Interview with Fish, Eindhoven, Holland
Copyright: The Company Holland
I've been really out of contact this last year, running up to the release of Fellini Days. I just couldn't handle doing e-mails, I was just going nuts. Like I said, what happened was a lot of shit throughout the year as me and Tammi and all the domestic situation went crazy. We decided to separate and it was after that, that I felt really awkward about talking about it. The domestic situation was kind of affecting everything. It was really difficult to concentrate on keeping newsletters up to date, keeping on writing for the fanzine because the whole marriage thing was kind of infiltrating into every level. I couldn't really discuss everything without going into the details of what was happening at home.
Really, what happened was that - in all openness - Tammi and I had a rough last two or three years, it was getting progressively worse. I realized in 2000, as it came up to the New Year, that this situation was getting to a point where it was unsolvable. Tammi and I discussed what we were going to do and we both agreed that we were going to separate. It made sense for Tammi to go back to Berlin as she had wanted to go back to Berlin for all the previous year, she didn't like Scotland any more and she felt that she was losing touch with Berlin and home and stuff, which I think is kind of strange as she had lived in Scotland for so long.
In February/March the separation was totally sorted out and Tammi had gone back to Berlin. I discovered after she went back to Berlin that she actually had a relationship there that had been going on since May the previous year. And when that happened obviously the situation became pretty horrendous, because my primary and first and only concern was Tara.
I know that a lot of newspapers scan the website. A couple of articles have come up with my financial situation in the last three years which came from people picking up bits from the website. The last thing I wanted to do at that point was discuss my marriage. As I said it was impossible to discuss what was happening at the Farm without discussing the separation. It was when I discovered that there was somebody else involved that I knew it was hopeless. So we decided to divorce which wasn't kind of publicized, the separation was publicized in the press. That is why I didn't want to go full on the website.
So I agreed to divorce, which created an awkward position because we were still trying to sell the house at that time. Then the lawyers got involved and the last thing I wanted was a public debate on my domestic and personal circumstances. We've gone from there, the divorce is being settled and I got away with two years to get things sorted. But it's a definite divorce, there's no reconciliation and there's absolutely no return. Tammi lives in Berlin now with her boyfriend and Tara is living with them at the moment. But Tara is really missing Scotland which again is very difficult to deal with. And on top of that we had the tour which was hugely successful.
It was ridiculous. We went out on a tour which was supported purely by the fan base, the Internet and local promoters with occasional press officers working. But there were no huge adverts and it was really worth every minute. We beat every one of the figures we had on the previous tour with RoadRunner. The album was selling well. By the time we had finished the tour I think we had done about 40,000 albums. That was in June and the count has just been going up.
But as I said the whole divorce thing changed the whole approach to the house because I had to finance Tammi in Berlin, which put an extra strain on me. At the same time I decided to split the house and the studio as the house is sold separately. As of November the 27th the house is gone. We've sold it to a family with five boys which is going to be great, he's a doctor and she's a physiotherapist. He's ex-Royal Navy, which is perfect. So Simba has got somebody to play with. It was weird, the strangest moment I had was when I came back from the South American tour and walked into the empty house and the main office, which separated the studio from the house, had been knocked down. A lot of the stuff had been moved out so it was a weird feeling.
You know, originally I was looking at living in a caravan and all the rest of it and then I had a cunning plan. We basically used the windows and stuff from the office and we knocked through two walls in the studio which basically turned it into a house. It's got it's own kitchen now in one of the booths, the old lounge for the studio is now my bedroom and it has got a shower in it. There was originally going to be an outdoor toilet but as the weather got colder I was realising that I'm not quite as hardy as I thought and the prospect of going out in a force nine gale with hailstones coming down, wearing my dressing gown and furry slippers going out for a wee-wee didn't appeal to me at all.
Louise and I met as well, we met last October. When the marriage was splitting up we kind of bumped into each other at an SAS gig and we've been going out since then. As I said the marriage had completely folded, it was a sham, an absolute sham. And now that Louise was coming up and there was going to be an outdoor toilet and everything.
The current situation is, the house is sold. I'm moving banks, as we've sorted out deals with lots of people. Basically the debts are not wiped out but I'm in a position where all the overdraft and the mortgage can be settled within a year and a half, two years probably. So the idea is to move into the studio which is, like I said, now a house and not a commercial studio anymore, but it's going to be for my own use. I've got the planning permission to put more proper bedrooms and a proper kitchen and stuff on the outside. I'll wait till I have cleared all the debts. I've got three years to move on it.
All the planning permission and everything really came through after Tammi left. When I started working on the studio and got the idea to turn it into a house it was all coming together really fast. The financial situation at the moment is that in two years, with the next album and a good tour, I'm back at level again and that's for the first time I will be back at level again since 1988. That just goes to show you how long I've been living with that debt. I'm no longer going out on a tour and having that huge debt following me. Everybody knows from reading the sleeve notes in the re-masters that the financial situation was a major burden and affected a lot of decisions. But now it's just a lot easier and I'm a lot happier.
