Q Magazine

Guest Column - Love or money? Marion's Julian Phillips on what makes a band reform

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Macclesfield‘s Marion were tipped by many to be the Britpop-era band most likely to follow Oasis into the stadiums after their 1996 debut This World And Body. However the band failed to maintain their momentum and disintegrated after their 1998 follow up The Program. However despite stories of drug addiction and acrimony within the band, last year the Marion reformed for a series of shows which they followed with a short UK tour last month. Here bassist Julian Phillips explains what motivates a band to bury the hatchet, reform and try again.

There’s a stack of different reasons why a band would consider re-uniting, and a potential complex set of emotions. I reflected on one pretend reunion and two actual reunions.

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The Smiths? Would they reunite? If so, why? Do they miss each other? Do they need the cash? Have they failed miserably at everything they’ve done since?

The Stone Roses: Made millions in the first 20 minutes of reunion ticket sales! So what!!? I’d join Michael Bolton‘s backing band if someone offered me a million!! Does that make me a whore? Actually, yes I suppose it does … Fuck it! I’d become a traffic warden for a million right now!

Take That reform with Robbster and make a blinding new album (arguably their best yet) again netting millions of pounds and selling out arenas. Happy faces all round.

Marion reunite: Not a thru’pny in sight, bass player (me) is stranded at midnight on the motorway with a blown gasket on his clapped out car on the way to London to check out his singer hasn’t, in the intervening years, developed a penchant for novelty socks and Crimbo sweaters. Or even worse, heralding jazz as the way to go!

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I first suggested a Marion reunion to Phil [Cunningham, also touring member of New Order] our guitarist on a freezing cold night at a chance meeting in a pub in Macclesfield. The first decision was based on counting on my hand if we were all still alive. I myself only a few years ago had ended up as a piss stinking homeless crack head, running out of favours in the streets of London. Jaime [Harding] the singer had followed a similar route, and the other guys I’d not seen for years.

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In that time apart we’d all bitched about each other like divorcees in a custody battle, sniped at each other’s new bands and then hugged like sentimental drunkards on chance meetings. I phoned each member and proposed. The responses made me regret not doing it earlier. But as simple as it sounds, we did have decisions and emotions to explore.

Emotions; we reformed because we missed each other as friends and missed making music together. We missed the fans and the fun we had playing to them. Decisions; Marion was unfinished business, and against some unbelievable odds, we met up for the first time in years, in a studio, with our instruments, played our hearts out. With the help of our manager Bruce, we turned the decision into a British tour and recorded a fantastic album (Alive In Manchester). Now we’re in the middle of writing new songs. Still broke, but no longer broken.

Julian Phillips@official_marionPortrait Louise O’Toole

For more on Marion‘s return head to Marionuk.co.uk.


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