Email 26th February 2007

Subject: Fish 2007 - Reaching for the Stars!

Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and The Company,

A month gone by and so much has happened, all definitely positive and all very exciting and uplifting!
Where do I start? I suppose with the confirmed news that I have taken up a position of a broadcaster on Planet Rock with my own show, "Fish on Friday" kicking off on the 3rd March at 6 till 8pm. The show goes out every Friday (repeated on Sunday) until the end of June and I'll be playing an array of rock music including demos from "The Thirteenth Star". First show for example has King Crimson, Roger Waters, Genesis, Marillion, Led Zep, SAHB, the Faces - you get the drift! As well as stories behind songs and a plethora of anecdotes there's a weekly competition to win my entire catalogue of solo studio recordings with a draw from all who enter for a special prize for a lucky someone of a visit to the studio for the playback of the new album and dinner with me and the boys. I'm cooking! :-)
At the moment the shows are being pre recorded at the XFM studio in Glasgow but in the next few weeks I'll be going out live from Scotland!
Trevor White, my producer is really pleased with the first two shows which are in the can and both he and I are excited about the plans for the coming months which will culminate in a special live performance at a venue as yet unnamed in Central Scotland which will probably be the first show on the "Clutching at Stars" tour. Admission will be free and tickets only available to fans who enter the competitions over the broadcast period. In fairness to The Company I will probably be arranging a warm up gig to this show as it will be recorded and broadcast on Planet Rock after my run of shows.
The demos that I'll be playing are in rough form with the first two purely instrumental loose versions. I'll be talking about the songs and explaining the writing and development process as the weeks go by. There's enough anecdotes flying around to keep the most diehard fans happy.
I had hoped to announce the appointment simultaneously with Planet Rock but their press department forgot to tell me and they launched before I could get the news on the web site. Needless to say there will be quite a bit of coverage in the general media supporting the show and with the "Thirteenth Star" and the acoustic album from St Mary's in the neck of the pipeline it's all going to be great profile.
I'll be writing a blog for the Planet Rock web site and I'll have a dedicated email address specifically for contacting me about the show and for requests, comments and abuse! All in all very exciting stuff!

I've also been in discussion with other parties and I am considering seriously setting up "Fish TV". This will take the form of a streaming service available on monthly subscription where fans can see an hour of material that's made up of interviews from the studio about the new album, the demoing and recording of the tracks, footage shot generally around the farm and studio, funnies, archive footage from my vast collection of tapes amassed from touring since 88 including studio sessions from various albums and other material.
We are still working on formats and pricing etc and there will be a survey conducted on the web site as well as a demo of the intended show style put up in the near future in order to canvas your opinions and get your input on what you would like to see.
The picture quality is quite good and better than YouTube for example and the idea is to have DVDs of the shows available at some point with the studio footage perhaps tied as a bonus disc with "13th Star".

I'll be discussing on-line downloads with parties in the coming weeks in order to get the catalogue and other material available in the run up to the release of the new studio album. It's a long convoluted process and unravelling the mysteries of the myriad of options on offer will take some concentration and time. I hope to have it in place by the early summer.

The acoustic live performance from St Mary's has been mixed and mastered by Calum Malcolm and Mark Wilkinson is coming up to visit me next week to discuss the cover artwork not only for this album but also the main studio project which already has the principal images in place in some form or another. I think it's the most powerful artwork since the "Vigil" cover.
The acoustic project will be available on mail order only in April through the web site and will be previewed on my Planet Rock show. More details will be given out as the project moves into production.

The Studio control room is buzzing (thankfully not literally) as the new equipment is now wired in and working giving me a complete fully functioning recording studio once again. The room was cleared out when the garage was finished and the classic Helpenstill piano which I bought from Mickey Simmonds back in 88 has been reconditioned, re strung and tuned and playing a part in the writing sessions. The piano once belonged to Chas and Dave who left their own fag burns on the black fibre glass top before flogging it to Mickey who sold it to me before he started work on the "Vigil" sessions. It's the piano you can hear on the "Gentleman's Excuse Me" demo on the re mastered "Vigil" bonus tracks. It sat in the container in the garden for over 6 years and I was pleased that this talisman is back in the studio again and in fine working order.
My out front/monitor engineer Paul Kennedy spent a week tracking wires and cleaning up the technical aspects of the studio and was a huge help in getting the place fully operational again. It was a good feeling getting the old place up and running again!
The control room now hosts a brand new Apple Mac G5 Pro with the top of the range Pro Tools HD software and a 24 track Soundcraft desk which is tied up to the existing input lines in the main studio floor and booths. This is the principal recording equipment but I also have the old G4 Apple Mac set up as a work station in the back of the room with the new Logic Pro acting as the main writing tool.
Steve Vantsis has already been up for two writing sessions and has been brilliant at getting to grips with the new set up and has come up with some great ideas which have given us 9 working songs on the "grid". Steve and I have talked about working together as writers for quite a while but this is the first time we have collaborated. It's been highly productive and the vibe on the sessions has been really positive and creative. I would go as far as to say this has been the best vibe in the studio and control room for years. Frank Usher has also been taking part in the sessions and has come up with a couple of great ideas. Like Steve he has been in the background on previous album writing but is now very involved in the creation of this project and between the three of us we have come on leaps and bounds in the first two months of working together. The chemistry on this album is very different and the material strong and melodic and sitting on some wonderful grooves. The style is different but relative and I can hear echoes of "Sunsets" and ironically "Clutching" in the tracks we are working on at present.
Track titles we have at the moment are ; "Circle Line", "Arc of the Curve", "Micklegate", "13th Star", "Dark Star", "Openwater", "It Ain't Easy" (working title), "Going Home" (working title) and "Where in the World?".
It is a concept album and in the next two months more will become clear (both to you and me :-)) as the writing progresses and more material takes the grid and others move forward to the intended band pre production in late April early May. I am fully confident we are on line to bring in Calum Malcolm in mid May to begin recording with an intended finished album by mid July.
More information about the album will be posted as we move further into the project. For now we are in a very positive position and all the hard work everyone has put in the last two months is more than paying off.

There are changes in the band line up for the album and the tour. Both Tony Turrell and Andy Trill have been moved out. They put in a great shift on the "Return to Childhood" album and tour and I sincerely appreciate all their work with me in the last two years. I decided however that I needed a change and to freshen up the chemistry for this album. The decision had nothing to do with either Andy or Tony's playing ability but more to do with the new style and approach on "13th Star".
Tony is replaced by Foss Paterson who has recently been playing keys with John Martyn. Foss as many of you know played with me in the mid 90's on the "Suits" and "Yin/Yang" projects after Mickey Simmonds left the band and made me aware of his availability through a chance meeting with Frank (Foss retired from the band at the same time as Frank just before the "Sunsets" album). He came down to the studio last week and we let him play on the demos. His interpretations blew us away and we knew immediately he was the right man for the position. It's an appointment that put a big smile on everyone's faces and I for one am really pleased he is back in the fold.
The position of second guitarist has not yet been filled and I have a number of options I am examining. We have auditioned a couple of likely contenders but at the moment we are under no pressure to make a decision. I am confident I will have my man by the end of March and in place for the last period of the writing sessions.

All in all as you can see we are in exciting times and there are a lot of highly positive things going on. We have been very busy in the last two months and in the coming period I know it's going to get even more hectic as the recording looms. I am on a real high just now as are all the team and everyone is looking forward to delivering what I hope is one of the finest albums I have produced for years. You can rest assured we will do our finest to achieve that aim,

until the next post,
take care and stay alive

Onkel Fish
 

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