'13TH STAR' is the critically acclaimed new studio album from rock legend and former Marillion frontman, Fish (aka Derek W Dick) and will be released to retail outlets on February 12th 2008 on the Chocolate Frog Record Company and through Voiceprint and PHD distribution. A single, ‘THE ARC OF THE CURVE’, is scheduled for release on March 3rd as a CD single and is also available as a download package containing three live tracks from a recent show in Rome.
Fish, always a maverick artist and consummate performer, has achieved a high level of success during his 27 years in the music business and the fact that he is capable of creating an album seen as the best in his career to date is testament to his enduring talent, resilience and determination. With four stunningly successful albums with Marillion and eight studio albums in his own right, the title of his new project may, perhaps, seem obvious. But, as you would expect from an enigma such as Fish, there is more to the story than just a numerical accident.
Fish explains: "In November 2006 I had just completed the 'RETURN TO CHILDHOOD' tour where I had been performing the 'MISPLACED CHILDHOOD' album for it's 20th anniversary. I was also performing a solo set supporting 'BOUILLABAISSE' a 'best of' CD compilation. I had recorded and released a double CD and DVD from those shows and knew that I had to turn my attention to producing a new studio album. I was well aware that it was the thirteenth album (a number I consider lucky) but having recently broken up with a long term girlfriend, I was also involved in a lot of introspection and reflection about relationships.
"I worked out that there had been twelve females who and a profound effect on my life including my mother, my daughter, my ex-wife, Kayleigh (my first teenage crush and hugely successful single) etc. The girl I had just broken up with had been the twelfth and, based on this, the lyrical concept started to take shape.
"Earlier in the year, during a trip to Egypt, I visited the Valley of the Kings and had noticed thousands of hand painted stars on the ceilings of the tombs which denoted Heaven. The image stayed in my mind and, as stars are associated with navigation and travel, so the '13TH STAR' was born. The album is about a journey through life and relationships in search of the one true, ultimate love represented by the Thirteenth Star"
Main co-writer on the album is Steve Vantsis (ex-RIVER CITY PEOPLE, HORSE) who has been Fish's bass player for over ten years. It was the first time the pair had worked together in a writing capacity and Steve's influences (NINE INCH NAILS and PORCUPINE TREE) were brought to the studio together with his modern approach and strong technical expertise. The studio in Haddington, East Lothian, which also doubles as a home where Fish lives together with his seventeen year-old daughter, Tara, became a hubbub of activity as it was transformed into a working environment. Calum Malcolm had been nominated as producer and the principal recording was due to begin in late May.
"The writing sessions went according to plan and the entire process of making the album was a far more disciplined affair than previous albums. Calum had remastered and mixed albums for me before but until the live acoustic project ('COMMUNION" released in 2007 on Chocolate Frog Records) he had never actually recorded and fully produced an album. I'd loved his work with BLUE NILE and his ear for arrangements and felt he could really pull "13TH STAR" together sonically. Steve had done a tremendous job engineering the writing sessions and a lot of the material we used in the final recording sessions.
Foss Paterson (keyboards - ex JOHN MARTYN) and long-term guitarist Frank Usher (ex JOHN MARTYN) helped co-write a couple of songs and by May we were on schedule and ready to record. Along with putting a new band together, organising rehearsals, the recording of the album and routing a gruelling tour I was also a father with a teenage daughter. Those days were very stressful."
The stress was compounded, however, when Fish's girlfriend (and by now fiancee) decided that sharing him with fans and band commitments wasn't really all it was cracked up to be. She walked out during the recording sessions leaving Fish devastated.
"It was very traumatic and tough time and I had to focus all my energy and emotions on the album."
The emotion captured on '13TH STAR' is apparent but despite the setbacks and heartache, Fish has delivered what many consider to be the finest moments of his career. This is a contemporary sounding and relevant album which combines his unique lyrical sense with a determination to wear his heart firmly on his sleeve. An enormous achievement, given the circumstances.
"It was a very traumatic and tough time but Calum was incredibly supportive and extracted some of the best vocal performances I have ever delivered. There were some very emotional sessions but I was inspired by the recordings that he had captured. The band was on top form and everyone raised their game. Gavin Griffiths (drums) and Chris Johnson (guitars) stepped into the studio for the first time with me and were as excited as we all were by what was created."
Fish was one of the innovators of releasing material through his web site www.the-company.com where he communicates with fans on a regular basis through extensive blogs and his very own 'Fish TV' which is available as a streaming service showing in-depth interviews and both library and current footage from gigs.
"The web site is probably the most important asset I have in my career. Since I left Polydor back in 1993 I have come to rely on the close communication with fans. Being able to finance album projects through direct sales and providing access to back catalogue and merchandise has kept me alive. I had to adapt to survive in the 90's as the music business was changing. Selling official bootlegs, advance ordering and exclusive mail order only issues are now commonplace but back then there were few pioneers of this independent method of approach. It's now a tried and tested model that's in use by a large number of bands. It's the next stage in the evolution of the music industry and one that the major labels have been slow to embrace - to their cost."
Fish himself is also evolving as an artist. His acting career which has seen him in roles on TV and in major Hollywood movies may have been put on hold in the last year but is part of future plans which involve writing a novel inspired by his recent solo trip to Vietnam. He will also be returning later this year for another stint as a DJ on digital station 'PLANET ROCK'.
The immediate future, however, sees him continuing to tour the UK with dates throughout March. With 60 European shows already behind him - the majority of the rest of the year will be taken up on a World tour which takes him and the band to North and South America and his first shows in Australia and New Zealand.