Brainstorm 57: Mike Varty

Q1 You were in Clive Nolan’s Shadowland. The longest tune on 1996’s Mad As A Hatter is the title track, but what’s the shortest?

Mike Varty: Was it Flatlined? I think I wrote that one, didn’t I?

A: Father, at 4 mins 49 secs.

Q2 Credo are playing Summer’s End this October. Which two other years did the band appear, and who headlined each year?

MV: I’ll go 2006 and 2011. As for headliners… I remember Headspace I think… no - pass!

A: Right years, headliners were Pendragon and Caravan.

Q3 Who was Landmarq’s singer after Damian Wilson?

MV: Moon - Ian Gould.

A: Yep, then Tracy Hitchings.

Q4 ‘I fancied I saw a sound in the air, the scent of a colour, the feel of a prayer.’ Lyrics from which Landmarq tune?

MV: It’s the one that goes [hums tune, for ages]. Calm Before The Storm?

A: Yes!

**Q5 You formed Infinite Sunday with singer Sue McCreeth and guitarist Ian Salmon. Exactly where and when was your eponymous album launched? **

MV: It was at The Spice Of Life in London, July 4, 2012.

A: Correct.

Q6 You’re in Janison Edge with Sue Element. What sci-fi film were you both in, and who did you play?

MV: Easy - it was called Foiled, I played Scanner. It was zero-budget but I liked it, we had fun making it!

A: Somehow we missed that one…

Q7 You also soundtracked 2001 spoof horror comedy Fluffy The English Vampire Slayer. Who was the bad guy in it?

MV: Count… wasn’t it just The Count?

A: It was Count Von Whedon, presumably after Buffy creator Joss.

**Q8 Which other keyboard great did you step in for in DeeExpus? **

MV: Easy - Marillion’s Mark Kelly.

A: Correct.

Q9 You play keyboards in Mick Pointer’s Marillion tribute band. Their live 2014 album Marillion’s ‘Script’ Revisited was recorded at which venue?

MV: At De Boerderij, Holland.

A: Correct.

**Q10 Landmarq’s new album Roadskill was recorded there too. What’s the English translation of De Boerderij? **

MV: Doesn’t it mean ‘the farm’?

A: Or ‘the ranch’, yep.


Q11 Rick Wakeman, ELO and Egg are just some of the prog acts to draw on In Thee Hall Of The Mountain King. Can you name the composer?

MV: Hmm… was it Prokofiev?

A: Grieg, it’s from Peer Gynt.

MV: Damn! I’ve got the sheet music for Peer Gynt on my stand at the moment! I can’t believe I forgot that!

**Q12 Which Genesis song?: ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud, Till I came upon this dirty street, I’ve never seen a stranger crowd, Slubberdegullions on a squeaky feet.’ **

MV: MV: That’s from The Lamb… [hums tune, for ages] Colony Of Slippermen?

A: Yes!

Q13 Besides Heat Of The Moment, can you name any other single off Asia’s 1982 debut album?

MV: Singles? Oh gosh. Sole Survivor?

A: And Only Time Will Tell.

Q14 What was Fish’s first solo album after leaving Marillion, and in what year was it released?

MV: My god. Was it called Fish or something? [Laughs] He left in ’88,

so 1990?

A: You got the year right, but the title was Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors.

Q15 Two future Yes members appeared on Island Records’ first UK No.1 single. Who were they, and what was the song?

MV:That was, oh, what’s his name_… Trevor Horn! And Geoff Downes too. Video Killed The Radio Star.

A: By Buggles. Correct!

Q16 Which Pink Floyd member had two solo albums called Wet Dream and Broken China?

MV: Oh blimey. I’m thinking Roger Waters?

A: It was Rick Wright.

Q17 At which British facility did Rush record A Farewell To Kings and Hemispheres?

MV: Oh my God… The only one I can name is Abbey Road, so let’s go with that.

A: Rockfield Studios, in Monmouth.

Q18 The title composition from ELP’s 1971 live album Pictures At An Exhibition was written by which composer?

MV: I’m going to go Mussorgsky.

A: Correct.

Q19 Who’s the current drummer in King Crimson?

MV: Oooh, ummm, I haven’t got any idea.

A: Gavin Harrison.

**Q20 Which fearlessly progressive Russian composer wrote L’Histoire Du Soldat, just one of his many pieces musically referenced by our cover star Frank Zappa. Clue: you once said he’s your favourite composer. **

MV: These things change though! Tchaikovsky? No, Khachaturian?

A: Stravinsky!

**TOTAL: 12½/20 **

Oh that’s not too bad! I’ve always been useless at general knowledge and recalling facts. Still, great to talk to you, Prog!

Grant Moon

A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Prog, Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.