Fish 2008 - Breaking the Silence
Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and the Company,
As has been noted on the forum, I have been particularly quiet of late.
There has been quite a lot going on in my personal life that has been wrapped up in my professional career and it was difficult to address one without pulling in the other and creating too many questions that even I can't answer at present.
I'll explain all at the end of the tour when I get time to join the dots.
It's been great to spend some time at home and with the UK final leg in my sights it's one big surge to the line.
I am looking forward to settling down for a period longer than a month and getting into being slightly domesticated again.
The last two weeks have been spent on DIY and decorating with Katie, as we continue to reinvent the control room and generally change the studio around. The Easter Road floorboards were laid while I was away so I arrived home to the sentence of sanding and waxing the Canadian Pine to a glowing matt sheen. The rest of the floor is to be laid and sanded while I am away on the next tour and the weeks running up to Christmas will be spent putting the finishing touches to my new office.
The new window and the opening up of the control room space have brought a new energy into the house which has inspired us to redecorate all the rooms and the office in the coming months.
Kitchen is up last and I'll have to get my cooking skills up to scratch in the following year as I just missed out on "Celebrity Master Chef" which begins filming a new series in the next couple of weeks. I had to turn it down due to touring and other commitments.
It's definitely something I'd be up for next time around but I'd like to be off a tour bus for a while and getting used to cooking again.
It takes me days to get into making food and finding my way round the kitchen when I first arrive home.
Tesco's is a daunting maze and it's usually a couple of runs before I am back in the swing and organising meals.
If I had appeared on the programme the first two shoot days were on the day of the Norwich gig requiring a night drop off from Wales after the previous night's show, returning from Norwich for the next day's filming and a flight to Glasgow on gig day.
And that was the easy bit! :-)
My agent told them to keep me in mind for the next series.
Profile has been pretty high with the release of the "Zoe 25" single and the forthcoming EMI "Early Stages" box set attracting a fair bit of press.
The "Monks" story in the Sun "conjured" from the Leco incident was amusing and reminded me never to believe everything you read in the press. I'll put our version in a December blog ;-)
"Zoe" didn't make playlist at Radio 2 as it was considered "too slow and too much like an album track".
They are not the only major station to consider but I needed their support if the others were to follow.
It picked up relatively healthy plays at local level with the Beeb and others but not enough.
It hit a respectful 25 in the indie charts but signalled the last of my attempts at a single.
With the UK tour about to kick off it supplied me with enough coverage as interviews are easy to hang on the peg of a single release but at the end of the day it was a disappointing return on a lot of energy and investment.
The "Early Stages" box set has also helped and I have been working with the EMI press office promoting that with interviews for a number of larger magazines that I would not expect to get coverage in at this point of the "13th Star" album.
It's great publicity for the tour and my latest album and recent talks with EMI suggest there could be a lot more life in the "Early Stages" project than they first thought and that there could perhaps be other opportunities to consider in the future.
The box sets arrive this weekend at the studio and orders will be sent out next week. We will also be carrying them on the merch stall on the UK tour together with the signed prints that I pick up from the Marillos in Glasgow at their gig on Sunday. (I signed my first 2200 in an afternoon, they still haven't finished them yet after 4 weeks :-D)
I have played a few tracks from "Early Stages" on my Planet Rock shows but as they were pre-recorded in September and due to originally go out from October the start date has pushed those particular shows into late November.
I have recorded 8 shows and will be working on another 5 directly after the tour.
The first "Fish on Friday" goes out tomorrow with the repeat on Sunday. Details and show times including a competition to win concert tickets, after show passes and vinyl copies of "13th Star" are on the web site
I met up with my producer Trevor White at their new studios in Marylebone on Monday to discuss the next programmes and kick around some ideas.
I was down to attend the annual "Classic Rock awards" which I'd been originally approached to possibly compere. In the end they went with the excellent Nicky Horne and I got a night off drinking wines at a table with Jack Bruce from Cream and Phil Manzanera from Roxy Music.
Jack was picking up an award for "Disraeli Gears" and was in good spirits. We reminisced about Fife Aid in 88 where I saw an irate Jack deck the promoter.
