Finally completed “Perfume River” lyric after days of being uncomfortable with the last draft. Thought I needed an other verse to fulfill the “story” which would have imbalanced the music and taken it into “over egging” territory. A few words added and replaced and an awkward 2nd last verse tightened and it seems to run more smoothly and make more sense.
Inspired by a 2008 visit to Hue citadel in Vietnam where the Tet offensive hit the high water mark and the American and South Vietnamese forces fought a terrible and ferocious battle to recapture the fortress in 68 which resulted in it’s almost total destruction. The Perfume river divides the city from ancient and modern. The ancient imperial capital is now a one of Unescos World Heritage sites and is undergoing massive rebuilding and renovation. I found it an incredibly eerie place. I also spent and afternoon on a boat heading up the Perfume River, Willard style, letting my imagination float on the slow moving waters.It was a place I had to write about as the journey was part of my own “Heart of Darkness” voyage. There are a lot of tricky undercurrents!
The Perfume River
There were no sirens, I heard no alarms,
This situation has somehow got completely out of hand.
It’s no illusion; it’s not a dream,
My eyes are open and all is as appears,
It’s a perfect nightmare; it’s a perfect nightmare,
In an imperfect world
I missed the wake up, slept through the dawn,
The world’s a stage but I’ve declared these curtains drawn
Behind the fourth wall, behind the scenes
A discarded fading flower on the soporific, sensual perfume river
The perfect nightmare; escape the perfect nightmare, dream the perfect world,
I close my mind in soft surrender, in quiet resignation take the lies, I lock the door, I lock the door
I junk the mail, I never open letters, programme numbers that I know I’ll never call
Collect addresses of friends who’ll soon be strangers,
Message pending, I know just what it says, should I accept another lie? I swallow all the lies
I live the lie.
There are places that I know that I will never see, some I wish I’d never seen before
The horror stalks my vision and the cries ring in my ears, I am helpless, I am not brave, I am alone.
I wander the dark alleys of the citadel, deserted shops and empty houses mark my way,
Bullet holes in stuccoed walls are testimony to the voices disappeared within the fear
Take me away to the Perfume River; carry me down to the perfume river
Set me adrift on a well-stocked open boat
Show me the way down to the Perfume River, send me away down the perfume river
Pour that sweet, sweet liquor down my throat
Fire breathing dragons swarm in sweltering skies, spewing flame on innocents below
Charred and brittle corpses, blackened evidence, I am enraged, I am afraid, I am forlorn
The ashes from wise pages fly from libraries, tumble in the clouds of smoke and flies
To lie as dust in corners of dark palaces, the fetid smell of revolution haunts the air.
Take me away to the Perfume River; carry me down to the perfume river
Set me adrift on a well-stocked open boat
Show me the way to the Perfume River, send me away down the perfume river
Pour that sweet, sweet liquor down my throat; pour it down my throat
Carry me down to the Perfume River; hold me down in the Perfume River
Where I’ll drown my sorrows, and I’ll die in hope
Push me away down the Perfume River to the swirls and eddies of the Perfume River
In these dark and muddied waters just let me float
The truth I don’t want to know
I found it quite comical while I watched the “insights” graph on my Fish Facebook page plunge in the last week after the lofty heights surrounding the “Script” anniversary. I’d decided to back off from everything while my girlfriend and her 3 kids joined me in Scotland. It was the first time Simone’s family had come over with her and the first time they would be meeting my daughter and family. I must admit to being both excited and nervous at the prospect. The fridge was well stocked and the cave as presentable as it could possible be. The only negative was the weather. At least the paw had healed enough to enable me to drive so the airport pick up was not an impersonal taxi and we had wheels to duck and dive while they were here. The woodburning stove was stoked from the dwindling log pile (I’d been burning LPG all week to maintain the stocks to ensure that traditional effect) and the studio was nicely warmed for their arrival. I’d made a conscious decision to unplug myself after the hectic weeks of creativity and organisation leading up to their visit.I needed to defrag myself.
