Subject: The late night session!!!
The Rain in Spain!! March 17th 1999
My last visit to Spain was a painful one, my last memory being the lights of Barcelona as I drifted into a white haze of pain in the back of the tour bus. I'd twisted my knee badly while on stage, ripping ligaments which decided to wait till they had fed off the last of the adrenaline from the show before reminding me of their predicament.
The gig had been a brilliant return to much missed stomping ground of old. I'd been trying for years to make an impact with my own label, Dick Bros records but our limited budgets and lack of international promotion meant that very few people were discovering the music from my solo career.
In Jan 98 I was realising that it was an impossible dream and I was facing the consequences of losing the gamble that was an 8 month tour supporting the last album "Sunsets on Empire", an apt name for my last album on Dick Bros. A substantial tour loss coupled with a number of distribution companies disappearing with money owed to us meant that I could no longer continue the label and not only was I in danger of being unable to pay for the recording of a new album (never mind manufacturing and promoting the project) but also losing the roof from over my head.
My confidence was at an all-time low and as we prepared to fight for the house I pushed the sinking record company into deep waters and headed for the beach that was eventually to turn out to be Roadrunner Records.
I knew I needed an accredited record company to act as a vehicle for my solo career but I also recognised that the Majors were not a good and safe bet anymore and that the Indy scene was still where I could find people with similar ideals to my own and that would have sympathetic ears for my music.
In the meantime Miles Copeland, Sting's manager, had expressed an interest in my career and invited me to a writing retreat in his castle near Angoulleme in France. I joined 23 other song writers for a week during which we were separated from the entire "business" of music and were left to concentrate the more enjoyable elements of our profession.
This was to prove a major turning point for me as I realised that what I did best and loved the most was writing and singing music, a fact that I'd forgotten about as the shadows of the business end had taken me over in the years of running my own company.
I left the Castle with 6 songs and a few sacks of confidence that I would use to great effect.
I returned to work with Dutch artist Ayreon on his project "Into The Electric Castle" in which I would write and sing the part of the "Highlander" in his "Space opera", a progressive "Rocky Horror Show".
That work with the talented Ayreon added to the excitement I was having writing and performing again and in my personal life I was once again finding my balance and winning the fight against the tide of bills left over from the tour and the "Sunsets.." project.
The album was a great album but no one knew it was out there. I'd decided to follow it's direction and continued to write material for the recording which would be called as soon as I had the new record deal. I signed happily to Roadrunner in the early Summer and went straight into the studios to record not only the "Raingods with Zippos" album but also the tracks for the first releases on Roadrunner that Autumn, the entire Fish solo catalogue which had finally come back to me from EMI and Polydor records, as well as a brand new best of album "A Kettle of Fish".
Two tracks from the castle sessions were earmarked for that project, namely "Chasing Miss Pretty" and "Mr Buttons" with three others "Tilted Cross" (a song about land mines in Bosnia that I'd been trying to write since my 2 week tour there a few years ago), "Mission Statement" (written with none other than 80's pop star Rick Astley and American former boxer and accomplished guitarist Paul Thorn) and the current first single from "Raingods..", "Incomplete" written as a duet with Doug Millett and the singer on the album version, Elisabeth Antwi.
Mickey Simmonds who'd been on the last tour came in to play keyboards on the 2 songs we wrote together, "Tumbledown" and "Rites of Passage" reviving a writing team that hadn't worked together since the first two solo albums "Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors" and "Internal Exile".
The rest of the keyboards were played by Tony Turrell who had originally came up to my studio to Remix some tracks from "Sunsets" with fellow conspirator Mark Daghorn.
They wanted me to dub some vocals on a 25 minute slab of groove and ambient music which after they played me the tapes became the skeleton of the main piece of "Raingods", the awesome "Plague of Ghosts". As soon as I heard it I knew there was something special there and Mark and Tony were equally excited at the prospect of working on my first epic attempt since "Misplaced Childhood" with Marillion in '85.
I was very conscious of not revisiting that album and was determined to avoid the clichéd Progressive rock pit falls. Thanks in the main to producer Elliot Ness who had also worked on "Sunsets" and the mixing abilities of Calum Malcolm who had also remastered the entire back catalogue that Summer, "Raingods.." has turned out to be a commanding album and one I consider containing some of my best work ever!
It was tough sitting on the album from October till now. Everyone wanted tap and the buzz on the Internet and demands for tapes became stifling. I wanted to tell the World about this album.
I was thankful to have my thoughts diverted by the second of my acting roles that year. As more time became available through the dissolution of the label and the selling of of the studio equipment I was able to pursue other interests that were close to my heart. My film career had been put on hold as touring took over my life but now I could start to build on my limited experiences and develop a c.v. that could attract more than just minor roles.
A six part comedy for Channel 4 TV in the UK provided light relief as I played retired Rock Star Derek Trout in a "Young Person's Guide to Becoming a Rock Star".
There are 2 other films on offer for 99 and I hope I can fit them in a schedule which thanks to Roadrunner's promotion and Press department and the positive reaction to "Raingods.." worldwide is becoming fuller by the day as more and more people are switching on to the album.
The tour originally planned for May and June in Europe has been postponed till August/September as the gigs and fees on offer didn't fit my idea of how "Raingods" should be performed as a live entity. If the album lives up to it's promise then I'll get the production the album deserves and bring it on down to you.
Without a shadow of a doubt this album can reintroduce me to not only older fans who lost me over the years but also to other people who still appreciate music of content and depth in the late 90's.
If Spain awakens to the sound of "Raingods" dancing then you can be sure that there will be one tall Scotsman heading your way for a party in the sun.
I'll see you all then!
Hope you get as excited as I am with the album!
all the best
Love Fish x
Email 17th March 1999