(Esoteric Antenna)


Belgium based prog-rockers Fish On Friday follow their critically acclaimed 2013 Airborne CD with the 2014 release of Godspeed. Once again at the helm is group vocalist / producer Frank Van Bogaert and keyboardist William Beckers. Those who haven’t heard Fish On Friday yet will be in for a treat as their latest album maintains a lush sonic landscape from start to finish that makes the most of the fine compositions featured here. For the release of Godspeed, the group once again features guitarist Marty Townsend, bass ace Nick Beggs and the drumming of Marcus Weymaere. Also on Godspeed are several guest musicians, including the sound of flutist Theo Travis. The album is again superbly packaged with stunning graphics and full lyrics sheet. The CD starts off with the ten minute title track, which serves as a suite of sorts with plenty of melodic hooks and hair trigger time signatures. Frank has cited 1970s prog bands like YES and Alan Parsons Project as big influences but there’s also other influences here such as Tears For Fears and The Buggles and, true to form, there’s plenty of eclectic prog-rock sounds on Godspeed. Music fans will completely enjoy the 21st century prog-rock sound of Fish On Friday. presents an interview with
Fish On Friday

mwe3: After the success of your last album Airborne what was the approach for Godspeed on the new Fish On Friday CD? Is there a more relentless approach, a new musical urgency that you intend here?

William Beckers
: In fact there was not a different kind of strategy planned in the production of the Godspeed album compared to Airborne. I think the biggest change, so yes there is a slight change, was that we agreed to work on a few longer tracks, more epic like. So this deviates from our classic trademark of 5 to 6 minutes songs.

mwe3: Tell us about the title track “Godspeed”. Is there a message in there with the scintillating lyrics? At 10+ minutes it’s kind of a suite of sorts right? Marty adds in some great guitar work.

: “Godspeed” is the opening epic and sets a bit the pace and style of the album. Every song tells its own story. “Godspeed “is in fact a story about a quite successful guy who , at a certain moment, loses everything he had. His career, his wife…he realizes he has made a lot of mistakes during his life and feels there’s no chance of getting back on track. So he decides to take his life in a car crash. If there’s a message in this, it has to be “the higher you climb to further you fall.”

mwe3: Is track two, “Just A Nightmare” kind of a sign of these times? That track is very keyboard dominated. Is that William on the closing piano parts? Tell us about the vocal backups on that track. Cool sax lines too. What backup singers do your include on Godspeed?

: “Just A Nightmare “ is all about feeling “closed in” in society. Never finding a moment of rest, never feeling secured. The feeling you’re always being watched…a kind of paranoia feeling but we give it a twist saying that it’s just a nightmare, so you can wake up and so there is hope.

WILLIAM BECKERS: The sax solo in this song was played by Henri Ylen, a Belgian sax player. This song was recorded before we met Theo Travis, who played all other saxes and wind instruments on the album. As for the backing vocals, these are about the same people who guested on our first two albums Shoot The Moon and Airborne. And of course Nick Beggs does backing vocals. His high falsetto like voice blends beautifully with Frank’s deeper colored voice.

mwe3: “She Colors The Rainbow” is another love song. But the girl is left in a coma, so is this an anti-love song?

FRANK VAN BOGAERT: No, in fact this isn’t even a love song, the lyrics are based on a real story inspired by someone who has gone through a lot of pain. His wife went into coma after a severe accident. She is kept alive by machines. He visits her every day, talks to her and never gives up hoping she will one day wake up. To ease his own pain he is imagining that she is living in a fairy tale world where she has no worries and feels no pain. So yes, in fact I have to correct myself, this is definitely a love song…though a very sad one.

mwe3: “Calling Planet Home” is a great near instrumental rocker with lyrics that plea for the earth? There’s some great flute and guitar sounds there too from Theo Travis. How did you meet up with Theo?

: On this track we wanted flute solos. As Theo plays with Nick in Steven Wilson’s band, the choice was obvious.

WILLIAM BECKERS: Nick introduced us backstage to Theo after a Steven Wilson gig in Belgium. We had a nice evening and got along fine. He liked our music so he was keen on guest starring on the Godspeed album.

mwe3: Is “Ghost Song” a seance song, contacting a dead lover from the past? I like your lyrical juxtaposition of the moving clouds and love lorn lyrics. Again, The flutes add an ethereal edge that then switches to sax in the same song.

FRANK VAN BOGAERT: “Ghost Song” is probably the most intimate song on the album. It is of course about someone, a loved one, who left this world and the one who gets left behind and grieves. It’s about the disbelief that one can have when someone is really gone. It feels so strange living alone in the house and in the beginning it all feels dark and cloudy. But the clouds will always move somehow and the sun will break through. Meaning... you need to look for the beauty of life, it’s always there behind the clouds, you just owe it to the ones who left you .

mwe3: “Radio” speaks of a better time. Is that the time you grew up in the late ‘70s? Like Steve Howe says, "bravo the ‘70s" I like the Buggles reference in the lyrics. I guess if you can remember 1978 / 79 then you’re getting on in years!

