Subject: Fish 98
Dear freaky friends,
First of all a very late but happy New Year to one and all!
It's been a long time, too long I admit and so much has happened that I don't really know where to begin. I'm typing this myself so appreciate how long this is going to take. It's something like masonry, if only you could see the blood on the keyboard!! This btw. is a long one and some of you are not going to be happy. Rather I should say "welcome to my world"!!
First of all the American tour situation - I was offered another tour beginning in March by Larry Webman at Little Big Man my US agents. When the dates came through I noticed that most of the venues were the same apart from a cluster down South. At the time I was nearing the end of the mammoth 7 month run and we were running into problems in France where the French promoter having promised us dates failed to fill in the gaps between already contracted gigs. I had only 4 shows and 7 days off and with everyday costing 2k (sterling) the lay off was expensive. I had the choice to stop the tour after Germany but I decided to take the gamble as France had responded to SOE in a very positive way. Through a friend, Merlin, we booked another 2 shows but with only 2 weeks to promote we knew we would have to be extremely lucky to sell them properly. The eventual shows in Lyon and Grenoble were badly attended and only covered local promoter's costs. I was told by these promoters that they'd tried to book me through the national promoter but he either didn't respond or demanded a ridiculous fee for the show. It then transpired that the low fees we were getting for his shows were not calculated on the assumption that most of the money was going toward advertising, which was fine by me as we were trying to develop France as a major territory, but rather the promoter was commissioning a huge chunk himself and local promoters when faced with this overall amount were turning the shows down. I saw figures of the fees at the clubs we did play for him and the numbers were shocking. I don't want to go into boring details but the result was that in France alone I lost in the region of 17k pounds. There was fluorescent writing on the wall and it said "beware of committing to more touring".
The North American tour had broken even thanks to all who attended buying suitcases of merchandising. I couldn't rely on the merch as a safety net if I was going back into the same areas again! This was also combined with the realisation that Viceroy had not delivered as promised and with major staff changes and even less support than the pitiful they'd already provided on the cards I took the sad decision to blow the tour. It would transpire to be the right one! Also gone was the proposed South American tour which was taking ages to get confirmed. I've elected to go for the next album now rather than in the summer, writing through Jan, Feb and March, recording April/May and releasing in early Sept. The working title is "Raingods with Zippos" (depends on an OK from Zippo themselves to use the name). Don't ask what it's about, all I'll say is expect a very dark album!!!
Meanwhile down in France the reviews and press have been great as on the entire tour and I turn up in Grenoble after an horrific journey from Barcelona with torn knee ligaments, a partially torn hamstring and a damaged calf muscle staring at the likelihood of a cancelled tour! On stage in Barcelona during 1470 I attempted a 360 degree twirl (as you do!) and as I pirouetted to my right my sneaker decided to remain motionless while my entire body turned! I didn't feel the pain due to the adrenaline and the copious amounts of weird drinks I'd been given by Steve Vantsis' dad! Later however, on the bus my perspective was through a white wall of pain and cold sweat! I knew it was bad. Luckily Grenoble is a ski resort so the hospital was used to these type of injuries. They encased my right leg with a rather trendy purple velcro strapped arrangement with a series of metal bars stitched into it's length and sent me on my way with a bucket of morphine (which was nice!!) and instructions to take it easy! Fat chance, there were gigs to do!!!! So I rested one night and had a go in Grenoble. There was no pain funnily enough but movement was restricted and I hated being unable to groove or dance. After the show I realised there were more problems as because I was standing awkwardly for a long period my back shifted and I managed to move 2 vertebrae out of line (this is true, stop laughing!). The next night in Lyon was worse. The show was well out there as the morphine had a grip of the pain and my senses overall and after I came off stage (floated off more like!) it was obvious I was damaging myself more by continuing.
I'd discussed contingency plans with Yatta my production manager and next day I was flying home to see a specialist in order to salvage the remaining 8 shows in the UK. It would have been foolish to attempt the Luxembourg, Brussels and Leeuwarden shows and the state I was in wasn't conducive to a memorable performance at any of the venues. There was a chance at the time of a small tour in Denmark in January (The Venue Tour, a government sponsored event often seen as a precursor for Europe's biggest festival, Roskilde) but the organisers prefer young bands that are up and coming and old fishy boy was turned down!! So with the Danish mini-tour blown it was unfeasible to even contemplate re-forming the band for only 3 shows and all the expense that would demand. I apologise to anyone who was let down or who didn't realise the gigs were cancelled till they got there. In my defence all I can say is that they weren't cancelled until the last minute and I was out of my head on drugs at the time!!!!!
Email 16th January 1998