The only downside about the whole divorce is Tara. Tara was back with me last week and she wants to basically come back to Scotland and it's up to her mother and I to decide what's going to happen but I could easily see Tara being back living with me by next summer. The house is gone, the studio is now a house, we finish this tour in December, I've got a couple of SAS gigs and January, February and March are what I call flexible time.
I just did a first meeting on a Bond film in London, again talking about a Fellini moment! Before I went to South America I got a phone call saying that the agent wanted me to audition for a Bond movie. They had inquired about me three times which I didn't know about and then just before I went to South America they're doing first meetings. They do first meetings and then they're doing auditions. They do the meetings to see if your face is right. I was called on my first week in South America and I said: 'I can't do it!' They said: 'If you do not fly back, you can forget it'. But I was locked into that tour, it's been contracted, we were on. But at that time it was really dodgy because the September 11th thing had happened and we didn't know whether there would be any flights. We didn't have the tickets through, the gigs as always were changing and stuff. So I'm going like, do we blow the tour out again so I could go for the Bond film? But the fact was that if I blew out the South American tour at this time I would never get back there. So I decided to go for South America. The day before we left for South America I got a letter from Equity, the musicians union, saying that all actors are on strike as of the 1st of December.
So the South American tour happened. Two years ago I would have made the call and go for the movie and blow the tour out, but this time I made the right move. And on the week I came back, I got a phone call on Friday saying you're in London on Tuesday doing the gig, the Bond people are doing the first auditions then. The woman who is the casting director had seen that we were playing London and they had one slot left on the day and they said: 'If he can make it he's got it'. So I went down and I met the director, the producer and the casting agent and Cubby Broccoli and we got on well. I don't know for sure but I think they came to the gig in London. I auditioned for the number two killer. He's actually called Mr Kills or something, it's that kind of cartoon character bad guy. If I get it, it's filming late January till the beginning of April which would be perfect, you know, a few days here and a few days there.
First thing I said was: 'Where are the locations?' because finally I thought I was going to film in Sri Lanka or Costa Rica or something. But then he said it's filming in Pinewood in England and Iceland. Bugger! Iceland in February, March and April.. how charming. There will probably be a 100 other guys up for this role but it is good to be asked which makes you feel more confident about the movie stuff.
From January till April I'll be writing the Field of Crows album, I'll be starting to put the lyrics and ideas together for that. Wes is going to be in Florida and we're going to work through computers sending files back and forwards. I'll be doing the garden, painting the studio, getting my life back in order again.
Actually this is a great tour because you're going out to buy stuff for the house, it's not like going out looking for a pair of jeans or a T-shirt. Now I'm out shopping for a wok. But it was really exciting to see that, when we went back for the week, the windows had been put in and the TV's up. I felt great, it felt so fresh and so vibey and really, really positive. I found myself actually staying in the studio and I'd be there all day and I'd be sitting there watching TV or working on the computer. It's like a big New York kind of apartment because it's got a huge floor. I've got a window to the south now and a window to the west which means I get light all the way through the day so the studio is a lot brighter. And I got gas in and heating put in so it's really good. So what I thought was going to be the 'dreadful caravan' has now turned into something beautiful. I have to work in the garden because I still got a big garden as well, I still got about an acre of the garden and it's just grass so what I'm doing is landscaping the garden.
I'm planning to stop smoking in January. I've lost a lot of weight over the last year because of the stress. But if I can get through to January I'll stop smoking and get up in the garden which means I can keep myself physically active.
Probably around the end of April the idea is to get the writing teams together at the farm. The way the house has been developed it's easy just to move the furniture about and you still got a working studio, The control room is still the control room as there's nothing domestic in there at all. So the guys will this time probably be living in B&B's but that's not a bad thing. So the idea is to start getting the writing together in May, we're looking at doing the UK fan club convention in the bank holiday of May rather than August. I think it's going to be May 25th and 26th. (Please note: Since this interview was recorded, the convention dates have changed. See the news page.). Then we'll put the album in advance sale from the 1st of May, by that time we're gonna have the Field Of Crows website up so the demo's will be coming through. Mark Wilkinson wants to go back to doing an airbrush. It's really strange because he's turned around and said; 'Look we've done the computer bit, I want to do an airbrush design again. Basically a kind of Vigil-type sleeve'. So I said: 'Look I'm happy with the expenses on the computer stuff, but I can't afford to do that'. But he said: 'Look I want to do it'. So with that we're looking at going for an airbrush design. That will be coming through Mark's website and the Field of Crows website. The album will be going out on advance sale at the 1st of May. And then at the fan club convention we'll be playing sections of the album. We'll do what we did with Fellini Days.
