Andy Rotherham (The Web UK)

He’s known the world over to Marillion fans for the ‘Marillion Museum’ he lovingly curates for the biennial Weekend bash at Port Zelande, and as compere of the ever-entertaining ‘band vrs fans’ quiz final. He’s also known for his road teching, the in-depth interviews he produces for The Web UK magazine, and his general love of music. Keep an eye out and you might just catch him at a Purple, Sabbath, Paul Rodgers or Rival Sons gig near you. He’s also a bit of a punk. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Andy Rotherham …

So Andy, how did you get involved with The Web UK?
I met Bonny and Wayne (Who ran the then-called ‘The Web’) at a record fair in Wembley at about the time Holidays in Eden came out. I had been a fan since the early days and had a long chat with them. We got on really well and they asked me to help out occasionally. I interviewed Steve Rothery at the Racket Club about his guitars, just as This Strange Engine was released, for the magazine. When the band decided that they really needed a team to run the Fanclub and re-launched it as The Web UK I was one of the lucky people who got a call. We were called to a meeting at Racket and the first version of The Web UK team was formed. I’ve been there ever since.

What sort of things do you do, and how much of a time commitment is it?
The Web UK is definitively a team effort and we all play to our strengths. For instance Anne is very good at organising us and gathering the articles for the magazines. Fraser does a great job running the website and Facebook etc. Jim is our graphics and publishing genius. It is fair to say that I have a much less defined role. I suppose my most popular contributions have been my in-depth interviews with band members and crew. Because I’ve known them for so long I like to think they trust me and this leads to quite an open dialogue during interview. Although I have to edit some material out it is still a very frank account at the end. We all pitch in when there is an issue to be packed and posted. I have also looked after PO Box 252 since it was first opened, which sort of makes me the defacto link between Racket and The Web UK.

Why Marillion? Is it possible to say what their music means to you?
That’s difficult to quantify or define. Their music is very diverse. I can genuinely say I have enjoyed every gig I have seen (Must be somewhere around 300 times) and every album they have produced. I was only 20 when I first saw them in 1983 and I feel we have all grown up in parallel.

Andy backstage with Marillion at Leeds University on the Anorak tour

Ever meet the band?
I see the band often, some more often than others. For a while now I have been helping Steve Rothery out by getting his amps and guitars serviced and mended by the right people. He has some great people we can call on to keep his music gear in tip-top order and I help facilitate that so he can concentrate on recording and rehearsing. I also help Steve out with The British Guitar Academy by being his Guitar Tech for these events.

They say it’s often a mistake to meet your heroes. Presumably your experience with Marillion has been different?
That is probably the best thing out of all of this. They are all genuinely nice guys. In all the years I’ve known them I can’t remember a cross word between us.

So, in your experience, what should you say to a ‘rock star’ after you say hello?
Like everyone I have made an idiot of myself when I have met some of my heroes in my younger days. However as a roadie/tech I have glimpsed behind the curtain and I’m pleased to say the vast majority of musicians, including Marillion, are just nice genuine guys beneath any perceived glamour that goes with their chosen career. So, to skip back to the question you ask, just be natural, not over bearing or too gushing and find common ground.

Andy with Steve Hogarth’s famous pink telecaster

Your first Marillion gig? 
Reading Rock August 1983

Your best Marillion gig (and why)?
There are so many and such different gigs it would be hard to name just one. Seeing them support Queen in Koeln on the Kind of Magic Tour, Lorelei 1987, The Walls gig, Jazz Cafe, lots of the shows at The Forum in London…


Your top five Marillion albums?

  • Brave
  • Misplaced Childhood
  • Unplugged at the Walls
  • Happiness is the Road
  • Sounds That Can’t Be Made

Some (not me, obviously) might say running a fan club is an unhealthy obsession. What would you say to that?
I think if I was obsessed by it I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have. If you were in a band, would you want someone who is unhealthily obsessed with you and your music around you?

Of everything you’ve done with TheWeb UK and Marillion, what are you most proud of?
I have really enjoyed the long in-depth interviews I mentioned earlier, but I suppose my proudest achievement is still being here. I am the longest serving The Web/Web UK team member that they have ever had. Still nowhere near as long as some of my wonderful colleagues from Holland and Germany though.

Are you involved with any other bands or in music in any other way?
Yes, I am building up a business as a freelance guitar/backline tech. I work with an ever growing number of clients. The latest band I have worked with, at the time of writing, is Wolf Gang. We have just done two festivals in Eastern Europe and a few showcase gigs in this country.

I’m a bassist in a great band called The Synthetix. We cover punk and New Wave music from 1977 – 1982. There was such a rich seam of music during that period. Our gigs are proving very popular and we are in demand.

I also repair and build custom guitars and basses.

In your experience, is it ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’ that attracts rock fans or is it more about the music?
To me it has always been the music. Music has been in my soul since my first ever memories. Drugs have never appealed to me in the slightest …

How do you view the role of fan clubs in the current era? And do you think they have a future?
We have debated long and hard about whether The Web UK is a Fanclub or an Information Service. Fanclub tends to have some negative obsessional connotations. We skirt between the two I suppose. We cannot provide the latest info before it gets onto the www. At the same time we are not a gushing fanzine that asks the band what they had for breakfast, or who their favourite pop star is! I see our role is to provide a more in depth look behind the scenes than neither the internet nor mainstream media can provide. This has to be done in an interesting way. We set our bar very high so it is a constant challenge to deliver this quality with every issue, especially when the band are writing or recording.

What would you say to people who say that rock or the rock era is dead?
I can’t see that myself. The industry is evolving. Everyone is looking for new revenue streams to replace that lost by sales of recorded material. Marillion were the first to recognise this and develop new methods of marketing etc by selling directly to the fans. The ‘Marillion Business Model’ is now the best way forward for bands with an established fan base.

How can rock be dead when you have Rush, Iron Maiden and Rammstein selling out arenas with little or no airplay? Rock is here to stay. I’ll be rocking until the day I die.

The Web UK team – bringing you that all important exclusive fan club release

THANK YOU ANDY!

For more information on The Web UK, and other Marillion fan clubs, please go to:
http://www.marillion.com/web.htm

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