Sunsets on Empire, Raingods With Zippos, Fellini Days and Field of Crows are now available in the Fish Shop!
Well it’s now 5 days since the operation on my spine and I have to say despite a wee bit of an ache it hasn’t felt this good for many years. My posture has dramatically changed, my spine is bending inward not outward and I am standing a few inches higher these days. I’m still taking it easy although my lady would prefer if I took it easier and reminds me that I was always having a go at my Dad for exactly the same thing. It’s frustrating as there’s so much I can’t do just now. Sitting at the desk is limited to 20 minute stretches and I do spend quite a while as an elongated couch potato with an itchy finger on the satellite remote. I’ve watched the entire ‘Ray Donovan’ series 4 that’s been on the drive for months as well as some old classics like ‘Colditz’ and ‘Guns of Navarone’ when I have succumbed to the enforced rest and I’m always in search of a decent box set to while away the hours.
I have been walking about as between the limited seated position and the stretched out on sofa position getting around is the other designated exercise.It’s raising a smile as I am no longer walking like a penguin and can stride about the studio with ease now. As you can see it’s been a revelation to regain this new mobility .
The office duties are dealt with in intermittent phases and I was glad to get the ‘Moveable Feast’ and ‘Field of Crows’ projects sorted out with Mark, Calum and my production firm and get the albums on to schedules.Mark Wilkinson and his wife Julie are up here this weekend for a break and also for the first of our brain storming sessions on ‘Weltschmerz’. I’m sure it will be an interesting discussion over red wines while spinning vinyl into the wee hours.
John Reid and I have been discussing the website as we both agree we need to update it and prepare for the remaster offer and the next projects. We are throwing around ideas to make it more interesting and to fill the gaps that are obviously going to occur as we move into the writing schedules next year.
Preparing for the release of ‘Feast’ and ‘Crows’ with the free t shirt offer and getting everything in place for that is highest on the agenda just now.
Steve Vantsis is sifting through the ‘Farewell to Childhood’ material but we already know we have a multi-track recording from Warsaw in 2015 that Calum Malcolm will be mixing in the next month and a full show on DVD from Berlin already designated for that project. We hope to find another show from the Tony Turrell line up and there are a couple from Holland to choose from. The only disappointment was that all the shows from the summer of 2015 including ‘Loreley’ and ‘Das Fest’ which would have been obvious contenders were only recorded on MP3 and are not good enough quality to consider. I hope to have the ‘Childhood’ release ready for late January 2017.
I’ve had to relinquish all my gardening duties to Simone and Rab and had to watch on as they planted out the garlic, shallots and onions for overwintering in the front beds. I may just be able to stick broadbeans into one of the raised beds but all thought of lifting dahlias and pruning the orchard has to be put aside.
The only other garden project on the horizon is the extension of the ‘blue house’. The front of the building is rotten and has to be replaced.Last week when I was standing in the now cleared greenhouse the idea hit me that while I was replacing the front of it why not extend it? After the cost of the back operation it may not be feasible this year but the idea has got me excited as it would practically double my indoor growing space for next season.
The usual ‘spanners’ came my way with a septic tank sump pump having to be replaced and the pump in the underground rainwater tank deciding to pack in 4 months after the 2 year guarantee ran out.I have plastic pond pumps that have lasted longer at a third of the price.Thankfully there’s not much watering needed outside so it’s not urgent.
The firewood stack is visibly shrinking as the temperatures drop and it looks likely I’ll have to reorder sooner rather than later as we are getting through the wood at some pace. Normally I’d be on tour at this point in the calendar and the studio empty so it’s a really different experience aiming at Christmas with a clear run ahead and a fire in the hearth at home.
For now though I just have to concentrate on healing up and doing the physio, getting myself in shape and being careful not to overdo things.
Thanks again to one and all for the best wishes and positive posts in the last days, it sincerely meant a lot to us.
take care , stay alive
3D visual for the ‘Moveable Feast European Tour 2013-2015’
I should have delivery dates for this and ‘Field of Crows’ in the next days and will let you know ordering details as soon as I have them.