The idea is to come out and do a couple of gigs. We've got a chance to do a bunch of gigs in Norway for the Norwegian army, which would be perfect because it gives us about a whole run of about 12 shows. The idea is to tour right up to Tromso way up in the north, which is one of those places we could never play as a band. The idea is for them to fly us out so we can do a gig in Tromso for the army and the next night we'll do a gig in a club for the local population and we'll do that in five different places in Norway, which will give us a huge breakthrough. The idea is to follow up with a big open air in Norway. That will be in May and June and then we'd be coming back and we'd be recording the album and get it mixed in the June, July, August period and going for a release to the fan club at the beginning of September. At the same time we will start the tour and we'll do the tour up until probably the end of October, November and that's when the album will come out. So that's roughly the plan for the year. If we could do some open airs in the summer it would really help me fund the album and keep things together and then it makes more sense because it would mean I could pay the boys when they're out doing writing and stuff as well. So that's the overall plan.
In the near future I've got the SAS gigs at Chiddingfold on the 14th,15th and 16th of December and then we're going to have that Amstel TV-thing where I'll be playing with De Kast. That could be very interesting because it's major Dutch TV. Holland is really happening for me now even more so than before. It was sold out last night in Utrecht and it is sold out tonight in Eindhoven and the Hellendoorn gig looks to be selling out as well so the numbers are well up.
The only shame on this end have been the French, we just could not get gigs in France that made sense and we really tried very hard. The last tour was great, all the figures were up, the German figures were up, and everything. That makes me feel a lot more confident. And again my domestic situation is now a lot happier, as I said for three years I've had a pretty miserable existence. I just feel a lot freer and life is exciting again. And if Tara comes across then that's perfect.
I'm going to have virtually ten months off. I can go on tour for maybe 6 weeks in Europe and then we're probably going to South America the following year. There's enough touring there to keep it exciting for me to keep my feet on the stage and keep the fans happy. And at the same time the way we're organizing it we'll make a profit out of it now. The way I'm living is a lot cheaper to run so hopefully the progress towards building the next part of the house is a lot more feasible. Two or three years ago we were staring down the cannon, at one point we were 800,000 pounds in debt and you can imagine the interest payments, they were crippling us and there was no way we could get out of that. But as I said with doing bits and pieces and things, deals here, deals there. It's not been cleared, but it's manageable. And with that we're feeling a lot happier.
I've got space where I can play about with stuff like writing. That flexible four months period at the beginning of next year is going to be really important because it means I can start channelling energies into places that I've not been able to do before.
Next to this I also had the Daghorn/Turrell case, which is now settled. I was really annoyed about it. I won the case. Basically they've got to pay me 10,000 pounds and I now own the publishing rights for Plague of Ghosts as they've given me all the publishing rights. They acknowledge the debt but at the same time there was all the legal stuff. I've got no respect for Mark Daghorn whatsoever and the same goes for Tony Turrell. Basically they ran a case for two years to avoid paying me and at the end of the day I will get the money back through the publishing. I never want to have anything to do with Tony Turrell or Mark Daghorn again, they are just rats, king rats actually. In fact, that legal case wasn't particularly time-consuming but it was just another thorn.
The acting stuff last year was very minimal. I still don't know what happened to Nine Dead Gay Guys. I've heard nothing from the production team so I don't know what's going to happen with that. I did Never Mind the Buzzcocks which was brilliant. I've just done their Christmas Show and that was funny because they had Marlene of Hearsay, she was on my team with Sean Young. The other team was Johnny Vegas and Belinda Carlisle. That was quite strange as well because Belinda worked with the Gogo's and the Gogo's were in the Night of the Dolmen, which - for the record - cannot be released because we would have to go around every one of the people and get them to OK the release and that would be virtually impossible, because I think there's a couple of people in there that are not going to be happy. But we will show it again at the next convention. I felt quite proud about it actually because it was the first movie. It was getting a good review and people thought it was really funny.
Oh, here's another Fellini moment. Two days ago I'm walking out of the venue in London and I virtually bump into Elizabeth Antwi in the street, which was wild. She's going out under Elizabeth Troy now and she's got an album coming out on Mercury in a couple of weeks and she's doing well and she's really happy. It was just great to see her. Ian Mosley and Steve Rothery were down at the London gig but I couldn't see them, as I was so ill. And that was a shame.
In South America everybody got the shits and they were throwing up and having fevers and stomach cramps. It's just been going round and round the band. I had curry on the night we left and on Tuesday I was really ill and I was throwing up in the shower, running to the toilet, things like that. The shower at the venue in London was manky, it was so dodgy. The showers had some kind of green fungi on them and they dripped water instead of a jet. It was like standing under a drain pipe. I threw up in the shower after the show and there I was standing in my own vomit in a shower that was hardly working, with the shits and in the freezing cold and I'm going "I don't wanna go on tour!".
