To: Freaks Mailing List
The nights have fair drawn in and the temperature has dropped into the comfort zone for polar bears. It's time to zip those anoraks right up to the neck before heading out to the "wilderness".
So there are sceptics out there! Well it is "moi" and as I said I'll start to get a lot more fluent and more high profile once I get my present from SANTA. I am computer illiterate and being a singer I'm a wee bit adverse to bleeping lights and flashing buttons (sic) and definitely allergic to technology. Anyway, no gain without pain and a manual awaits! For the moment I depend on "mentats".
It was nice to see you all care about Jo's dog. An admirable slice of community care!
Onto lyrics, I'm not going to explain all levels as if I was to just unwrap the goods then it would remove (a) the mystique (what there is) and (b) some of the fun in the list. I love the dissections, "Weekend career girl etc ...." (it's actually pretty straightforward!!). I give the first "Gold Star" to Massimo Murgia for the Trevi analysis. Smack on target!
I'm in NYC on Tuesday and then off to Portland to cut the Sunsets album. Bob Ludwig mastered Yin and Yang and judging by the favourable comments the choice of mastering engineer should meet with your approval. I'll be putting up soundbytes from the album on the website once I'm back from the USA.
There's been a lot of incoming on the USA touring question. Of course, I want to tour there, but it's got to be on the right terms. When I'm in NYC I've got meetings with potential management who've been aquiring feedback on Sunsets. All signs are pretty good. There's no point in setting up a tour with no back up and any visit has got to have maximum impact. "Neighbourhood" gigs might have appeal to the diehards but the whole point of coming over would be to expand on the existing fan base which whether we like it or not is pretty small and doubtful to financially support a regional tour. Remember my musos are session guys and get paid wages. They're not mercenary but they're professionals. And before anyone asks I'm not going to put a band together out there!!! Any line up set up for the tour will be consistent and follow the entire world schedule for the Sunsets tour.
The distribution has to be in place, radio and press have to be consolidated and promoters have to feel they're part of something that's got growth potential and not a nostalgic trip. I recognise I have a huge chance to make an impact out there but I have to choose the optimum moment. Trust me it's high on the agenda but please bear with me. A wee bit more patience is necessary. I do have domestically priced releases through "Renaissance" in Nashville. They will not be licensing either Sunsets or the catalogue and as far as I'm concerned are servicing a demand rather than creating one. Between the "Renaissance" material and the catalogue available from the website/credit card hotline/mail order system everyone who's after albums should be satisfied. So you see, I do care brethren!
As far as the USA/Canada and South America is concerned Sunsets should be released on a "name" label, ie one that could more than adequately support it's release in May 97. Japanese release seems likely to be April 18th (they need 4 weeks before everyone else due to a problem with cheap imports). The European label is also not yet names. I've been talking to some "biggies" but I'm not convinced it's the right way to go. I'm nervous of getting involved again unless I can be assured of commitment. The current climate suggests that a more tightly controlled indi route could be more beneficial. The album's more than good enough to make waves and get noticed.
Touring plans have therefore not been drawn up yet but you'll know as soon as there's news.
On the subject of touring I was surprised at the amount of flak Foss took recently. OK you're entitled to your opinions but I think it was unwarranted and verging on the vicious side. "Never played the intro to 'Incommunicado' properly once on the whole tour" - what gigs were you at? The man's a great keyboard player but he's not from the progressive school. His range is far wider and I welcome and admire his talents. I don't like mechanical renditions and far prefer gigs where the "feel" commands the show. Sometimes it works - sometimes its crap but when the magic visits it's wonderful for band and audience alike. That's what "live" is all about. As with all the guys who play with me ("Fnarr, Fnnarr") Foss isn't contracted year by year. He's a free agent and should circumstances dictate that he's not available then I'll look elsewhere. There's no animosity and all parties are aware of the rules. Foss has played on the recent "Camel" album and Andy has asked him to tour next year. Foss told me last week that so far the only confirmed booking is for Japan in March. At the moment, that doesn't conflict with my touring arrangements which I don't envisage kicking off until late April. His decision on his future as my keyboard player will be respected and I'm sure his replacement if any will prove equally as successful in the position. However, the question hasn't arisen.
Thanks for the emails that were sent in. I've tried to reply to most of them but please appreciate that I can't start getting involved in huge questionnaires. Also please don't send any questions in of the "when will you tour, are you coming here" variety. You'll hear about it all when its locked in and contracted. I'll be looking at the world so don't worry if you're in Chile or Australia or USA. It's all being considered, patience. Before I finish I don't normally lay down rules or insist on refraining from certain lines of questioning but I insist on the following:- No questions on present day Marillion, Steve H, Mark or anything of a personal nature concerning the present members. I won't offer opinions on their material or comment on their careers. I also will not discuss why I left, it's been documented well enough and I don't want to drag a body out the grave. Any of the above questions if sent will not be answered not even on a personal email address. There's no point in starting a war. There are some very strong opinions out there and although I may not agree with some of them I respect the right for people to have them. The fact that someone is into my material shouldn't preclude them from listening to Steve H's and vice versa. After that it's an opinion. I'm not into the fanatical tribalism groove, especially when it descends into near bigotry. Lets all be calm and cool about our dates and we'll all get on fine.
To close. Some wag suggested I use the competition flight to visit LA and play 3 living room gigs. Thanks for the offer. The prize will be paid for hopefully by sales of the Krakow video and Fish Head Curry (limited 5000 numbered run) as the 2 questions revolve around the two gigs one visual, one audio. It's one entry per person and the number of the Fish Head Curry album has to be written on the postcard. Voila! that's how 2 of you lucky Freaks could win the prize of the expenses + 2 flights to a show of your choice anywhere in the World. Question and details will be announced along with soundbytes of Sunsets on the website in January. The lyrics and album cover (in progress version) are already posted.
Any suggestions or articles for the website are most welcome. I hope to have my own mail list up there in January for those who want to discuss distinctly Fishy topics. A sort of side room from the main Freaks list for after dinner conversations!
Right then I'm off. I hope the above helps you out in your search for the tomb of the jester or at least enlightens you to what I'm doing now which for me is more important.
Take care out there and have a happy Christmas and a debauched New Year! I know I will!
P.S.: Sorry I couldn't take anybody up on the many offers of a bar run in NYC cut time is limited and there's a lot of work to be done while I'm there.
"When you're the worm in the bottle, when you're the last one to leave
and there's nowhere to go to, and the mini cab driver politely suggests
you go home, if you could only remember, just where that's at, just
where you've been, just where it went wrong, you'll eventually find it".
Worm in the bottle - Derek Dick c Fishy music ltd 96.
PPS: Attn Jon Berger. Re: Black Canal. It was written to the end of the Suits sessions and the focus was on creating an extra track/b side. The album was so long anyway that I would have had to sacrifice a track. In retrospect it was probably the wrong decision as I really love the track which is a jumpoff point to the Sunsets material. Probably in a year or so I'd like to put a compilation vis a vis B sides themselves together to include Tony Banks and Spartacus material "Kettle of Fish" seems an obvious title as does Black Canal's inclusion.
Email 16th December 1996