I finally met up with Todd Rundgren and mentioned my attempts at trying to get to meet him back in '83 when we toured with him in the US and that I'd been playing his material on the new series of radio shows.
David Coverdale was there to pick up best album for the new Whitesnake offering. I knew him quite well in the late '80s and was acknowledged by him as being his "little brother". Life in the States had changed him and we lost touch. I'd seen him a couple of times since backstage at festivals but this was the first time we had talked for years outside a gig.
He didn't recognise me at first but I still got the "great to see you" and firm handshake with industrial bright smile. So overwhelmingly false and professional, the standard greeting reserved for meeting people you don't really remember but don't want to disrespect in case they are famous or influential, delivered in true David Coverdale style.
Then he stalled and was slightly embarrassed as it finally clicked who I was. A big kiss and "little brother" in that deep camp hammy voice before being introduced to his American wife and assistants. He effused and I heard all about life in California before he disappeared in a swirl with his retinue downstairs to the ballroom. I was deeply moved. :-D
I met up with Jaz Coleman from "Killing Joke". Great guy, totally down to earth and a very intelligent man.
Ozzy Osbourne was nervously shuffling around, Ronnie Wood arrived in an explosion of flash cameras wearing a smile you wouldn't expect a man who was about to be raped by divorce lawyers to have.
Jeff Beck with his usual dazed smile, a passing greeting and a faint memory of the events of last year.
Food was great, conversation bright and then the awards passed slowly.
I admit to being disappointed that "13th Star" didn't even get a nomination for best album and had nursed a dim glimmer of hope that as I was sitting towards the front at table 8 that perhaps there was a slim chance of something. I was fooling myself. It was all decided weeks ago and as the award winners all had spouses and friends with them and I was alone it didn't take much to figure out.
Ironically one of the best conversations I had was with an agent who dealt with script writers and I ended up discussing the new Bond film (which I embarrassingly fell asleep at in the Leicester Square Odeon the day before, a bad sign!) and then pitching a script idea at him, which he loved.
It was a good night but in all honesty I had enjoyed last year's awards more.
Paul Stanley picked up "best showman" award for having an expensive stage production and the ability to cling on to a platform strung on a wire to be "flown" over the heads of the audience to another stage in the stadium while wearing ridiculously high heeled boots and make up. (So eighties :-D)
Jack and Phil were entertaining company and Jack's tirade against Led Zeppelin was amusing.
His thoughts at the table were toned down for the Classic Rock interview later but still pretty scathing.
The word "plagiarism" was prevalent in his opinions.
He was a great laugh and I welcomed his cynicism. He reminded me of a mad old uncle at a family dinner that said exactly what he thought while the adults stare at the table or each other and the younger elements titter at the embarrassing honesty. I admire the wee man greatly.
The acceptance speeches were, in the main, pretty lacklustre and boring.
Dave Coverdale, who laughed too loud at the on stage jokes, delivered a smooth oily tome. Ozzy picked up Lifetime Achievement and was off in 30 seconds of mumbling. At least I met him if ever so briefly as he was guided to a Ross Halfin photo session. Distinctly unmemorable.
I slipped out directly after the final award, avoiding the after show party and into a taxi to the Columbia hotel where Katie was waiting, having spent a day back in London with family.
We flew back home next day.
I was supposed to go to Newcastle to see Queen at the Arena but decided that the journey was too much hassle and to be honest the last place I wanted to be was at a gig. I wanted to stay in domestic mode for another few days.
It's been a long tour. Over 120 dates. I've enjoyed it but I am looking forward to the end.
I know there are rumours around that I am quitting touring but that is not my intention.
What I can say just now is that this UK tour will be my last dates for quite some time.
The current recession is biting and the road is not a place to be in that economic climate.
I'll explain in more detail once the tour is notched up and the dust has settled.
The promoters are happy, the band is tight and I am ready for the final assault and to bring this project to a close.
It's been a long and hard two years on this album and I am proud of what we have achieved as a team.
And so the weekend, Hibs versus Caley Thistle on Saturday and Marillion in Glasgow on Sunday. (I won't be singing at either event :-D)
Monday interviews and then a flight to Manchester to meet the bus for the first show in Runcorn.
Bring it on :-D
See some of you out there
Onkel Fish x
Email 6th November 2008