The 4 remasters ‘Sunsets on Empire’, ‘Raingods with Zippos’, Fellini Days’ and the new ‘Field of Crows’ will be on sale together with ‘Moveable Feast’ on a special offer where if you buy any 2 titles you get a free T shirt from the ‘Feast of Consequences’ collection ( buy 4 get 2 T’s).
You will have to input your selection and size required on your order form in the ‘customer note’ section and these will be sent out with your CD order. The T shirt offer will be available while stocks last and should your choice be sold out an alternative in the same size will be sent out.
This offer is only open to anyone buying direct through fishheadsclub.com and not available on any purchases on Amazon and will be made available when I have the definitive delivery dates on the new titles.
Track list /credits Moveable Feast
Karlsruhe, Substage 25th October 2013
1 Crucifix Corner (Dick, Paterson) 7.48
2 The Gathering (Dick, Paterson) 4.32
3 Thistle Alley (Dick, Vantsis, Boult) 6.33
4 Assassing (Dick, Rothery, Kelly, Trewavas, Mosley) 2.29
5 Credo (Dick, Simmonds, Usher, Boult) 3.52
6 Tongues (Dick, Simmonds, Usher , Boult) 2.54
7 Assassing (reprise) (Dick, Rothery, Kelly, Trewavas, Mosley) 3.29
8 Drum solo
9 Fugazi (Dick, Rothery, Kelly, Trewavas, Mosley) 1.58
10 White Feather (Dick, Rothery, Kelly, Trewavas, Mosley) 2.09
11 View From a Hill (Dick, Gers) 2.37
12 Freaks (Dick, Rothery, Kelly, Trewavas, Mosley) 5.10
13 Lucky (Dick, Simmonds, Boult) 8.26
14 The Company (Dick, Simmonds) 5.13
All songs Fishy Music Ltd/ Copyright control except
CD1 tracks 3/9 and CD 2 tracks 4/7/9/10 Charisma Music Publishing Ltd/ EMI Music Publishing Ltd
Fish – Vocals, Foss Paterson – Keyboards, Robin Boult – Guitars, Steve Vantsis –Bass, Gavin Griffiths – Drums
Wurzburg, Posthalle 29th October 2014
1 Perfume River (Dick, Vantsis) 11.33
2 Feast of Consequences (Dick, Vantsis, Boult) 4.24
3 Manchmal (Dick, Vantsis) 5.39
4 Arc of the Curve (Dick, Vantsis) 5.43
5 High Wood (Dick, Paterson) 5.17
6 Crucifix Corner (Dick, Paterson) 7.25
7 The Gathering (Dick, Paterson) 4.30
8 Thistle Alley (Dick, Paterson, Boult) 6.40
9 The Leaving (Dick, Paterson) 5.10
1 Slainthe Mhath (Dick, Rothery, Kelly, Trewavas, Mosley) 5.26
2 Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors (Dick, Simmonds) 14.12
3 Big Wedge (Dick, Simmonds) 6.09
4 Heart of Lothian (Dick, Rothery, Kelly, Trewavas, Mosley) 4.38
5 Incubus (Dick, Rothery, Kelly, Trewavas, Mosley) 10.20
6 The Company (Dick, Simmonds) 4.59
All songs Fishy Music Ltd/ Copyright control except
CD2 tracks 1/4/5 Charisma Music Publishing Ltd/ EMI Music Publishing Ltd
Fish – Vocals, John Beck – Keyboards, Robin Boult – Guitars, Steve Vantsis –Bass, Gavin Griffiths – Drums
Original live recordings from the sound desk sourced and mixed by Shaun Rogers
Additional engineering and sound enhancement Steve Vantsis
Mastered by Calum Malcolm
Artwork compiled and designed by Mark Wilkinson
Field of Crows Credits October 2016
1 The Field (Dick, Watson) 8.48
2 Moving Targets (Dick, Watson, Duguid) 5.45
3 The Rookie (Dick, Watson) 5.33
4 Zoo Class (Dick, Watson, Duguid) 5.26
5 The Lost Plot (Dick, Turrell) 5.15
6 Old Crow (Dick, Watson, Duguid) 5.21
7 Numbers (Dick, Watson, Usher) 5.39
8 Exit Wound (Dick, Watson) 5.58
9 Innocent Party (Dick, Watson, Duguid) 7.41
10 Shot the Craw (Dick, Watson, Duguid) 6.21
