Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and the Company,
Sorry I've been a bit quiet in recent weeks since getting back from holiday but as you'd expect it's been a maelstrom of activity here at the studio as we build toward the album and single release.
This week I am in Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and London promoting the 13th Star project with a minimum of 8 major interviews every day in each city. I'm in Milan and Verona the following week and then off to Poland for a couple of days the week after. Amongst all that there is an avalanche of UK media to deal with as the album is receiving strong positive responses across the board.
Radio has still to kick in but I am confident I will be picking up plays at regional and national level in the weeks to come.
Jeff Chegwin is dealing with national radio and so far we have confirmed a number of interviews (including "Tracks of my Years" on Ken Bruce's Radio 2 show) which will give me 5 consecutive days promoting the tour, album and single to 6 million people every morning on the week of "Arc's" release. Also confirmed are interviews with Stuart Maconie (Radio 2 Saturday 23rd Feb. 12.30), Eamonn Holmes (Radio 5 live Saturday AM 1st March), Smooth FM Drive Time show (29th Feb) and Planet Rock (29th Feb).
On top of that there are 2 solid 8 hour days of ISDN interviews with regional stations to be conducted from the BBC in London and various other radio interviews being set up as we speak. Alan Robinson has been working the regional radio and media and getting some incredibly positive feedback.
Jenny Stanley-Clark is working national media and we are expecting a rush of interviews in the next week or two and following into the UK tour and beyond. There are articles hitting right across the board. I even managed to get a photo in this month's 'OK' magazine in an article about the Classic Rock awards!!
Fraser Smith is dealing with Scotland and this weekend there was an article in the Cultural magazine of 'Scotland on Sunday' with again a lot more to come.
I am not pulling any punches on this project and am investing a lot of time, energy and money to make it happen. It's a great chance with a great album and I am taking it!
The single, "Arc of the Curve" was put back to March 3rd in order to give me a better chance of building air plays which we all knew was going to be tough. I was taken aback to hear the song on Chris Evan's drive time show last week. It took a bit of a hit in the listener's view on whether they thought it was a "Hit or a miss" but I think that was down to the number of terrible puns that were available and the comedic opportunity rather than the song itself :-) It was my first play on Radio 2 for something other than Kayleigh for a very long time. I'll take it, thank you very much!
The download version of the single will have the edit of "Arc" plus "Circle Line", "Square Go" and "Sugar Mice" recorded from the Rome show in the latter part of the tour. I'm not expecting a hit single but hope to sell enough to get it somewhere in the charts and bring the album to people's attention. As was proven by the reaction to the Aylesbury show last Summer, there are a lot of people out there discovering I am still working and making albums!
The download will be available very soon for pre order from the new link now attached to the official web site and will also be available week of release on other sites such as iTunes UK and the Mute Digital Store. We are planning to sell the download package for 49p!
The retail version will probably be more difficult to find as most outlets are cutting back on singles and only take guaranteed chart hits or titles once they have charted high or have heavy air play. I can only hope! :-)
The retail version has the radio edit and the album version of "Arc" together with Mark Wilkinson's sleeve design which you can see on the web site. The Egyptian goddess shown on the front cover is Hather who I came across for the first time nearly two years ago next week as I visited the country with my then girlfriend as a romantic break over Valentine's day. The goddess of joy and love and celebrated in carvings throughout Egypt, the irony wasn't lost. As you well know now that was the same adventure where I discovered the star symbol.
The photograph was taken by Tony Marsh who had originally been hired as the wedding photographer. I suggested that instead of returning the fee that he could get involved with the press shots for the album.
I'd just come off the end of the Polish leg of the tour and was alone and elegantly wasted in the studio, lying back on the couch and in the zone. Staring up at the roof beams I noticed something I had completely forgotten about. There, hanging above me were the dozen red roses, now totally desiccated, that I had taken down to York in February when I proposed to my girlfriend on Valentines Day at the Micklegate. She had hung them in the studio when she moved in as a symbol of our romance and had obviously left them when she evacuated the studio in May. It was a harsh reminder. I didn't just want to throw them out. That was too easy. I wanted to use them for something. And then the idea came to me.
