Email 25th February 2000

Subject: Fish 2000 - Updates and news from the prodigal singer!

Dear Freaks, Fishheads, Fans and the Company,

Apologies for being missing in action for a while but there have been a number of pressing problems some of which I can let you know about and others that will unfold as the weeks go by!

On the acting front -
Inspector Rebus "Black and Blue" is scheduled for transmission on April 11th on ITV. I was told this 2 weeks ago during the wrap party for the second programme "The Hanging Garden". The director is well pleased with my contribution and another slot next year is highly probable. I lost out on "Metal Gods", it appears that Vinnie Jones has the role! :-(
I'm up for as "Taggart" episode for STV in April but all this is dependent on the "Salvation's Door" film which has been rescheduled for May! :-((((( I am currently on a health trip, quitting the weed again using acupuncture as of Monday and cutting the booze down to one night a week. Tie that in with a resumption of football twice a week, work on the ruin and assorted gym work and you may yet see a 6 pack on my stomach that isn't contained in tins. It's never too late.
Since the States the band have not been particularly busy with a depressed live music scene generally providing gig offers that are too few and far between, resulting in a lean period for all the musos. Steve Vantsis is working as a desk top publisher on various projects, Squeeky has not been getting the gigs he hoped and is seriously considering a full time job in a drum shop, Tony T is working in the studio producing various projects and Wes is in sunny Florida with his pub gigs. It's a sign of the times I'm afraid.
Liz is the only one of us with positive muso news. She told me on Saturday at the SAS gig that she now has a record contract and will be working on her solo album this Summer. (More news when it comes in from Liz)
I for one am overjoyed as she is an immense talent. Steve Rothery was at the show in the Shepherds Bush Empire and admitted that Liz was exceptional. I went out with all the guys on the Friday and had a great time with them all (including H BTW) discussing various business stuff re the catalogue and other items that we have to deal with as a troupe.
Unlike last time we were well behaved and the Marillos dived off homeward around midnight.

The SAS gig was probably the best yet with a cast of hundreds combining for a great nights entertainment. I met up with a load of Freaks and Company personnel; some of which were SAS Virgins, in the pub next door before the show. I heard afterwards that they were totally amazed at the performance. I had been worried all day as Liz had gone AWOL and didn't show until an hour before curtain. We were performing Just Good Friends and the band had rehearsed during the week. I had been prepared or a solo effort but thankfully Liz made the effort and contributed a brilliant vocal that blew many non Fish enthusiasts away. I had kicked off with Faithhealer as the other song in my contribution to the night and had thought that 2 was my limit. Spike informed Paul Young and I that 'With a Little Help from My Friends' was to be our duet so we practised the layout of the song in the corridors backstage. On announcement we walked on and Spike added Tony Hadleigh to the equation! Great! A 4 line verse with 3 singers! We kicked it off and Tony nicked the last line of the 1st verse and after forgetting the 4th of the second verse handed me the mike half a bar into the line! I was thrown and it looked like I'd forgotten the lyric. Thanks mate! :-)
All in all it was a fascinating event and I was sorry to have missed all the acts as we were all preparing upstairs and as the stage was miles away we couldn't hear all the contributions.
I missed Arthur Brown with his outrageous and dramatic rendition of "Fire" and only caught the last song of Leo Sayer's act. He is unbelievably Rock and Roll!

(for the anorak fraternity - on drums were Mark Brzezicki and John Martyr. 2 drummers from different periods of my career with Mark having played Faithhealer on the first solo tour)