11 Scattering Crows (Dick, Watson, Turrell, Duguid) 5.08
Recorded at the Studio, Haddington, East Lothian Autumn 2003
Engineered by Elliot Ness Re Mixed by Chris Kimsey 2014
Fish – lead vocal
Bruce Watson- guitars and e bow .Frank Usher- guitars, slide guitar
Steve Vantsis- bass Mark Brzezicki- drums and percussion
Tony Turrell- keyboards Dave Haswell- percussion
Danny Gillan – backing vocals on 1/2/3/4/6/11
Richard Sidwell- trumpet and flugel horn on 1/4/6/8/10
Steve Hamilton- Saxophone on 1/4/6/8/10
Irvin Duguid- clavinet on 6
Yatta and Lars K Lande crowd vocal on 1
1 The Lost Plot (demo) (Dick, Turrell) 6.20
2 Scattering Crows (demo) (Dick, Watson, Turrell, Duguid) 4.59
3 The Field (demo) (Dick, Watson) 8.46
4 The Rookie (live 2004) (Dick, Watson) 5.41
5 Moving Targets (live 2004) (Dick, Watson, Duguid) 6.14
6 Innocent Party (live 2004) (Dick, Watson, Duguid) 6.46
7 Zoo Class (live 2004) (Dick, Watson, Duguid) 5.06
8 Numbers (live 2004) (Dick, Watson, Usher) 5.55
9 Old Crow (live 2004) (Dick, Watson, Duguid) 5.34
10 The Lost Plot (live 2004) (Dick, Turrell) 6.18
Tracks 4/5/6/7/8 recorded live at Bilston Robin 18/2/04
Lead Vocals – Fish
Guitars- Frank Usher and Bruce Watson Keyboards- Tony Turrell
Drums – Winston McGilvray Bass- Steve Vantsis
Backing vocals and acoustic guitar- Danny Gillan
Tracks 9/10 recorded live at Oslo Rockefeller 5/3/04
Lead vocals- Fish
Guitars- Andy Trill and Bruce Watson Keyboards- Tony Turrell
Drums – Winston McGilvray Bass- Steve Vantsis
Backing vocals and acoustic guitar- Danny Gillan
1 The Field (live acoustic 2006) (Dick, Watson) 8.19
2 Shot the Craw (live acoustic 2006)(Dick, Watson, Duguid) 5.23
3 The Lost Plot (live acoustic 2006) (Dick, Turrell) 4.53
4 Scattering Crows (live acoustic 2006) (Dick, Watson, Turrell, Duguid) 5.22
5 Innocent Party (live 2005) (Dick, Watson, Duguid) 5.08
6 Moving Targets (live 2005) (Dick, Watson, Duguid) 7.08
7 The Rookie (live 2004) (Dick, Watson) 5.56
8 Zoo Class (Live 2004) (Dick, Watson, Duguid) 5.01
9 Numbers (live 2004) (Dick, Watson, Usher, Duguid) 5.36
10 Moving Targets (live 2004) (Dick, Watson, Duguid) 5.42
11 Innocent Party (live 2004) (Dick, Watson, Duguid) 7.08
Tracks 1/2/3/4 recorded live at St Mary’s Church, Haddington 26/8/06 (originally released on ‘Communion’ album) engineered, mixed and produced by Calum Malcolm
Fish – lead vocal
Guitars -Frank Usher and Andy Trill Keyboards – Tony Turrell
Steve Vantsis – Bass Gavin Griffiths – drums
Dave Haswell – percussion
Backing vocals – Angela Gordon, Anne Marie Helder and Heather Findlay
Tracks 5/6 Amsterdam Paradiso 15/11/05 (originally released on ‘Return to Childhood DVD) mixed and produced by Calum Malcolm
Lead Vocals – Fish Guitars Frank Usher and Andy Trill
Keyboards- Tony Turrell Steve Vantsis – bass John Tonks – drums backing vocals – Deborah Ffrench
Tracks 7/8/9/10/11 recorded at Bradford Town and Country Club 6/4/2004 (original released on ‘Scattering Crows’ DVD)
Engineered by Chris Archer, Elliot Ness, mixed and produced by Elliot Ness
Fish – lead vocal
Guitars- Frank Usher and Bruce Watson Keyboards – Tony Turrell
Bass – Steve Vantsis Drums – John Tonks
Backing Vocals and acoustic guitar – Danny Gillan
All 3 CD’s mastered by Calum Malcolm 2015
Just back home on Sunday and walked tall and proud back into the studio.