It was really scary because it affects people in different ways. Louise had it when she was up at home and she was out for three days. We had to get a doctor in for Yatta at the last gig in Chile, as he was so violently ill. But in London I had to go on stage as it was a London audience and the last thing you want to do is cancel the first gig of the tour so I thought: 'Oh well I'll fight through it'. So I went on stage and virtually seconds before the show started, the band was already playing the intro of 3D and I had already taken two steps up the stairs, I had to run back to the toilet. I was scared when I was on the stage, I couldn't drink any wine, I was completely sober. So I was on the stage and I was scared to hit any really big notes so that your mind forgets about the control factor at the other end. I couldn't move and I couldn't jump about and I felt like vomiting during the set but the adrenaline was keeping it down. But as soon as we finished Market Square Heroes I went off the stage, I ran off, grabbed a bucket and threw up in the corridor. I was really ill and that's why it took us so long to get back to the stage for the encores as I was throwing up and I was trying to not get any vomit on my shirt as this was the only shirt I had with me and I would look bad on the stage. I wasn't going to be near a launderette for two days. And on top of that, to add to the fog, we got a phone call that the French ferry operators had gone on strike. So we didn't know if we were going to make Utrecht and I'm going: 'The fog, the fog!!'. So after the gig I went straight to bed and slept, I didn't even know we went through the tunnel. I heard somebody talking French over the speakers but I fell back to sleep again and woke up in Utrecht. Although Utrecht was gig number two it was like doing gig number three because the first gig took so much out of me.
But last night I was really pleased as the singing and the gig went really well. I was really pleased with the last tour, the Fellini tour, as well. It was wonderful, because I was singing just as strong at the end of the tour as I was at the start. It just goes to show what kind of difference changing keys makes. Wes and I decided when we made the album to keep the keys low so that it suited my voice better. I love singing like that, it's the most rock, soul, blues type of singing I've done and I'm loving it. The gigs feel better. The guys were saying last night, although we're doing a lot of the old Marillion stuff, it's got a completely different feel to it because the set is far rockier. It's not as static as it used to be in the early eighties. But I was nervous about playing so much Marillion stuff.
When we went to South America I knew the fans had never seen the old Marillion, they had only seen Marillion with Hogarth or me solo. I wanted to pay them a bit more attention so we drafted in more Marillion material. But Yatta was going 'This is brilliant' about the medley at the end, and he said: 'You've got to keep this in for Europe'. So I thought: 'Oh well bugger it, we're only going on tour for four weeks and a lot of the people who are coming to see us these four weeks have seen us on the Fellini Days tour'. We wanted to bring in other numbers anyway so it was, Ok let's keep in the Marillion material. And actually I'm pleased with it and I've not heard any negative comments about it. But I'm sure some people say it's a bit like going into the past again, but I'm really enjoying playing it. It's a pity that I never saw Steve and Ian after the gig in London. John Young was there and Mickey Simmonds as well but I didn't get to speak to them or Steve or Ian after the gig because I was so ill.
The September 11 thing has affected South America a lot as well. A lot of American bands and European bands had pulled out. So a lot of venues that were not available at first suddenly became available. I discovered that the problem for a promoter down there is the fact that a lot of the venues have to be booked a year in advance. Because the demand for the venues is so high. So it's very difficult for a promoter to book a venue a year in advance unless they're absolutely sure of the band. So what happened was that a lot of the venues freed up. It was ridiculous, we were going out there and the venues were changing as we were in it.
We went to Mexico to play two shows. We sold one out and the second one we were supposed to play in the Hardrock café but it was doubly booked. So we went to Mexico City and sat on our arses for three days. But the good thing was we went to see the pyramids, which were stunning. The Mexican gig was outrageous, we were playing to an audience of 3000 people. It was like playing Hammersmith Odeon in 1983, the level of excitement was incredible. It was kind of weird doing Market Square Heroes, it really felt like you were on the Odeon stage again, like being in a big band. And then we went from there to San Jose and that was a small audience, only about 300 people. That was because the gig was basically put in two weeks before. The other promoter, the one that was going to take the gig, cancelled the gig after he lost a lot of money on another band. And our promoter came in basically with only seven days to go and he said: 'I'll take the gig'. So he took the gig but it was with minimal promotion. He managed to pull 300 people to that one and it was a great gig as well.
The gigs in Caracas. Venezuela was a cock up. The first gig was brilliant, there were 2500 people there. The second gig was cancelled and nobody really knew why but we ended up playing in a restaurant in Caracas. It was like the Cotton Club. Everybody had to have a suit on. They rented suits so that the fans who had bought tickets, which were about 40 pounds, could get into the gig otherwise the fans had to go out and buy a suit to be allowed into the restaurant, which would have been ridiculous. But the gig itself was a real laugh. It was all tables. I just wanted to have fun so I was going onto tables and we were doing Frank Sinatra numbers and everything. Actually Bungle did a Frank Sinatra number and it was really funny.
And then Brazil. Curitiba was cancelled, Porto Alegre was cancelled and we didn't even know why. So suddenly we were in Sao Paulo for three or four days and we were in Rio for three or four days. Rio was a good laugh, we had a lot of fun in Rio. And both the gigs were better than the last ones. The Rio gig in particular was brilliant.