Having 2 teenage girls and a 10 year old boy around the house was a real buzz and cooking for 5 a challenge.During the week we ran through the Scottish delicacies! Flat Lorne sausage, black pudding, venison sausages, the introduction on arrival followed later by a roast leg of lamb. I can’t remember eating so much in a week and the tightening boot cut jeans,recently purchased to cover the studio lack of fitness regime, were testimony to the gastronomic excesses normally associated with Christmas pig outs. This wasn’t helped by my mothers contribution of home made chocolate praline biscuits, date cake, fruit loaf and shortbread. I normally avoid buying sweet things as I tend to binge on them and having a “model” daughter with the same predilections there’s an unspoken ban on anything with high sugar content to avoid temptation.This week the calorie count went through the roof! The fridge needed restocked by Tuesday. Litres of orange juice, stacks of yogurts, sacks of crisps ( salt and vinegar, cheese and onion), bananas, apples, tablet, fudge. Simone couldn’t keep up with the home made bread! It was a bit like the opening scenes to The Hobbit! Kippers were viewed suspiciously and after advising that the idea of eating them cold was not a good idea a few minutes of grill blasting had the kids poking at them as if they were IED’s. (the 10 year old makes a mean scrambled eggs btw) Pies from Anderson’s Butchers in North Berwick got high marks as did the Madras lamb curry on Easter Sunday. A Thai meal with my parents and Tara last Wednesday tipped the taste buds as did a first time attempt at a hearty fish pie made up of ingredients picked up from Dunbar on a rare foray outside! A slab of fish and chips from Dino’s in Haddington our only take away with everything else cooked in the kitchen with lots of little helpers scurrying around poking fingers in dishes.The culinary side of the visit ended with Simone serving up kale soup in ham stock followed by boiled beef in horseradish sauce with new potatoes rounded off with Lucas ice cream to my parents and daughter and her kids in a lovely family gathering last night before they left this morning to return to Karlsruhe. I feel fat just typing this!!!
The weather mostly drove us indoors but we did manage beach combing expeditions to Coldingham bay at the John Muir park and another to Yellowcraigs beach on the rare instances the temperature reached 3 degrees! There was something quite comical as we all trudged around like Emperor penguins, crunching banks of old mussel shells searching for treasure and peeking in rock pools for abandoned crabs wrapped up to the neck and beyond, huddling in circles at the edge of the water.
A day trip to Edinburgh made me aware of the cost of family entertainment which we were thankfully saved as the kids elected to go shopping after a diddly bop around the National Museum in Chamber Street. It was the first time I’d been there for years and had ended up visiting by accident as Liam, the 10 year old, and I had been caught in a snow blizzard in the Royal Mile en route to the castle.We’d holed up in a pub for a bowl of Cullen Skink, missed the 1 o clock gun and he had declined a visit to “The Edinburgh Dungeons” as a welcoming scream from the bowels of the venue just as we reached the ticket office put him right off!The girls had been at the hairdressers and we agreed to meet at the museum before the castle. The free entrance made it an easy choice and I have to admit I was severely impressed at what was on display. I could have wandered all afternoon but my lack of German and all info in English on the exhibits cued eventual boredom in the youngsters.With the kids off to Princes Street Simone and I headed up the Mile to the windswept castle esplanade. Arthur’s Seat was a blur of snow and the city views somewhat limited in the grey murk. We had a couple of hours to kill before meeting my Tara for a train to North Berwick but as we stood in the queue at the ticket booth the entrance fee of over 15 pounds dissuaded us from venturing further and we decided to leave it for another visit on a blue sky day. Back down the esplanade, past the war memorials that seem to have more resonance these days, wheeling round and down the Disney like Ramsay gardens and back up the Mound to the Mile we came across the entrance to “The Real- Mary King’s Close”.
I’d been aware of the existence of the underground vaults below the City Chambers for some time but had never visited them.They date back to the 16th Century and were originally the Closes (narrow streets) that ran like ribs from the spine of the Royal Mile. In the 18th Century the “Old Town ” was renovated and the “Royal Exchange ” built on the site of Mary King’s Close utilising the old buildings of the close in the foundations. The old walls were capped and had barrel vaults constructed which became the basement of the Exchange that extended out and back from the Royal Mile . The Closes under the Exchange were preserved and over the years became famous in folklore as this magical mysterious other world that you could only visit by special permission from the city council. In 2001 the underground space was taken over by a private firm and opened to the public. I decided that this was the perfect time to finally visit the legendary site which by now has all the associated corporate marketing tactics arrayed at the entrance and promised something quite spectacular.The “walks” were scheduled every 30 mins or so and with advertising advising to book well in advance I thought we were lucky to get on the 4.30 for the 1 hour experience.Simone and I retired to “Deacon Brodie’s”, a well known pub on the Mile just up from the courts where the clientèle used to be “colourful” in days gone by as witnesses, defendants and “friends of the accused” used to mingle between sessions.In the past a delightfully grubby authentic wee drinking hole it was now obviously a tourist haunt and prices were racked accordingly. The “efficient” bartender delivered me a pint of Deuchars at £3.54 (£3.10 in Haddington) and I drank slowly taking in the sanitised surroundings reeking of corporate pub chain vibe! Deacon Brodie wouldn’t have been seen dead in there!