My beautiful, wonderful caring lady stayed by my side through the whole day at the hospital and was there when I woke up after a highly successful operation.I love this woman so much. A true reminder of the importance and value of family and good friends.
Thank you most sincerely for all your best wishes, support and advice, it meant a lot to us in what have been worrying times.
A huge thank you to Mr Demetriades who performed wonders and to all the staff at Spire Murrayfield who took great care of me during my stay.
take care and stay alive
Derek and Simone
Ok let’s not beat about the bush and I’ll tell you how it is.
Two days ago I saw a consultant re my shoulder that I had an ultra sound examination on in May. I’ve been waiting to hear back for months and finally have a diagnosis and remedy. It’s not good.
I knew I had a torn tendon and anticipated minor surgery and a few weeks recovery with physio. It turns out the tendon is badly torn at the point where it is attached to the bone and is close to detaching from it’s anchorage point. I am now being scheduled for an operation, probably in February through the NHS, only a couple of weeks after the designated recovery period from the spine operation I am having on Saturday.
The operation is a small keyhole procedure but the aftermath is truly a nightmare. I will have to have my right arm completely immobilised in a sling for 4 weeks, I can’t drive for 6 weeks and then have 6 months recovery with intense physio to fully recover. It’s going to be long and painful and if I don’t strictly follow the rules the tendon will tear again and may be irreparable. At the moment I am suffering extreme pain from certain movements and have been dealing with this for a few years although not in continual intensity.Recently it’s become agonisingly intrusive.
The original injury I think came from my arm being wrenched trying to pull myself up on a dive boat in Cuba in heavy seas back in 2010 and since then it has never completely healed. It was seriously aggravated on a tour bus in 2015 and recently I have strained it to the point where the cortisone injections I was taking make no difference apart from masking the problem.With the severe recurring pain I have no other option but to undergo surgery.
What this means is that there will be no festival shows next year and I will not be able to go on the road until October 2017 without risking further damage. This is a huge blow on a number of levels. I have no other option but to cancel all touring until then as I have to give this serious injury time to fully recover.
I am trying to find the yang in all this as it means no gardening all season, no writing or typing for 4 weeks as I am right handed, no lifting or any strenuous movements for 6 months and a rigid schedule of physio that will be extremely uncomfortable. It’s going to be an incredibly frustrating time.
I can only attempt to concentrate on the remasters and writing the new album to back me up. Thankfully I have a wonderful caring woman here who can look after me as in all honesty it would be incredibly difficult for me to get through this on my own and look after myself. Together we are strong enough to get through this but I have to admit it’s a crushing blow which has derailed all thoughts of retirement in 2018.
My agents and my team are completely understanding and supportive and we just have to adjust to the realities of the situation.
It’s not the greatest of news but by no means the worst. I can deal with it. After all the best plans of mice and men aft gang aglae!
Finally it’s complete bar some judicious editing and correcting I’ll embark on tomorrow morning. The ‘Field of Crows’ sleeve notes for the next remaster. 9089 words at the moment with 4000 written today. The most complex of the sleeve notes so far as so much has been left out in order to compress 3 years of a tumultuous period in my life into something relevant to the album and at that same time making sense of the period.It’s 2.20 am, I have severe indigestion from perhaps too much coffee and a school run in 6 hours.Tomorrow is going to be a long read and I hope it all makes sense.
