Ian Mosley: Walk This Way!

Drummer Ian Mosley joined Marillion in 1984, it was the group’s second album. His journey to that point – a learning curve.


Photo by Christian Grube


Mosley started  playing drums when he was eight years old – officially.

” I have been told that I received a toy drum when I was three and I drove everyone mad banging it all over the house …” He laughs. ” My father was a classical musician, a violinist. I was raised in a musical family but I rebelled against classical – I wanted to play something a little more aggressive!”

Ian ‘aggressively’ pursued his craft. Foremost in Jazz music and the Big Band sound. His music teacher was responsible for that but then, like most teenagers of that era, soon learned to love and want to play rock music. Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and many more soon became Ian’s new – found love.

” I never was in a proper rock band.” says Ian. I studied in The Guildhall school of music under teacher Gilbert Webster in my late teens and floated around as a session guy. I was based at the Redan studios in  London and basically if the phone rang and someone needed me – I was there. That studio was very popular in those days. Genesis, Yes and a few other bands were always there …”


It was at the studio, in the kitchen – no less, where Mosley met a man who would ultimately change Ian’s life …

Steve Hackett from Genesis asked me if I could walk. He needed footsteps for his album.” Mosley laughs. ” I said ya – I am pretty good at walking thank you very much!  Steve then recorded me walking up and down in a stairwell for a song on his album. It was a real ambient kind of sound.”

Hackett learned that Ian was a drummer and asked the (then) twenty-six year old percussionist if he would like to jam with him.

“We got along very well and then Steve asked me if I wanted to go on a tour of the Americas with him. It was a quite an honor if I think about it. The most important thing is that Steve is such a nice guy. I ended up playing with him for two or three years and was on his solo albums. It was a great apprenticeship for me playing on the albums Highly Strung, Till We Have Faces, Time Lapse Live, and then Feedback.”


Mosley does think that his Father’s influence of violin and classical music did end up playing a role in his musical path. Marillion, Steve Hackett  and his other  influences, all along the lines of ‘Progressive Rock‘. A sound within popular music which many consider  ‘classical’.


” I enjoy playing music in what I call  movement which is the classical format.  I enjoy music that has light and shade and is multi – dimensional really. Prog – rock tends to be that – anything over three minutes …?  I am still not sure what ‘progressive rock’ means. I do not like the term, to me, music is either good or bad, it does not matter if it is two minutes or twenty minutes long. I don’t like the image of progressive rock as Stonehenge with gnomes dancing about and stuff … I am not really into that! I suppose people like to pigeon – hole stuff, if a song takes more than one listen, then they will say – that’s progressive rock. I suppose it makes them feel safer.”

Marillion has been together for thirty years. A fact which leaves Mosley proud and a bit surprised. He thinks it is an amazing accomplishment for not just his band – any band or group of musicians to stay together that long.

” If you had told me in the 1980’s that we would still be playing, I would have thought you completely mad …” Says Mosley. ” It is a lot of hard work and at the same time, a lot of hanging around. A lot of waiting in studios, airports, hotel rooms and dressing rooms. Because of the nature Marillion records, we write everything by jamming. Weeks can go by and nothing happens and then suddenly you can create a couple of real gems. It is well worth it and we ( Marillion) still enjoy it and believe we have a lot of energy to offer. We  still feel we are moving forward.”


Marillion has just released a new album. It is called ‘Sounds That Can’t be Made’.  The response from the fans has been very positive and Mosley says they have received thousand of emails which gives the band inspiration and a real morale boost.

“You don’t know what people will feel about an album when you are making it. You just make your baby and hope it is accepted. With Marillion, things do change a lot. My theory with the band is that things run in cycles of three albums. In  the early days, the most successful album – Misplaced Childhood, followed by our next two – we had everything written out. When we wrote our second album with  Steve Hogarth, Holidays in Eden, we had a blank canvas and it was the first time ( as a band with that line – up), we were writing together. It was difficult and a lot of hard work. By the time we recorded Brave,  it felt as if we became a complete unit and we were a band traveling down the same road. Usually it takes a year or two before I can listen to one of our albums objectively, with the new one – I listen to it and I believe it is a great album.”