Our alloted time arrived and we joined the group for our visit to Mary King’s Close in the reception doubling as a kack shop with the usual suspects of tourist paraphernalia on offer. The program was £2.95 on top of the £12.90 (?) each for entrance to the Close. I was glad the kids were shopping! There were about 15 at least of us in the gaggle heading into the darkness down the stairs led by our “guide”, a well spoken young man putting on a plummy accent straight out of Blackadder’s “The Actors” as he tried to convince us he was a 17th Century shop owner from the close. It wasn’t exactly Scottish, more Fettes public school, the Shakespearean overtones irritating even Simone. He ran through the hammy script as we were herded through endless whitewashed barrel vaulted, wooden floor boarded rooms and asked to imagine what it was like back then. It wasn’t what I expected and after 20 minutes began to recognise my involuntary show shuffling. I wasn’t engaging and wanted it over and done with.There were a couple of interesting stories but a lot of fluff. The few Madame Tussuad like tableau’s for me added to the “Disney” vibe and distracted from the vibe. I won’t mention the squeaky “talking” rubber rat prop in the Black Death section! It wasn’t until the end after we had negotiated the warren of mostly bland rooms (the byre being an exception – I was glad there were no stuffed Highland coos!) that we entered the close itself and I admit to being blown away standing in a dense overwhelming tight space that reached above us to the City Chambers, the rooms, windows, doorways easily recognisable as a place where people had lived centuries before. On the second and third floors dusty washing hung across the close and the supporting arches and stonework caught my imagination. At last this what I had been waiting for ( a wait slightly extended as those of us who didn’t want our photo taken on infra red camera for the obligatory £8 souvenir had to hold back in an adjacent room for those that did!) and then 10 mins later we were herded back into the sunlight up a stairwell atop which was a sack cloth covered window at the entrance where we’d descended an hour ago. I pulled the cloth back and there below us was the full view of the Close! A great reveal and one I could have done with an hour before!
Yes it was interesting but at £12.90 a pop and an hour to deliver it was in my opinion well overpriced and not enough “meat” for my liking. I could have done without the hammy actor but respect we all need work and don’t think it was out of choice, more necessity. With the company that runs the “Close” advertising on their web site for a similar position at one of their other “experiences” for just over £6 an hour and punters at over £12.90 a head with 15 on a run every half an hour it’s a tidy profit I’d imagine.Maybe I am old fashioned but I would have preferred an old Edinburgh head with more history and less Disneyesque razzmatazz.Anyway It’s ticked off now and I didn’t buy the t shirt! I won’t be back!
The point that was driven home by the cost of the aforesaid attractions was the expense to a family. It was Easter, kids on holidays and weather driving people inside.When you start looking at the prices of entertaining kids it’s quite startling! I took Simone, her youngest daughter and son to Easter Road for the Hibs v Caley Thistle match (more cruelty akin to Yellowcraigs beach you may think!). Even with concessions it came to £68 for tickets for 4 of us, over £9 for 4 drinks and more squids for pizza slices! I’d forgotten about those kind of costs with Tara having moved into different zones in her life! With the cost of food, fuel, services etc climbing like knotweed in our budgets these days carving those kinds of “entertainment” figures into the ever decreasing pie cranks up the pressure on a wage packet. It’s no wonder football clubs are falling into administration, piracy abounds, illegal downloads are rife and pubs and venues are closing. I was just lucky that this last week I was dealing with kids happy to go beachcombing in a snowstorm or go walking in the woods and climbing trees!
Despite the weather and the closing of the great intrepid outdoors for most of the week we all had a great time together and the meeting of our respective “kids” did put a lump in our throats as we took on the mantle of the Brady bunch for a couple of special nights.The last night with my parents was especially touching and we were all sad to hug farewells.
And so now it’s back to being the bear in the cave. I did manage to work on the Leamington Spa Sunday night DVD with Russell Cherrington and Paul Gordon who came up to go through the final edit together. It looks stunning! The CD’s are ready to go to production and Mark Wilkinson has wrapped the artwork and sleeve designs. It will be here by the second week of May and available for pre sale next week. I’ll post more info on this on the news section of the web site.
This week is tidying up business issues and getting back into lyric writing mode before Robin and Steve arrive on the 16th April for what will be the last writing sessions before the tour rehearsals.
There’s still some food left in the fridge and a sliver of my Mum’s fruit loaf that may make the weekend!
That should keep me going as I force the graph back up on the Facebook pages, hope you didn’t miss me too much 🙂
“Thistle Alley” is part 4 of the “High Wood” suite, the darkest and heaviest of the sections addressing the main assaults and the deadly war of attrition that occurred there in late 1916.
