Subject: Fish 2003 - tour and album news
Dear Freaks, Fishheads, Fans and the Company,
Recovering once again from yet another draining weekend and preparing for my debut at Hampden Park on Saturday it's no wonder I've been finding it difficult to fit in the writing for "Field of Crows" as well as deal with general business and domestic issues. The idea of writing during the week and playing tracks at the weekend shows has been proving detrimental rather than an asset to the album construction. More often than not everyone doesn't recover until the Tuesday and the few hours we can pull together around individuals schedules for the rest of the week has meant that it has been a trying process. The gigs have benefited the band as a unit with the shows receiving glowing reviews from media and fans alike. The band has gelled even better than I could possibly imagine and Bruce and Frank in particular have already carved out a solid reputation as highly complimentary guitarists. Steve and Jim have also developed a fine understanding together and Irvin deserves the accolades he is receiving these days as yet another strong presence on keyboards. The writing has not been slow and we have 7 skeletons of work all in various states of readiness for recording. "Numbers" and "Zoo Class" have been played at recent shows to positive receptions from audiences. "Old Crow" is approaching gig readiness with "Moving Targets" and "Innocent Party" in need of more lyrics and work on arrangements. "Once Upon a Time" and "Shot the Craw" are in advanced early stages of construction. Elliot Ness has been working with us on the demos and his patience has been appreciated as we disappear off into the horizon every Friday or Saturday afternoon to return zapped and bedraggled in the early hours of the following morning only to prepare for another "bungee gig" later that day.
I have been receiving the most positive and prolific press in Scotland than I have had for years thanks to my new Edinburgh-based press agent Fiona Duff. A double page spread on the studio in 'Scotland on Sunday' in the colour supplement, a double page colour spread in the Edinburgh Evening News and a full page colour article in the Glasgow Herald on "My Best Friend" had a brilliant shot of Yatta and I together with a joint interview on how we felt about each other! We are still best friends! I even drew attention from the Sun who had a full page colour article on my recent "heartbreaks" with a great photo of Tara and myself! "She's the only girl for me"! Front pages in two Border papers and heavy articles in every locality we have been playing in have definitely "upped" the Fish awareness levels up here! Add to that solid radio mentions including one from Bob Harris on Radio 2. I phoned the show on the way back from the Jedburgh gig as we were driving along the speed trap infested A68. I was quite touched to be referred to as "Mad as a Hatter" as we drove through "a forest of cameras"! I'll be sending him the new album!
Another call to "Off The Ball" on BBC Radio Scotland got a piece on the programme with Tom Cowan and Stuart Cosgrove during the warm up to the Scotland v Germany football match (1-1, ex Hibs player Kenny Miller scored for us - Tara was well pleased!) and a plug for that night's show. Real Radio gave us a lift as the "Big Day Out in Falkirk" open air event we played earlier in the schedule got us rave reviews and a big thank you from the station for delivering a rousing performance on a typically Scottish day at a festival, ie. cold, windy and rainy! Having to follow a seemingly never ending series of all dancing, all miming, all smiling pop acts including the "Naughty Girls"; who reminded me of one drunken night in Prague; we thought the field would empty before us when we came on. But no! It was strange giving autographs to 10-year-old girls after the show that thought we were "cool"!
But even with all that press and radio, attendances have been irregular. Dates we thought would do well have sometimes been disappointing and the mainland European shows have been bankrolling the Scottish dates. I have taken this as a warning and decided to forego any more touring in Scotland until we have the album ready. I have wiped July clear apart from the 17th when we will be returning once again to the Liverpool Cavern. This will be a try out for the bulk of the "Field of Crows" album and will be at the end of a concentrated time spent in the studio. By freeing up July we can hopefully trap the main body of the writing and recording and in August I have dates with the SAS band in Eastliegh near Southampton on the 1st and Tromso in Norway on the 2nd. I head to Bulgaria on the 16th for three shows with the SAS band returning for a festival slot with my own band at Knockhill in Fife with Nazareth and headliners Status Quo! (circles, circles!). This month we have a gig in George Square in Glasgow for the German NFL fans who will be over for the Worldbowl at Hampden Park the following day. We play an hour set on the Friday but on Saturday I will be singing Frankie Miller's "Caledonia" and "Flower of Scotland" live to tape from the centre circle to a TV audience estimated at 80 million people! Sadly the Scottish Claymores missed out on the final thanks to results going against them on Sunday so the game will be between Rhein Fire and Frankfurt Galaxy.