Mosley, when he is not listening to his own music,  is all over the place in what he listens to in his spare time.

” I like Keane, I think they write great songs. I tend to like bands who have melody. I like Coldplay, I still like Pink Floyd and at the other end of the spectrum I like some of the heavier bands. System of a Down are a great band, they are a little heavier but I think they are a real band. It is them against the world and they have the balance down.”

As far as personal influence goes, Mosley’s  early idols retained a definite connection to the big bands.

” I loved Buddy Rich, Billy Coghlan, Elvin Jones on the Jazz – type stuff. In rock, I loved John Bonham, he was phenomenal. Neil Peart is an amazing player. We opened up for Rush on our Misplaced Childhood tour. He is a great player and Rush is a phenomenal band. They have also been around a long time and are huge here in England. They are also a bunch of great guys, they deserve to be elected into the Hall of Fame.”

Mosley believes that all types of music transport people back to certain simpler times in their lives. Occasions such as  kissing their first girlfriend. He stills get that feeling when he listens to Cat Stevens, a memory bank of a happy childhood comes streaming back. It is for that reason,  he loves doing it and it is why the band has been on the current tour. One which has lasted over a year now.


” We just finished our first convention in the Netherlands, it was so much fun. It is hard work since we do over eight hours of music over a weekend. On Friday we play the Radiation album and Saturday night – the whole of The Brave album. Sunday we play our new album plus a few greatest hits tossed in. It’s a lot to remember for guys our age. Any age for that matter.”

Following their weekend in Montreal on March  22, 23 and 24th, the band heads back home to do another convention weekend in April. Once the last convention is over, the band is taking a break for a few months.

” After that, we may write in the studio or do a few gigs. I know at Christmas time, we will be doing some shows, it is a tradition with Marillion that goes back to the beginning. When we play gigs, it reminds us why we do this in the first place.”

Mosley admits that the band has gone in cycles with their stage presence. When the budget was there and the band was hungry, a lot of money went into lasers and lights.”


” I always thought we were Pink Floyd on a smaller budget …” Laughs Mosley. ” We have built our own environment in these conventions. For the weekend gigs, we have a lot of lights and put effort into the shows that way. Regular shows – it is more scaled down. Over the years, it is cheaper and easier to carry stuff around on trucks. Most of the time it is about coming up with ideas that work. For me, it’s all about the music. You do not want to go backstage after a show, look at each other and say – great light show ! I mean if the budget is there – a light show is a bonus!”

After thirty years – it’s a learning curve …

Marillion is playing this coming weekend at Olympia Theatre in Montreal.


14 thoughts on “Ian Mosley: Walk This Way!

  1. Marillion’s current album is “Sounds That Can’t Be Made,” while their second with Hogarth was “Holidays in Eden.” “Holidays in Zelande” was a live CD/DVD of the band’s fan club convention in the Netherlands.

  2. Only one slight correction – the 2nd album with Hogarth was “Holidays in Eden”.

    “Holidays in Zelande” on the other hand, is the title of a live 5 part DVD, being a play on words on the abovementioned album titie.

    Otherwise, good interview. The Steve Hackett walking up and down stairs bit is funny….

  3. Great read – just a few errors
    1. Marillion’s second album with Steve Hogarth is called Holidays In Eden not Holidays In Zelande
    2. Marillion have just completed their 10th Convention weekend in Port Zelande in Holland not their 1st

    Otherwise a well written artical

  4. Hey everyone! Thanks for reading! I did the interview over the phone and even when I re-listen – it sounds like Zelande …lol I did think it was Eden but i figured Ian knew best ..lol As far as Holland being the first, meaning on this tour …:)
    Glad to see there are so many passionate fans out there !

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