My maternal grandfather, William Paterson, was serving with the 8th Battalion Royal Scots at that time and as a pre conflict miner he was with the entrenchment sections allocated to trench digging duties. My friend Simon Moston who studies WW1 and is a battlefield guide did some research and discovered that William was actually involved at High Wood and his battalion dug a serving trench that enabled troops to move closer to the enemy before the jump off to an attack. The trench he is acknowledged in regimental records as having been involved with was “Thistle Alley”.
A lot of the digging occurred under machine gun/ shellfire, gas attacks and at night and by the time they were digging these jump off trenches the battle had been underway for some months.This meant that the soldiers were digging through what was essentially a graveyard, not helped by continuing explosives exhuming and dispersing bodies. It must have been truly hellish!
A mine was dug over many weeks and detonated in the latter stages of the battle in an attempt to silence a machine gun stronghold that dominated a corner of what remained of the wood and the surrounding area.
Tanks were also used here for the first time in the war but were relatively useless in the stump filled terrain and between breakdowns and damage from shellfire contributed little.
Aircraft were starting to play a part and between observation duties and ground assault support made a mark in the proceedings.
Principal combatants were still the infantry, the boots on the ground, who took the brunt of the fight and the casualties numbering tens of thousands.
William went on to be attached to the 154th Machine Gun Corps and as such would have been involved with the main assaults. I am still looking into his history with the help of Simon and others.. He did return from France in 1919 and never spoke of what he saw.
It is estimated that the bodies of 8000 men, eviscerated by explosives, were never found and remain in the 6 acre area of the High Wood.
The wood eventually fell to the British in September 1916
“ghastly by day, ghostly by night. The rottenest place on the Somme.” Corporal H.F.Hooton
Rockets are flying, signal distress over no man’s land,
With hopes they are fading, splutter and die in a leaden sky,
The wounded resignation, the corpses on the wire, a frozen tableaux flickers in the light,
Flares are falling, chasing the shadows, nervous eyes, huddled in silence,
Hugging the earth, biding time
Motionless as spiders caught out on a killing floor, muffled picks and shovels hold their still,
Praying for the darkness to return and hide the graves they are opening, the graves they are digging.
A storm of fire and metal tears the wood asunder, shatters stumps of scorched and splintered trees,
Cowering in the mud within the roots, incessant thunder, tormented shredded souls are torn apart.
Deep beneath the surface the chalk yields to the chisels, bloodied fingers tear the face away,
Hollowing the chambers along dark Stygian tunnels, hooded candles light the spectres way.
Dragons crawl the ridges towards the spires on new horizons, ploughing through the charnel pits and gore,
The spawn of death’s invention, a victory their burden, the promise stalls and wallows in the mire,
High above the stage, a chorus of dark angels, a circus joins the theatre of war,
The props are in position, fuses primed and ready; the wires pulse the signal cue the mine exploding
The graves are opening.
The dead they are rising, fear haunted faces, gaunt and grey,
Ghosts are gathering, the Dance Macabre, the hellish fray
Heaven above Thistle Alley below
Whistles are blowing, the maxims are waiting
To carve the flesh, shatter skulls and crush the bone
Guns stuttering relentless rake the lines,
The gas that whispers in the confines of the trenches
To choke the life of those who dare to hide.
Heaven above, Thistle Alley below
Motionless survivors bloody on the killing floor, praying for the darkness to return,
Praying for the darkness to return and hide the graves of the living.
Copyright DDICK 2013
One interview was with Rachel Mann from The Quietus website and was based around my favourite 13 albums of all time. I was rattling on about all these albums and songs that had such a huge impact on me when I was a teenager and what they meant to me.
At the end of the interview Rachel went on to declare her admiration for the Script album and how it had affected her back in her youth. I never ever thought at the time of writing and recording those songs on Script with the others that they would have the same effect on people as “Selling England”, “Quadrophenia”, “Hejira” or “Fragile” had on me as a teenager.
As I said to Rachel , with regard to the music business ,I always felt like the fan who had sneaked into the backstage area and was waiting to be caught and thrown out! 🙂
I am sincerely touched and the teenager still inside is quite proud that I managed to help create an album that touched people in the same way that other albums touched me and that I could give something back to the generation that followed and contribute to the chain of music and feeling that threads through the ages.
The 16 year old that came out of his first gig with ears ringing after seeing “Yes” at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh and who listened with awe to “dark side” on his ITT stereo would never have believed what his future would hold and that the dream would actually come true! 🙂
And today I am working in my house and studio on the 14th album I’ve been involved with writing and recording.
Foss, Steve, Robin and I are finishing of the writing and with a fair wind and some focused effort “A Feast of Consequences” should be ready for full demoing in April and in rehearsals for the UK tour in May.
Having listened again to the Leamington Spa convention setlists and the clip that was posted of “Script” the other day we decided that it has to be included in the May set.
