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 moversFrank
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 heresuch as the title track Airborne
and the lead off track on the CD, appropriately entitled Welcomethe
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, Franks 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
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
wed written a few songs I then called my regular studio band
in, guys with whom Id 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
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 youve been a performing musician?
Frank Van Bogaert: Im 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 - were 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?
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. Williams
main instrument is also the grand piano, he has a Bösendorfer
at home. Thats 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.
thats Marty Townsends 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 1970s progressive rock
also including the 70s electronic scene and of course the 1980s
pop and new wave scene.
Those styles will always be in my blood. The same goes for William,
although hes even more 1970s prog and less 80s.
Thats 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 Contacts
debut album Dimensionaut. Its a project of Simon Collins,
the son of Phil Collins. Beautiful, cant believe just how much
I played that album.
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
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: Whats 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: Im glad you use the word chemistry
cause thats 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 its a continuous interaction of both our
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?
Van Bogaert: Airborne was recorded in my own studio, ACE
Studio, in Aartselaar, near Antwerp. Check it out on www.acestudio.be
Its a real professional studio and its my lifework. This
is what Ive been doing after my eighties band 1000 Ohm split
Not many studios like mine have survived during the years but Im
still doing fine. Considering the great studio/CD sound. As Im
the producer and engineer I can only say, thank you for the
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. Theres 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
dont you just contact him. I just laughed at the idea
but did manage to get in contact and send him the song, convinced
I wouldnt 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 wed 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 whats 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
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.
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 todays pop scene, which by
the way makes us feel really sick, but to quality 1980s 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. Well 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. Weve
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 dont know about the artist then its
not really inviting to go and discover the music behind the sleeve
design, is it ?
mwe3: Whats 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 hasnt
got a real big prog, or quality pop, scene. Theres a few bands
and we all know each other, they mostly find their way to my studio
But indeed The Netherlands, the UK, Germany, our neighboring countries
have a great prog scene. Its those countries, together with
the U.S. were reaching out for.
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
Frank Van Bogaert: As discussed earlier in this interview,
were working very hard on the third album. By now most of the
music has already been composed and were 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