FRANK VAN BOGAERT: I even sing in this song “I was born in 1962”, thus giving away my age. Indeed in the '70s and '80s radio was so much more important to us youngsters than it is now to today’s generation.

WILLIAM BECKERS: Back then radio was, apart from record stores, the only way to discover new music. Stations in that heyday really dared playing music that was not conforming to what we already knew. They made us discover exciting new stuff. Nowadays radio has become a joke...everything they play sounds the same. Music is made to format because radio doesn’t take risks anymore. So if you wanna get played, better make music like radio wants it to’s the wrong way round.

Frank Van Bogaert: That’s why radio has become very boring nowadays. Back in the days, DJ’s had the liberty to play the records they liked and discovered themselves. Now all DJ’s have to follow playlists and on these playlists you’ll only find music that’s been put there by pluggers. A “Plugger” has become a new profession in the radio business, no plugger no airplay for your band. In a nutshell, no money, no play. Although there are still exceptions. I’m mainly talking about mainstream radio of course.

mwe3: “Sanctuary” is another extended track on Sanctuary with a wide scope and expansive lyrics. What is the sanctuary now? It’s like taking a last stand in life? There’s more room there for Marty Townsend to stretch out with some guitar solos which is nice! Is Marty still living in Belgium?

: Marty is still living in Belgium, we won’t allow him to go back to the U.S. No, he likes it over here. He came here, together with his wife, who is a teacher for NATO, about 20 years ago for a stay of no more than 2 years. Seriously, they have built their lives over here.

: Marty is one of the best guitar players in Belgium. The good thing about his playing is that he is more kind of a blues guitarist than a prog rock guitarist. This makes Fish on Friday sound very different to other prog bands. A bit like David Gilmour, when he joined Pink Floyd he was also a blues player you know.

mwe3: “Stay” is a cool kind of 21st century love song with near alien lyrics. Again, the track hits its stride and Marty rips another cool solo there.

: “Stay” is more a kind of a “despair” song, a cry for attention, about people who are almost down in the gutter and desperately are seeking some tenderness and love in a harsh world that has no place for them. Strange how a lot of listeners think this is a love song. I guess that’s the beauty about the lyrics of this song, one can interpret it in different ways.

WILLIAM BECKERS: And yes that guitar solo in the bridge, again Marty at his best.

mwe3: Is “Don’t Love Me To Death” the flip side to “Stay”. Love gone awry can be devastating.

: Yes, love can be devastating. This one is more about stalking kind of “Every breath you take, I’ll be watching you” story. I have got to mention the great guitar riffs and a beautiful moog solo on this one.

mwe3: “Tick Tock” is a hoot. The monotony of life or something more serious? Great beat, one of the great b-side tracks on Godspeed.

FRANK VAN BOGAERT: In fact, this is about Alzheimers disease. Not a funny thing if it happens to people you love.

WILLIAM BECKERS: Yes, true... I have to add that Frank mostly sings about deeper and serious things in life but he always sings it in a way that sounds joyful. This is also one of the most important trademarks of the Fish On Friday sound. At first listen it all sounds joyful, but if you really take time to listen to and understand the lyrics, well they give you a lot to think over.

mwe3: “My Dog” closes out the CD. I think that is a first for a progressive rock album.

: Oh yes, we sure took a risk there. Risking that every prog fan would dislike this song. Because it’s simple, only piano and acoustic guitar and the lyrics. They are indeed about my dog, it’s just funny and meant to end the album on a light foot.

WILLIAM BECKERS: But don’t mistake... it’s not that simple, it sounds simple but in fact the chords are not that easy at all. Anyway, it turns out this song is really being liked by everyone and in a recent review in UK’s Classic Rock magazine, the song even got praised.

mwe3: So the new album is being handled by Esoteric Records? How did you arrange to work with them? It’s such a vast company now but I would think you’re in good company there.

FRANK VAN BOGAERT: Yes, we were excited when we were offered a record deal with them. It’s indeed a big label, belonging to the Cherry Red record company, which is in business for more than 30 years already. They’ve got worldwide distribution and we’re in good company with bands like Squackett (Chris Squire-Steve Hackett), Lifesigns, Todd Rundgren, Vangelis and many other legends.

WILLIAM BECKERS: It’s Nick Beggs who introduced us to them. He sent them some demo tracks and once they heard them things got on a rollercoaster, they wanted us to sign right away.

mwe3: What’s next for Fish On Friday? Do you have your sights on the next project? Any other developments on the musical front for 2015?

FRANK VAN BOGAERT: We take things as they come you know, we work very hard on Fish On Friday and are now starting to compose songs for our fourth album. I have to admit we’re enjoying the Godspeed album getting such great response and even better sales than we were used to with our previous two albums, Shoot the Moon and Airborne.

WILLIAM BECKERS: Because of the success of Godspeed, stock of those two previous albums is now completely sold out and both are being reprinted. Just follow us on Facebook to stay updated with the latest news.


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