And then Argentina. La Plata was very poor as there were only about 100-150 people there in this big huge theatre and with a huge distance between the stage and the audience. So I thought: 'Oh no, how am I gonna solve this'. So what I did was get the audience to sit on the stage. I've got this on film and I'll put this on the website. So all the audience sat on the stage and it was a really powerful gig, especially the speaking sections and the introductions, because with the dimmed down lights we were sitting in a whole empty theatre and all the audience and the band were on the stage and everything was dark. The introduction to the medley was brilliant. The way everyone was sitting on the stage made it really, really spooky. That was a real Fellini night as well because I went to the backstage area and I was having a poke around and I looked at this door and there was a bed outside and it was all overgrown and I shut the door and I turned around and I looked in the mirror and there was a ballet dancer in the room. I had never heard her come into the room and she was doing motions and was twirling in the room. There was a ballet class on. It was like a Degas painting. There were about 20 girls in tutu's all doing ballet dancing while we were sound checking and they were coming around and watched around the corner to see what we were doing. I've got that on video as well.
And that was when I went down the first time, it was like a sleeping sickness. I just kept on falling asleep anywhere I was, because we were going through so many time zones. We would arrive in Brazil on the Friday and then Saturday night the clocks would go back. And then on Sunday we would go to the next place to be there for a day and the clocks would go back again. I didn't know what day it was, the time went all through. We were also coming off stage at 12, leaving the hotel at 4 o'clock in the morning to catch a 6 o'clock flight to get to the next place at 10 o'clock to do a press conference and then go to bed, then wake up and go to a bar, stay up till 3 or 4 in the morning. My metabolism and my metabolic clock were just all to hell.
But the Argentinian bit was great. La Plata was small but Rosario was brilliant, San Isidro was brilliant, Buenos Aires was... Yatta reckons and I reckon it's probably one of the best gigs I have ever done in my life. There were about 3000 people in there and they went bananas. And then we were supposed to play Mendoza. The PA for the concert was coming from Chile and got stuck in customs. The back line was coming from Buenos Aires and they didn't want to fly the back line into Mendoza and the PA didn't get through so there was no Mendoza gig. Then it was going to be impossible to get the back line out into Santiago for the last show where we were playing to 3000 people in Santiago. So that was stress.
Yatta was going nuts and it's no wonder he got ill again. On the last night in Chile he was seriously ill, and that's the bug that's been going around. But Chile was a brilliant gig, the audience reaction was simply superb. In Mexico they want us back next year to play 3 gigs in a huge hall with 12,000 capacity but I said: 'No, I'd rather do three gigs in the small hall because that has a better feel'. It's the same as with Marillion when we had the choice of doing one night at Wembley or three or four nights at the Odeon, we'd rather do the Odeon. The same happened in Santiago where they offered us a big gig next year for about 4000 people and they want us to do two nights there. And they also want us for three nights in Buenos Aires.
We've also got distribution set up in Argentina and Chile, we've got distribution worked out for Costa Rica, we've got distribution worked out for Brazil and I've got something happening in Mexico as well. So it was a highly successful tour and everybody had a great time. The only problem - believe it or not - was too many days off! We were sitting in the bars and that was costing us a fortune. And trying to phone home was a nightmare with the time zones and everything. One of my phone calls was 75 quid and that was to Tara. I couldn't get her off the phone.
But everything is looking really good. Writing wise, we're going to do the same thing on the Field of Crows album as we've done on Fellini Days. I mean this is the road I'm on. The bonus CD is done and it sounds great, really good. The remixes sound brilliant, the acoustic version of Our Smile is just wonderful and I kinda wished we could have put it on the album like that. The live stuff is really, really good. It's about 60-65 minutes long and it fits in beautifully with the Fellini album. That's getting sent out in the next two or three weeks.
We should have had it at the beginning of the tour but Elliot was just late with it. Elliot had some problems this year because he went away to Africa and he got stuck in South Africa and he missed the convention. He was supposed to record the convention and he didn't, which was a real blow because it was so brilliant. But I've got a load of video footage that I've got to see and there's a chance we might release that and maintain a really low price for that. The live album Fellini Nights will be finished in January. Initially we'll put it out on mail order in January. And on top of that the RoadRunner deal is virtually agreed. So what we're looking at doing is mid pricing all the back catalogue in probably March or April next year. But because it's mid price all the artwork is gonna be reduced. So you won't have the flamboyant 24 pager. The only 24 pages is gonna be on the old RoadRunner stock because we still got a lot of RoadRunner stock. Once that is sold that's the end of the booklets.
The live album in January - it's looking like it's going to be the Paradiso show. That's the one that's being mixed and it sounds brilliant. It would be great because we've never done a 'Live at the Paradiso' album. On the next tour I hope to do two or three nights there, that would be great! That place and the Tivoli are my two favourite places, they're great. Talking about favourite halls you've also got the Vredenburg, which is beautiful, I love that place but the Paradiso and the Tivoli... three great gigs.
