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Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Marc Atkinson of Riversea from 2012

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – both individually and as a band?

I started singing in 1982 when I was 14 years old. I formed my first band back then along with my school mates Bryan Josh and Liam Davison (who both later went on to form Mostly Autumn). Our first band was called “Expressions” and we played live and wrote and recorded songs from 1984 onwards. We changed our name to Frontier in 1989 (the same year we gave up our day jobs and went full time with the band) and then we gigged heavily until we eventually split in 1992. I started performing solo gigs after that (which I still do to this day) before forming a new band, The Company, with session musicians in 1994. After The Company disbanded I formed Gabriel in 1998 and we went on to record our first album Ascension in 2000, The Feel EP in 2001 and The Demology Collection in 2003 before finally calling it a day in 2004, which was the same year I recorded my first solo album Seasons of My Life. I followed that up in 2006 with a second solo album in the shape of This Is Where We Are as well as writing my first song with Brendan for what would become the Riversea project. In 2008 I recorded an all acoustic solo album called Wood & Wire whilst all the time continued to co-write tunes with Brendan for the Riversea album. In 2009 I was asked by David Rohl to join Mandalaband as a vocalist and eventually went over to Spain to record my vocals for two albums BC in 2009 and AD in 2011. In 2010 I became involved with Adrian Jones’ Nine Stones Close and went on to record Traces in 2010 and One Eye on the Sunrise in 2012.  Whilst all this was going on Riversea continued to write and record until we eventually ended up with our debut album Out of an Ancient World which finally came out in June 2012…
If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
Well, when I was younger I wanted to be either a comic book artist (I was a big Marvel comics fan) or a motorbike racer (which is still the one and only sport I like!). So  might be doing one of those… or working in a shop (which is what I did when I first left school before going full time with the music)…
How did the name of the group originate?

Brendan actually came up with the name first. I think he saw it as the link between the sea where he lives (in Seaton Carew in Hartlepool) and the river that runs through York (where I used to live)…. But to me it has always meant the connection between the soul (River) and God (the Sea)

Who would you see as your musical influences?

As far as Riversea’s music goes, I think it’s fair to say we are both influenced by Marillion’s music… they are a big band for both of us, really… But we both have a wide range of music that we like. For example, one of my favourite bands is Train… I just love everything they do… and Del Amitri are a big band for me also. But I like a lot of different music. Singer songwriter stuff like Marc Cohn, Newton Faulkner and Nick Harper… Singers like Seal, Pink, Eva Cassidy and Paul Carrack… On the prog front I also like Porcupine Tree and Spock’s Beard, Neal Morse and Flying Colors…


What's ahead for you?

In the immediate future first of all there’s the release of Nine Stones Close’s second album One Eye on the Sunrise which is coming out in November. I recorded all my vocals earlier this year for it. I’m also currently 60% of my way through recording my new acoustic solo album which I’m hoping to have out in December. Of course, I’m still gigging heavily (it’s what I do for a living and I play between three to four gigs per week every week) so a lot of my time and energy is taken up with that, as well as, of course, my family life. As for next year… Who knows? I hope we get to play some live gigs with Riversea. We’d certainly love to do that, but how it would all work out logistically and financially is something we’d have to sort out. I really hope we get to record some more Riversea next year too. Despite it taking forever and a day to get it all finished, the Riversea album was a pleasure to work on. I think both Brendan’s and my styles of song-writing work really well together so I do hope we write and record some more stuff sooner rather than later…

I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?

Brendan has always called it “song based prog” and I think that sounds about right…


Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?

As far as support slots go the biggest dream would be to get to tour with Marillion. That’d be just amazing. And as for musicians to actually play alongside… My dream live Riversea line-up would be myself and Brendan with Dave and Alex (who played bass and drums on the album) and Steve Rothery (Marillion) on guitar!


Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

A hindrance…probably. It certainly was a kick in the teeth for us when we suddenly found about 20 illegal download sites with our album on in the space of about 24 hours. To put all that hard work into the project and then to have it stolen from under our noses was not a good feeling. Of course, how many of those that illegally download an album for free would actually pay for the album is another question entirely. Maybe it just means that more people get to hear our music… I’m on the fence with this one, really… But my gut reaction is hindrance…


In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

Well, it doesn’t really affect us at all because Riversea don’t play live! But I wouldn’t really mind at all if someone recorded one of my solo gigs and shared it….


If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Wow… what a question. Probably Liam Gallagher from Oasis... I just can’t stand his voice and his attitude!


 If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

On vocals Pat Monahan (Train), guitar Steve Rothery (Marillion), drums Mike Portnoy (Flying Colors), bass and additional vocals Justin Currie (Del Amitri), keyboards Mark Kelly (Marillion)…


If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

Train, Marillion, Del Amitri, Pink, Pink Floyd, Flying Colors and Riversea


What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

Marillion’s Sounds That Can’t Be Made, Pink’s The Truth About Love, The Script’s 3


Have you read any good books lately?

Yeah, I’m a big reader. I’m currently reading George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series (filmed on TV as Game of Thrones). I love it. I’m currently on book five…


What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

I went to see Marillion a few weeks ago in Manchester. We got right to the front. Loved it. Earlier in the year we went to see Train at the same venue. Really loved that, too.


Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

No, not really… unless you count Pink? But I don’t because she is a superb singer/songwriter…


What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

I once had a ‘bullet belt’ fall down on stage, wrapped around my legs and trip me up! That was a long time ago…. In my “rock band” days…


If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

Well, Jesus would be top of my list… Not because I’m a Christian or anything (because I’m not) but because I’d ask him what he really said! Then maybe Albert Einstein and Steven Hawking! Imagine the conversation!


What would be on the menu?

With Jesus been there we wouldn’t need a lot, would we? We’d certainly never run out of food! Whatever it was it’d have to be vegetarian for me…


Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

I’d just like to say how pleased I’ve been to the reaction to the Riversea album so far. People have actually taken the time to write and say how much they have been enjoying the album. As a songwriter, that really is so inspiring to hear. At the end of the day, we write songs to be heard and hopefully enjoyed. To feel that that is actually happening is an amazing buzz. Long may it continue….

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at
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