Fish makes his return to Wavendon

Fish: Feast of Consequences on the way
Fish: Feast of Consequences on the way

Monday’s Stables gig isn’t simply another stop-off on the UK tour for Fish, it’s more than that.

He has played here numerous times – when Marillion were busy pouring themselves into the live circuit and flirting with the mainstream success that would eventually be theirs, they were a regular name at The Starting Gate in the heart of town.

In fact, it is the only place they played a gig as a four-piece. Not many people know that.

“It would’ve been around March of ‘82, something like that. Diz Minnett was our bass player, and the rest of the band had identified him as being the weakest link. In all honesty I knew he was, but at the same time he was my best friend and I was trying to deflect the inevitable,” Fish says, relaying the story.

“But before the Milton Keynes gig I ended up having to tell Diz that he was basically being fired.

“He was horrifically upset and said he couldn’t do the gig, and that was that. So we went on-stage as a four piece...”

Back then, The Starting Gate was a live music hub. These days it is a homeless shelter.

Things change, and they did for Marillion too – a few years later they were still playing Milton Keynes, but had made the shift to The National Bowl.

The first time, they supported Quo, and the next?

They headlined the joint.

Fish bowed out of Marillion back in 1988, but the music has continued, as has an extraordinarily passionate fan-base.

There seems to be a real mutual love-a-thon between the artist and his followers who are already counting down to the autumn release of his new album Feast of Consequences.

Some of the new material will be aired at The Stables show.

“We are playing 18 songs in the set, six brand new ones, six pre-’88 and six post-’88...a good balance,” he enthuses.

“I would never be so arrogant to go and play the entire album that nobody knows, because then it’d turn into a study group!”

Unlike the big days of major labels and disposable cash, Fish is now steering his own ship.

It’s not a new concept - he launched his own label back in 1994 - but flying solo does come with it’s own problems, and home doubles up as a recording facility.

“When we record,we move the dining table out and put the drum kit in,” he says, and presumably so long as no-one tries to lay out the drum kit for Sunday lunch, or take out their devilish drumming on the dining table, it’s no problem.

“The costs of everything else have gone up – the cost of wages, session fees, producers etc etc, but at the end of the day, I am lucky I’ve still got a really loyal fan base, and because of the way that a lot of bands like myself run, you have got to keep in touch with them, and I enjoy it. It’s not a chore for me at all.

“I’ve always been a willing communicator and something like Twitter or Facebook appeals to me, because I like conversing and communicating...”

And Fish isn’t out to amass a big wedge, if you will, from those folks keeping him afloat.

“These are tough times, and you are very aware that people are struggling out there,” he says, “...when a guy turns around says ‘I either buy your DVD or fill my car up with petrol,’ you have to appreciate and respect that.”

When Marillion first made their mark, there were two ways to access music - on elpee, or on cassette.

These days, CDs are battling with downloads for supremacy.

“I don’t think I’ve embraced downloads as readily because I make albums,” he considers, “I only de-construct albums if I am putting a Best Of out.

“I don’t get into the track mentality because I tend to write in loose concept terms, and the download is the antithesis of what an album is, because it is about single tracks.

“I think that’s why I have been so slow on the uptake, but I realise that’s what we’ve got to do...”

Support at Monday’s gig is coming from Milton Keynes players Solstice.

“I remember them being around back in ‘82.

“We played with them quite a few times.

“I heard they’d reformed a couple of years back, and when someone suggested them for the show I thought ‘that’d be kinda cool.’

“I love The Stables, it’s a great gig and it’s going to be good for playing the new stuff. It’s got a good sound and a really intimate atmosphere.

“You feel very close to the audience because of the way the seating is arranged. I think it’s going to be perfect for the new stuff.”

For the past three decades, Fish has been a constant music man, a survivor in an industry that doesn’t like to leave too many unscathed.

There is an obvious passion bubbling here too – for his music and his life in general.

“I never wanted a Chateau in France, or anything like that, and I am quite happy with what I’ve got, even though it may not be as high profile as it was in the 1980s...”

Home is a little haven, by all accounts.

“Within 10 or 15 minutes of my place I am on a deserted beach, and if I go 10 or 15 minutes in the other direction I am walking in the Lammermuir Hills.

“I do so much and have loads of other interests...I am into my gardening and have a whole lot of raised veg and an organic garden set up with an orchard and’s not huge, but it’s really cool and I am happy with that...”

For now though, it’s all about the tour, and then about that Feast of Consequences album.

“It’s one thing making a great album, but then you’ve got to let everyone know that you’ve made a great album,” he says.

If anyone can get the word out, it’s this Scots boy.

For Stables tickets call the box office on 01908 280800.