I just want to say a huge thanks for all the positive and beautiful comments in the last couple of days and for the memories you brought back to us all.
I should have mentioned someone else who had a profound influence on my writing in those days. She would have smiled at the recollections as she was such a huge part of my life back then.
This is for Kay x
Foss and I have had a very constructive couple of days and have managed to nail “The Gathering”. I admit to having been dreading this and there was a chance we might duck it after the recent forced changes in band arrangements and time becoming pressed.We knew exactly what we needed, something relatively quirky like a cross between “Institution Waltz” and “The Company” that would sit between the power charge of “Crucifix Corner” and the dark, brooding heaviness of “Thistle Alley”, the two “battle” lyrics, the first being optimistic and the second resigned to fate.
In the context of the story across the 5 song suite it sits third with the first, “High Wood”, being a take on the wood itself across the ages, beginning in modern times, touching on the distant past and finishing as WW1 begins and introducing a world stage.
The second, “Crucifix Corner” is the first assault on the wood and specifically one of the first and last major cavalry charges of the war that ended up in the stalemate that would continue for months and is represented in the lyric for “Thistle Alley”, part 4 of the suite.
“The Gathering” is about the raising of the “Pals Battalions” when General Kitchener undertook his famous poster campaign to bring together volunteers into a new version of the British army to fight alongside the professionals already in France. It was an optimistic time and the realities of the trenches had not yet struck home and the casualty rates not making the impact they would a year or so later which resulted in conscription being introduced. Flanders at that time was still perceived as a field of promise and glory.
I didn’t want to become too tied to the period and have tried to give the lyric a timeless feel as the entire suite takes in modern day soldiery and jingoism and patriotism has been used throughout history to rally nations. In saying all that I have leaned on a style that you might expect from songs of the early 20th century and we are including a brass band and pipes in the musical arrangements to colour the emotions around the raising of the “Pals Battalions”
As you are now seeing this is a very complex piece of songwriting and is practically a musical rather than a “traditional” rock song formula.I cannot remember ever being under so much pressure as the subject matter deserves tremendous respect and involves so much research and care and attention to make it credible and hopefully something I can be proud of having being involved with creating.
Without further ado, this is
The newspaper headlines were big and bold; our country was going to war,
To fight for the freedom of nationhood, to defend us from invading hordes,
The general pointed with steely glare, delivered the rallying call,
We signed off our lives with a stroke of a pen, joined our pals in the line
We took the King’s shilling with pride.
From the towns and the cities we came, from the fields and the countryside, the mines and the factories
Volunteers on the square, labourers and unemployed, clerks and delivery boys
Skirling pipes charge the air, raising the cheering crowd, casting out any doubts
Victory will soon be assured, we know God’s on our side at the heart of the gathering
Farewell to our homes and our families,
Farewell to the lives we once knew
Farewell to our youth and our innocence
We marched off with the band to the promise of a brave new world.
And I’ll write you a letter each passing day and I’ll cherish your every reply
I’ll tie them with ribbons and Flanders lace; hold them close to my heart in a sweet embrace
Tell the children that I shall return, laden with medals and dripping with garlands
We’ll sit by the banks of the Tyne and I’ll regale you with stories of honour and glory
We’ll make up for all the lost time, jig to the fiddles, and weave the White Willow
In the evening like ferns we’ll entwine, our bodies surrender we give to the gathering
I‘ll long for my home and my family,
I will long for the life I once knew
I’ll long for my youth and my innocence
I’ll long for a brave new world.
In the holds of the ships out of training camps, from the railheads to trudge open roads
Shouldered rifles on heavy souls, our fears will add to our load
Farewell to our homes and our families,
Farewell to the lives we once knew
Farewell to our youth and our innocence
We marched off with the band, pals in battalions, to the promise of a brave new world
Joining the gathering, pals in battalions, to fight for a brave new world
Pals in battalions, we took the kings shilling and paid for a brave new world
Copyright DDICK 2013
As a magical “Fellini” postscript Simon Moston sent me this photo. Not only was there an RFC officer POW camp in Karslruhe (my paternal Granddad was RFC ground crew in Arras) but it turns out that the “Baden Wurttemburger” regiment who faced the 51st Highland division at Beaumont Hamel ( with whom my maternal grandfather fought serving with the 8th Royal Scots) also come from that area in Germany. As they have the only surviving full regimental records from that period (most of the other German regimental historical documents were destroyed during WW2) it may be possible to find out if way back in 1916 elements of my girlfriend Simone’s family actually served and fought against my grandfather William Paterson’s battalion! And there lies a wonderful twist of fate!
Well I knew it was never ever going to be simple and I always try and remain on guard and vigilant in general for those spanners that appear regularly on the horizon.