The regional SAS dates haven't been worked out yet but it seems likely that we will be playing Malta on July 1st. Spike is well up for more gigs so it looks as though more shows are on the cards.
As for myself I have been offered a couple of festivals. One in Switzerland on the 23rd of June could happen. I'll provide details as or if it comes off. The Feast of Hope will be going ahead in May and I am waiting for details on the musicians etc that will be going out or are available before I fully commit.
I have a private gig for some people in March which for reasons you will come to understand I can't go into details of until after the event. For this I am bringing in an Edinburgh-based Scottish guitarist called Aaron Lawson (28) who has been working with Steve and Squeeks on the pub circuit. I saw him play a few weeks ago and he is a very talented acoustic guitarist in the Robin Boult mold. The March show is a good litmus test as it is only a 1 hour acoustic show. I would love to have Wes with us but the simple fact is that the flight and equipment freight costs are so high in order to bring him in from the USA that they are prohibitive. For the record I consider Wes the finest guitarist that I have worked with and someone who I consider a close personal friend. I know there have been some dark rumours bouncing in the shadows of the various mailing lists and all I can say is bollocks! The only reason Wes is not playing these dates is that the figures don't make sense to bring him over. I hope that Wes will be involved with me this summer but I have to make sure that when he comes over that I have enough work to cover his wages for a longer period than just a couple of gigs. It must be remembered that Wes has a gig schedule of his own from which he gathers enough pennies to support his family. When he comes over he moves out of that circuit and his booking has to be replaced by the club owners. When he is with me I have to pay him on a weekly basis not a gig by gig basis in order to compensate for the lost US gig revenue. When he returns he has to get back into the circuit again which is not an easy move. The bottom line is that if Wes and I work together we both have to commit a lot of time and money to make it happen and if there isn't enough income to cover the time period then we have to reluctantly carry on on either side of the Atlantic with our respective cunning plans! Sad but a fact of life.

With the acting career requiring huge tracts of available time to allow the agent to "sell" me in it's tough planning ahead. I am desperately trying to fix the dates for the Haddington Convention and it looks like it will happen at the end of August. PLEASE DO NOT BOOK FLIGHTS OR HOTELS UNTIL THIS GIG IS CONFIRMED. I hope to have details on the confirmed dates in 2 weeks when I have a meeting with the Haddington Music Festival organisers. My theatrical agent will be told that whatever dates there are are immovable and once locked the Convention is a definite. I sincerely hope that Wes will be there with us.

There are the strong possibilities of a German and a Dutch convention around the Autumn but this is again dependent on availability from film work. I plan to use the conventions as an intro to 'Fellini days' with the writing and recording happening during the summer between all the other activities. These conventions on mainland Europe will happen this year - that's a promise.

The Issue 30CD is coming together. It has been taking ages to get the material together as Elliot Ness was posted missing for 2 months. I now have the Haddington tapes and the CD will comprise of 70+ minutes from this show including Plague, the "new" medley, the Company and other tracks to be determined tonight when Steve Vantsis pops round for a fanzine blitz and we listen to the tapes we have so far. I plan to send out Issue 30 with the new fanzine at the end of March / early April.

Wes has sent the ADATS from the US shows and they arrive next week. Once they are in I will be putting together the 'Candlelight' album. I am sorry but I can't fix a date as yet but I would think that the end of April is a good bet. I'll be working my bottom off!
As well as the US tapes I also have great performances from Amsterdam, Koln and Poznan in pre-fog '99 and have been sent a US DAT from a radio broadcast in Milwaukee in '97.
I am unsure what to do with these yet but they could be released as a mid-price double or triple package this summer. All these titles including the Issue 30CD will be on the "Chocolate Frogs" label.

Intrigued? There's more to come! :-)


Oh yes! Chocolate frogs!
After the Roadrunner debacle I have, as you well know, had enough of the "mainstream" record company set up and not wanting to get involved with another Dick Bros scenario for many reasons, which include both energy and finances, I've elected to sign to a label set up solely to deal with my catalogue and run by Rob Ayling at Voiceprint. Rob, who I met at the beginning of Dick Bros and who was my label manager through the "Suits" period, is taking over the licenses from Roadrunner records (once a settlement is reached) and will be looking after all the catalogue as well as supplying us with our Mail Order titles. As part of the Chocolate Frogs deal he is setting up a major database on the Internet together with a well known provider. This will contain all my material for download including a wide selection of live material that will not be available on regular CD. Details have to be worked out but this could include part of the 'Perception' web site becoming "access only to Company members" with a password entry. This area will include live videos and rare recordings as well as live broadcasts and advance playing / demos of Fellini material. As I said this is an idea that Mo and I, together with others, will be kicking around in the coming weeks. For some of you who have already enquired it would be ALL Company members not just Company Scotland. Keeping all this in mind it's a tough logistical process and requires a workload that takes the site into another dimension for all concerned.

