Strangefish Progress Update

I thought it was time I did a decent progress update on the Strangefish stuff, after all, it’s now about a month since our first rehearsal.

First of all, full disclosure, this is honestly the most complicated material I’ve ever played. I’ve been in a prog band before (Manning) and his stuff was a doddle at the side of this.
I’m not Carl, nor am I Julian – I have quite a different style from both of the previous bassists and as such it’s going to have my personal twist whilst still being an honourable hat-tip to the previous guys, both of whom I admire greatly.
So, here’s the current state of play.
Full Scale

The songs I’ve learnt from the first album are
Shifting Sands & Turning Tides
Listening to Ghosts
Oceans Deep
Take a Holiday
The only real struggle I had here is because this is the band’s first full album and was obviously home produced the bass is sometimes unclear in the mix and occasionally I have problems picking out exactly what is going on.
As is key with all Strangefish songs, the cycle of fourths and fifths is a work of fiction. We have progressions based all over the scale, and in particular there is a common usage of a Root – Flat 5th which seems to be a favourite of the band, particular on this album.
My personal favourite on this album is Oceans Deep. Not only do I enjoy listening to it, but I find it really fun to play – and challenging.
Fortune Telling

I’m automatically at an advantage here because the mix is so much clearer. I’ve learnt:
It Could Be Me
Keep the Exits Clear
Have you seen the Light
Ignorance of Bliss
Reflection This is me (I)
This material has a lot of repeated themes, then again it is a concept album so I’d expect that. Rhythmically it is more interesting than the stuff on Full Scale as there are a lot of “morse code” rhythms running through the album which makes it fun to play.
Personally, I love Reflection This is me. It’s just a great track and again, as per usual for Strangefish, the material totally ignores the cycle of fourths and fifths again and the key changes to wherever the hell it wants. I love that. It keeps me on my toes!
The Spotlight Effect

The newest album has proved the biggest challenge for me. We’re learning:
Progress in Reverse
Iconacon
The Spotlight Effect
Summer Slips Away
Up to You
A very different style of bass playing comes to the fore here. Carl’s style is very much more fluid and dynamic than Julian’s. Carl’s playing is very flambouyant, but it matches his personality. He’s very busy on the bass! 
Any bassist who keeps a good solid rhythm and low end going is a good bassist, and both those guys are solid and keep the grounding. I wouldn’t put one above the other as it’s like comparing apples and pears. They are different and each has it’s own unique properties.
The main struggle I’ve had with the new album is just not knowing the material as thoroughly. It’s not been out as long. It’s been on the solid playlist in my van for a while now though and I’m really starting to get the feel for it.
As for which song I love the most? Well at this point it’s actually quite difficult to say. I love the writing and lyrics in Summer Slips Away, but there’s hardly any bass. On the other hand, The Spotlight Effect has some magnificent sections.
Final Conclusion
So with over 2 hours of music in the bag, we can really have a nice selection to pick from – although we do have to cherry pick down for The Robin 2 gig on 5th May as we don’t have a 2 hour set!

Another very musical weekend.

Friday’s Allan Chapman talk was postponed due to the horrible weather (lots of snow) and so we had a nice night in the house.

Saturday, on the other hand, was set to be a very busy day. First, Mum’s boiler is playing up, so I had to go and get that going again.

The afternoon was an early set-off. The gig was at Ackworth so not too far away (and because it was a self booking rather than an agent booking it was great to be able to negotiate our own terms).

Arriving at the venue at 3, we had ’til 5 to soundcheck as it was a surprise party.

Amusingly, we could probably have arrived a whole hour later! The event didn’t really kick off until after half past six.

First set at 8 was a suited one. Blue suit. New shoes.

It was also a change of dry for us. Stay Together is now gone; replaced by Shallow (Lady Ga Ga). It was a good, well played set. Very enjoyable.

The second set was at half past nine. Blue shirt. PVC leather look trousers for this one.

