Subject: Fish 2007 - Journey to the Thirteenth Star!
Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and The Company,
First of all a very happy New Year to one and all!
I just got back from Oslo yesterday after playing a TV show on Saturday in Hammer with the SAS band. It was the Norwegian Sportsperson of the year awards beamed out live to 5 million viewers and attended by HRH the Princess of Norway.
It was the first time I'd played with the SAS guys and gals for over a year so the meet up at London Heathrow on Friday was 'emotional' :-D
I was still lurgied up with a virus which has been hanging about since my last shows and I was worried that this latest recurrence would be a real problem with the gig. I nursed my way through the Friday night rehearsals and into my bed despite the Sauron like enticement from Andreas and the visiting Vikings at the hotel bar. I really felt the benefit for the long sleep the next day and drew some jealous glances from the members of the dawn patrol who had foolishly followed the flame in a country where a round of drinks is a small mortgage.
Our spot was only 7 minutes during which time we raced through a medley of "Kayleigh" (one verse and a full chorus before a few bars of guitar and then...), Paul Young sang "Everytime you go away" (roughly the same length and with a beautiful crossover from the 'K' solo into the opening riff) before Kiki Dee sang "I got the music in me" to bring our contribution to a quick climax! We were supposed to sing "Don't go breaking my heart" but the TV slot was too tight.
I sang "Sweet Home Alabama" as a warm up song off camera to the 5000 or so attendees in ball gowns and evening suits before the show went live on air. It was quite a daunting affair and despite the lingering flu your boy did well! :-D
Funniest moment was when immediately before our performance and during the presentation of an award to the Norwegian female handball champions a member of the team dropped the large glass "snowball" like award on the floor! A stunned silence followed by a rolling ripple of embarrassed laughter.
Best moment was meeting HRH in the corridor outside the dressing rooms as Paul Young and I headed for the free drinks trolley.
We were stopped by her security as she talked to some Norwegian artists and were then taken aback when she came across to congratulate us on our performance. She was totally charming and admitted to knowing the songs well from the 80's talking to us for over 5 minutes about what we thought about Norway etc. It all came to a halt when I mentioned the last Scotland Norway World Cup qualifier in Oslo :-! :-D All in all I was truly impressed with her down to earth nature and friendliness. A very cool lady!
After the TV show the VIP party was our next destination and with no more pressure I could "relax" a bit. We all got very "relaxed" and Spike in his position as leader had negotiated free bevvy in exchange for a couple of songs at the bash. In Norway nothing to be sniffed at! That's more in financial terms than most bands get for a club gig! I avoided the ensuing enthusiastic jam come renditions of various classics until it was too late and belted through "Alabama" again. I was just leaving the stage when Spike decided to play "With a Little Help From My Friends". Too late, we were in and I had forgotten all the arrangement. We sang mostly in slurred Albanian and it was only when we reached the "scream section" that I realized that I would have to catch a keyboard player, who had eaten more than his share of turkey in recent weeks, in mid air as he grabbed the mike and went for his "moment"! I saw the charge from the keyboards and held my arms in the "allotted" position. He hit me like a bull and my knees buckled just as he grabbed the mike and stand and slammed them off my bowed head while bellowing in my ear.
The SM58 mike normally associated with dental damage scored my pink head and left me with a mark which had the band calling me Mikhail Gorbachov next day. It stung like buggery but that night I didn't feel the pain :-D
All in all a great weekend and a great chunk of profile in Norway.
Well Steve Vantsis arrives this weekend to begin the writing sessions on the new album which will be called the "Thirteenth Star".
Mark Wilkinson and I already have the cover virtually worked out and I must admit to being quite excited at the surge in activity around the project. (You should know how I start these projects by now - album title, then the cover, then the pressure to write the damn thing :-D)
Dates have already been booked in September for the UK and October is already nearly full with 9 Polish shows an indicator of where the positive vibes have taken me from the "Return to Childhood" tour. This tour is already named as the "Clutching at Stars" tour and with open air dates already in the books this Summer it looks like a long one. The dates will be announced once they are set in concrete and you can be sure of a long promo on both the album and the tour.