The last section of the sleevenotes
“In 2014 I’d decided to embark on this remaster series and wanted to review the original recordings. There was an option for remixes but due to technical difficulties the only album that was possible to work on out of the 3 I felt could benefit was ‘Field of Crows’. At the time I’d bumped into my old and dear friend Chris Kimsey who’d produced ‘Misplaced Childhood’ and ‘Clutching at Straws’ for Marillion and my second solo album ‘Internal Exile’. Chris was at a loose end that summer and was looking for a project. I suggested ‘Crows’ and sent him down a copy to listen to. Like many others he had never heard it and I was surprised at his genuine enthusiasm for the material. We talked it over and I handed over a couple of multi tracks for him to play with. What he came back with brought an entire new energy to the songs and I really liked his approach, accentuating the horns, tightening things up and layering the sound into something a lot more dynamic than the originals. It was groovier and yet still had a rocky edge I always felt was missing from the 2004 release. I green lighted his remix and he went ahead and began work on the rest of the material. What he delivered surprised everyone who heard it. It sounded like a new album and I designated it as the primary disc on this remaster. It’s sat around for too long but I’m glad that this is now in the public domain and can be heard in all its glory. I loved it back then and I love it even more now. This is how it should have sounded.”
You’re probably well aware of my ongoing back and legs issues and the search for a solution. A week after I arrived home from Switzerland in a lot of pain I received a letter from the Edinburgh Spire hospital accepting the referral from my local doctor. I called them in the morning and that night I saw a consultant who set up an MRI scan which was organised for the next morning. The scan happened on the Tuesday and on Saturday I went in again to see my consultant Dr D.
When I saw the words ‘degenerative damage’ on the screen of his PC which had images of my spine in detailed display I knew I wasn’t going to be getting good news.As a layman I recognised that what I was seeing wasn’t a healthy specimen.
I took in as much as I could from the medical spiel and recognised that what I was hearing had already been mentioned by my Dutch consultants in April. Bulging discs, trapped nerves, bone growths, protruding vertebrae plus a host of other issues were discussed.
In short I was given 3 options which were quickly thinned down to the only one that offered me a relatively long term solution. Physio and other remedies were ruled out as were more injections as it had gone too far and it required a ‘mechanical’ intervention. I’d been told in Holland that this would eventually be the case as injections could only provide me with short term relief and they were only masking the real issues..
And so I am now looking at a small surgical operation in November ( if I go down the private medical route) with 6-8 weeks rehabilitation and lots of post op physio. Dr D has told me that this procedure will take all the pain from my legs and vastly alleviate my spine issues. It involves cutting away bone to allow the disc and nerves space and thus removing all the pressure that is giving me this hellish sciatica and knee problems. It won’t deal with all my back issues and I may need to have vertebrae fused together in the future but for now this is a welcome first step to having my movement returned and getting rid of the increasing pain.
I’m annoyed that I had an MRI scan done on the NHS a year ago when I first went to the doctors on the behest of the Dutch team. Whoever looked at those September 2015 scans must have seen the damage back then as all this didn’t happen in a year. I didn’t receive any contact from the NHS about those scans and if I hadn’t elected to take a private health route I could still be waiting on that consultation. I managed to arrange 2 consultations,an MRI scan and get a diagnosis in the space of 7 days but it’s not been cheap.
I am one of the lucky people who have the ability to pay for a private option and I genuinely feel for people out there who are trapped in waiting lists and unable to move forward and receive treatments because they can’t afford it.
If I continue down the private route and take the operation in November it’s going to be a hit and a half but I have to look at the long term and without remedial treatment I will probably be unable to tour again.
The prospect of being able to walk properly again and to get a decent night’s sleep without pain has no financial value as far as I am concerned and in all probability this means ironically that I may have to put my retirement plans back for at least a year.
It shouldn’t affect the album writing too much but I will lose a chunk of time at the end of the year. I’ve been told I will, be able to walk out of hospital next day but will have to take it very easy for at least the first 6 weeks. I’m just glad I have Simone here as I don’t think it would be easy to cope with the rehabilitation and recovery on my own. Thankfully my lady is a trained doctor’s assistant and I know she will take great care of me.
I knew on Saturday that there was a high probability that a surgical operation would be the only answer so I wasn’t particularly shocked at the news. I’m just glad there’s a way forward now.
I’m being positive and looking forward to getting down the gym, riding a bike, building up these leg and back muscles and getting back to some level of fitness again. Hillwalking is something else I’ve been unable to do for a couple of years but the grail of grails is the possibility of playing 5 a side football again.
one step at a time, one step at a time
When I settled on the working title for the new album a couple of years ago I had no idea how much things would change in that time and just how relative it would all become. It seems as if the world has gradually edged into a darkness that is touching us all in some way or another and I personally find it a lot harder to come to terms with what I read and hear and see around me. This year I’ve found myself retreating more into myself and focusing on my immediate surroundings, in particular the garden where I embraced the relative simplicity and the natural order of things. I found it reassuring and positive and felt a sense of control as I attempted to manage the ever changing environment and perpetual challenges. I found my mind drifting towards the album.