I am performing immediately before the kick off and the exposure especially over in Germany will be immense. I am however becoming increasingly nervous as the day approaches and will be running through the number in the studio more than a few times with Elliot. I can't very well walk out onto the pitch with a music stand and it would be kind of hard to hide the crib sheets on the pitch!
The following weekend we are in Genoa, Italy playing an open-air event as headliners down at the harbour. I am really looking forward to this show as it's been too long a time since I was down there and to return to a spectacular stage area in one of my favourite Italian cities on a Summer weekend is an added bonus.
The last Scottish gig on this part of the touring schedule is at the Carnegie hall in Dunfermline on the 27th June. This will also be a bit special as it's Bruce Watson's hometown and birthplace of Big Country. We are discussing playing a couple of Big Country songs to mark the occasion. "Republican Party Reptile" has been first nominated. Uncannily the recent "Old Grey Whistle Test" re-runs sprouted up performances by Big Country and Marillion ("Forgotten Sons" with Andy Ward on drums) on the programme dedicated to 1983. Bruce and the others looked rather fetching in culottes and Elliot did ask me if I was wearing a wig! Oh those were the days! If we play a BC song in Dunfermline we have insisted to Bruce we do the dance as well!
The intended Highlands and Islands tour has been indefinitely postponed. Yatta and I made the decision after spending weeks trying to make the numbers add up. At the end of the day we would have had to sell out every venue to avoid losing money and the recent figures on the Scottish Lowland shows were proving a worrying weather forecast. The risk was too high and if the Highlands turned into a repeat Culloden Field the effects on the album and future touring could prove disastrous. We are trying to secure a grant from the Arts Council and outside sponsorship to make it happen but this could take a long time to realise. I am disappointed that we had to shelve what was an exciting idea and a potentially great experience for all those that wanted to get involved. I am still examining the ideas for September but I have explained to Yatta that the album must take precedent if we are to hit mainland Europe and the UK proper before Christmas. I will be hearing news this month as to the proposed South American tour. The promoter down there is currently putting together an offer for a substantial tour that is intended to begin in the last week of October. If this comes together then we will be warming up in the UK but the tour schedule for the latter part of the year is too early to call and dependent on too many variables. North America is sadly not on the agenda for 2003.
The elimination of the touring in favour of recording means that I will become totally reliant on merchandise sales throughout the Summer and with that I have decided to pre-sell the album once I have a better idea of the delivery date and the content. I will put together an offer for those of you who are willing to support the recording once the project develops but it will include a second disc with extra tracks and alternative versions. I don't want to fall foul of the timing problems we had with "Fellini Days" so we will be assessing and compiling as we put the main album together. I will provide you all with more details in the next newssheet.
There will be new additions to the T-shirts and other merchandise on sale through the new revamped ordering system on the web site. Mo and Pete's hard work in recent months has translated the service into a far slicker and more professional set up which is drawing praise from those who have used it recently. Stock levels are monitored carefully to avoid confusion and receipts and postal notifications are reinforcing confidence in F.I.S.H. Any help you can give us in the coming months is much appreciated.
Finally I can announce that "Nine Dead Gay Guys" is receiving a UK release on the 19th September. It will be released in the US in October and has just been released in New Zealand! I must admit that I had almost forgotten about it having worked on the film over two years ago. It will be a strange introduction to people out there who have no awareness of my music career. Could be a whole new audience out there! Red PVC trousers and dog collar could become de rigeur with fans at gigs and a new merch area! Mo might have problems getting Pete to model for the site photos though!
Lots more to follow as the album takes centre stage. Until next time, take care and stay alive,
Email 10th June 2003