We have been very very luck recently with a number of interviews and reviews of a very high calibre and we must thank RM for the interview, McIntosh Photography, Ironworks venue and of course a massive thanks to Fish for his time, patience and overwhelming honesty, for the interview.
InvernessGiGs caught up with the charismatic Scottish frontman and singer Fish for a brief chat in the middle of his current acoustic tour . The tour is approaching 100 gigs with the tour due to continue until December . Including seventeen dates in the Highlands and will take in Germany soon. He gave us a colourful and honest interview and we even managed to prise some details of his future plans. Unfortunately we never got time to cover his forthcoming role as a villain in the Scottish film “Electric Man” or his long planned book. A true renaissance man but it was the music covered.
iGiGs – Thanks for agreeing to meet us, hoping to discuss the current Fish heads tour, maybe look at the future &…
F – You have three pages there!
iGiGs – Just notes, topics
F – I just don’t want you writing everything, I tend to go right on – ok just go for it, go for it
iGiGs – You started the Fishheads tour in 2010, did you have any idea that it would grow into something this load on the road?
F- No, it was only meant to be something that was 2 or 3 months, it was basically for me to get confidence back, get my voice retrained & find out how it works again… to work and engage in front of an audience and it just kind of captured the imagination on all sides. And it just developed and I’m loving it. It’s been a fabulous tour to do – this has been tough, Scotland’s been tough
iGiGs – The audiences or size?
F – The audience numbers
iGiGs – That’s due to the lack of exposure or recession?
F – I don’t know what its due to but yeah the recessions got a lot to do with it. But it’s been a bit of a disappointment. I mean down in Aberdeen it was good numbers last night, but I mean Oban, Dunoon and things, I was hoping for a little bit more, I mean its been good, the gigs have been great. There’s not been a bad gig.
iGiGs – Your enjoying the three piece acoustic trio, do you see this as a new beginning, new chapter… you have retrained your voice and your enjoying it more?
F – I don’t really look at it as chapters… its never ending, there’s a continual line that doesn’t break. You don’t walk away from it. It continues, but its got ups and downs. You know 2009 was pretty dark and pretty low, so since June 2010 there’s been a bit going on and I think deconstructing the songs and re-examining song writing has helped a lot.
iGiGs – Is that going to influence the new album feast of consequences – The writing style?
F – No, not really we’ve got bits and pieces and ideas but there’s nothing new there of significance
iGiGs – I read that you said it would be a more political album in outlook?
F – probably yeah. But I don’t know. I soak it up but I cant really talk about what doesn’t exist yet. It will come in shape in January, February or March.
iGiGs – any idea of the band?
F – No… I know Frank and Fos will be involved along the line, because they have been there for a while but the rest I don’t know, we’ll see what happens. We’ve taken out a basic song writing project here so I’m not taking a full band to the studio to sit and jam for two months, we’re going to get the songs together and then advance into a band format, if we go into a band format, I don’t know, we’ll see what happens
iGiGs – So you have deconstructed the songs is there any songs that you would have wanted to play but it didn’t work out acoustically?
F – Yeah a couple. Goldfish and Clowns, I thought it was going to be a lot easier than it was… couple of other ones you know, but we have three hours of material
iGiGs – Acoustic gigs are far more intimate, far more quiet, how do the crowds work?
F – They change every night, you don’t know what your going to get every night, no idea.
iGiGs – It’s the curse of the modern day that…
F – It’s not the curse of the modern day at all… to pre-empt your question. Coz in Aberdeen you know it’s a pain in the arse you wouldn’t walk in a theatre or cinema, but they seem to think its ok to talk in gigs. It drives me fucking mad, and a lot of people once you’ve talked to them their ok, but some people have to much alcohol in side them or whatever, da da da it pisses me off, it ruins the vibe and the shows just become shorter and it’s a shame because it effects the people who genuinely want to hear my music and get involved. I’ve just got to deal with it whatever way I can.
iGiGs – You travel to the past to Kosovo before the Sunsets in Empire album and now you’ve travel to the Caribbean and Vietnam, will it influence your world view and lyrics?
F – Yeah it does, the year you travel there’s a thing there… I came out of my second marriage and didn’t really want to write about that, I really just wanted to distance myself, hit the road and get new experiences and new observations and they accumulate and hopefully inspire my writing and that’s it
iGiGs – Your previous album 13th Star was a very personal album…
F – Yeah
iGiGs – How do you think it sits in the pantheon of fish albums now?
F – I don’t know I never looked at it, it’s a great album for its time and some great songs on it, but it was mainly dominated by studio work but I wanted to avoid that this time around, as we go to much into mathematical song writing. A chunk of this a chunk of that, digitally joining this on to this or that onto that. I just want to get away from that.
iGiGs – How do you respond to Gary Newman’s slating of older artists playing their greatest hits?
