2014 And then there were 6...
Steve Taylor – Vocal ¦ Jo Whittaker - Vocal ¦ Paul O’Neill – Keyboards
¦ Bob – Guitars Carl Howard – Bass and Bass Pedals ¦ Dave Whittaker
– Drums and Percussion
In the autumn of 2012, after another Strangefish fallow period,
the band reconvened for what was expected to be a one-off performance
for a local fund raising event. On this occasion, we rehearsed
as a 6 piece band, inviting Jo Whittaker (Dave’s wife) to sing
backing and lead vocals, and Carl Howard, an old friend and previous
musical associate, to help out on bass. Way back in the mists
of time, Dave, Jo and Carl had all played in a band called Matrix
and had enjoyed some success. Rehearsing and playing again revived
our enthusiasm for all things Fishy so we carried on working and
writing until we felt ready to resurface in early 2014, with an
announcement that we were to play again at the CRS May 10th.
The addition of Carl has resulted in a stronger interaction between
bass and guitar with a more direct, heavier sound. He is also
a welcome contributor to the writing of new songs. Having Jo on
board means greater vocal richness with Steve and they are working
on developing vocal harmonies for new and old material.
For the new shows we intend to air some new material, whilst some
previously unplayed songs are being given a fresh look to see
if they integrate into the set. One thing that remains completely
unchanged is our attitude towards the music and live performance.
So here we go, it will be interesting to see where this leads.
2000 – 2008 Strangefish meet The Classic Rock Society
Steve Taylor – Vocal ¦ Paul O’Neill – Keyboards and vocal ¦ Bob
– Guitars ¦ Julian Gregory – Bass and Violin Dave Whittaker –
Drums and Percussion
In 1999 Strangefish were in another dormant phase when the opportunity
of some local gigs arose. To do this we needed a bass player so
having previously invited Julian Gregory to do his Nigel Kennedy
routine with us we asked if he would like to take up the bass
role too. Julian (still) plays Violin with the BBC Philharmonic
and was able to get us to do a recording in November 2000. This
formed the basis for our first EP, 'Reeled In,' and it was this
demo that landed us with our first gig at the Classic Rock Society
The debut concert was a fantastic success and a lasting friendship
with the CRS was formed with the band collecting multiple awards
over the next few years. English progressive rock music has a
long tradition of having its tongue firmly planted in its cheek
and we were pleased to continue with this in our approach to our
live performances. Consequently some venues and critics found
themselves bemused that 5 guys could get up on a stage, tell jokes,
hurl numerous inflatable objects out into the audience and then
go on to play ‘involved’ and ‘serious’ music.
Strangefish played multiple concerts at the CRS, London Astoria
and various other venues around the UK. Buoyed up by the support
received we recorded and released our debut album in 2003. Continuing
with the aquatic theme of the content and our name we called it
'Full Scale.' The album represented the realisation of our new
confidence in writing and performing progressive rock music. The
content of the album was a collection of older songs and new material,
in particular 'Shifting Sands and Turning Tides' – our own take
on the events of 911.
Another new song, 'At First Sight' helped to point the way towards
the next album and the opportunity to tell an extended story with
music and lyrics. 'Fortune Telling,' Strangefish’s second full
album was released in Feb 2006. The album was critically acclaimed
around the world and won Best Album Award at the Classic Rock
Society. This was a chance for us to get across some of our thoughts
on materialism, marketing, greed, trust and the search for what
is important in life. We created an ‘everyman’ story of someone
who believes he has won a vast amount of money only to be happy
to accept that wellbeing matters far more.
By 2007/8 the latest incarnation of Strangefish was showing signs
of having turned full circle and the collective view was one of
“let’s take a break”. The decision was made to shut things down
until such time as the enthusiasm and energy necessary to do this
thing called Strangefish had returned. At this time we received
the sad news that Rob Leighton from Radio Caroline had died so
the 2008 charity concert in his memory at the CRS was the last
performance and a fitting conclusion to that period of Strangefish
1989 - 2000 Origins of Strangefish: the Pub Rock Band
Strangefish began in 1989 in a suburb west of Manchester, England.
We started as most bands do, with some like-minded people getting
together to play cover versions and have a go at writing songs.
Various musicians came and went until we settled on the line-up
that ended this period. Only Steve and Paul remain from the original
Gigs were mainly in Pubs and Clubs with the odd trip to Manchester
venues to see if we could make an impact. Often the crowd would
not be expecting a band to be playing so Steve in particular would
have to work hard to get the material across and keep people’s
attention. The music written at this time was based around basic
rock ideas with a hint of prog. Songs that have stood the test
of time from this period are 'Wallflower,' 'The Lighthouse Jig'
The main emphasis
in the band was one of a bunch of guys having fun and having a
go at writing. We were all influenced by bands like It Bites,
Rush, Led Zep, Marillion, Zappa, Gillan, Wishbone Ash, Yes, Genesis
etc… but as well as this the new people coming and going always
brought in something fresh such as classical, jazz-funk and pop
Around 1995/6 the band activity had virtually stopped as we were
busy starting families but the various members kept in touch and
would still meet up socially on a regular basis.