Email 24th December 1998

Subject: Fish 98 - Christmas Eve, Album releases and touring etc Part 1

Dear Freaks, Friends, fans, Company Members and FWO,
What a difference a year makes! This will probably be my last post this year so I'll take the opportunity to bring you up to date with the recent developments first.
Kettle of Fish will be released on January 26th in North America. The catalogue is being held back for the moment as Roadrunner (going through the Sony Red distribution system) are looking at a World Wide simultaneous release for Raingods in March and are not keen to saturate the market preferring to prioritise these two titles. Advance orders are around 20,000 which means that one month before release orders are already well ahead of the first 3 months of Sunsets sales!! :-))
The response from the States has inspired the Company and news that Derek Schulman is the man in charge of RR USA bodes well as some of you may remember him from his days as the frontman from Gentle Giant! To have the mainman of RR with 'sympathetic ears' and a total understanding of what I'm trying to do will be a first for me in the States. Derek has established himself over the years as a well respected record company figure with Columbia Records amongst others and signed the first Dream Theatre deal to Atco.
Many of you have offered support with the promotion of my material over the last months and now we have a definitive date and project set up the time has come to register! The contact I have in the States is Jamie Roberts who is head of Publicity. He can be contacted on
Roberts at mail.roadrun.com or mailed at ROADRUNNER / ESP-SUN Records, 536 Broadway New York, NY 10012 Fax no 212-334-6921.
I'd appreciate if you could get in touch to let him know you're out there and any ideas you may have to get things kicked off in your area. I'll be talking to Jamie in the coming weeks about radio tracks and potential poster campaigns etc but if he knows there's a grass roots following out there who are up for foot soldiering then I'm confident RR will back me to the hilt.
I met with my touring agent Nigel Hasler at PTI last week to discuss tour plans for 99 and we have come up with the following - European Tour Mid-May to beginning of July with the Summer spent writing the next album and covering as many Open Airs as possible, filling the weekend forays with other shows around the festivals. August and September is scheduled for the USA and Canada and drifting down through Mexico to Brazil and the rest of South America.
I will be over in NYC in January to talk with RR and Larry Webman my US agent at Little Big Man to work out more details.
I've said before that touring activity will be dependant on film work but my theatrical agents are aware that once cogs and wheels start to turn then I lock in to the touring principle.
This will not be a Sunsets type tour and venues and dates will be carefully chosen with the span being around 3-4 months tops.
I can't afford to gamble on this tour as although things are slightly better here at the farm a deficit from touring would plunge me straight back into the morass I've just climbed out of.
Ticket prices will be higher and any promoter who cannot deliver what I require to make the shows feasible is not on board. I have to be ruthless as any more mistakes on the road will be disasterous.
It will be a 6 piece band including a female backing vocalist which will be put together in the next 3 months, rehearsed at the farm in the now nearly empty studio and announced near to the dates. This will mean the tour will be advertised together with the album release in March.
First single is as yet undecided but "Incomplete" is favourite.Promo CD's will be sent out to all the Companies in January and 35 second clips from every song will be added to the various sites together with artwork and changed around every 4 weeks till release.
The artwork BTW is brilliant. Mark Wilkinson has outshone himself and in the process created a problem as RR are not keen on the 24 page full colour booklet as it's twice as much as the standard packaging on their normal releases. We are in discussion!! :-)
T-shirts will be available in February with various images and detail from the cover and once again I'll be following the poster principle we began with Kettle here in the UK.
I'll be installing an ISDN line in my office enabling me to deal with high quality interviews world wide as of end of January. This will be a massive help in acheiving profile for both the single and the album. My agent is excited as for the first time in 5 years I'll have the benefit of a professional record company set up to back the touring activity. This is a new ball game!
I'm still waiting on confirmation of 2 movie roles for early 99 which will give me a springboard for later in the year when I return from the road. The "Rockstar" series has earned me a lot of respect and I'm in no doubt that future filming activities will be generated from this project. (the episode I was involved with was considered the best of the series by many critics)
The beginning of 99 will be spent organising the film work, tidying up the office set up, getting the Haddington Tapes and Convention video in production and setting up the album and tour. It's going to be very busy!
I'm still attempting to keep the Farm and I'll know in April / May how we are sitting. If RR can shift 500,000 albums across the entire catalogue of 5 studio albums, the Kettle best of, the 6 live albums and of course the Raingods album then I'll be in a position of clearing the decks. It's tough but feasible and as I'm now looking at an effective Worldwide distribution there's no reason why this can't be acheived with a fair wind and a wee bit luck.
All income from recording and publishing goes straight to the bank who are backing me on this gamble and I'll be totally reliant on income from Acting roles, touring and merchandise sold through the web site and Company to keep us going on a day to day basis.
The fight back has been tremendous and even I can't believe how I manouevred through 98 and came out still with a roof over my head and an album that surpasses anything I've done so far in my career!
I couldn't have done it without you. Your support on the mail order and the memorabilia sale saved us. I have no doubts at all on this. If those orders had not been there I would have gone bust in the Spring losing everything in the process.
I can only sincerely thank you on behalf of Tammi, Tara and myself for all your support and good wishes throughout the year and for ensuring that my career was kept on line and on course and that most importantly our family was kept in house and home.
Your response to the call was overwhelming and none of us here will ever forget that.
There's a great sense of changing tide and fortunes and recent events in Oxford added to the feeling of rebirth and a new meeting with destiny. Back on the curve after such a long time is a wondrous and exciting new adventure for us all.
Many of you have been through your own private journeys in darkness and I can only hope that 99 leads us all into a stronger light than we've seen in 98. JJ, Motti, Jeff and all the others I wish you so much in this coming year.
To all of you who have sent personal messages of support and greetings - thanks!
Finally to end this message I wish everyone of you out there a very happy Christmas and an extremely happy new Year. Have a great time over the holidays and may Santa be kind to you all!
Great to know you all!!!