F – I don’t know maybe the guys not a song writer – not really a professional musician I wrote these songs, proud of them, their great. Myself and Marillion still earn money from publishing, I would never stop a song getting played and if that’s a problem – get an F*****king life!
iGiGs – When you played at the Clutching at Stars tour, were you playing older material to draw people in and highlight the new album?
F – People want to hear old material, people don’t go to Rolling Stones gigs to hear the new album. They don’t go to Marillion gigs to hear the new album, they don’t go to Fish gigs to hear the new album. Its arrogance to think that I’ve got a new wave of people following me because of a new album, as if it’s a new rebirth. They want to be entertained. People will pay money tonight to be entertained, so they want to hear Kayleigh and stuff like Incubus. And you could do that and balance off what your doing now together with the entire catalogue. I’m not going to go, I “disown” this like some bands do, its like crap I’ve done Jigsaw, Incubus which has been a revelation played acoustically. Fugazi being great, the dynamic and drama in Fugazi, even Kayleigh has a new buzz about the step.
iGiGs – But it must be frustrating that people haven’t heard the new material. I played the song Just Good Friends to my girlfriend and she didn’t know it was you but loved it. If she had a chance to hear it on national radio…
F – It doesn’t get played coz I’m not in a big corporate record company, there’s so many tracks out there. Whose going to play a track by a 53 yr. old, I could do my way tomorrow and it still wouldn’t be played. I’m 53, not hip, not a good looking guy on TV. My reality check is complete, but I’m quite happy, I make a living playing music. Its cool. I don’t torture myself, get the flagellating whip out and think if only it was better, I MEAN, but I would like more numbers.
iGiGs – But it is better abroad, a younger audience in Europe perhaps?
F – Yeah. When I’m dead the Scottish press can write what a great guy I am, but fuck them you know what I mean. I don’t give a shit, I play this, but I play 500 in Germany. I could pull more people in a coal mine in Zaraboch than I can in Inverness in a weekend. But I’ve got to balance that out, you just have to adjust from big shows to wee gigs, where if it goes bad you appreciate the good stuff more. When your all high and mighty and wonderful then without the little blips you don’t appreciate them. Its all about learning on the curve.
iGiGs – I was in Poland last year and on the high street music shops they were selling your stuff and other progressive artists…
F – They like music. They play it on the fucking radio that’s the difference. Its not necessarily X Factor of the next corporate under 16 band. Their not slaves to this corporate mentality like here, in perspective as far as I’m aware every Scottish radio station that prides its self – the only show broadcast locally is the breakfast show. The rest is all done from a central station down in Glasgow and all the tracks are chosen by computer, so unless your offering big prizes or flying people to New York to see a gig or dar di dar di dar. Or a corporate record company where you can build your little acts up coz you have Beyonce or Robbie Williams, Take That or what ever for big prizes and use them as bankers, your not going to be seen you know. And if your not played on radio no one knows what the hell your doing, unless your in the Sun or used to do the News of the World or whatever, I mean we’ve got local papers and that’s it you know.
iGiGs – But at the beginning Marillion were never hip…
F – it was a different time, it was the day of vinyl for fucks sake, people didn’t record, C 90 Phillips maybe, but now be give away the masters of albums, within 2 months of me releasing the last album on pre order only, I’m getting pirated in Poland on the high street, no one does a fuck about it to help me out, the British government they just go, maybe we should relax corporate tax well fuck you. The music business is not the same any more live is where its at, you’ve go to exist live and we do very well outside Scotland – well Glasgow is always good, Aberdeen is good for us, then other places, we thought we were a three piece, lets try it and see if it works and the audiences in gigs are brilliant but the numbers haven’t been there. Is it a recession or lack of awareness I don’t know, but I haven’t got the time to keep bouncing around like a 17 year old doing this.
iGiGs -Next year is the 30th anniversary release of Market Square Hero’s, do you see any box set releases?
F – Don’t ask me, I’ve nothing to do with it. EMI own all the copyright of all the material I did with Marillion. And they will do until beyond our grave. They can do the hell what they want, I would hope not because they have been more box sets than albums released. I think to say EMI are scraping the barrel – sometimes I think its getting ridiculous. EMI have been offered to work on projects which are a lot more enveloping than just going out and repackaging stuff. But record companies are in a desperate situation. Their in the shit. I’ve been approached by two record companies recently. They go “we want to sign you and release your catalogue” well what you going to do, we where you going to sell it, well? Well where? Our Price argh… HMV argh…so you going to sell to Amazon and various other online distributers and I say why should I do that when I’ve got my own online distribution? What’s the point, what are you offering that I can’t do myself then? And that’s the change. We may sell less records but we make a lot more money per album than we used too. Which means we can still put production and quality into it, but as far as the record industry… and this online download shit, I’ve never downloaded anything in my life. We’ve gotta make the packaging something tangible to hold in their hands coz it feels great.
Once again thanks to RM for the interview, McIntosh Photography, Ironworks venue and of course a massive thanks to Fish for his time, patience and overwhelming honesty.