Email 5th November 2003

Subject: Fish 2003 - "Moving that rubber tree plant"

Dear Freaks, Fishheads, Fans and the Company,

We are now into the last week of the album recording with only two vocals, some Frankie solos, a couple of backing vocals, Dave Haswell's percussion magic and some horn work from Steve Hamilton and Richard Sidwell from the SAS band left to finish. As always I have one lyric for "Lost Plot" left but as that song features a major Frank Usher guitar solo there isn't the pressure as I had a few weeks ago.
Elliot takes the project to Glasgow on Saturday to begin mixing and everything is on line for a delivery of masters on the 20th November.
Mark Wilkinson was up at the studio for two days working on the sleeve ideas and capturing the main image for the front cover artwork. As the album progressed the original ideas for airbrushing didn't make sense and we are now working on a Vincent Van Gogh style painting of a landscape in the same feel as "Wheatfields under threatening skies with crows" a picture I saw on my first visit to Amsterdam back in 83 when I took in the Van Gogh Museum. It was his last work before his suicide and after rediscovering the painting recently I felt it suited the feel of the album more than an airbrush work. The history of the work has many parallels to the album that I couldn't ignore.
Mark and I were prepared to trudge around East Lothian looking for suitable fields and landscapes but ironically ended up finding our shot in the back field of Spittalrig Farm with on looking scraggly oak trees and the mound of Traprain Law (the hill) in the background and a foreground of sloping cut fields with temporary track forming the backdrop for the "scarecrow" about to "take off". Double irony is that this was the actual field where I walked in 2001 with my old dog Simba and found sanctuary of sorts from my morass of problems then on an old tree stump at the bottom of the field close to the treeline. It was there that I saw and heard the crow that inspired the initial curves of the project.
Mark's creation is not a copy of the painting but a utilisation of that style around a different main image. We both think that it will provide an exciting and different visual to that we have done before.
I am sure as the artwork progresses in the next couple of weeks that images will be made available on the sites. There will also be more up to date sound clips heading to the site in the next week to give you a better idea of the work so far.
Lars Lande a Norwegian photographer is over this week compiling the rest of the shots for the inner sleeve and taking the photos that I'll use for the general media once the album and tour promotion start to come together. As with Fellini Days there will be a media section on the website where journalists can take down biogs and other info and I am looking at creating another "radio edit" CD with short interview soundbites for stations in order to maximise profile at radio.
Strange to think that as Elliot winds up for his holidays and various other trips including his charity walk in the Sahara Desert with a sky busting grin I am only at the beginning of the "Field of Crows" project! (Check out Elliot's Sahara jaunt on the website as he would appreciate any support you can give him to raise money for the Scottish Society for Autism on his walk in March!)
As always things are never straightforward and a phone call from my movie agent last week lined up an audition for "The Jacket", a film intended to begin shooting in January next year! The script I was sent is the best I have seen for a long time. It was written and will be directed by John Maybury ("Love is the Devil", "Remembrance of Things Fast") and stars Adrien Brody (Oscar winner for "The Piano") and Keira Knightley.
I arrived at the audition 30 minutes late thanks to Glasgow traffic and a map-reader who got confused between east and west!! In all honesty I don't think I'll be offered the role as my audition was not that great thanks to a stress fuelled drive, which added a tinge too much adrenalin to the situation! I am as always torn between the two "careers" and I can only wait on the casting directors decision before making my own. However I don't think it will be an issue. It was worthwhile just to gain the experience of another audition.
My acting diary will be fully available after the Crows project ends sometime in the summer.
It is time I started to devote more space to my acting career that stutters along in the gaps between touring and recording. I know my agent would be a lot happier!
Ironically the "Jacket" audition had to be conducted with an American accent, one that I'd grown used to in recent weeks after endless telephone conversations to LA. Sadly that relationship hasn't worked out and I won't be travelling to the States in November as originally planned. High hopes and high expectations put a strain on the reality of the situation and my involvement with the album and tour left little space to work on a new relationship. With my schedules beginning to overwhelm any free time I had I am resigned to concentrating on my career(s) and forgetting about any sort of personal issues apart from my daughter Tara who will always be top of any "agenda" in my Life.

One other "dark cloud" that flew overhead is the loss of the Jeep endorsement. I had been told weeks ago that Daimler Chrysler were renewing the deal and I was waiting on a new vehicle after the recent 4x4 skills course. It now transpires that there was a "breakdown" in communication and I have to turn my Grand Cherokee in on Friday! I am to say the least gutted as it has been the finest set of wheels I have ever had. With album promotion and touring coming up I can't justify spending a huge slab of capital on another vehicle and especially as I plan to be on the road in a bus for quite some time next year. It's ironic that I was preparing promo shots for the inner album sleeve and the general media package which would include photos with the vehicle as well as setting up the tour which we intended to bring in Jeep as part sponsors for certain territories. Pulling out at this stage is a decision that doesn't make much sense to me and of course leaves me no time to search for another endorsement on a 4x4 for the "Field of Crows" project. As they say the "best laid plans of mice and men"..!
Looks like it's back to my trusty old bucket of a Landrover for a while until I can find a replacement. I am going to seriously miss my Cherokee! For a guy who has never had much love for cars this is a strange new emotion! :-((

Anyway onwards and upwards! The album is sounding great and I am proud of what we have achieved over the last 7 months or so since we began the writing process. I am sure you will not be disappointed with what you hear when we deliver the finished product sometime in December. I'll let you know more about the availability once I have an idea of the delivery date from the production plants.

The Marillion boxed set is now agreed and this should also be available in December. More news on this in the coming week or so!

So I head back to the studio for the last sessions. Still smiling despite the odds! :-))
Lots of love
Onkel Fish

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