Lots of Love
Onkel Fish x


Subject: Fish 98 - Part 2 The Funnies and the truth about Oxford!

Dear Freaks, Friends, fans, The Company and FWO,

Ok! Where do I start?
First of all I should apologise to all the Web Uk members for the non appearance of Mark K at the Grapes a few weeks ago!:-))
It wasn't my fault rather we were victims of a nostalgic freakout fuelled by excesses of Vodka and Tequila!
It began a few weeks previously as the "Clutching" remasters were coming on line. Lucy had done more than Henry Kissinger in bringing the party to the table and through out 98 had been the prime negotiator in the get together which had been threatening since early 98 when the joint touring principle emerged briefly. Although this had been rejected it was obvious that we would all soon have to meet up and discuss issues surrounding the projects planned by Lucy and EMI in 99. I was nervous as it had been a long time since we all last met up in a lawyers ofice in 91. At that time if there had been hand guns on the table the consequences would have been disasterous and I don't think anyone would have ever discussed Marillion in any capacity again other than in a sentimental/ tragic loss/funereal sense!
The potential for a Reservoir Dogs shootout was enormous!!
But this was late 98 and Arnison had gone. Things had changed and after I offered to meet up for a wee drink and get together when I was next down in the Lowlands I knew that this was the point of no return! Mark and all were up for it with the only point of contention being where we met and which restaurant we would eat in. Steve knew all the restaurants in Wendover but the others decided to go for Oxford. Mark offered to put me up for the night which added to my dread of the occassion. I envisaged a major set to over old arguments and having to sleep rough in Oxford station if it kicked off! I needn't have worried! :-)

