Subject: Fish 2002 - Gullible's Travels! :-)
Dear Fishheads, Freaks, fans and the Company!
After what appeared at first a most translucent April Fool's joke for a long time I feel I must apologise to a large number of you (Don't be embarrassed :-) for the "cancellation" of the upcoming "NYC dates" this summer! :-)
Judging by the recent Freak's List themes my timing was perhaps preying on the more sensitive and deprived souls of the Fish/Marillo World but give me a break! I'm a fictional writer (or should I say a "writer of fiction") for God's sake! :-)
North America does have valid gripes over the lack of touring in the last decade and I have some sympathy as regards the dearth of catalogue available in the stores. This is from my point of view and is not intended to represent the views of the Marillion camp in any way, shape or form.
One of the reasons my material is not readily available in the States and Canada is the action I have been undertaking against Roadrunner records in the last 2 years. One of the principal reasons I signed to that label in 1998 was the potential opportunity through their operations in North America to develop my career there. However after discovering that RR was not particularly interested in my career in that territory and the subsequent negotiations for return of catalogue it was impossible to mount a supported tour and to stage any venture there until I once again had command of my back catalogue. That has now occurred and I am now capable of renegotiating with a third party the possibility of a domestic release for the catalogue in North America.
It must be pointed out that a label is not a pass card to American success and a success in the league to which many American fans believe I am destined to achieve is unlikely.
My lessons with Polydor/Viceroy and Roadrunner (never mind the Dick Bros distribution deals which lost me over 85K Sterling through Chapter 11's in 1997/8) have been very hard and any further deal to be made with that Continent will not be born from pipe dreams!
I think I have declared my ambitions in that territory on more than one occasion and have taken more than my fair share of hard knocks in attempting to contact a potential audience I am still convinced exists in the USA and Canada. I have still not received any money from Viceroy Records for sales of "Sunsets..." and in all honesty I had to give up any thought of legal recompense a long time ago. The 10K sterling stolen by our US merchandise company on that tour is in the same dark hole!
Last year I wanted to tour the West Coast of the States before the South American tour and was told by our agent in the US, Larry Webman, who believes intensely that the "act" has major potential, that for the 4 shows I wanted to play I would have to pay out 400 pounds sterling per non US citizen for Visas( Wes's European Visa was free) as well as the traditional 25% gross to clubs for merchandise, the import tax on merch, the US tax on the shows as well as the "traditional" arm up the back gig costs which include a percentage and downpayment on any recording made in the venue!
It's not easy guys!
However it can be done!
I am seriously looking at a tour of North America next year to support the release of "Field of Crows". The European tour in all likelihood is going to drift in to December start date in order to allow me adequate time to finish the album. This means the second half of Europe will be in January/February and with South America pencilled in for April the gap allows for some very careful North American touring which is already being discussed with my UK and US agent.
It's all tentative and all idealistic but extremely probable. With my last tour in Europe unsupported by a major and led by fans on the Internet, and the most successful for some years, there is a drive for a tour using a close liaison with fans to promote the shows in "safe"areas.
I do want to tour America. I will not achieve the success of "Train" or "Pearl jam" but I could have fun and make a living at the same time without playing Madison Square Gardens.
It's not forgotten!
The planning is the key!
As the year unfolds I will announce the ideas and I will be open to suggestions of places/venues /cities to play. Please be realistic if you suggest anything as there is no point playing "happening" clubs to 10 people from the Freaks list! Any North American tour is a heavy financial risk no matter how rose tinted your shades are! I've been there ticked it off and bought a wardrobe full of t-shirts! I am not being mercenary just being a realistic artist who is 43 years old (at the moment) who although appreciating the stubborn, die hard, near fanatical support of fans out there has to balance that desire for adventure against the harsh reality of surviving as a musician in the modern age!
Don't despair! We can make it happen!
lots of love
Onkel Fish xx
Email 2nd April 2002