This one I saw coming for quite a while but hoped it would fall short or miss. In the end I decided I couldn’t ignore it and decided to catch it as I knew exactly where it was heading.
In 2011, on the Fishheads tour Foss, Frank and I had discussed the writing of the new album and I really wanted the 3 of us to form the core of the project with the eventual aim of touring in the format again.Using what we had learned about the deconstruction and simplification of songs, a more purist approach to writing where the studio arrangements are added to embellish rather than as basic building blocks was put forward. Everyone was in agreement on the approach and we intended to start assembling basic ideas to work on and around in early 2012. The year started to wear out and weeks drifted into months. We’d spent a long time over the last couple of years together and the break at first was welcomed. The writing sessions however were very thin on the ground and there wasn’t much impetus around. I needed to write an album. I decided to bring in Steve Vantsis, co writer of “13th Star” who I’d met up with again during the Fishheads tour. He knew I needed to write new material and we got together in the late Summer to put our heads together. It worked and we re-established a good writing relationship which threw up around 7 ideas in the first 2 meetings. Foss was also involved with Steve and we were dealing with the “High Wood” together when Steve was down South. Frank had been at the studio only a couple of times as he was so heavily involved with the “Border Boogie Band” album, other session work and writing his solo album as well as helping build a studio in Galashiels and other demands. We were missing much needed guitar input.
The Leamington gigs with attendant rehearsals, although a great success, ate into the album writing and I realised I was well behind schedule requiring more recording postponements and a re think of my approach.Frank had elected to take over as sole stage guitarist at the beginning of the year and had dealt with it brilliantly. In the rehearsals for Leamington that was to put him under immense pressure. He was happy to continue but admitted to preferring a “foil”. We discussed the second guitarist position and Frank commented that his all time favourite was Robin Boult and that he would love to work with him again. He knew I needed another guitarist involved with the writing sessions if I was to forward the album as Frank admitted to his own nonavailabilities in the coming months. Although Steve is great with ideas on guitar and we had more than the skeletons of material we both knew we needed a guitarist to write with to add to the process. As Robin was coming to the convention I decided to ask the question regarding joining us for writing as the thought of having Frank and Robin together on the tour and album was an exciting prospect.Everyone including Frank liked the idea and the plan was set in motion.
Robin came up with Steve before Christmas and as hoped for provided the missing element we needed on the writing sessions.We decided to reconvene in January and bring all the elements together. I had hoped Frank would have been with us in December but holidays and other commitments came into play. We had only spoken a couple of times since Leamington and were out of touch.There was a sense of drifting.
Before I went to Karlsruhe this month I called Frank in for a discussion on my ideas which involved further writing sessions in March and April with pre production and tour rehearsals into May, the UK tour with the band that I wanted to record the album with in June throughout the Summer before the main European tour in September. I needed to get his take on it all and if he wanted to be involved as I wasn’t sure as to what he wanted to do He admitted he couldn’t commit and was resigning from the band. Despite having an inkling something was coming it still took me by surprise. I spent over an hour trying to talk him round but he had made up his mind. We agreed to leave it until I came back from Germany and when Steve and Robin were up for the next writing session and discuss it again then.I still hoped he would reconsider. The Durlach visit was clouded at the prospect of replacing Frank.
On my return I called him but he had made his decision. He had talked with Yatta and Shaun who both had tried to change his mind but he was adamant.He had too much on this year that he wanted to do. Everyone to a man was disappointed, none more so than me. At the time Robin had not made up his mind on the touring aspects and I still wanted the live band to be the recording band with the perfect set up being Robin and Frank. Robin was aware that Frank could be resigning and I wasn’t sure if he would come on board if Frank left. I was facing a huge challenge to replace him. I discussed the situation with Robin and he understood the dilemma I was in. He agreed with all the benefits of writing unit becoming touring unit to recording band and volunteered to join us. I admit to an overwhelming sense of relief when he told me he was in.
Robin has brought a lot to the table in the writing sessions he’s been involved with so far and has fitted in well with Foss, Steve and I, as I knew he would. I find it slightly ironic that after all these years when the chance of working together again was becoming a reality that Frank would choose this time to resign. The last time it nearly happened was when Frank resigned during the “Sunsets” project after a previous excruciatingly long outing with “Yin and Yang”, Robin of course joining the band mid Sunsets tour. It would have been fantastic having them both together again but if anyone is going to fill in for Frank then Robin would always be my perfect choice and I am lucky he has elected to come on board and sees the huge potential of this project. He will prove to be a major asset I am sure.
In some ways I am glad it’s going to be a 5 piece band as I have come to enjoy that format in the last year and the intended set up of this album was originally meant to be for a single guitarist with the prospect of acoustic touring in the Fishheads format a definite option in the future. Robin is more than capable of handling what is required and more.
