Subject: Fish 2003 - The Dead Parrot Sketch - pining for the fjords!
Dear Freaks, Fishheads, Fans and the Company,
Time flips by a wee bit too fast for my liking these days! Sitting here listening to Joni's "Hissing of Summer Lawns" in 30 degrees in Scotland and awaiting the cattle prod of reality to zap me back into the fray. The last few months have been frantic on personal and business levels. Adjusting to being on my own again while writing an album that is deliberately avoiding pining or striking out at anyone has been tough and I was floundering around in my head for quite a long time until I hit the curve of the story to hang "Field of Crows" upon.
We have 9 songs so far in different advanced states of demo form and hope to begin laying backing tracks proper in the next two weeks after the Knockhill show with Quo on the 23rd August.
There has been a change in the line up for the album. Jim Drummond has been replaced by ex Big Country and Fish drummer Mark Brzezicki. Jim's "3rd party" workload of workshops and other gigs was increasing and with my gigs falling out this year it was difficult to find "Quality" time together. The backing tracks Elliot was putting down were not acceptable for the album and so after discussing this with Jim, who had admitted he was struggling with the material, I decided to make the change. There was no problem with Jim's live contribution but the studio was demanding a different delivery. He has decided to retire from live work with us as well and Jim's last show with the band will be at Knockhill.
I think Mark will bring something very special to the album and a reuniting of old friends is an added bonus. With Jim's resignation from the live performances Mark is obviously in the frame for the next touring activities! His energy and technique are exactly what the album requires and the potential of a rhythm section team up with Steve Vantsis has excited everyone involved.
The tracks written so far (in approximate order on the album) are "The Field" (atmospheric lament leading into Celtic Rock main body), "Rookie" (full on rock out with horns and balls :-))))))), "Moving Targets" (rock around a quirky pulsing rhythm gtr set up), "Zoo Class" (Horny swingy tongue in cheek thang), "Numbers" (in your face rock out), "Exit Wound" (bluesy Lennony ballad - no balls but well hung :-))), "Old Crow" (Rocky shuffly swingy dancy hoppy thang), "Innocent party" (Whoesque epic) and "Shot the Craw" (spacy folky minuet shifting groovy feminine piece :-).
There are a couple in the writing shed: "The Lost Plot" (Floydy bluesy epic), "Scattering Crows" in development looking like a climbing curver through sections on to a rock out plateau, before heading back into the lament of "The Field" revisited.
All will become more clear in the coming weeks as MP3's are added to the fieldofcrows.com website together with lyrics and other ideas in progress.
The change in drummer has meant a stall on the dive into recording but it looks like we will have the album together by the end of October. As there is no pressure to deliver the album until it's ready and with the South American and other touring falling by the wayside we can spend time making sure we create an album we can be proud of. I have not decided on advance sales and I don't want to announce such an offer until I am confident of a delivery date.
Other factors are involved as I have been offered a chance to discuss a major licensing/distribution deal with a European label which could lead to a number of interesting angles next year.
After the Roadrunner fiasco I am obviously wary of getting involved and the sales of "Fellini Days" although not explosive generated enough income for me to move into the "Field of Crows" album sessions knowing that I can survive at this level without too much compromise and maintaining relative control of the project. I long ago realised that the current version of the music industry is not one I am comfortable with and it's one that has little time for a 45 year old, (slightly :-) overweight, bald singer with opinions and a maverick history! Accepted! I have no desire to be a "rockstar" and attempt to compete in the modern marketplace. I prefer to retain my dignity. I need however an honest and working label who can get my product out to retail internationally and provide what promotion they can with limited budgets. I may have found such a thing!
I am lucky that I have a number of strings to my bow. In the next 6 months or so I am open to acting roles and have already passed on a couple of auditions. With "Nine Dead Gay Guys" out on general release on September 19th there will obviously be a healthy (?) profile around my acting career. The film has been chosen to open the 3rd Manchester Lesbian & Gay Film Festival on 14th August and on the evening of the 19th September Lab Ky Mo, the director and producers are holding a Q&A screening in Manchester. I will post more news on the cinemas and Manchester happening as soon as I get it! I will be consciously putting more time and energy into film work in the coming months and my agent is confident of more roles next year after the touring activities ground to a halt in the Summer. I am discussing the itinerary now with various people and hope to have a good idea of the initial UK and European dates in the next month or so. The proposal is to kick off in the UK in February and then move to mainland Europe before striking off to South America to fulfill that particular promise. The dates this year fell apart due to economic situations in a number of countries on that continent.
