Steve Hogarth (MARILLION): The privilege of being alive

Music, like food, rhymes with feeling and sharing. Talking to Steve Hogarth to launch this new season in your company is a choice that may seem out of step with our regular metal music. But the charismatic frontman, who exudes such emotion on stage, is open enough to partake in the sacrificial ceremony of muffin-eating. I invite you to discover what he had to say for this first interview of the season.

Sitting before certain delicacies, we will evoke with him, as we did with others, his greatest culinary emotions, the place food holds in his life and, above all, the great privilege of being alive.

« I don’t know no shit about cooking ! (laughs) »

Watch this video on Vimeo.

Gilles Lartigot: Let’s talk about food.

Steve Hogarth (vocals): Well, okay ! (laughs) [he drinks] Humm, it’s good.

It gives you energy.

How much should I have?

As you want. Can we talk about food, then?

Sure. Well, it’s not an obsession, if I’m honest. I like good food. I’m fairly careful about what I eat. I don’t like to eat a lot of rubbish. Occasionally, I would save up some money and go to a first-class restaurant.

You like good restaurants?

Yes, of course. There’s a place in Oxfordshire called “Le Manoir des 4 Saisons”, owned by a French chef, Mr Blanc. I’ve been there a few times. It’s very expensive, but really incredible. Around the restaurant, they let grow many things, they have a little farm: it’s beautiful. I know now that the quality comes from the ingredients.

The chef has his own farm?

Yes. He’s really passionate.

How do you manage, when you’re on tour, the food, the periods of rest and also the temptations?

I only eat once a day when I’m on the road, usually around lunchtime. I have one meal and that’s it for the rest of the day. If we’re near the sea, I’ll try to eat some local sea food: I’m very found of fish. When I’m in Boston, I would go to the Lobster Pool, for example, because it’s incredible. Yesterday, in Quebec, I was fortunate because someone took me to a restaurant by the river where I ate some fresh sea food. Today, I haven’t eaten yet: just a cup of coffee.

I’ve brought you some special muffins…

Oh, okay! (laughs) In fact, I’m lying, because I had a ham and cheese roll when I arrived here.

I see a bio honey over there.

Yes, they usually leave out some honey or lemon, but I never ever touch it. But as a lot of singers ask for it, they put it here. To be honest, it doesn’t make a difference.

Do you drink tea or coffee?

I like both. I drink coffee when I wake up in the morning and that’s it. I’ll have my cup of tea in the afternoon. I drink a lot of beer, though ! (laughs)


Well, not a lot, because if I did so, I’d have a huge belly! I drink more than I should, probably, but there’s a lot of stress in my head, all the time: that’ how creative people are.

« We don’t have the past, because it doesn’t exist and nor the future, because it hasn’t happened or may never happen. All we’ve got is this ‘Right here, right now’. […] If you can consider your life as a serie of present moments, you become free. »

I’m interested in books. I have written a book about the dangers of modern food for young people. I read in an interview that you liked Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now”: can you tell us more about it ?

Yes. It has been a really important book. The thing with these philosophy books is that they teach you what you already know, but you need to be taught nonetheless. They show the obvious to you and sometimes, we need to be reminded of it. For instance, when we’re lying in bed at night with our eyes closed, and we just spend a moment to think about it, we can actually feel the life inside us and the fact that we’re alive from our head to our toes. If you take some time to remind yourself of that immense privilege and blessing to be alive, it can make you forget a lot of the things that bother you and realize how magical and fundamentally amazing just being alive is. The title of the book reminds us that all we have is this “Now” : we don’t have the past, because it doesn’t exist and nor the future, because it hasn’t happened or may never happen. All we’ve got is this “Right here, right now”. If people ask themselves “Do I have a problem ?” in this moment of “Right here, right now”, the answer is always “No”. So if you can consider your life as a serie of present moments, you become free.

Do you believe in “signs” that come to us in our lives?

Well, a lot of things happen to me, almost daily, but I don’t know if I believe it or not! I suppose I have to believe it, because it constantly happens, even if I don’t understand it. For example, the wifi code on the wall over there: it’s 514. It’s my birthday: May the 14th. There’s always something.

Do you cook at home?

No, I’m hopeless! My girlfriend is a very good cook, so she prepares the meals. I can only cook an omelette! (laughs) I’ve been promising her to make a curry for 5 years, and still haven’t done it. But it’s on my list! I mix cocktails, but I suppose it doesn’t count, does it? (laughs)

What is your favourite dish ?

Well, like I’ve said, I love good sea food, but it depends where I am in the world. I like fresh salmon and if it’s done properly, I love calf’s liver. I’m not too keen on desserts or sweet things although I like this lemon tart you have in France.

Do you remember your first culinary emotion?

The first one was probably vinegar on chips. My mother used to work a lot, so my grand-mother used to come and look after us and make us some eggs and chips. Everyday, it was eggs and chips, and after, rice pudding. It was all she could make. The best part of it was the vinegar on the chips: so it was my first culinary emotion. My second culinary emotion was probably getting bored with this eggs and chips ! (laughs) Seriously, I hate to sound like an uncultured englishman, but my first culinary emotion was certainly a fish and chips by the sea.

Here’s something for you : muffins for legends!

Muffins for legends? (laughs) Fantastic! That’s very kind.

There are 6 of them.

To cook for someone is a way of loving them, isn’t it? That’s what I regret about not cooking: it’s a way to show your affection to someone.

I think it is important to cook: there are too many fast-foods and people eat badly. We’ve lost the contact with the rural life and its produces.

I lived in a rural place in England and some of my friends are farmers. I’m much more conscious of that problem than when I was young. Where I lived, you could buy directly the eggs at the farm, and not in a shop or supermarket.

The problem today is that the animals the industry uses are stressed and when we eat them, we eat their stress too. That’s why I eat a lot of vegetables.

« Eating their stress ». That’s an interesting point of view. [Gilles takes a knife to cut the muffin] What are you going to do ? (laughs) You’re going to attack it with a knife : it’s the sacrificial ceremony of the muffin ! (laughs) So we must give this piece to the gods, and this piece is for me. Are there any walnuts in it ?

I used wheat flour with dry cranberries and sunflower seeds.

Very nice.

There are not any animal products, like milk or eggs. I made a purée and used homemade almond milk.

Can I taste your almond milk? Oh, that’s beautiful ! I’ve never had that before…

Interview conducted on June, 19th, 2012, in Montreal, Quebec.
Transcription: Jean Martinez – Traduction(s) Net

Marillion’s official website: www.marillion.com
Steve Hogarth’s official website: www.stevehogarth.com

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