As much as I am disappointed that Frank is not going to be involved with the “Feast” album I can only but respect his position and understand his reasoning. He does have a lot of other commitments on his own plate just now and I am sure that the break from us will do him the power of good too! 🙂 I am genuinely sad to see him go, wish him all the sincere best for the future and I’m looking forward to hearing this elusive solo album and to the extra bottle of red wine in the dressing room! 🙂 We have known each other for over 30 years and remain best of friends who will reconvene on another stage somewhere in the future. I’m just sorry he won’t be joining me this time around.
It’s been a jolt and something I would have preferred not to have had to dealt with at this juncture in the album or career process but it has not meant any rescheduling as Frank’s resignation at this moment in time doesn’t substantially affect things. He was not involved with the fundamental writing and the album is in an advanced state now since Robin became involved with the songs. March and April are assigned to finishing the 12 tracks and preparing them for production rehearsals so there’s no serious re jigging required. I’m excited about having Robin involved again and especially after hearing his contributions so far. If there is a down side then it is that Robin will have to learn a live set from scratch (which he is more than capable of doing!) but on the upside it means I do have an excuse for not playing “Grendel” as Frank will be the only guitarist from my solo years that knows it ! 🙂
All said and done I’ll miss Frankie and everything that comes with the package! 🙂 I love him dearly and always will, he is a big part of what I am. The wheel keeps spinning! Table for 5 please!
Feast of consequences
I tear a page from the book of faces,
Throw your letters in an open fire,
I couldn’t say that I still despise you
But I’m finding it hard to not to
After all that was said not done it’s time this thing was over
Did I want you to change your mind I don’t honestly think so
Picking me up like a lovesick puppet
You were dancing me over a burning flame
You kept pulling the strings the few strands remaining
You just wouldn’t let me go
We were running out of words, running out of lines, running out of things to say
We were running out of heart, running out of love, running out of reasons to stay
There was something so deeply flawed
In the beginning we tried to deny it
Like a crack in a china doll,
A masquerade in silence,
Where we try to recognise just who exactly we’re trying to hide
We played our roles in this grand design
Fooled ourselves in our own disguises
We were running out of pills, running out of smoke, running out of fine white wines,
We were running out of road, running out of fuel, running out of places to hide,
It’s a feast of consequences
Facing up to a feast of consequences
Bearing down on a feast of consequences
It looks like we’re dining alone
Table for one for a word drunk poet,
Losing my mind in a dancing flame,
It kept pulling the strings the few strands remaining
It just wouldn’t let me go
We were running out of World, running out of hope, running out of resources
We were running out of time, running out of space, running out of tomorrows
If we only knew then what we know now would we have changed our minds, it was all about time we faced the feast of consequences
Can’t walk away from this feast of consequences,
Can’t ignore this feast of consequences
copyright DW Dick 2013
ah well, back to the mountain removal and drama defusing business after a week on the balcony. Arrived home yesterday afternoon after a journey from Karlsruhe that zipped by so fast and fluid it was scary.
Plagued this time by third party intrusions from UK that I couldn’t ignore but still rallied a decent effort on “Perfume River” and got to grips with the missing sections of other demos that were playing constantly in the flat and making me feel I was achieving something special.
Great idea for a video for “Blind to the Beautiful”, worked out the “McGuffin” for a screenplay idea that’s been bugging me for a while and finished Pete Townshend’s autobiography which turned out to be quite inspiring in a lot of ways!
The research on “Perfume River” threw up some new ideas for approaches to discuss with Steve and Robin who arrive later today for a a week long writing session with Foss joining us for the “High Wood” assault.
Only downside ( and it’s a steep one!) is I have my pre op today for the big op on Saturday on my left hand. The carpel tunnel syndrome and the Duputyrens problem are both being dealt with which will mean no driving for 5 weeks and approx 9 weeks recovery. It shouldn’t affect the sessions that much but adjusting to one handed life around here will be a problem.
At least I have Steve and Robin around the first week to button my flies 🙂
Just announced , the September/October/November 2013 tour dates. http://fishheadsclub.com/live-fish/
Apart from 4 or so more dates to be added to make up our journey back to the UK and the drop of at home this is the only touring this year and the last touring of this consecutive nature for a while. Please don’t ask “if we can play here/there” or “why aren’t we playing here/there ?”, these are the dates Yatta has managed to put together.If your city isn’t on the list then – we didn’t get an offer from a promoter/ it didn’t fit in with the complex routing required to make sense of the tour or there was an offer but it didn’t cover what we needed to make sense of the budget we needed.I hope we have managed to satisfy most of you. It’s a major undertaking and any support you can provide through spreading the word or promoting locally is most welcome.