Trying to decipher the constant stream of pain, anger, injustice, hate and ignorance coming at us from so many different points on the planet and in so many guises I’ve found impossible to manage. Just watching Channel 4 news last night on the Syrian crisis when they attempted to unravel the multi faced fighting factions,their friends and foes, allegiances and supporting shadows was nigh impossible to fathom. My head was reeling from rewinds on the hard drive as I tried to unravel it all and even glimpse any solution. I couldn’t find any input balance from this constantly sprawling and engaging conflict with all it’s devastating worldwide consequences and was struggling to stop my mind from shorting out as it was reaching overload. I had to find a way to deal with this in the lyrics but I had no idea how to approach it. Add together the dark energies from natural disasters and the other manmade madness and It was all too big. Weltschmerz indeed.
When Romaine Thorel, keyboard player from ‘Lazuli’ had sat down with me in the control room just over a couple of weeks ago the first thing he wanted to know was what was the album about and how did I hear the direction. I’d just seen a story, again on Channel 4 news about an old man who operated the last “garden centre” as one of their series of articles on the besieged city of Aleppo. He worked together with his 2 sons trying to hold together a small corner of normality, pruning roses and growing lavender plants that he sold to people to put on the traffic roundabouts that were traditionally islands of flowers. The attempt to keep them planted up throughout the airstrikes and bombardments was an attempt to hold back the chaos and provide a reminder of what it used to be like before the war. The man was known as “The Guardian of the Flowers” and referred to the daily sound of conflict as like “listening to Beethoven”. He passed on many wise sayings dressed in gardening allegory and I was reminded of the Peter Sellers character in “Being There”. The article struck a chord in me and I was captured by the man’s story as it played out on screen. As you would expect there wasn’t a happy ending and at the end of the piece the broadcaster announced that the old man and one of his sons had been killed in an air attack 3 weeks after filming and the garden completely destroyed. I’d been genuinely touched by the film and was upset as the piece concluded with an interview with the distraught and confused younger son who had survived the bombing and who was now alone in the living hell of Aleppo.
I knew then how I had to approach the lyric content of the album and told Romain that rather than attempt to encompass the big picture that I’d wrap it up into bundles of stories about people; individual characters with their own experiences and ways of dealing with Weltschmerz. I already had a few in mind. By patching together these tales I could employ different styles, influences and techniques and if there were 10 songs to be written I could work with different co writers on each one but use a core band to hold the playing together so it didn’t become too sonically diverse. I’d have to deliver my own take and comment and saw that as 2 “bookends”.
When I started writing the aborted autobiography back in 2009 when I was recovering from my second vocal operation I’d started to think about the spaces I’d grown up in and inhabited over the years. When I was about 4 years old my parents had moved my young sister Laura and I up to the converted attic space in our house in Glebe Street, Dalkeith. My grandfather had come to live with us and we didn’t have enough rooms. The attic would become my bedroom, playroom and den as I got older. It was my special place where I hid away and allowed dreams to take hold. I climbed up to it on an aluminium 2 section pull down ladder and through a hatchway that had a cover on it to stop us falling through it. My parents locked our doors at night to stop us wandering around and at the time I had no conscious thoughts about what could have happened if there had been a fire below. There were no windows only an iron opaque glassed skylight that for years I couldn’t lift and which became my spyhole on the small world I knew outside. It might sound claustrophobic but I loved that room and felt safe there. In 2009 when I started to think back I came to realise that in all the places I have ever owned I have had a “big room” and every one has been brightly lit through big windows or French Doors. Even the Studio renovation which created yet another big space had velux windows added. I’ve been recreating ‘the attic’ everywhere I have lived but I’ve added the components I missed including “escape routes” along the way. I’d been thinking again about the ‘Big Room’ and what it meant to me when my father died and I revisited a lot of memories around then. It had played a very important part in my development including being the environment where I first started listening to music and where I used to spend a lot of time reading. ( It doesn’t take much mental effort to join together the dots and see a version of the ‘attic’ on the first 3 Marillion album covers! ) I’m not exactly sure how yet but that’s where I can see the lyrical ‘bookends’ coming from.
