Interview: Fish


FISH is a 'towering personality.' This charismatic Scotsman is never short of something interesting to say. A free spirit with passionate and outspoken views. I caught up with THE BIG MAN and found him in typically ebullient form. I asked him about his successful debut solo album Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors.

What are your reflections on Vigil?

"I'm really proud of it… It's not going to be the best thing I'm ever going to put out, but it captures the essence of a lot of the feelings and emotions that I was going through in that 1989 period."

It also gave you the chance to explore different styles of music and to express yourself in a way you couldn't with Marillion.

"Yes, it made an awful lot of difference. There are different types of musical styles that I'm interested in that I want to explore. I think Vigil is very much a watershed album."

Would it be fair to say you're exploring the Scottish folk tradition?

"In some ways yes but I don't want to get myself trapped, i.e. as some sort of nouveau folk artist. I just want to do what I want to do. I’m past being ruled either by what punters or record companies say. That's one of the reasons why I left the band, to have that sort of freedom."

At least you've got away from the Genesis comparisons!

"Yes, I did an interview for the NME the other day. I think since I left the band I've become a little more hip – ha ha!"

Were you pleased with the reaction you got whilst touring both here and in Europe?

"Very pleased. As far as the reactions at the gigs went, it couldn't have gone better. By the time the next tour comes in I'll be playing the same size halls I was playing in 1987 with Marillion." (Fish is mainly referring to the Continent.)

What about playing smaller, more intimate venues?

"Yes I fancy doing that but I'm paying session guys nowadays and I can't afford to do tours like that, but I can afford to do one offs. I've got to work at the Odeon/ Apollo level. When I did Wembley with Marillion, I didn't enjoy it at all as an actual venue. The fans didn't like it, which was very obvious from the letters that came in afterwards."

Doesn't it come down to the dictates of supply and demand?

"No, I don't think so, i.e. there's a band that's going to play Wembley very soon. On their last tour they played one Hammy Odeon. So, why not go back and play two Hammy Odeons?"

Fish is intimating, with a touch of humour, that the band he's referring to is none other than Marillion. It's reassuring to know that he hasn't lost his wicked sense of humour!!

As part of a mini tour in July, Fish will be playing the Albert Hall. Not ever having played there either with Marillion or as a solo artist, he's looking forward to that Summer evening in July.

"It's a different place, and there's a whole battery of jokes you can bring into the stage act."

Will you use the current touring band for the follow-up album or is that a flexible arrangement?

"Very flexible. I think the next album is going to be a lot more guitar-orientated but I don't mean heavy rock or heavy metal, also I don't feel there's a commercial pressure to come up with a fast release. One of the problems with the old band was, when you came off tour, you only had two weeks holiday, then you had to get the next one done in two months!"

Fish is also involved in other musical projects but he's being very secretive – they're still under wraps – and, would you believe it, Fish is going to be a daddy! A little Fish is on the way in December! He is also involved on the acting side in a film project. Such is the time and organization involved in film-making that the film shoot hasn’t been sorted out yet.

All this activity means that we won’t see a new album till next year, as fish explains.

"The idea is to get the album written in October, November, and December, recorded in January/ February for a release probably in May."

After the Marillion split, you moved back to Scotland, and it seems to have benefitted you both musically and personally. Is this the case?

"Yes, I like the environment I'm working in now. Every time I go down to London I find it very sinister and very claustrophobic. I don't know how people can live there!"

Do you believe Scotland should have greater self-determination or become independent?

"I'd like to see a lot more control up here. We are ignored and we do vote differently. We get treated as a different country when it suits Westminster."

However, Fish is at pains to point out that he doesn't want to be labelled as a latter-day ROBERT THE BRUCE.

"I'm not one of those 'Remember Bannockburn' types. I'm very realistic. I believe a Scotland with more control can be more successful within Europe."

I've heard you've been involved in the Scots' World Cup theme song, Say It With Pride?

"Yes, it was just a dream of a little boy fulfilled. I did the song and was asked to come in and do some lead vocals. It's a Pepsi Cola/ Lager type of song. It's very arousing. I actually put the tape on the last night and thought, 'Wow, this is happening' – ha! ha!” 

Marillion fans who mourned the departure of Fish needn't have worried. Two successful and creative acts have emerged from the split. Fish relishes his hard won freedom and control. The back stabbers (imagined or otherwise) are out of reach. As Fish so succinctly puts it – "Let's just say my back doesn't bleed as much!"

This fish has shark’s teeth!!

Mark Liddell
Riff Raff
July 1990
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