The album is intended to be finished by July and released to retail around October. Calum Malcolm is on hold to record the project here at the Studio in May and June. The garage has been built and all the stock and merchandise in the control room has been moved thereby clearing the space for creative work. The old 'Helpenstill' baby grand piano we used to demo "Vigil" back in 1989 is due for a service and tuning and is once again in situ in the back of the room awaiting tinkling! Blown speakers are being replaced and I am waiting on one of my crew to visit in the coming weeks to plug in and rewire the desks and effects etc as well as go through the buckets of cables currently shelved in the garage which is full to bursting point.
I have had stock returning from my old label Voiceprint as well as discovering old Roadrunner stock stashed away in cupboards I didn't even know existed. This has resulted in a review of pricing and with Snapper unleashing the entire back catalogue on digipaks we are trying to move the remaining stock out to make space for the incoming new units.
These will soon become collector items as some of the old stocks will not be repressed in those formats. For example I only have 300 "Vigils" in hard cases left from Voiceprint pressings, 175 copies of "Suits", 125 "Exiles", 100 "old" Dick Bros "Acoustic Sets" (repackaged as the "Acoustic sessions with other material), 75 or so of the original "Fishy Records" 'Outpatients' album and about 200 or so of the first "Dick Bros" issue of the same album. Once sold "Outpatients" will be deleted as will "Kettle of Fish".
I already have the Snapper digipak versions of "Vigil" available and I'll be taking the new digipaks of "Internal Exile", "Suits" and "Sunsets" from Snapper once I have sold off the old versions. The double live "bootleg" series is also being reviewed and again prices have been slashed accordingly!
Elspeth and I will be conducting a full stock check in the coming weeks and I will be able to give you an exact count of what units of what titles we have in the older formats. As some of you have already noticed I have taken the prices of some titles down dramatically in the last week or so to take into account the current stock levels of some albums.
The same sales prices exist for the clothing range with "Return to Childhood" tour Ts dropping in price in preparation for the new "Thirteenth Star" campaign which will begin in the next few months.
Most of the DVD prices have also been greatly reduced to accord as have the prices of "Masque". This is all part of the 'great re organisation' that has occurred since Elspeth joined me and as the older stock clears the overall picture will become a lot clearer as I move into the next studio album.
The next release of "new" material will be the "St Mary's acoustic set" ( no official title as yet!) in May to support the recording of "Thirteenth Star". I don't intend to sell "13th Star" in advance and it will only be available on mail order once it is manufactured. I do intend to go with special packaging on the mail order sales and am considering bonus tracks or other material as part of the offer to buy direct from the web site. Any input is appreciated on this. It would be invaluable to hear what you want from this (apart from a genuinely brilliant album which is high on my priorities :-D)
Regarding the newspaper "exclusive giveaway" of a 10 track cd, the whole matter - as is the norm - has gone on hold and we await developments. I have told the agency dealing with this that I intend to release the double live acoustic CD in May and if they are on board then wonderful. If not I am not hanging around waiting on a decision. I was disappointed with the lack of response after the initial excitement and positive vibes but as always the corporate machinery grinds unbelievably slowly and doesn't sail on the same winds of enthusiasm as the artistic community.
With the announcement that downloads will be taken into account re chart positions I am now aggressively looking for a company to handle this aspect of my business and will be examining options in the next few weeks.
I was recently asked to join the "cross party members committee on contemporary music" at the Scottish parliament and attended my first meeting shortly before Xmas. This is something I think I will become more actively involved in as the year progresses and it's importance will surely grow as the parliament looks like taking on a far more important role in Scottish affairs with the approach of new elections.
Another interesting door opens!
It's all looking good folks!
After a relatively quiet holidays which included Tara's 16th birthday (needless to say I didn't see her much) we are all geared up for 2007 and I more than anyone am looking forward to a brand new start.
Hope you had a good break and are fully prepared for what looks like being a very eventful 2007!
until next time when I will have even more news for you :-D
take care and stay alive
Onkel Fish xx
Email 10th January 2007