ALL THE FISHIES HAVE GONE AWAY - 1987

After leaving school James the Sax and I put a band together. Well, you’ve got to haven’t you? For a little while this contained people from school – John on the bass and Pretty Pete on drums from the Other School. We didn’t fill stadiums as quickly as we’d hoped. The first gig was in a church that’d been “re-purposed” as they’d say these days, as a café. There was no Facebook, no internet, no texting, nothing in those days, so how do you promote a gig with only a couple of days’ notice? Oh, and no printer either. I think we drew some flyers onto a piece of A4 and then went to a corner shop and photocopied it a few times at 5p a sheet. And then lamely and half-heartedly handed them out in the street and left them around shops and pubs.

I remember there were a few people there. And I do mean a few. James’ German girlfriend turned up, and a couple of other kind-hearted friends, bless ‘em. We played mostly covers like Fever, Johnny B Goode (or it might have been John’s re-writing of it as Johnny B God, about Jesus making it big as a rock n roller) and the Peter Gunn Theme. All I can remember was one of the waitresses asking us to turn it down.

 

Never mind, there were bigger fish to fry. We played a monster of a gig at the Old Wives Lees village hall - a village near Canterbury with one of the silliest names in the country. I think we were second out of three bands, probably the most amateur and definitely the loudest.

 

We’d made some progress on original material, but mostly we’d made progress on listening to some really loud music. If I’d been born twenty years earlier I’d have had a whale of a time. Buddy Guy was my favourite blues guitarist. One note from him could rip your heart out, though he often played a hundred in one bar. We’d added Suicidal Tendencies, Swans, a lot of Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and I have to admit it, The Smiths, to our listening repertoire.

To end the show in Old Wives Lees we brought out not one, but two super-fuzz-feedback-frenzy tunes. Hey Joe got faster and faster until it came crashing down, and then we launched straight into All The Fishies Have Gone Away. This was one of our originals. It was a protest song. John had read in the papers that toothpaste being washed out into sea was causing catastrophe in the North Sea by playing havoc with fishy genes, turning male fish into female ones. This affected breeding and ergo, numbers of stock. Disaster for the British fish n’ chip eating public. Fucking scandal! A song had to be wrote. James and I got to work. Unfortunately, the lyrics have been lost in time, unless I find our one tape of it somewhere – we recorded a few originals and sent them off to a local music rag that usually dealt with splat-core, hardcore, Extreme Noise Terror type of stuff. We got a favourable review, saying we were their favourite “alternative jazz band”. Excuse me? Well, I spose any use of minor seventh chords is gonna confuse these guys, and we did have a saxophone, so fair enough.

 

The main things about All The Fishies Have Gone Away is that James took the lead vocals on it (no need for sax with this cacophony) and I did backing vocals. The verses ranted about the irresponsible wankers who were poisoning our oceans – particularly Aquafresh, since the blue toothpaste was the worst offender, whilst the chorus was simply:

 

All The Fishies Have Gone Away

All The Fishies Have Gone Away

With me underneath shouting

Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fish Fiiiiish !!!!!!!!!!-

That’s one fish for every half beat.

I stepped on the fuzzbox for the chorus and after the third chorus didn’t reset it. James kept screaming about the poor fish, reserving extra spite for Fuck-king Aqua-fucking-fresh!! And other rallying calls for the forthcoming revolution. On went the chorus pedal, down went the wah-wah. Pretty Pete worked up a pretty sweat too. Heads down, no looking at the audience, James was in a self-induced hypnosis of indignation. I think John might have been a bit embarrassed but bravely kept up his four allotted notes.

When Pretty Pete ran out of steam the song ended. Or maybe someone pulled a plug. I think I lost a string or two as well. There were a few open mouths of those left in the village hall when we stopped. It was very cathartic and I felt great afterwards. We needed a beer but there was no bar.

Little Sally, bless her heart, came up to me at the end of the song and said “Wow, it was just like Jimi at Monterey!” Err … yeah.

We didn’t stay for the last band. I think we were all depending on a lift from Pretty Pete or Sally’s dad, but anyway, we felt it safest if we scarpered. The residents were starting to tut. Laced curtains were twitching. I believe the village hall has never again let a gig be put on by a “youth” band like that.

I’ve been I there several times since, you can hire it out for a rehearsal. There’s a noise limiter thing in there, with a pretty fierce orange light that comes on. Just one loud shout of “Fish!” will set it off.

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