The SAS Band has provided me with some work and disgracefully I forgot to mention the Eastliegh show and the festival in Tromso last weekend! Sorry I totally blanked! :-(
The Eastliegh gig near Southampton was a tented affair and I sang "What Do You Want The Girl To Do", "Lucky" and "Kayleigh" with a verse in "We Will Rock You". Other singers were Leo Sayer, Chris Thompson, Paul Young, Graham Gouldman (10CC) and Tony Hadleigh. Great reaction and I went down well in the Armani suit! :-)
Day after was a long trip and 2 flights above the Arctic Circle to Tromso in Norway! I spend a chunk of my life wanting to play in the Arctic and then get there twice in a year! Again a tent we were on stage in broad daylight at 1.30am and got off stage in broad daylight at 4am, returning to the hotel in broad daylight at 6am to get up and eat sushi in the harbour in - you guessed it... broad daylight! I was jet lagged without the flight time! Great review on the Saturday gig so we paid for our supper (13 people - paid for the promoter, wine was 30 quid a bottle and I lost count!) by performing another short set in the Borebrau (?) a famous "Cheers" like bar in the town which hosts a stand up comedy night every week on NRK TV. I have something terrible to admit btw! I ate whale meat!!!!! It tastes like a cross between liver and swordfish! It wasn't an endangered species - I did ask first! I was told it was a rockwhale. Quite appropriate really! :-)))))
The restaurant was called "Store Norske Fiske Kompanie". I didn't realise that Andreas and the boys were branching out! :-)
Only Chris, Tony, Paul, Graham and I were in Tromso for the gig and they all left on the Sunday early. At the Guffstock festival I performed all of the Eastliegh numbers plus "Sweet Home Alabama". A very Fellini weekend all round ending up with myself and a new found friend reciting Monty Python sketches until 6am. The laughter drowned out the gulls who obviously had no idea what time it was! :-)
I am playing Bulgaria with the SAS band on the 16th in Bansko at the football stadium. Other acts on the bill include Bonnie Tyler and some guy from Smokey!? :-) The vibe from Bulgaria has been tremendous and everyone is very excited that I'll be coming down there for the first time ever! Spike has been taken aback at the response and will be allowing me a couple of extra numbers! I'll be down on the Thursday before the gig and leaving on the Monday. It'll be a much needed break in the mountains and a chance to try and set up my own gigs there for next year. I have been told that there may be another SAS open air event in Bulgaria soon after the traditional Chiddingfold and Brook Southampton shows in December this year which I will now obviously be attending. Must get my body into shape for this year's performance!!! ;-)
Between solo gigs and albums which I still plan to continue making every couple of years, my work with the SAS band and acting roles which will be filling in the spaces (or vice a versa) together with a concerted effort at developing my other writing skills in the coming year I am quite happy with my lot and can maintain a lifestyle that is less stressful than that of chasing the elusive Holy Grail of a "hit" album or single. I don't have that many overheads and Kim is more than capable of dealing with all the various aspects of my careers and the general office/mail order activities. I learned from Dick Bros Records that sometimes you can't do everything and that sometimes the empire you want to create costs more than just money. I think I've found quite a good balance but still need to put my share of the workload in to keep the ship steady and on course. It isn't all pretty but then what is?
I've been enjoying Tara's company for the last 5 weeks and am in awe of a young girl turning into a beautiful woman. She is now up to my shoulders and thankfully has her mother's looks and my head! :-) She had a great time at the Liverpool Cavern which has to go down as one of those legendary shows of all time. 130 degrees on stage confirmed by the promoter who was amazed at the reaction, the audience and the band who rocked big time that night. Although this line up is changing again, as is the want of my solo outfits, the new potential members combined with a new album which is developing into something very special, look like leading me into a very creative and promising area of my career. All will unfold in time!
I'm sure I have still to meet and conquer a bunch of trolls on the curve and I am sure there will be surprises both welcome and unwelcome but I am feeling pretty confident about the future paths.
And tonight in Sunny Scotland I will mostly be eating courgettes that I grew in the garden! :-)
Onkel Fish xx
ps Yatta is now on the SAS Band production crew! :-)
Email 7th August 2003