FISH ON FRIDAY
Airborne
(ACE)

 

Progressive rock - pop has been around for decades but the beloved genre takes a turn for the better with, Airborne, the 2013 CD from the Belgium based band known as Fish On Friday. The band is centered around the talents of its two prime movers—Frank Van Bogaert (keyboards, guitars, vocals) and his song writing partner William Beckers (keyboards, percussion), both of who are superbly backed by a full band including Marty Townsend (guitars), Marcus Weymaere (drums), Bert Embrechts (bass) and a pair of backing singers. Calling the Fish On Friday sound sumptuous would be an understatement. The wide screen FoF sound takes some of its cues from Dark Side era Pink Floyd and even some of the music of Alan Parsons. Frank Van Bogaert is a most effective singer and on a number of tracks here—such as the title track “Airborne” and the lead off track on the CD, appropriately entitled “Welcome”—the sound just soars. Lyrics, written and sung in English (of course) by Frank are displayed here in a superbly designed CD booklet which accompanies the album packaging. Belgium might not be that well known as a progressive rock stronghold but with this second FoF CD, it's put on the musical map in a big way. Best part of the Airborne CD are the soaring melodies and arrangements, Frank’s vocals and the fantastic studio sound which captures the Fish On Friday sound down to a tee. Progressive rock and adventurous pop fans will fall hook, line and sinker for Fish On Friday. www.FishOnFriday.be


mwe3.com presents an interview with
Frank Van Bogaert of
FISH ON FRIDAY


mwe3: Where are you from originally and where do you live now and what do you like best about it?

Frank Van Bogaert: Belgium, Antwerp to be more precise. What I like best about the country? Maybe it's beers, they are the best in the world.

mwe3: When did Fish On Friday form and what were some of the events the led you to start the band?

Frank Van Bogaert: Fish on Friday, abbreviation FoF, actually was formed in the studio at the end of 2009. William Beckers, a keyboard player, also Antwerp-based, booked my studio to record some songs together with some friends of his. The recordings turned out to be disappointing but William wanted to continue with his project. Things really started to fall into place one evening when I started composing and playing together with him. Two keyboard players together. After we’d written a few songs I then called my regular studio band in, guys with whom I’d been working with for years on my own productions, such as Marty Townsend on guitars and Marcus Weymaere on drums. Suddenly there was a real “band” feeling in the studio. Then William came up with the name “Fish on Friday”, a name he had already in mind for a long time…we immediately liked it .

mwe3: What instruments did you study when you were young and can you tell us something about your musical background including how long you’ve been a performing musician?

Frank Van Bogaert: I’m a keyboard player since I was 12, having an upright piano in my bedroom as a youngster. At the age of 18 I formed a new wave band called 1000 Ohm - we’re talking 1980. In 1981 we scored a big hit in several European countries called “A.G.N.E.S.” That song over the years has become a kind of new wave evergreen and is still aired regularly on radio or used in movies etc. That was the start of my professional career. When 1000 Ohm split up in 1987 I then gradually moved from being a performing artist to producer and composer in what had become my natural habitat, the studio.

mwe3: Can you tell us something about your gear including guitars and keyboards? Also what gear does William Beckers play and what do you favor as far as amps, strings and effects?

Frank Van Bogaert: I own a lot of gear, too much to mention all, but my main instrument is my Yamaha C5 grand piano together with a bunch of favorite synths like the Prophet, the Mini moog Voyager and of course my Hammond A100 organ. Nowadays I also use a lot of virtual instruments with a preference to East West libraries. William’s main instrument is also the grand piano, he has a Bösendorfer at home. That’s the instrument that inspires him. On the synth side he mainly uses the Arturia Origin keyboard and Korg Oasys and of course also some virtuals on the Apple laptop.

About guitars…that’s Marty Townsend’s department. I think with all the guitars he owns he could easily open a guitar shop! I myself only play basic guitar parts as guides, but sometimes they end up being used. I have a Fender Tele and a Strat.

mwe3: Who were your biggest musical influences and who are some of your favorite musicians recording in 2013? What era of music history interests you most?

Frank Van Bogaert: I grew up with 1970’s progressive rock also including the ‘70s electronic scene and of course the 1980’s pop and new wave scene.

Those styles will always be in my blood. The same goes for William, although he’s even more 1970’s prog and less ‘80s. That’s why our ideas blend nicely. We like the same kind of music and share almost the same record collection.

The record that impressed me most in 2013 has to be Sound Of Contact’s debut album Dimensionaut. It’s a project of Simon Collins, the son of Phil Collins. Beautiful, can’t believe just how much I played that album.

mwe3: How many albums does Fish On Friday have and how would you compare them? In what ways has the band sound changed or evolved over the years?

Frank Van Bogaert: We have released two albums up till now, Shoot The Moon (2010) and Airborne (2012). We are now working very hard on the third album, which will be released somewhere after summer 2014.

There has not been a shocking evolution from the first album to the second, but that is because on the first album we right away got our trademark songwriting style right, often compared to The Alan Parsons Project in its better days. Of course with every next album we try to raise the production standards, but then again they were already pretty high right from the start with the Shoot The Moon album.

mwe3: What’s the chemistry like between you and Fish On Friday song writing partner William Beckers? Who else plays on the Airborne CD and can say something about who else was key to the making of the CD?

Frank Van Bogaert: I’m glad you use the word “chemistry” ‘cause that’s exactly what William and I both felt the first time we played together. William also has that way of putting down a beautiful chord progression that inspires me right away to turn into a song. In fact it’s a continuous interaction of both our ideas.