I’m sorry to say there are no plans for a North American tour due to economic restraints/ lack of serious offers/ bureaucracy/ visa issues etc etc. It’s impossible to consider at this present moment and is not foreseeable in the near future.I would love to come over to play but it’s just not feasible 🙁 As for South America I have also not received any serious offers we can consider to put together a tour that makes sense to everyone involved. As the visa situation and the bureaucracy is a lot easier to deal with there may be a chance early next Spring but at the moment there is nothing on the table . 🙁
A fine weekend brainstorming with Rob Ayling ( my project advisor and coordinator) and John Reid ( My web site designer and administrator ) going over options and ideas for the future.
High on the list was the downloads question and we are looking at instigating the following –
all studio albums will be available from “mainline” sites via a third party presenting the recorded catalogue to a wider audience. (Being dealt with as a priority.)
Live material will be presented as “bundles” through the fishheadsclub.com website.(This requires discussions with providers and software compatibility – being worked on.)
This includes a download of the recent Fishheads Club Live DVD audio which fans who have already purchased the DVD will be given a free “download code” to access.
For those not wanting the DVD the download can be purchased separately through the online store!
The full NTSC region 0 Fishheads Club Live DVD should be with us here at the end of this week!
The next title up for production will be from the convention. I have decided to go with the Sunday night show as an edited film.
In deference to your wishes the title will be as a double audio cd with the entire 2hr 20 minute Sunday night performance mixed by Calum Malcolm with the DVD as a “bonus” presented in a triple CD case.This will be available at the merch stall on the May UK tour and on the web site
The audio will also be available as a download which will also contain material from the Saturday night performance , again mixed by Calum Malcolm. The “physical product” will also contain codes to download the bonus material.
Further live material from archive and other sources will be added to this download site and the idea is to take it further on the September tour where I will make shows available during the tour and capable of being purchased on the night at the merch stalls as codes.
The May tour will be recorded and be presented at a later date as selected downloads.
The filmed material from the convention outwith the performances will be edited and added to the fishheadsclub You Tube which we plan to develop as a library of clips from past and present into a comprehensive archive.This is obviously available free of charge to anyone who accesses it.
I am planning to “open up” a marketplace site on Amazon which will be a portal back to the fishheadsclub site. This again will provide much needed profile and access to fans who use Paypal which we do not use on our on line shop..
An E Bay outlet will also be set up at a later date.
Both these “outlets” will have the recently released and available titles when they come on line.Combined with the new outlets John will also be revamping the entire on line shop so you will get more information on titles etc and generally make the existing site a lot more attractive and “user friendly”.
The first 2 titles I am looking at for re issue are “Vigil” and “Field of Crows” (remixed by Chris Kimsey) I’d like to think I can get these together for release in the Summer while we are working on the new album.
“Vigil” is planned to have an extensive interview containing home footage of the writing and recording as well as rare live clips and song videos on a bonus DVD. Live versions of album tracks considered a “best of” from over the years will also be contained on a separate disc with demos etc.Vinyl versions of the album are also in the ideas box as well as T shirts using the original designs. This project will be released in various formats at different prices in an attempt to satisfy everyone’s budgets.
“Field of Crows” will be slightly less ambitious as I have less extra material but will still have a comprehensive option available.Again this will be released on a strictly limited vinyl edition.
I have still to work out how to fund the “Feast of Consequences” album but have decided to bypass the available models and sell copies in advance. There are other ideas for raising recording costs such as ” dinner tickets” where someone can buy a place at the studio dinner table with the band with yours truly as chef and bottle opener after an afternoon spent here during the recording of the album in the Summer. The ticket will also get you a credited backing vocal on one of the tracks that need “crowd participation”. Not worked it out yet and I am still thinking about other ideas. Anyone have suggestions? 🙂
I am taking on someone who will help promote this and other projects online and this will hopefully develop the web site and my own profile throughout the rest of the year.
This is a model I hope we can bring together in the coming weeks well before the May Tour and for the advance sales of the new album.
The object is to remain as simple as possible and to get the material out there, available and visible to as wide an audience on as many formats as possible to keep everyone happy and me with a reliable income stream that supports what I am trying to do. The last thing I need is a complicated model as complications mean a tendency to fuck up and as I have no wish to own an “empire” this way forward seems to us to be the easiest to maintain and deliver on all levels.
I am not going down the “credits” route or considering “yearly subscriptions” that give access to “VIP” areas as they just end up demanding more management than I think is justified. It has to remain simple and efficient.
I hope you like the ideas and as always I am open to suggestions as your views are respected and taken on board,
take care, stay alive
ps just waiting on the European tour dates to be finalised in the next couple of days.