The Dutch halls are great, the service you get is just so different and so professional. You know there are hot showers and clean toilets and stuff. For example in London the only showers in the place were in the other hall. So for us to go for a shower after the gig we had to go down, round the side of the bar, out the front of the hall, into the other hall, downstairs... It took you ten minutes to get to the showers. And you had to walk through all the fans while the security were pushing them out of the venue as soon as the last note was played. But London was good, there were 12 journalists. I don't know who's reporting it but it was a good gig, a really good gig.
The John Young situation. John was great, he's a great keyboard player. John got offered a job with the Scorpions. I can't remember who recommended him. John, unlike David Paton, came up to me and he said: 'Look I've been offered gigs with the Scorpions, it's a lot of money'. They were also guaranteeing him work because our tour would be finished on Friday. He's been working solid since the last tour. My attitude has always been with the musicians in the band that if somebody comes along and they get an offer you have got to be a gentleman about it. So what I said to John was: 'If you can find a replacement and pay for him to come over so we don't get any extra costs, it's no problem'. And JY was great and he contacted Don Ayre and Don Ayre knew Jim Hayden because Jim Hayden does all the big gigs that Don Ayre doesn't do or can't do.
So that's when Jim Hayden came along and Jim's been brilliant. I must admit, with no disrespect to JY at all because JY is a great keyboard player, that I think some of the stuff that Jim's got is more suitable because he's got a more modern edge. He's working with dance bands and dance oriented acts. He's got a great feel for the keyboard and the band. Actually he's the reason why Market Square Heroes is in the set because he always had wanted to play it. And I listened to him and thought: 'Oh well, lets just do it, we haven't done it for years'. So that's why that's in the set. He also wanted to do Fugazi and Assassing. Jim's a fan of the old days and he's very funny as well.
I'm not very tidy in the bedrooms in hotels because at home I'm relatively tidy so when I'm in a hotel it's like fuck it, somebody else cleans the bathroom. Towels lying about, I love it. So Jim comes into one of my rooms in South America and he goes: 'Ah I see where you got the cover for Fugazi from'.
So the band gets on great, Bungle and I have the most incredible arguments. And everybody gets a bit scared. We nearly emptied a restaurant once because Bungle and I were having this huge political argument. I'm kinda left and he's kinda right and we have arguments about capitalism and that kind of stuff, big political arguments. And of course when we were in South America we were relying on CNN for information so there were loads of discussions amongst the band and especially with Wes. Wes was kinda very pro-America and we were kinda 'Well wait a minute', so there were some very interesting arguments. But everybody was friendly and stuff. One night in Chile when Bungle and I had cleared the restaurant I'm standing screaming 'You bastard!' So when we had to leave the restaurant I said to Bungle: 'Let's move this forward'. So we moved to a corner and the two of us were lying on the pavement pretending to be fighting and everybody else was going 'Oh no!'. It was good, a lot of funny things happened.
We also went to this place The Blue Marlin, it's like a huge casino, it was wall-to-wall hookers, unbelievable. And there was a Scottish guy who was managing it and we got talking to him. And we met these crazy people and one of them is a multi-millionaire who's just too difficult to describe. And they've got this huge studio in Costa Rica that they offered us, 'Yeah you can have the studio and you can have use of the speedboats and you can go water skiing and the food's free' and I'm going 'Wow!' so maybe I'm going to Costa Rica for a bit. But this place was unbelievable, it was like how you'd imagine Cuba in the 1950's, during the days before Castro took the whole thing over, it was so decadent. They had 140 rooms and basically you had these big time gamblers who'd come down from America and they basically rent suites and they'd get whatever they wanted for a week and they organized poker games and stuff. So I was there till about 4 in the morning. Really weird characters walking around, it was a Fellini moment in itself.
The pyramids were brilliant as well. There was an Indian type called Gorilla because he looked stocky. 'What's your name?', 'My name is Gorilla'. And I'm going 'Yeah right, my name is Fish'. We were wandering about and he was going 'Oh well, we've got to climb a pyramid then' and I was going 'Fucking hell!' and you had to do it. I thought I was getting a heart attack on top of the first one. You know, if you look at them from a distance it looks like little steps but when you get up to them they are about 2 feet, so you have to really climb it. My legs were hurting.
I had a meal with Gorilla at his house and it was a menagerie, he had baby Rottweilers and a baby eagle and all kinds of animals we don't know the name of. They were in this cage. There were turkeys and all sorts of shit. We washed our hands in a big water barrel. The tortilla's were bright blue. I had the idea that some kid had been fucking with them because it was not the colour it was supposed to be. And there was this guacamole dip with these huge chilli's in it in a huge stone pestle, and there were these red worms in it. As I arrived later, they all went: 'Did you have these worms?' And I said: 'Fuck Off!'. And then I had a blue tortilla and piled all these red worms on it and I thought: 'Fuck all! If I'm gonna get the shits, I'm gonna have it tonight'. And everybody was OK. And then we had this fermented Aloha juice, it looked just like sperm!
Then we went to this amazing bar in Mexico City and I've never seen so many mariachi bands in my life, little groups of them, all playing. And then we went into this bar where you were checked for handguns at the way in, those metal detectors. This bar was a huge big stone building with pictures of mariachis and oil paintings and stuff. And there were at least six mariachi bands playing at one time around the tables. You'd pay them 20 pence or so and they would play a song for you.