The album was starting to take on a shape of sorts and there are enough ideas flying around to catch and nail down. The green book designated for this project’s scribbles and scratchings now lies on my desk and can be found next to me on the couch when I’m watching TV hoping to trap those fleeting moments of inspiration before the wine takes hold.The pages are filling and there are some interesting notes already.
Romain had asked for lyric ideas before he came over but I had only sketches. I’d bought a #Yamaha P115 digital piano on recommendation from Steve Vantsis as I needed a keyboard for Romain and others to play during the writing sessions. I’ve decided to take the same approach os on the ‘Feast’ sessions where the songwriting will come from basic instruments and not from copying and pasting on software programmes. Romain liked the idea and after our initial discussions in the control room he started to rummage around on the keys for ideas. We only had a couple of days but I felt that was enough for our introductory session.The Yamaha was inspiring being played through the studio #KEF LS50 monitor speakers and I let Romain find himself before we sat down and started to sculpt something together.
He came up with something inspired between early ‘Blue Nile’ and Erik Satie. A melancholy melodic piano piece that later grew into a slightly held back epic saturated with cross rhythms that had a tip of the hat to early ‘Yes’ and ‘Elbow’ as it suggested a lot of vocal cross play. At the moment it is a rough sketch but we were confident enough to nominate it as a potential final track on the album and as my ‘bookend’ lyric started to evolve, a title of “The Fat Lady Sings”. It’s early days and Romain and I plan to get together again later in the year in between his commitments to ‘Lazuli’. Steve Vantsis will be coming up here as well in that time and eventually we will bring people together to work on ideas in groups once the one on one sessions start providing basics. There are a number of people out there who I’d like to co write with, some past contributors others new faces I have to speak to. This album is going to take a while to write and I won’t commit to recording until I am sure it is ready to move to the next step. I’m lucky in that Calum Malcolm, who will be producing ‘Weltschmerz’, respects my idiosyncrasies and understands inevitable delays. We have penciled in studio recordings here for next May/ June for a potential album release in early September. It all depends on the writing and I really want this album, my last, to be special on all counts.
It could mean that we will be recording and playing festivals around the same time but that could be a positive as the early ‘Feast’ performances definitely helped us in the studio.
One factor which is coming more and more into the equation and which I have to seriously take on board is my physical health. As you have probably become aware in the last year I’ve had recurrent back problems and these have to be addressed sooner rather than later. Cortisone injections in my spine helped me get through the ‘Farewell to Childhood’ shows but as a long term solution are inadequate and are only masking the real problem. They last about 3 months and as I had my last injection in April I am currently in a lot of pain and discomfort as the spinal issues are manifesting themselves in my legs and I have trouble with balance and movement. I had MRI scans on my spine a year ago but heard nothing back from either that, the X Rays on my knees or the ultra sound on my shoulder in May when I was told I had a torn tendon by the operative who said a surgical operation may be required. I’ve become exasperated and told my local doctor that as much as I sympathise with an underfunded and overstretched NHS system which has been great to me over the years I have to look for other solutions as the bottom line is that at the moment I could not even consider touring. Somehow I have to manage this problem within the writing of the new album and find time for a potential operation and recovery before the intended shows next Summer. I have to admit that this is first and foremost in my mind just now as it’s debilitating me on a daily basis. I am seriously concerned as without a long term solution I may have to completely reconsider touring as part of my career. And that is a game changer. I have to look forward and stay positive about all this. Obviously I can still write and sing but the physical demands of touring on a bus are out of the question until I can find a solution either through extreme physio or an operation to deal with my spinal injury. The good news is that I’m not dead yet 🙂
The year, as I have mentioned in recent blogs , has been demanding and draining on every level and I am now in a position to address a lot of outstanding projects. Steve Vantsis has been an invaluable help and in the middle of his own ‘Tilt’ band project has managed to put together and engineer the live album from the ‘Moveable Feast’ tour from 2013/14. It’s been a very long time coming but we settled on 2 live shows, one from Wurzburg featuring Foss Paterson on the first incarnation of the touring band and the other from Karlsruhe featuring John Beck to give us 2 very different sets with vastly changed setlists to take in that extended event. They sound magnificent and Calum Malcolm will be mastering the recordings in the next month or so together with the ‘Farewell To Childhood’ recordings to give me 2 live releases to coincide with the “Field of Crows” remaster with the brand new Chris Kimsey remix of that studio album in November.
