Email 1st February 2003

Subject: Fish 2003 - The raising of the Standard!

Dear Fishheads, Freaks, fans and the Company,
First of all a Happy New Year to one and all! 2003 has kicked off with a rush and I can now let you know a little of what the "cunning plans" are for this year!
The first major event had it's roots backstage at last years Chiddingfold SAS gigs when an innocent conversation between Spike Edney, Nigel Planer and myself ended up in a job offer that was close to becoming one "I couldn't refuse!"
Nigel I have known for a long time since his role as Neil in the "Young Ones" and beyond. His ex-wife Frankie played the part of my foreign partner in "Young Persons Guide to Becoming a Rock star". You get the picture! Our paths have continually crossed over the years and this year was his first time with the SAS at Chid as he was playing the part of "Pop" in the "We Will Rock You" musical where Spike was part of the house band! I had innocently asked what he was up to, not knowing the connections, and Spike had joined in with an enquiry as to when Nigel's contract in the Queen musical was up. Next thing was that I was suggested to take over from Nigel and every one thought that it was a brilliant idea and that I should come down and see the show in January! The idea rolled and gathered momentum and a couple of weeks ago I found myself with Brian May and Roger Taylor, Queen manager Jim Beech and writer Ben Elton backstage drinking champagne and being introduced to various members of the cast! Everyone was really positive and enthusiastic about my involvement and Ben asked me to come down to read for the part of "Pop" which I had discovered was a wonderful role and with a lot of rehearsal time and hard work potentially within my capabilities. Nigel is excellent in the part and leaving a very high benchmark and a definitive portrayal of the character that is one of the leads in the musical. It was easy to get carried away by all the enthusiasm and champagne but in the cold light of a sober dawn I had to carefully consider the options.
The contract was for a year with rehearsals beginning in February for an April start. I very reluctantly had to turn the offer down for two main reasons. Living down in London and away from home and family for over 12 months would have a drastic affect on my relationship with my daughter Tara. As I would be working 6 nights a week throughout the year my free time would be limited and should anything happen in Berlin where I had to take custody, bringing up a child while working in London on a nightly basis would be impossible and not a life for a 12 year old.
Secondly, my music career would have to be put on ice for that period and I was not willing to delay the "Field of Crows" project and subsequent touring which could have resulted in a "disappearance" especially on mainland Europe. With other projects waiting in the wings for later in the year I have a strong chance of raising my profile on a number of levels and I felt that, although the Queen musical would have benefited me greatly in the UK, the lack of presence internationally would have had a detrimental effect on my main career as a musician.
Everyone concerned with the musical was supportive and completely understood the reasons behind my decision. The door has been left open for a future opportunity and I am sure that - as the musical will be running for some years - there will be another chance for my London theatre debut!
"We Will Rock You!" is a great musical, a happening production and a brilliant piece of writing. Well worth seeing especially if you're a Queen fan!

And so! The band! I had already decided to return once again to a 5-piece band after the success of the Enschede performances. Frank Usher is back on guitars and is involved with the writing on "Field of Crows". Irvin Duguid is retained on keyboards and is promoted up to musical director. Steve Vantsis remains on bass and although he is moving to just outside Birmingham he is fully capable of working with me full time up here in Scotland. The two new changes are on drums and the second guitarist. I had been chasing Jim Drummond for years and had twice missed out on acquiring his services in 91 for "Internal Exile" and in 94 for the "Suits" album. Both times he was too heavily involved with his own band "Strangeways" who had recorded 5 albums for BMG. Jim comes from Coatbridge near Glasgow and is the cousin of Ted and Hugh McKenna of Sensational Alex Harvey Band fame! His style fits perfectly and in the first week's rehearsals has showed himself to be a more than capable drummer and a great addition to the new unit.
The other guitar position is notoriously hard to fill and there were a number of potential candidates. I decided to opt for Bruce Watson from Big Country whom I've known for years and who has played with me on a number of occasions including my first ever gig at the Lockerbie Rex Cinema in March 1989. I had met up with Bruce again recently and sadly at Stuart Adamson's memorial service in Dunfermline where Bruce still lives with his family. We were also both involved with the Frankie Miller benefit album and Bruce was playing with Joe Walsh at the benefit gig at the Barrowlands in Glasgow last September. Big Country had virtually ceased to exist a couple of years ago when Stuart left for a "country and western" career in the USA and the others had moved into their own projects. Bruce had put together a couple of solo albums and some session work but was looking for something substantial to get involved with. I phoned him at the right time and he came over this week to start rehearsals. The band has gelled and we are all very surprised at how quickly the material and the vibes have come together. For the first time I have an all Scottish band although I am sure this will be argued in some quarters as Frank was born in Norfolk although living up here since the 70's!

Having everyone living "locally" will also make an incredible difference with availability and rehearsal times etc. The first gig is already confirmed in Dubai on March 2nd at The Hard Rock Cafe as part of a Harley Davidson Hog Rally and I decided to go for a warm up in the UK a couple of days before.

We will be playing our first gig together as the new line up at The Cathouse in Glasgow on Tuesday February 25th. The venue is at 9 Brown Street, Glasgow G3. Ticket prices are 10 pounds and capacity is around 350. At this moment I don't have any other ticket details but the venue is well known and well advertised.

After Dubai there is a concerted plan to tour the Highlands and islands and other gigs throughout Scotland. These will take place at weekends when we are not playing open airs in mainland Europe and will be used to "live rehearse" the "Field of Crows" material which will be recorded in the period up until July with Elliot Ness at the helm as engineer/producer. Anyone with suggestions of venues or who can offer help with this tour please get in touch. The idea is similar to the infamous "Toile Tour" of 92 and to hit the Orkneys and Shetlands as well as other venues well off the normal tour circuits! Amongst all these dates there is a strong possibility of a Haddington show but as yet there is no fixed date and it will probably not take the form of a convention in the classic sense! It is too late to organise the proposed open air event at Lennoxlove and to raise the necessary profile which I would need to attract sponsors and other investors to make it work. This event is in the pipeline for next Summer.
There are a number of discussions going on in the background and I am awaiting decisions from important parties which will decide the exact curve of the next two years. This has resulted in a delayed fanzine as I want to make sure that the next fanzine catches all the important news that will have a hopefully dramatic effect on the rest of the year and beyond.

Finally! The "Sunsets on Empire - live in Poland 1997" double DVD is now available in NTSC and PAL formats! "Fools Company" the DVD and "Mixed Company" the double CD from Enschede 2002 will be available in late February! Your support with both these projects is much appreciated as they directly fund the studio work taking place in the coming months! We are making it happen!

lots of love
Onkel Fish X

now a non-smoker and 3 times a week gym enthusiast! :-))))))))))
 

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