This is a phone radio-interview with Fish taken by Vassil Varbanov, a famous host of the Bulgarian Tangra Radio. Transcribed by Chuyo
Vassil: Good evening, Legend, it's great to hear your voice here!
Fish: Yes, thanks to be here, I've been waiting for this interview...long time.
Vassil: Well, you have a great new album - Sunsets on Empire. Please tell us what this album means to you.
Fish: It means an excuse to go out on another 12-month world tour which sadly excludes your country. We've been trying to get down there but touring has become so expensive nowadays that it's very very difficult to try and bring places like Bulgaria online, ye know. I think in the older days when you're playing big festivals and, ye know, you're traveling in Europe, it's very easy to bring a tour around. But, ye know, since I've auto-operated my own independent record company in '93 it's been a lot more difficult. I mean.. I mean the music business has changed a lot since the 80's, I mean... and I'm... ye know, touring is a very important part of my life but at the same time we've got to be very careful how we arrange the touring, ye know. We don't have a nice big friendly corporate record label in London that looks after us, ye know, everything was watched from Edinburgh. But Sunsets for me is like the best solo album I've done, I think it reflects, ye know, a new maturity, a new confidence, a new direction, ye know, it's like a rebirth thing.
Vassil: Well, I don't know what the people in the rest of the world think about your past with Marillion, but here in Bulgaria most of the people think that the Marillion with Fish - that's the real Marillion and that the new Marillion with Steve Hogarth is something fake.
Fish: That's something I just don't talk about, I mean ye know, they do what they do and I do what I do, I mean, we're both very sincere, we've got high levels of integrity which just chose different musical directions.
Vassil: Well, but do you follow the Marillion stuff with Steve?
Fish: No, no, don't.. this is like... I don't really wanna spend, ye know, this interview, this first interview discussing something I've got nothing to do with. You might as well talk about Aerosmith.
Vassil: Well, it must be painful for you and it happened a long time ago but for me it's an obligatory question: What is the true story about your 'divorce' with Marillion?
Fish: I don't know what, there's so many stories so which one is the truth. I mean, I got bored and I left the band. I felt that the energy as the chemistry changed, hmm... I need a change and I left and I said I got bored, I just felt that we, ye know, we won't gonna be able to... I didn't really feel that the album we were working on in 1988 was worthy of... ye know, the process, to put it that way. So I left and that's it. And it was a long time ago, it was nine years ago. I've done a lot since then.
Vassil: Fish, you are a very experienced musician, so what is your vision on the current musical industry?
Fish: Hmm... ye know, it's just very different from when I entered it in the 80's, I mean, I think it's more promotion- and marketing-dominated. I mean, people are more obsessed with the packaging and the style and the image etc. and are not as concerned of the content. I mean, that's one of the reasons why I don't walk in mainstream corporate, ye know, music business. I mean, I walk to the side of... I do what I do, I've got artistic control, production control etc. which suits me, I mean, it's a lot more difficult financially to work but hmm... ye know, I'm still managing to make a living and I look at myself as a singer lyricist rather than a musician, ye know. And... it's... it's more enjoyable I think, hmm... How can you say it... It just feels more... soulful.
Vassil: So, but what kind of music are you listening to these days?
Fish: I listen to everything, I mean ye know, to Radiohead, to The Prodigy, to Nine Inch Nails, to Frank Sinatra, to... I mean... and I listen to lots of different types of things, ye know. Ye know, today I was listening to a great Irish band called The Picture House and I was listening to hmmm... some albums by a band from Finland who play a lot of Lapland music mixing with dance rhythms. So I have a very diverse listening style.
Vassil: Well, do you think it has some impact on your music?
Fish: Yeah, definitely, I mean I think that... ye know, I'm a progressive rock musician, I mean ye know that's what I get called and I think that's what I am. I mean ye know, I don't feel I have to line up a long one particular line of musical style like, ye know, see Iron Maiden do ever. I mean I feel like I'm playing by a lot of different styles and I think I'm confident enough in my own style of identification that... I can bring, ye know, the things that interest me into the melting pot while recording and writing... ye know, it's still gonna come out and sound like a Fish album.
Vassil: Well. What do you think of the paparazzi?
Fish: Hmm... [he's smoking a cigarette] I don't really have much to do with them. I mean it's one of the things about being independent and that, ye know... I mean I won't hate to go out and sell a million, two million albums. I mean... financially, ye know, in some ways it's nice to have the money but what I'd rather do is... I like to be able to go out, to go down my local pub and I don't get passed up, ye know, I'm no good chased in cars and... ye know, I don't have that intrusion into my family life which is very very important for me nowadays.
Vassil: Well, I asked you about the paparazzi because I wanted to ask you to say something about your family - do you have a brother or a sister or... well, in fact, what is your family?
Fish: I've a sister and she lives in London, but, ye know, I've got a six year old daughter, she's very very important to me, she's called Tara which is one of the songs of the Sunsets on Empire album. Hmmm... my wife and I have been together for over ten years and we've got a, ye know, very stable relationship, it's been through a lot ups and downs and, ye know, it's one of... it's very very important to me. I don't really open up my family life to the press. (Vassil: Well, but, but...) You see, it's been... You know I make music, ye know.
Vassil: Yes, but could you say the name of your wife?
Fish: My wife's called Tamara, she's from Berlin.
Vassil: She is a German girl?
Vassil: Well, what are your plans for the nearest future?
Fish: Plans include touring till next August and hopefully if some promoter in Bulgaria wants to offer us in like an opening, I would be more than happy to come down and play in your country. Hmm... ye know, I'm scheduled to tour America, South America, Canada next year. I mean ye know, European tour finishes in Christmas, hmmm, and then we've got to carry on, do lots of bits and pieces. I'm looking towards doing a big poetry album in... summer of next year and following now with an album which is, ye know, to follow the Sunsets on Empire and even a new direction and the title of the album is... it's called at the moment Raingods with Zippos and that will be scheduled for release for the end of February the following year. There will be a live video coming out from... from this tour some time next year, as well as a live album. We're re-releasing Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors on my own label next year. Hmm... See, ye know, there's quite a lot of things going on but at the moment I'm principally concerned with touring.
Vassil: Well, Fish, do you know where Bulgaria is?
Fish: [somewhat offended] Of course I know where Bulgaria is!
Vassil: Well, Fish, thanks a lot for joining us tonight. Take care!
Fish: Thank you very much, Vassil.
Interview Autumn 1997