The 'Chocolate Frogs' label is a compromise between the fully Independent/run myself into the ground scenario and the traditional route through a recognised "promise you the Earth and give you a shovel" style record company. Rob Ayling has an effective distribution system worldwide and can provide me with the backing and support that I need.
It makes sense.

My publishing is also about to be signed exclusively to "Hit and Run Music Publishing" again and with their involvement with EMI Publishing (an independent company from the record label although the same corporate) I now have access to a highly active publishing house who will be looking for soundtrack and advertising openings. With the curve in my career it again makes sense.

So my life in some ways is being tidied up as I prepare to change ships in midstream.
The set up becomes relatively simple after that. I am then free as planned to get on with the creative duties on whatever front necessary. Sounds good to both Tammi and myself.

On the domestic front the house isn't yet sold and the post Millennium hangover is only now beginning to clear. Fingers crossed.

The "ruin" is now practically clear of overgrowth around the walls and I have a far better idea of the exact structure. There is a hell of a lot of work still to be done but at least we can now go ahead and have someone complete a structural survey. We are only committed to buying if we can get the necessary planning permissions and those are a long way off from where we are at present. We are in for the long haul!

The interesting thing is that after a meeting with the farmer "next door" to the property it transpires that the building we thought a "Smiddy" (slang for Blacksmiths - and the occupation of my family for over a hundred years before I went into the Music Business) and a schoolhouse turns out to be a Smiddy and a pub!!! The schoolhouse was opposite and torn down years ago. The pub, as legend has it was one of two in the area where the English army camped before the battle of Prestonpans in 1745. They allegedly got very drunk in the pubs which was the excuse for the trouncing they took the next day from the Jacobites.
My machete-ing has revealed enough of the interior to suggest that the pub theory is feasible.
I contacted the local historian David Dick (honest!!) a few weeks ago after being put in contact with him through the office of the local East Lothian Courier newspaper. The person told me his name at which I acknowledged the surname coincidence. She told me her Grandmothers name was also Dick (getting spookier!). I phoned David that afternoon to be told that he only today received a letter from me on another totally unrelated topic that had been lost in the post for over a month. He'd contacted me under a publisher's name re: a book he was writing about East Lothian "names" and I had replied telling him I was a Midlothian original and inquiring if that was acceptable for his article. He also told me that due to strange phone calls in the middle of the night from fans looking for "D. Dick, Haddington" he had to go ex-directory for a while. He was as intrigued to meet me as I was him. David is now helping me with discovering the history of the Ruin.
There's too much synchronicity!!!! All will come together in time. What's meant to be - happens. (BTW as I write this David Dick has just phoned me and we are going to the ruin for a walkthrough tomorrow - the hair on my neck stood at attention!)

Other notes - I'll be in goal fending penalties again at Easter Road during half time at the Hibs v Celtic match on March 5th. The reason I tell you this is that SKY Sports will be broadcasting the match live at 6pm and there may be a good chance that they might show a section of the Half time entertainment!

On the subject of satellites how about this from Ed Totten -

"Just in case you ever look back and wonder about where your music is played, here's one for you. In the control room of the largest telescope in Australia, tonight! The Anglo-Australian telescope is in the middle of the Warrumbungle National Park in New South Wales, Oz. And tonight since I'm working this 6 storey tall, 3.9m telescope, I'm in charge, and Raingods is currently entertaining the staff!"

It seems to be a good year for weddings! Jolanda Scholten and Don Johnson formerly in charge of the Company Holland are getting married on the 14th April and Tammi, Tara and I will be over for the occasion. The wedding is on the mainland but the party is over the weekend on an island in the North of Holland!

Also Paul Kinnoch the new landlord of the Tyneside (some of you met him at the convention last year) is marrying long time sweetheart Ann Scott on the 24th June (swift plane from Switzerland for the party!).

That's all I can think of for the moment that I can tell you!
The rest will be discovered in the weeks to come.

The American adventure will be examined in posts to come! It was an adventure and all I can say on behalf of the whole band and crew is a huge thank you to all the fans who attended and made phenomenal efforts to make the shows. I especially want to thank all the guys from the Company North America who did so so much to Make It Happen! All will be divulged later in all it's ugly and glorious splendour!

Until then-

lots of love
Onkel Fish x

still struggling to sort out this e mail software! :-(
 

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