Fish 2008 - Steve Vantsis, Falling star
Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and the Company,
It is with great disappointment that I have to inform you that Steve Vantsis has resigned from the band. His last gig with us was at Loreley and he will no longer play a part in the touring set up supporting the '13th Star' project.
It would be an easy cop out to say "musical differences" but after his major contribution to the album it would ring particularly false.
He declined to issue a resignation statement and therefore I can only report on his reasoning from conversations we have had.
In August last year there was incredible optimism that perhaps finally I had an album that would reach the heady heights of the early solo albums and enthusiasm abounded. However I knew that this was a different music business from the days when I was with the majors and although I too was gazing at the stars and infected with glittering dreams I also knew the disappointments on offer from unrealistic expectations. My feet were firmly on the ground. It was my 13th album. It was Steve's first of real involvement and, as co-writer of 8 out of 10 tracks, he was hopeful that sales and radio plays would generate generous publishing income.
I set out on the long promo trips rallying support, investing time and substantial monies attempting to build the head of steam to maintain the onward and upward direction of the project. While I was talking up the album and throwing all my energies into interviews and cunning plans, Steve had virtually no involvement. His comment last July of "well that's it then, it's finally over" was perhaps true for him but, for me, and as I pointed out to him at the time, it was just the beginning. After being so heavily involved in the creation of the album he now had to take a back seat. I knew it was going to be frustrating for him and tried to keep him notified of how the project was developing, acknowledging his contribution in interviews and pointing him at positive articles and reviews.
By the end of 2007 it was noticeable that he wasn't enjoying the touring as much and the break when I went to Vietnam was necessary for both of us. It had been a hard slog.
This year began with another fusillade of promotion and a barrage of interviews before we hit the road again.
The lack of attention particularly from radio to "Arc of the Curve" didn't help matters and he became both frustrated and disappointed as the album project moved slowly into the next phase which demanded a lot more supporting work.
The lack of shows in April and May hit us all financially and it was a hole in the touring schedule no one had envisaged.
Although I was busy with more promo and the set up of the North American tour, Steve was left with very little to do in that period and although he had a lot more time to spend with his family, whom he naturally misses badly when on the road, it was dead time we didn't need.
The American tour was highly successful as a profile building exercise but financially it wasn't at all lucrative and without merchandise to back the wages and massive costs it could have been a disaster. Saying all that, we mostly had a lot of fun although Steve was fighting from day one with the damage to his fingers which - combined with the accident when he injured his shoulder on the bus - didn't help matters. I had recognised potential problems as he hardly attended any 'meet and greets' on the tour which I found strange for someone who hoped to attain a lot more recognition in a wider sense from his involvement with the album. At the time I put it down to his health problems.
We rarely talked outside the back stage area. I was very aware we were drifting apart.
We had discussions after a misunderstanding on stage in New Haven and it was obvious he wasn't happy. He offered his resignation at the end of the tour and I asked him to wait until he got home and then think it over. He agreed to do so and to play Loreley as it would have been impossible to find a replacement in that short a time.
On my return from the Swedish gig with the SAS band I received an email from him with a number of questions pertaining to business issues surrounding the album and to which I gave an honest answer as to the state of affairs.
The album has done well to this point but nowhere near the numbers I believe Steve thought it would be. His disappointment was obvious and he subsequently resigned the following day with a promise to fulfil his obligations at Loreley.
It was an uncomfortable couple of days in Germany but there were no confrontations or arguments. He did the gig and we parted company at Frankfurt airport, still friends.
I understand and respect his desire to spend more time with his family and appreciate that he too has financial obligations and needs.
From what he has told me he intends to return to his work in computer-based advertising and publishing and continue to work at home on music developing his writing and production skills.
I will continue to support the album as 13th Star is a long way from over and as far as I am concerned is still an ongoing project. For an independent label working on limited budgets in a music industry under siege from pirates and illegal downloads in a harsh economic climate we have done well. I never thought for a moment that this album was going to enable me to retire in bejewelled glory and always saw it as yet another piece in the elaborate jigsaw puzzle that is my Life and career. Next year there will be another and who is involved with it will be determined at the time and not before. Perhaps it will be Steve Vantsis or perhaps someone else will appear on the horizon. Who knows?
I am not particularly concerned about that now as I have more pressing issues to deal with.
I reiterate - this project still has a lot of life left in it and there are many more opportunities to be found out there.
September sees the release of Zoe 25 as a single combined with more European touring which begins in Malta at the end of September and continues through until the end of the year. Gavin Dickie, who has played with me before as stand in bass player, steps in again and will debut at the Swiss gig in a couple of weeks. I have complete faith in his ability and he takes his position with high recommendations from Frank who plays with him regularly in the Border Boogie Band.
I would have preferred if Steve had stayed to see the project to an end but, as I said, I respect his decision. Our friendship is still intact although slightly strained by events and will probably benefit from time apart as it's been a long and dramatic 19 months.
I wish him all the best and publicly thank him for all his work in the last 10 years and especially for his contribution to the 13th Star album.
Email 27th July 2008