While 2020 holds bitter-sweet memories for almost everyone, the past 12 months have been especially poignant for prog rock giant Fish, as he delivered his farewell masterpiece Weltschmerz, acclaimed as one of the finest albums of his storied career.
The writers of Prog magazine declared Weltschmerz the finest album of 2020, a fact of which Fish is justifiably proud, but speaking in the current issue of Classic Rock magazine, the Midlothian-born singer declares that he has no regrets about taking the decision to wind down his career. Indeed, the plaudits heaped upon Weltschmerz have only reinforced his decision to make it his swansong.
“The reality is, I don’t want to be on a tour bus for the rest of my life,” he tells writer Mick Wall. “I’m never going to be playing stadiums or arenas again. And I definitely don’t want to be on the chicken-in-a-basket circuit singing fucking Kayleigh.”
“I didn’t want to go out with an absolutely duff album. I thought there’s enough in me to really go for it, and just make something really special. Let’s put everything into one last big effort, and do it, and call it.”
“I didn’t have a drink for five months, and one of the first bottles of wine that my wife and I opened, we sat on the couch and listened to the final mixes. We actually listened to it three times. I thought: ‘This is fucking brilliant. I love listening to this.’ This is the album that I always wanted to hear when I was 17. This is the album I always wanted to make as a musician.”
“And there was an added euphoria because this is the end of my recording career. This is it. There’s no more songs. I am now moving into the beginning of another life.”
As to what form this new life might take, Fish suggests that he might switch to telling stories in a different medium.
“The natural step to take is to go [into] screenplay writing,” he says. “Because every one of those songs on Weltschmerz, you could make a short film about them, or a film. I’ve never written a screenplay before, but in 1981, when I joined Marillion, I’d never written a song before.”
“I was talking to a film director friend of mine. He works up in Scotland, does a lot of independent stuff. I said" ‘I’ve got this idea.’ So we sat and talked about it, and he goes: ‘This is brilliant. This is a Netflix pitch!’ So I’ve been working on that. And it’s a serious fucking pitch. I’s a big historical drama. Although it’s so left-field it embraces so much stuff. I’m researching that at the moment.”
“I’m scared because I could fall flat on my face,” the singer admits. “But then again, fuck it!”