The Friday was an SAS night in Chiddingfold celebrating Spike Edney's Birthday! Brilliant and relaxed bash that ended with a lock-in in the Hotel! Saturday afternoon was spent at one of the SAS friend's houses. a rambling mansion which was freezing as our friend decided a few years previously that rather than get a central heating system that he'd keep the polo ponies on for another season. We quaffed Champagne and OJ (Buck's Fizz to you colonials) with Tequila shots for extra fire! Lots of "doobies" and a playback of RWZ for the assembled deviants who included John Martyr, ex Marillo drummer, who was titillated by the Reunion in Oxford!
By 6 o' clock Hibs were top of the first division and I was higher, dreading the gig which by now was getting quite star studded.
Spike told me that I'd be singing "With a Litle Help from my Friends" with Brian May and no you can't rehearse, we know it!
By 8 I was "feared up" and the night took off. It was great seeing Mike Rutherford again and Brian was in great spirits.
There were no hassles and I got a serious kick out of the Friends number.
Last time Brian and I were on stage together was in 86 when Fred was there!
We had a long talk about old days and with Roger Taylor having been there the previous night it was evolving into a weird weekend! To top all that it turned out that Susie and Zoe the backing vocalists for the SA (and also Brian's BV's for the recent tour) had played at Fife Aid with John Wetton and Phil Manzanera and remembered the Marillo set well! Are you getting the drift?
After show was loud and long the meeting with Lucy and the freaks submerged in an incoming tide of debauchery that went on till 5am. The hotel was overrun and with Yatta arriving there was no chance of an easy option!
At 1 I was picked up by Rob Ayling, Tammi having caught the flight home earlier to deal with home and leaving me to deal with the Marillo's on my own! (you'll all just get totally wasted and talk about boy's shit!).
Rob took me to lunch at his girlfriend's house somewhere in Surrey in a place I only recognised the name of from Blue Peter prize winners (where?) and Radio 2 traffic reports. 2 bottles of wine and a slab of Beef Wellington later I was none the wiser.
I left my mobile in my jacket as we discussed nervous breakdowns and the benefits of colonic therapy till around 5 when I had to excuse myself in order to find Oxford. One of the guests was none other than Ant Phillips, ex Genesis guitarist who gave me run to the station. We talked about the reunion those boys had for the Anthology set and how strange it was meeting up with estranged friends after such a long time. Redhills station was a strange and lonely place.
I was advised to go to Reading and change trains there, passing out in the carriage as yet another name from children's fictional books about adventures in England blurred beyond the window. I was woken at Reading where thankfully the train terminated and sprang like cat on methadone to the soon to be departing Oxford train which was conveniently parked about 6 miles away on another platform. I collapsed into the seat and waited 15 minutes for the train to leave now aware thanks to the retreived calls from my mobile that I was late. Mark had been trying to call me all afternoon. The meal was at 7.30 not 8.30 as previously planned.
Great!! Late for my first date in 10 years!
The journey was short and on arrival I trudged to the exit wearing my Derek Trout gear which I'd told Mark to look out for (I'll be dressed as a cowboy!). Ian and Mark were there to pick me up and as soon as I saw them I knew this was going to be night to remember! The smiles were as wide as a Rolling Stones stage, the hugs were genuine and the car was soon heading toward a Thai restaurant full of talk about the benefits of short hair and whether wet or dry shaving was easier!! :-)
Steve R was in the restaurant with Pete joining us as soon as Mark popped a Grolsch. H couldn't make it due to domestic duties and also I think feeling that there was a lot of space to be filled between the 5 of us after all that had gone down over the years. All respect to him!
I can't remember a time in my life when I've sat down to a table with so many grinning faces. We were all so pleased at being together after such a long time and realising that no matter what had gone on before that a friendship was still strong and very much alive. The conversation bounced along as we filled each other in on what had gone down in our lives. Kids, relationships, tour stories and record company experiences zipped in and out of anecdotes from our previous sorty into the World with John Arnison targetted regularly throughout the night!! :-)
We talked openly about the split and the reasons why it fell apart then. There was a lot of owning up from us all to each other and a realisation that if we'd only been more mature at the time we would have been perhaps more able to have talked it through.
The management came in for hefty criticism and we'd all realised over the years how badly it had been done at the time. Too much touring, not enough control or knowledge over our business and financial affairs, not enough space given to our private and creative lives and too much manipulative activity behind the scenes as the politics of management worked against the band rather than for it.
We'd all learned since then and the analsis and results were the same. It was a great meal, 5 bottles of wine evaporated and the waiters hovered round the last table, unlike us desparate to go home.
Ian was the only non drinker as he was driving back to London. We piled into his Golf and headed back to Mark's house. Memories of Berlin sprang to mind!
Within minutes of arriving 6 bottles of various flavours of Vodka were set up in the kitchen the tardis headed back to the 80's. The shots fired in and Pete and Steve were not happy as their taxi for their home planet arrived. This left Mark and Eric (not Racket Records!) as my companions in the Dawn Patrol!
I won't go into detail to protect the non- Racket records people there!
(Let's just say that the evening did nothing to disperse the rumour that American's can't drink!!! "It was a bad Bounty Bar, I swear!!" )
I have honestly no idea when we went to bed. I remember Eric (NRRP) suggesting sometime around 4 when Mark and I were lying on the floor that Mark should go to bed as there was a heavy day ahead and Mark replying " There's no ******* way I'm going to bed before him!! :-))))
This was just before Mark decided that it would be a good time to show me the very small cellar under the trapdoor in the floor. It's only about 5 feet high and used for trapping water from the nearby river when it's in spate. He'd been singing Alex Harvey songs most of the night so the sudden descent into the bowels of his house didn't seem that out of the ordinary.
15 minutes later Eric and I were still trying to get him out of the hole in the floor while we were all pissing ourselves with laughter. I can't remember much more apart from smiling inanely and attempting to talk to a fellow human being who was also smiling inanely and attempting to talk to a fellow human being who was smiling inanely and attempting to talk.....
It took us a lifetime to get upstairs as we kept on laughing ourselves weak at anything the other one said. Eric watched!! To him the staircase was the Eiger!! :-)
I had a meeting with Lucy at EMI at 12. I woke still out of my mind at 1.30. After apologies slurred to Lucy who TBH wasn't that surprised we went for breakfast with the mother of all hangovers. Conversation wasn't bright and the station was more like the Black and White version in Brief Encounter. It was a sad occasion. The whole thing had been too short. I was genuinely sad to say goodbye but at the same time in the core of the hangover from hell I felt great.
Minutes into the journey the mobile went off like an air raid siren. It was Ian. He said that he'd driven all the way back from Oxford with a huge grin on his face and had woken up with it still in place. I felt the same way.
It's difficult to express how we all felt that night. A big chunk of my life was put back in place. It's happened at the right time and after the year that has been the hardest in memory to end it with a resumption of a great friendship put the seal on a period I'd rather forget.
This wasn't about band reunions or business. It was about people and long standing friendships and I hope it will finally disperse all the rumours and accusations that the 5 members of the 81-88 Brigade either hate each other or don't get on.
It was a truly outstanding and memorable event and one I'll cherish as we launch ourselves into the new year and our new projects. I sincerely wish H and the boys all the success they deserve next year and may both our stars rage high in the heavens in 99.
We both deserve it!! :-)))

Happy Christmas and Peace on Earth - at least in Marillo land!!
love Onkel Fish x
 

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