The most bizarre thing was there was a guy walking around the bar and he had this strange kind of smile. He had this weird look on his face and he had a machine that was like a Volt-meter and it got two handles, a positive and a negative, and you held them and he basically turns up the voltage. You'd see how long you could keep a hold of these two things. You'd pay him to do this. So we were sitting there all getting drunk and the guy comes up to the table and you'd pay him 30 pence and the record was 90 Volts. And Yatta had to have a go and Riff-Raff and then there was this bit where we were all sitting around the table holding hands...
I love Mexico, the Mexican people were brilliant, I really liked them. The fans were just beautiful. The weird thing was the unbelievable amount of bootlegs, I've got this on video as well. They had leather tour jackets, T-shirts with all the album designs and Fish designs, they had cigarette lighters, they had everything. Towels and stuff like that, parts of CD's, it was bizarre. And I'm walking up and down and they had no idea who I was and I was videotaping them all. And when the fans came up to me they found out who I was and they came up to me with their T-shirts asking me to sign them. The bastards!
After I got severely sunburned at the pyramids I got my Colombian hat in San Jose. My head was completely red on the top and my nose was blistered. Gorilla, that bastard, said: 'Oh no, you won't get sunburned at the top'. Oh, we even did a fire ceremony underneath the pyramids in the cellars and that was bizarre, that was really spooky. This Indian gave me a big stick with feathers on them and he said: 'This is the chief magic stick, you want to carry it'. I think he just didn't want to walk around with it. By the time we came to the top of the pyramid I was still walking with this big stick. When we finally got to the top I really wanted to smoke a joint on the top of the Sun pyramid. So I took a joint with me and while I was sitting there on the top John Marter goes: 'Do you want a drink mate?' and I said: 'Yeah'. So he pulls a bottle of red wine out of his bag. So we're sitting on the top smoking a joint and drinking wine. And there were coppers walking about. It isn't allowed to drink alcohol on top because of the huge steps when you go down. So we were sitting there in 25 degrees smoking a joint and drinking wine with our feet in the air surrounded by really steep steps.
Everybody was trying to sell stuff to us, all these ridiculous monuments of the Moon God and the Sun God and stuff. So we're walking up to the Moon pyramid and this guy goes: 'Tablecloth?'. So I looked at it and I foolishly said: 'Oh that's nice'. Then he started following me going: 'Stop stop stop'. Then he ran in front of me pulling out this big tablecloth made out of cactus fibre, beautiful with big sun things on it, but I said: 'No I don't want it', but then the guy goes: '450 pesos', and I said: 'I don't want it'. It was going to look like a Monty Python kind of sketch. So the guy's following me all the way up to the pyramid and at one point I needed to go to the toilet for a piss so the guy said: 'Ok only 300' and I went: 'No! I don't want it!' So the guy follows me all the way to the toilet going like: '250 pesos.' And I'm going: 'I don't fucking want it. Put it away. Stop following me, I'm going to the toilet'. I'm going into the toilet and when I come out he was waiting and was following me all the way to the plinth and by the time we were getting to the plinth he was down to 150 pesos. And I fucking bought it!!! Gorilla asked me: 'How much did you pay for it?' So I said: '150 pesos', which is about 15 dollar and it's a huge beautiful tablecloth. Luckily Gorilla said that it was a very good deal. So for over half a mile this guy had talked himself down from over 450 to 150.
I gave it to my mum.
And then Yatta. Yatta got drunk in Rio. I found him sitting on the beach and he'd bought a little stone man fishing, he'd bought a little statue of the bungee jumper, you know the statue that we call the bungee jumper on the hill. I actually said this in Rio: 'What a nice place and what a nice statue of a bungee jumper you have on that hill!' I got away with it. So Yatta is sitting on the beach surrounded by the stone man and other shitty bits and pieces, he bought a hammock, he bought a carpet, his wife went nuts. He had bought all this shit and he's pissed out of his mind lying on the beach surrounded by all this rubbish. You know he walked up the street and all these guys saw him coming and they were saying like: 'Ah, what you need is a little stone man...'
The next day I was trying to buy a suit in Rio, because I've got to have a Brazilian suit. But they didn't have a suit to fit me anywhere in South America, even in the High and Mighty shops they didn't have my size. In Rio I found this beautiful suit with a round neck and it was gorgeous, they had five or six of them and I was going to buy maybe 1 or 2 because they were so beautiful. Not one fitted. Yatta walks in and with this misshapen body that he has, he finds a fucking suit off the rack. 200 pounds he spends on a suit, he basically spent about 500 quid in Rio in two days. His wife doesn't know about the suit yet because he's keeping it for his daughter's wedding, whenever that is going to be. 'I'll get that for my daughter's wedding', 'When is she getting married Yatta?', 'Oh some time'. So he went back home and his wife went nuts.