I phoned Tony about it and although slightly sceptical he agreed to give it a go.
Time went by and Vietnam was only a couple of days away. I needed the press shots and early one morning Tony came up to discuss the shoot. He threw some other ideas at me including photographing me under a sheet of glass covered in rose petals and doused with burning petrol!!! Needless to say I turned it down. :-D
In anticipation of the shoot Elspeth had found a couple of bunches of roses at Tesco's that were past their sell by date and which were subsequently dried out in order to give us "practice" runs. Tony and I decided to go for it then and there. He set up his lights in the garden using an old wall as backdrop and I donned the "Chinese" collar jacket I'd bought in Liverpool on the tour.
Out with the Zippo fluid and we torched the Tesco roses and rattled off a couple of frames to check the lighting and pose. It worked.
It was the turn of the Micklegate roses! We had one take. The Zippo fluid was generously applied and the camera whirred as the flames leapt in front of me. It was pretty spectacular and we were on a real buzz when the last sparks died and I was left holding smouldering stalks and a melting red ribbon. We checked the shots and burst out laughing. It looked terrific!
The files were sent down to Mark Wilkinson as I wanted the backdrop rendered with Egyptian stars to tie in with the rest of the sleeve.
I didn't see the finished article until I picked it up on my laptop in Vietnam when I arrived in Hue, the Imperial City on the Perfume River. I was blown away. Symbolically it felt perfect on every level and was even more enhanced by my present location.
The catalogue number of CF14022008 was the obvious choice.
There will be some people who may raise an eyebrow and suspect it's a statement about my ex fiance. It's not. It's a statement about me!
I buried a lot of ghosts in Vietnam. :-)
Valentines Day this year will be spent in Italy at an AC Milan football match :-)
I spent yesterday afternoon being interviewed for over an hour for Fish TV. I know some of you have been less than impressed with the last couple of month's offerings and this was addressed while Jeff and Alan were at the studio. They left with a sack of archive material including US tour footage from '97, my first "stand up" gig from Brunei in 2001 and a great Albert Hall film from '90 amongst others. They also have the behind the scene footage from the "Gentleman's Excuse Me" video shoot in Berlin in '90 which we will be making into a special. Mark Wilkinson is also being interviewed this month for forthcoming programmes and I am making a concerted effort to film more material on the UK tour.
I acknowledge that I've been a bit off the ball regarding Fish TV recently but rest assured we are getting it back on track.
Finally I can provide you with some exciting tour news.
Due to recent successes in Italy last year I will be discussing more gigs there in May while I am in Milan. There is also the possibility of a show in Malta within the same time frame.
The major surprise is that out of the blue I have been offered a 4 week North American tour in June. This will include the Nearfest festival and will take in a number of US cities, coast to coast, as well as three shows in Canada. This tour is looking very positive and Yatta is confident we can make it work. The dates are already going in the book and I will let you know more about the routing and other details once I get them in this coming week. It's the first tour over there in a very long time and we will need to call on every resource we have available to make it happen.
It is highly likely that Mexican dates will be added at the end of the North American tour.
Another surprise is that we have been contacted about playing possible shows in New Zealand and Australia in February next year. This is in very early stages but to even get an offer to play down there is a first!
There's a great buzz around this project and I feel confident I have something very special happening. Any support you can give through emailing requests to radio stations, putting up tour posters or stickering stars in retail outlets etc is more than helpful and greatly welcomed.
It's our time to shine! :-)
lots of love
Onkel Fish xx
PS. The last part of the Vietnam story will be with you sometime this week and I have sent a collection of photos from my trip as well as a host of archive shots I've taken over the years to Mo who will be adding them to the web site when she gets some time. I think you will like them ;-)