Email 18th May 1998

Subject: Fish 98 - New songs and old numbers, The Castle Marouatte!

Dear Freaks,

So did you miss me? I came home to 430 e-mails and spent Thursday in a state of high anxiety dealing with them all. I admit I zipped through the lists and for once I was glad that the number is going down! The castle was a marvellous experience and I learned a hell of a lot in a week.
Every day I woke up around 9.30 and headed for breakfast at 10 to be told which of the 2 out of the 23 musicians I'd be working with that day. Once I'd been told we set off for one of the 8 work stations in the 14th century castle we'd be ensconced in and set about writing a song from scratch which had to be finished and recorded by the end of the day. To make it even harder we were only allowed 3 hours in one of the 3 studios to get the song demoed!!!
I had never worked under such pressure before and the presence of so many gifted musicians made it even harder to operate. Miles Copeland was also there and viewed the situation with the demeanour of an ancient Duke watching his troubadours perform! He was brilliant and although very intimidating I grew to admire him even more as the time went by.
First day I spent with Maia Sharp, a well known Female artist from LA and Andy Gardiner an Englishman in Paris and well known Technophile. We were very, very nervous but at the end of the day we came up with "Mr Buttons", the evasive lyrical idea from 1994 which with Miai's and Andy's prompting grew in incredible stature to become one of my favourite tracks of the week! A cross between Genesis and Aerosmith (I shit thee not) in influence it drew acclaim at the nightly playbacks over dinner in the great hall where all 30 odd of us sat and dissected music and gossip over vast amounts of free wine!! :-)
Drums were played by Gary Wallis of Pink Floyd fame and one time contender for the Fishy drum stool after Kevin Wilkinson left! He was our resident drummer for the week!
Fellow animal of the road the apres dinner stories would have curled your teeth!
All the demos were done on ADAT and very basically recorded in the time frame allotted!
No-one was allowed overtime.
Second day was with Doug Millett from Nashville and Elisabeth T. Antwi, a soul singer from London. The results were astounding, a break your heart song called "Incomplete". This was also one of my favourites and when I played it to Tammi it drew a scary response.
Edge tears!! A duet it raises the hairs on your neck and should not be listened to together by people in a fragile relationship! As always during the week the most unlikely partnerships begat the most incredible songs.

This was the first time I'd ever written lyrics in front of and with other people and I learned that outside advice is not necessarily a bad thing!! The prompting pushed me and even though the end results were very "Fishy" they were better than if I had had my own way! The seclusion from telephones and office added to the experience and I admit that the decision to change the approach to studio work in the future can only have positive results.
Day 3 and I was placed with accomplished LA guitarist Dave Bassett and London's very own Chris Braide, a phenomenal Pop artist and someone you'll hear a lot more of in the next few years. He reminded me of a young Stevie Winwood. Our song was "Chasing Miss Pretty". It's an out and out Pop song and worthy of a big Summer hit. Closest I could pull you is to Men at Work!!

Next day was day off and a trip to the nearest town. After was a piss up and yours truly decide that rather than making the obligatory castle/people/France/Summer/we're here type video, we should make a spoof movie!!!!!!! It's brilliant and you'll probably never see it!
Everyone got on board and we had (I had) to remind ourselves that we were there to make songs not a film. It took control of my life and I admit to becoming obsessed with the whole thing. it's a hilarious tape and one day people will talk about this in reverence.
To show how serious it has become I'm off to France to see my assistant Director Andy to edit the thing at his girlfriends pro editing studios in the next 3 weeks!
Days became song then film until about 4am! I was shagged out!
The next song up was "Mission statement" with Paul Thorn, Polygram artist from Tupelo Mississippi and none other than Rick Astley of Stock, Aitken and Waterman fame. The result a humdinger of a Bo Diddley shuffle based on the Jerry Maguire philosophy !
I don't know if it'll fit on my CD's but it's great.

Day 6 was classic Nashville hit maker Tim Johnson and folk/blues artiste Sherri Jackson and we came up with a cracker, "The Tilted Cross", a song about landmines that's so subtle and sad it is truly awesome! This is destined to be on "Raingods".
The last day put me with Charlotte Caffey from the Go Go's and old sparring duet partner Sam Brown. i was the lyricist attendant and with their guidance and help we came up with "Teenage Man", the most derogatory anti-male song out there!! They kept on asking if I was OK writing the lyrics as they're so out there! Sam wants to do this song on her next album. I could never sing it unless the "Bill" part took over my life completely!

So 6 songs in 7 days, a record in all respects. I had a brilliant time and learned a lot as well as meeting a great bunch of people and finding under all this Prognesss an accomplished lyricist of all flavours. Confidence abounds and I relish the writing sessions for "Raingods"

I'll put the soundbites up on the website and I'd appreciate if you could give me your opinions on the songs I should use for the "Best Of..." and the ones you think should be held for "Raingods". It should be 2 and 2! The songs should be up after the convention sometime and be prepared - they're different! :-)

Other news-
There's an Austrian show at Donau am Insel with the SAS band on the 27th June. It's not confirmed and after talking to Spike it has only a slight chance of going ahead.
June 7th in London with the SAS at Battersea is confirmed and we're on stage at 8pm.
Tickets can be bought from any Threshers Wine store at UKP10 a pop! I'll be there early - the wine's allegedly free!!! :-)
Stuttgart on Sunday the 23rd May (this Weekend) takes place at the "Manufaktur" in Hammerschlag, 73614 Schorndorf and the event is the "Gittarenfest". I'm playing 4 numbers this time inc "Hold your head up" (not rehearsed), "All the young dudes "(not rehearsed), "Faithhealer", "Lucky" and "Lavender". Should be fun !! :-)
The Huttenpop Gig was never happening and no-one ever even asked us to play! :-(

I better finish this mail here or it'll bounce!
Back in a mo (so to speak!:-)
love Onkel Fish x
Ps I missed you

Subject: Fish 98 - A clockwork orange and other fruits!

Dear Droogy freaks!
I remember the COrange stuff from when I was a kid! My mom wouldn't let me se it as it was banned in a lot of towns except mine!
I got a swordstick from Duncan (scary spice) for my birthday. I wanted one for the tour as a prop for Jungle Ride which was based about those times. I always loved the scene by the lake with Dim coming out the water! :-)
Anorak corner stuff- The scenes in the tunnel where the boys kicked shit out the tramp were filmed in Aylesbury between the station and the town Centre.
The reason I chose"La Gazza Ladra" as our intro was because it always pre empted or soundtracked violence in the Movie and the gang fight after the rape on the stage in the old theatre (The Rainbow) I thought was brilliant fight choreography! Check it out.
I wanted to wear the "uniform" on stage in 85 but was talked out of it!
I bought the film on Honeymoon in LA in 87.
Malcolm Macdowell (?) was in "World of moss", the Hugh Hudson Movie I was supposed to play in last year but missed because of lucrative touring possibilities! :-)
I had the Walter Carlos (Wendy) soundtrack way back as a hairy teenager and "Timesteps " was one of my favourite stoned stereo moments! :-)
"If" if I remember correctly was filmed at Charterhouse School and if I remember (please adjust) MM went to school there as did Genesis!
The film was banned after a personal High Court injunction was obtained by Stanley Kubrick rather than by the Film Censors. He was paranoid about the effect on 70's teenagers. He needn't have bothered we were past that level a long time before. The book was allegedly based on Anthony Burgess' personal experiences. His wife allegedly underwent a similar trauma to the "wife" in "Home Sweet Home"
It's so real now isn't it my droogs!!!!!

Love Alex
Your wicked Onkel Fish

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