Then later on we always give freedom of creative input to our musicians. Just like it should be in a band.

mwe3: Where and when was Airborne recorded and can you tell us something about the studio you recorded in? Who can take credit for the great studio / CD sound?

Frank Van Bogaert: Airborne was recorded in my own studio, ACE Studio, in Aartselaar, near Antwerp. Check it out on www.acestudio.be It’s a real professional studio and it’s my lifework. This is what I’ve been doing after my eighties band 1000 Ohm split up.

Not many studios like mine have survived during the years but I’m still doing fine. Considering the great studio/CD sound. As I’m the producer and engineer I can only say, “thank you for the nice compliment”.

mwe3: Do you have some favorite tracks from the Airborne CD? Two of the best are the lead off track “Welcome” and the title track. Can you tell us what inspired those tracks? Any cool stories behind them?

Frank Van Bogaert: “Welcome” is of course the pumping opener on the album and has even gotten quite some airplay on national mainstream radio, which is not an easy thing to accomplish as a prog oriented band. There’s a great story behind that song, not only a story but also the beginning of a very fruitful collaboration with Nick Beggs, bass player with Steve Hackett and Steven Wilson .

In the eighties he was the mastermind of UK pop/wave band Kajagoogoo. During the production of that song I had a certain bass line in mind that echoed a bit his style of playing with the Kajagoogoo hit “Too Shy”. I told William about that idea and he just replied, “why don’t you just contact him”. I just laughed at the idea but did manage to get in contact and send him the song, convinced I wouldn’t get an answer.

Not longer than half an hour later he replied, telling he just loved the song so much and wanted to contribute. That pumping bass line is Mr. Nick Beggs, this year voted most talented bass player in the UK! After having heard the demos of the songs we’d already written for the third coming album, Nick decided to be on board for the whole coming third album, even throwing in backing vocals. Thanks to him we now also have Theo Travis (Soft Machine, Robert Fripp and of course Steven Wilson) guest starring on the coming album.

mwe3: How has the Airborne CD been received and do you consider Fish On Friday to be progressive rock or more of the pop-rock genre? Do you differentiate between genres and what’s your opinion of the 21st Century progressive music world these days, especially as it seems to be a growing genre among a whole new generation of prog fans?

Frank Van Bogaert: Airborne has been received very well, even better than Shoot The Moon, which was also received very well within the progressive scene. Of course with Shoot The Moon we had to start from zero. By the time Airborne was released we had already created great anticipation by the fan base we grew with the first album.

About being prog, rock or pop….we consider ourselves to be Prog-Pop, balancing slightly more to the prog side than pop . If we use the word pop we are not referring to today’s pop scene, which by the way makes us feel really sick, but to quality 1980’s pop. Bands like The Buggles, Tears For Fears, you know. We always write songs, and consider a good song to be something you can always play on a piano or guitar only. We’ll never get lost in endless guitar solos or unstructured music.

mwe3: Can you tell us about the Airborne CD cover art and how you feel the album art helps to define your music?

Frank Van Bogaert: As William and I are devoted Alan Parsons and Pink Floyd fans we also loved their cover art made by Hipgnosis and the late Storm Thorgerson. We both feel that cover art has to reflect the quality of the music. Why work that hard on the music, make sure everything is perfect and then neglect the artwork?

So that work goes out to the very talented Polish graphic artist Michal Karcz. He has that Storm Thorgerson quality in his designs. We‘ve had such great response to his designs and feel that it really reflects our music. Both William and I are devoted CD buyers/collectors, always on the look out for new music we might like, but if a record sleeve is plain ugly and you don’t know about the artist then it’s not really inviting to go and discover the music behind the sleeve design, is it ?

mwe3: What’s the music scene in Belgium like and how does the music scene in Belgium compare with other countries in the region? Is there a Belgium sound? It seems like Europe is just filled with great prog and pop bands from a wide range of countries.

Frank Van Bogaert: Belgium itself is a small country and hasn’t got a real big prog, or quality pop, scene. There’s a few bands and we all know each other, they mostly find their way to my studio J.

But indeed The Netherlands, the UK, Germany, our neighboring countries have a great prog scene. It’s those countries, together with the U.S. we’re reaching out for.

mwe3: What are your musical plans for 2014 and beyond as far are writing, recording and performances go? Will there be a third Fish On Friday CD at some point? What are your next musical mountains to climb so to speak?

Frank Van Bogaert: As discussed earlier in this interview, we’re working very hard on the third album. By now most of the music has already been composed and we’re in the middle of the recording/production process. Nick Beggs is on board for all bass work, as is Theo Travis. Their contribution lifts the production to even higher levels and makes our prog-pop balance even go more towards prog. But as told, it will all be “stay in the head” songs. Also the lyrics are just a bit more contemplative, sometimes being a bit darker in contrast to the beautiful melodic arrangements.


Thanks to Frank Van Bogaert @ www.FishOnFriday.be








 

 
   
Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed by mwe3.com
Send to
: MWE3.com Reviews Editor Robert Silverstein
2351 West Atlantic Blvd. #667754
Pompano Beach, Florida 33066

E-mail: mwe3nyc@gmail.com
New York address (for legal matters only)
P.O. Box 222151, Great Neck, N.Y. 11022-2151

 
 
CD Reviews Feature Reviews & Features Archive Photo Archive Contact MWE3 Home
 

 

Copyright 1999-2013
MWE3.com - All Rights Reserved