Oh, this is really funny because Yatta sold his house on exactly the same day as I sold my house. Yatta and I are like brothers and we have both gone through all this house shit and this financial shit for years and it both cleared up at exactly the same day. He bought this 18th century coach house that's in need of repair. So he turns up with a hammock and he lives in Wales! But we had a lot of fun and the band had a lot of fun and that's what touring should be.
The convention's been brilliant, the best one yet. It worried us because this was the best one and we got to keep on beating it and it's going to become harder and harder to beat it. So what we're looking at doing is an idea that was suggested to us by a couple of fans.
We thought rather than doing an acoustic gig, we'll give it a break this year. We'll play some acoustic stuff in the set but we'll not do the church gig. We'll do two shows at the Corn Exchange and one night is going to be all Marillion material and the other night is going to be all solo material. And what we're looking at doing is playing the whole of Misplaced Childhood. So one night will be an hour and 45 minutes of Marillion material and the next night will be all solo material including the new album. The band will be in Haddington throughout May anyway to work on the new album so that will be good.
Next to that it makes sense to do a European convention in the summer, which you (the Company Holland) will be organizing with the Germans.
I've not had a break for a long time and that's something I would like to do, going away with Louise and Tara for some time. I've not had a holiday for years now. Next to that I'd like to get myself settled a little bit, putting all the landscape stuff in and get the house sorted. I'm reactivating my fire arms certificates and if that happens, part of the garden - and Wes is really excited about this -, will be turned into a shooting range. We're going to sink a part of the garden 10 feet and we're going to put shooting rails up. I like shooting, in the summer I can go practicing as well. I was going to get a gun a couple of years ago but then with the house moving and stuff it made no sense, but now I'm going to get me one and do some clay pigeon shooting and stuff.
The SAS stuff has been great this year. We did Croatia and that was a brilliant gig, working with Midge Ure was wonderful. Midge and I spent a long time talking about video set-ups. He's going on about doing videos and again that is what I want to get more into with Field of Crows. When you look at a CD as a basic sound carrier there's so much more possible when you look at DVDs. We're already talking about the next album, doing it in Surround Sound, so we'll actually do a surround sound mix. Also we're going to do a picture disk of Fellini Days, a limited edition, which is one of Rob Ayling's ideas, because he had people asking about this. It will be a limited edition of 1000 picture disks. Hopefully we'll do a DVD next year but we got to be careful about what we're doing and not to start putting too much money into different projects, you got to do one at a time. But sometime next year there will probably be a DVD of the Sunsets on Empire video plus lots of other footage. We'll put in maybe some of the old stuff from back to 1991, a kind of section of famous stuff through the years. I've got Faith Healer from the Vigil tour, it's not perfect quality but as part of the DVD it would be really good. And we've got Kettle of Fish as well to use. We're doing Kettle of Fish and an interview about all the vids where everyone is being introduced, the stories behind the songs and stuff like that. So there'll be a live one and a Kettle of Fish one. The Masque book has been really slow, I'm quite disappointed with that. I thought we would have done better but we're going to move it into retail by the end of the year.
There'll be three SAS gigs at Chiddingfold on the 14th, 15th and 16th of December. And around that time there'll be another one in Southampton, I think. There's been a lot of SAS work this year with Germany and the brewery gigs. That's where I met Tammi and her new boyfriend and it was really funny. It was all very pleasant, I was laughing my head off. Because Louise met Tammi as well and that was interesting. It had to happen sometime so why not do it as soon as possible. But it was all very peaceful. We both know it's over after being together for 15 years. We're both happier now.
I'd love to do gigs with the SAS band in Holland but it's really the financing and getting the team together. But you know it's not my band, Spike's got to do it, I'm just one of the singers in that band so it's difficult for me to say this to Spike. But then again since Paul Young died I'm one of the principals in the SAS band, there's Chris Thompson, Leo Sayer, Tony Hadley and myself. And Midge Ure is coming in more as well and that's cool. John Marter and I were supposed to play with them on the Freddy Mercury tribute on the 24th of November but we can't because we're in Geneva. The problem with the SAS band are the costs, I mean for example Chris Thompson has to fly in from L.A. It would be nice to do a short European tour with the SAS band but the problem is that some of the guys don't like touring in buses and it's difficult to get commitments from everybody. But I'm up for doing that. We may be doing some army shows, after what happens in Afghanistan I could easily see us in Oman sometime. They've now sent Gerry Halliwell and Steps down so I'm sure the boys could do with some more rock 'n' roll.
The Liverpool gig at the Cavern Club is going to be filmed. We'll get the rights to the footage, so with that at the end of the tour we're going to have another clip which will be perfect. I mean 'Live at the Cavern Club' for me is great as I'm a Beatles and John Lennon fan, just to play that place is an honour.
So life's really good for me now, the next three or four months I'm getting all the foundation laid for the rest of my life.
Interview: Harry Brinks, Astrid van Orsouw and Judith Mitchell
Transcription: Harry Brinks and Astrid van Orsouw
Interview November 8th 2001