Interview by Jolijne Viergever in Geneva
'I'm not good at writing on the road'
Next to me sits a tired Fish, the touring is starting to take it's toll, the trip from Vienna was tough due to heavy snowstorms, and he has been very irritated because of the small size of the theatre, the ridiculous sound restrictions and the low ticket prices.
But no irritation whatsoever about the interview. We are sitting down in a quiet corner back-stage while everyone around us cheerful chats away.
When I ask him if he knows United Fish Fans, he answers that he doesn't and when I explain to him that it's a new Fish site, by and for fans, that started out as a Dutch site and now also has been translated into English, and that the Fans have been able to formulate there questions for this interview, his reaction is that it's always good to see new Fish sites on the web.
From the concerts that I've attended before, it seems that Fish and the band have lots of fun and when I ask him about it he answers with a big smile:
"Oh yeah, but its always difficult touring at this time of the year with all the bugs flying about and the cold etc. - you're coming from warm gigs outside to damp air and the cold and everyone is on Multi Vitamins all the time. On top of that we've been doing the South American piece as well. We've been doing so much flying, you're always at a high risk I've been pretty pleased that everything kinda worked out and that all the voices kept up, you know. We're half way down the tour now and it's going well, but it's been tough, the travelling in the bus, we had a hotel once in Berlin where we played, but that has really been it and then it's really difficult to get enough rest, but I've been enjoying it all so far.
"I'm surprised about the gigs as well. I was nervous to be doing too much Marillion material but as I'd said before, it was on the South American set because a lot of the South American fans have never seen me with the new band. The set was going well, it was Yatta himself that said 'keep the set as it is' and the reactions were really good, also about the Fellini material.
"But it has been a pretty long tour. We did 6 weeks in May/June, 4 weeks South America, now 4 weeks of Europe. The breaks have been helpful, but this is a difficult patch at the moment, you know the runs from Poland to Italy, to Vienna and back, but the reactions have been great and as long the reactions are good, you can deal with it, it's when you get ill or when you're parked in a garage because of the snowstorms, that's when it becomes irritating."
Do you still feel like doing the Fellini material or are you already thinking about new stuff?
Fish: "No, I have too much on a go, you know the house move and everything else. At the moment I'm really looking forward to getting home and spending some time for myself. I get back December the 7th and Tara will be home the 27th and when she comes across I want to make sure that all the boxes are cleared away and make a nice home for her. I can really do with some time off, it has been a very stressful year and I can't remember having a holiday."
Several fans have asked whether the cats in the songs on FD have a special meaning, because cats are often used as erotic objects. Fish laughs and says that it's purely coincidental.
"The 'Tiger tail' comes from a William Blake poem - at least I think it was William Blake - that Louise sent me: Tiger Tiger"
Something else the fans wondered about was why Brian May and Steve Lukather didn't participate on Fellini Days, even though there had been plans about that.
"We sent Steve the tapes but he got tied up in a domestic thing and he wrote me a really nice e-mail apologising. And Brian was involved with Robbie Williams in America at the time. We are still good friends and maybe they will contribute to the new album, but it might not suit on Field of Crows. For the new album there are bits and pieces of ideas flying about, but I am not good at writing on the road, I'm not one of these guys that sits in a hotel room and comes up with ideas. If you get inspiration, OK, but I don't sit down and work on it. During the tour I have far too many other things on my mind."
About getting involved with other musicians Fish says: "I just know them, I met Steve Barnacle and John Marter through the SAS (Band) connection. And again the SAS introduces me to a lot of different musicians and they know people so you create a big network from that. People know what I work like and most people are very open to suggestions so depending on what you need, you just throw it in the open."
Sound track James Bond
Fish auditioned for the new James Bond movie, but unfortunately didn't get the part. On the various mailing lists people have been speculating which song of FD would be most suitable as the sound track for a Bond movie. With a big grin on his face Fish figures that they probably won't ask him to do the sound track but hypothetically he would choose 'Clock Moves Sideways'.
When I ask him about Clarinda he answers that he doesn't see that film happening.
"There are a lot of lawsuits flying about, the film is all wrapped up in a big legal mess. It's a shame 'cause it's a good idea and the script is done. I don't know what exactly happened, but I think that the director hijacked the movie because he didn't want a certain producer involved or something. But as far as I'm concerned it's on 'stop'. The ultimate dream would be to write and direct a movie, but I don't have the experience and it's a long way down the line."
So Fish sticks to music for now.
"There are plans for army gigs in Norway, I need to talk to the guys that are involved with it. If we can get it together it will be a great chance to do something big in Norway. The idea is to go out for a month after the fan club convention in June. Everything is in plans at the moment. For the convention in Enschede there needs to be a lot organised and planned, but not now, not here in Geneva where I have a gig tonight!"
(The gigs are planned for September and waiting for confirmation: JV)
Fish continues: "The conventions are great, we have got to change things around though, cause I don't want to do the acoustic any more. The acoustic is great but we've done that now and I want to do some stuff that I have been wanting to do for a while. With the new band I hope to get a lot of material rehearsed at the Open Air Festival and during the summer. Whether I like it or not, a lot of people still come to the gigs because I'm the ex-singer of Marillion. That's why it's useful to have done some Marillion tracks and why I have decided to do the Misplaced Childhood album. That's a lot of learning, because except for Kayleigh and Lavender I haven't done anything off it."
The reaction to my: "We will be in for a surprise then?" is a big smile and "Yes, and so will I be!!"
When I thank him for his time I get a big hug and kiss which brings me to higher atmospheres, floating on a pink cloud for just a brief moment, only to be brought back to earth with a dry: "Right, time for my massage now. Where do you want me?...."
Interview November 24th 2001