The live albums will be in the same physical format as the remastered albums; hardback folder with 16 pages of images and sleeve notes incorporating photos from Kai R Joachim who shot both tours as well as my own backstage shots. “Moveable Feast” will be 4 CD’s of audio while “Farewell to Childhood” will have a live DVD from Berlin together with 3 audio cd’s. With both live releases the prices will be kept competitive and we will be offering free tour t shirts with multiple orders across the live albums and the remasters as part of the drive to finance the ‘Weltschmerz’ album.
The ‘Polska” DVD/ blu ray as part of an elaborate Fishheads Club acoustic set release will be put together some time this year and more announcements on fund raising for ‘Weltschmerz’ will be announced as the months go by. This will include the remasters of ‘Vigil’, ‘Internal’ ‘Songs from the Mirror’ and ‘Suits’.
‘Weltschmerz’ is going to be an important album for all of us I hope. It’s going to need your support on every level. It isn’t just another piece of disposable plastic. I would like to make a statement with this. It’s the last one I intend to write and it has to be special.
Indy and Proud
Just to give you an update as some of you have been wondering what has happened to the remasters release schedule. Between a combination of my touring commitments and Mark Wilkinson undergoing a serious health issue in recent months we had to postpone working on the remasters soon after finishing the last release ‘Fellini Days’. I am happy to say we are now back on the tracks and working on ‘Field of Crows’ which has the added bonus of being a complete remix by none other than Chris Kimsey.
We hope to have this available at the end of April after which I will be looking at the next set of 4 albums for a release date probably around August/September. For those of you who have already bought copies I am sure you will understand the amount of work that goes into the titles and I am in the process of writing the extensive sleeve notes for ‘Field of Crows’ that is already at 4000 words and requiring severe editing to fit on the 48 pages in the hardback booklet.
The albums will be available on Amazon on April 1st and are already being put up for pre order there. We have also rejigged the fishheadsclub.eu site as problems with postage prices were identified especially regarding vinyl. The remasters will also be available through our German based mail order system on April 1st together with a t shirt clearance sale!
The first 3 remasters will be available on the tour merchandise stall together with the ’13th Star’ and ‘Feast of Consequences’ vinyl albums and with great deals on the remaining t shirt stock from the ‘Farewell to Childhood’ tour.
Vinyl releases on the remasters are planned but at the moment all my resources are aimed at the CD releases and I can’t afford to fund a pressing across 4 titles. I hope to have all 8 of the remastered albums available on vinyl by late November and in all probability will have to create a pre order to assess numbers and fund the releases as it is a very expensive outlay for a small operation such as we have here.
Steve Vantsis is assembling the material for a definitive live album from the ‘Moveable Feast ‘ tour taking in the first section with Foss Paterson and the second with John Beck on keyboards, both of which had different set lists. I hope to have this out in the summer.
The ‘Farewell to Childhood’ live project which will include DVD’s and Cd’s should be ready for the Autumn once we have had a chance to review all the available recordings.
The documentary ‘Polska’ will also be put together with an array of recordings from the Fishheads Club tour and bonus footage in a special package with the film also on Blu Ray for the first time. There’s a lot of work to be put into this but again the end of the year is a likely release option.
Every project helps fund the next and ultimately goes towards the writing and recording of ‘Weltschmerz’ that will occur throughout this year and into 2017 when I hope to get the album out in April/ May just before we hit the open airs and the end of year tour with both the new album and the 30th anniversary performances of ‘Clutching at Straws’. It seems right that I’ll be performing the last album I made with Marillion and my last solo album on the same tour.
It’s a lot of work but I am confident it can be made to happen and that I can release a series of projects that maintain the high level of quality at the right prices that keep everyone happy and help me continue working as an independent artist. Thanks for supporting me. Without you I wouldn’t be here.