I did manage an onstage selfie for this one. Caught using my watch as a trigger.
Second set has now lost “Never Forget You” and gained the Pink Song – Cry.
Again, a great set, and with a 10:15 wrap up we could leave just after 11. I was home and in bed before midnight!
Today was my second Strangefish rehearsal. Again we booked the big room at Redwall Studios, Bury. A nice quiet journey over. I arrived to find Bob waiting outside. Unfortunately the owner Carl hadn’t turned up yet.
He wasn’t long though, and we started loading into what was the coldest rehearsal room on the planet.
Paul & Jo decided to hog the heater!
Of course I was manly and Yorkshire about it and set the trend for t-shirt only.
I won’t spoil too much for you, but we’ve now got 75% of the target material in a good state of performance; and we will soon choose a set for the May gig.
The rehearsal finished at just after 3:15.
Tonight. That’s fuelled by lemsip. Craig had a cold for Saturday’s gig. I truly hope it’s not going to become my child too.

Strangefish Progress Report

We’ve got stuff starting to go green now, which means I know it well enough to consider myself able to play it live and not whole heartedly fuck it up!

I have to say, Strangefish has had two pretty stonking bass players. It’s certainly a challenge and it makes me realise what an easy life I had when I was in Manning.

If you’re wanting to see us, we’re at The Robin 2, Bilston on 5th of May and then on 6th of July we’re at The Local Authority in Sheffield.

Tickets can be bought by clicking the dates above.

And thus, the fishiness began.

After last night’s IQ gig in Bury at The Met, which I have to say was stupendously good (even if they didn’t play Out of Nowhere) and arriving home at half past midnight; I was awoken at 7:30am for a Strangefish rehearsal.

With lasers and songs from Ever buzzing in my mind (did I mention I love lasers) I headed to Bury again.

The rehearsal studio, Redwall, apparently was used by IQ on a number of occasions. The guy managing it told me that when he noticed my IQ hoodie.

I was first there, but I loaded in, set up, and then helped the rest of the guys load in.

Once we were all set up we commenced rehearsals and went through about 10 songs in total, some of them twice. We also caught a new photo to get us going with the forthcoming gigs.

I’m not going to divulge much more about the material we did, as I’d love you too see a gig sometime soon!

I can say, though, that Oceans Deep sounded great!

Making notes for Strangefish


That section of the song truly is epic prog wanking. It’s a fantastic catchy song with a great hook.

See me play my first gig with Strangefish on 5th May, The Robin 2, Bilston.

Strangefish progress report


It’s nice to see the songs getting ticked off… Red indicates I’ve got a good working knowledge of them. Yellow and green will indicate as I get to know the intricacies more.

I’m definitely not ready to gig them yet though.

Strangefish Progress Report

I just thought I’d do a little update on my progress learning the Strangefish material.

Since being asked to join the band back in October, and subsequently meeting them in December I’ve set to the task of learning a full 2 hours of music.

The task is made a little easier by the fact that for the earlier material which has been on my playlists multiple times I’m really au-fait with the songs and the changes.

The later stuff, on the other hand, is still quite fresh in my mind; plus I do hold the bassist on the material in very high esteem – Carl is a great bassist and somewhat of a different style to me; hence that being a challenge.

What also didn’t help is the run of gigs we had up to Christmas with Face The Music which meant either I didn’t have a 5 string bass at home, or I was learning new stuff for that band.

Anyhow, I’ve set to it now, and I’ve created a playlist of the stuff.

I’ve now got a good handle on about 40% of the stuff I’ve got to learn… Not bad for just 2 full weeks really on it.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve sussed “Oceans Deep”, “Shifting Sands”, “Listening to Ghosts”, “Up to You”, “Holiday”, and “This is Me”.

This truly is an interesting project though, and I certainly put the songs far and away above an anything I’ve had to tackle before! They’re busy, interesting, and definitely hard work!