Email 4th September 2003

Subject: Fish 2003 - No Quarter, the story so far!

Dear Freaks, Fishheads, Fans and the Company,

Apologies for the silence but as expected I've been very busy on SAS duties as well as getting the album back on line and dealing with personal issues all of which have been positive in outcome.
I had hoped to get news on the keyboard situation out before I went to Bulgaria with the SAS band but destiny conspired against me. The new addition to the band is none other than Tony Turrell who has previously worked on the "Raingods" album principally writing "Plague of Ghosts" as well as performing with my solo band on the accompanying tour. Contrary to rumour we sorted out our differences a while back and had met again at Mark Wilkinson's 50th birthday party last year in Nayland.
Tony had heard about my problem and had contacted me through Judith Mitchell to offer his services. It took only a short conversation to sort out details and then I headed next day to Bulgaria for another SAS weekend. I had talked briefly to the Dutch fan Club and confirmed his appointment as official. With the news not emitting from our main site there was a deal of confusion and I can only apologise for my bad timing. Everything has been moving rather fast recently on all levels!
The Knockhill gig had been a severe worry as I discovered that crossed wires had led to some severe misunderstandings around the Jim Drummond situation. After Jim's removal from the studio project he had originally told me that he would play Knockhill as his last show. I then received an e mail from Irvin saying that Jim had said to him that he wouldn't be playing the show. Bruce Watson and I phoned Jim up and convinced him to play the show with the principal argument being that he would be letting everyone down including travelling fans. He changed his mind and we were extremely grateful for his understanding and cooperation.
I then received e-mail from Irvin with his resignation and everything was thrown into confusion. I originally posted to Fishheads a statement which Irvin considered incorrect, and he asked me to remove it. With Knockhill coming up it seemed imprudent to throw sand into an already dangerously imbalanced engine. E-mails sallied back and forth and eventually the true reasons behind his decision to resign became apparent. Jim had given the impression to Irvin that he was only performing the gig under extreme duress. This was not the case and Irvin discovered that both Bruce and I had talked reason into him and that no threats had been made.
Irvin disagreed with my decision to remove Jim from the album and thought my reaction "heavy handed". He was not aware of Mark Brzezicki's playing abilities and did not appear happy at his appointment.
The main reason appeared to be his complete lack of faith in Elliot's abilities. His dislike for Elliot was very apparent in the communications. Due to the crossed wires I offered him an opportunity to return to the band. He offered to help out but warned that a now busy work schedule meant that I would be fitting the album round someone who's attitude to my engineer and producer wasn't going to lead to a pleasant studio environment. I decided to cut the traces and bring in someone with more commitment.
Elliot has produced and engineered three studio albums and I trust him implicitly with my projects. He works in his own way at his own time with the limited resources we have here and delivers great sounding albums.
In the last week he has recorded Mark Brzezicki's performances on eight of the 11 songs marked for the album and has delivered a brilliant drum sound. Mark himself has complimented Elliot on his work and the two have hit off much to the benefit of the album as a whole. I myself feel completely vindicated by my decision and the difference between the demos and the album takes are outstanding.
Tony Turrell will also prove a great asset to the album with three more tracks to be completed and his style fitting the bill entirely. I don't feel I have lost anything by the replacements and I believe the changes will not only be approved by the fans but as a whole prove highly beneficial to the "Field of Crows" project. Both Mark and Tony are in the touring plans depending on availabilities. ("Plague of Ghosts" was in the future set list before Tony's appointment!).
The album is still on line for a recording finish by the end of October and mixing at a major studio in November.
I appreciated that Irvin and Jim played the Knockhill gig although it was a difficult day especially for Jim. They both had a memorable swansong. We did well with a Quo crowd who are notoriously difficult to switch on and received great accolades for our performance.
It was sad to bring a relatively long-standing line up to an end but nothing ever stays the same and sometimes I have to make and accept difficult decisions. Such is the life of the Solo artist.
I have no regrets, and time, Elliot and the current line up will do more than justify those decisions.
The album will speak for itself and I think more than a few people will be surprised at just how good "Field of Crows" will turn out!
One of the major differences now is that the line up consists of tried and tested band members or musicians who have the experience of working with a band set up rather than dealing with a project as session musicians. It does take longer to write and record albums and our studio attitude, which to an outsider or pure session player may seem lackadaisical, is part of the whole process. Some people handle it, others don't. I am now on my 12th studio album and know the score, the patterns and the process. We deliver.
Some people will question my decisions or raise an eyebrow at events. I cannot take that into consideration. I have a job to do and an album to make that will provide work for a long time for a number of people including crew and others including 5 other band members. I have been doing this for a number of years and unlike some older bands I am still "alive" and working. I must be doing something right!
I accept advice readily, criticism with an open mind and an argument, misinformed judgement with condemnation and I make fools suffer. I can be arrogant, stubborn, decisive, impetuous, passionate, cold and loyal to the point of foolishness. It is what I am and without all those attributes or otherwise I would not be what I am and you would not know me from Adam. It's called Yin and Yang. Guilty as charged! Will I change anything? Sorry. Too long in the tooth and too entrenched in my ways. A Garrulous old maverick? Hang me high! Look me close in the eyes and you'll see someone who doesn't give a damn! But I always know exactly what I am doing!
You're either with me or agin me, no ifs and no maybes and that is why I still exist!
I move on with confidence and justification and excitement that we are making a memorable album!
Happy? Me? Yes!!

Lots of love, Onkel Fish xx
 

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