming ("Season's End", "Under the Sun"), and the price of fame ("King"). Emboldened by a remarkably passionate fan base, Marillion has consistently forged its own path, radio stations and record companies be damned.

Perhaps no Marillion record is as thematically ambitious and audacious as its most recent effort and 18th proper studio album. F*** Everyone and Run (FEAR) is a bold musical and lyrical statement about the state of the world. Broken into six songs (including three multi-part epics), the 70-minute album says quite a bit about capitalism, greed, immigration, compassion, and politics.

Today I sat down with Marillion's keyboardist Mark Kelly to talk about the album. In preparing for this interview, I had the pleasure of listening to an advanced copy. (It officially dropped on September 23rd.. I won't mince words: It blew me away. From the first few acoustic notes on "Long-Shadowed Sun", I felt like Marillion was taking me on a journey--and an important one at that. The order of the songs struck me as particularly important, although I don't know if FEAR qualifies as a proper concept album or not. (Most of the musicians I've had the pleasure of interviewing over the years seem to have decidedly mixed feelings on the matter.)

There's no shortage of highlights on
FEAR
, but here are a few moments that immediately grabbed me:
  • Guitarist Steve Rothery's solo on "The Jumble of Days" is just breathtaking. For my money, Rothery is the most underrated axeman in rock. I can just see the standing ovations when he plays this live à la "This Strange Engine."
  • Steve Hogarth's powerful lyrics on the fourth part of "El Dorado." "When it's not showing off, the money's hiding..." Ditto on "Why Is Nothing Ever True?". I can't think of a singer today with a more emotive voice than Hogarth.
  • The spectacular atmospherics at the end of "Vapour Trails in the Sky."
  • Mark Kelly's soft touch on the piano on "One Tonight", "White Paper", and "Tomorrow's New Country." I've always admired the way that Marillion has worked keyboards and pianos into its music. To this end, FEAR does not disappoint.

Nor does the album. Far from it. On the contrary, 
FEAR
 fuses poignant and layered music, profound observations and lyrics, and yes, and plenty of anger. At the risk of being effusive, it is nothing short of a masterpiece. While very different in feel,
FEAR
 reminded me in scope of
Brave
,
Marbles
, and
Misplaced Childhood
. This is a seasoned, confident band at the top of its game with quite a bit to say. As Hogarth recently told
, "We use the amazing privilege of having both a platform and an audience to encourage people to look in the mirror and ask themselves the big questions-by doing just that ourselves."

Marillion has done just that--and quite successfully. Its latest record asks core questions about what we're doing and how we should treat one another. And I'm hard-pressed to think of a band that could do as much against the backdrop of such powerful, jaw-dropping music.

Here is my interview with Mark:

Full Tracklist
  • El Dorado (i) Long-Shadowed Sun
  • El Dorado (ii) The Gold
  • El Dorado (iii) Demolished Lives
  • El Dorado (iv) F E A R
  • El Dorado (v) The Grandchildren of Apes
  • Living in F E A R
  • The Leavers (i) Wake Up in Music
  • The Leavers (ii) The Remainers
  • The Leavers (iii) Vapour Trails in the Sky
  • The Leavers (iv) The Jumble if Days
  • The Leavers (v) One Tonight
  • White Paper
  • The New Kings (i) F*** Everyone and Run
  • The New Kings (ii) Russia's Locked Doors
  • The New Kings (iii) A Scary Sky
  • The New Kings (iv) Why Is Nothing Ever True?
  • The Leavers (vi) Tomorrow's New Country
Watch the album's 16-minute trailer below:

If you missed out on the pre-order campaign, you can buy FEAR on iTunes here.