Born in West London at a time that left him just too young to be a hippie and just a little too old to be a punk, Pat Fish grew up in an era where the Bonzo Dog Band appeared on children’s television, Syd Barrett was on Top of the Pops and the Adult World was represented in shows like The Avengers and The Prisoner. Disappointment was an inevitability. Fish failed to “get” the glam rock thing (probably too much of an excitable wee football fan) and found that the seventies drove him down some fairly obscure musical paths before punk rock came along to save the day. By then, however, all those mad little songs by Eno, Syd Barrett, Kevin Ayers, Daevid Allen, John Cale, Peter Blegvad and Tony Moore were already locked up in his head.
Fish started making records under the name of the Jazz Butcher in 1983 and nobody has quite succeeded in putting a stop to this yet. He has recorded for Glass Records, Creation Records, ROIR of New York and Vinyl Japan of Tokyo. Overall he has written and released fifteen albums of original music, three live albums and innumerable singles and compilations.
In 2016 Fire Records issued the album Last of the Gentleman Adventurers, originally released as a fan-funded project in 2012. In 2017 Fire will be undertaking a major re-issue programme, making several Jazz Butcher albums available once again on vinyl, CD and digital formats.
With the Jazz Butcher, Fish has toured worldwide. As a solo artist, recent shows include Hamburg, Dortmund, New York City, Tokyo, Brussels and London, as well as his adopted home town of Northampton where he still regularly turns out with his acoustic guitar to support visiting artists.
He likes collaborations, too. Apart from his lengthy association with Northampton-based digital hooligans Wilson over the years 2001-2009, Fish has recorded and appeared on stage with David J, Spacemen 3, Bristol’s The Blue Aeroplanes, German band M Walking On The Water, French indie art rock band Chelsea Paris and acclaimed Los Angeles shoegazers, The Black Watch.
The thing about Pat Fish is that he is not tribal about music. Some people know him from his friendship with Spacemen 3, others for his fondness for Nikki Sudden and Dave Kusworth; some know him because he has worked with members of Bauhaus, others regard him as a “classic” independent songwriter in the vein of Pete Astor or Dan Treacy. Fishy just fetches his acoustic guitar and his notebook and heads for the railway station.
His current inspirations: as always, the Velvet Underground, Alex Chilton, Peter Laughner, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Kevin Ayers, John Martyn, Davy Graham and many, many more.
Do you like your melodies sweet and your humour as black as pitch? Would you take a chance on something simple, intimate and direct from an artist who is on record as saying “What I do is not entertainment” but who regularly induces little bursts of outraged laughter from the audience? Do you want to see the real thing? You should maybe go and see Pat Fish.
In 34 years, Pat Fish has brought a dozen full-length records into the world.
In addition, he has collaborated with a number of other artists:
- Love Ambassadeux - Black Mischief (single, Rumpo Records, 1985)
- 13 Frightened Girls - Lost at Sea (3 track 12", Foundation, 1991)
- Venus Fly Trap - Pandora's Box (LP, Danceteria 1992)
- Chelsea Paris - Tramway (LP, Virgin France, 1992)
...Maybe one or two other bits.
- David J - Crocodile Tears & The Velvet Cosh (LP, 1985) - Flute
- Blue Moods turning Tail (EP 1986) - glockenspiel
- On Glass (LP 1986) - Glockenspiel, vocals
- Venus Fly Trap - Rocket USA (single, 1989) - Tenor sax
- M Walking on the Water - Pluto (LP, 1989) - Vocals
- Blue Aeroplanes - Beatsongs (LP 1991) - Vocals
- Up in a Down World (EP 1993) - Vocals, co-writing credit on "Meantime"
- Rough Music (LP 1994) - Guitar, organ, co-writing credit on "Whatever Happened to our Golden Birds?"
- Spacemen 3 - Recurring (LP 1990) - Tenor sax, flute
- Sonic Boom - Spectrum (LP 1989) - Finger pops, vocals
- Spectrum - Soul Kiss (Glide Divine) (LP, 1992) - Tenor sax
- Indian Summer (single, 1993) - Electric guitar
- Dave Kusworth & The Bounty Hunters - All the Heartbreak Stories (LP, 1991) - Flute, tenor sax
- Chelsea Paris - Tramway (LP 1992) - Guitar, vocals
- The Field Trip - Take to the Streets (EP, 1993) - Tenor sax
- The Black Watch - Jiggery-Pokery (LP, 2002) - Vocals (listen@youtube)
- The Four One And Only's - Holy (LP, 1996) - Vocals
- Stranger Tractors - Vibration (CD single, 1995) - Drums, vocals
- The Purelove - King Pop (Marsh Marigold Records, 1997) - Guitar
- The Purelove - Live (1997 tour of Germany): Guitar
In the early to mid 1990's Pat Fish was exploring what was to be the vehicle for his compositions after the assumed demise of the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy.
The early sample-heavy effort The Black Eg led to a handful of chaotic absurdist gigs and, miraculously, a release on Creation Records. A couple of The Black Eg demo tapes are archived on this site.
Also around this time, the Cambodia and The Vaguely Familiar collaborations occurred. While they did not result in official releases, demo tapes from these sessions show Fish's willingness to utilize sequencers and assume purely songwriter and intrumentalist roles.
The Black Eg sequencer-backed approach was made more accessible in Sumosonic and featured several vocalists and percussion in traditional pop arrangements. There were two Sumosonic releases, This Is Sumo, and a single Come, Friendly Spacemen. These were Pat Fish's final releases on Creation Records.
In the early aughts, Pat inadvertently assembled a supergroup, with ex-Sumosonic members and well known local musicians to form Wilson. Wilson layered guitar-riffs and shouty-pop over solid sequencing. Nearly 100 live shows were played, and a live DVD was self-released at the end of Wilson's decade-long run.
Not all side projects produced published material, but demo material for each may be heard in the listening room.
chrismarshall-crashdown[at]-remove-hotmail.com - Chris Marshall Halifax
18May2017 3:17 PM (3 days 23 hours ago)
Hi Pat, sad note, my friend and your former colleague Dooj died today in Halifax, I recently visited him and although his memory was a little foggy, we talked about the old times. In his room, which was almost clinically white, apart from a White Semi-Acoustic guitar, there was a notice board, with a couple of old photographs, including a group shot of "The Jazz Butcher" in the USA, he really loved that photograph and he was proud to have been a small part of "The Jazz Butcher". Chris Marshall
A patronizing letter
rossisalways[at]-remove-hotmail.com - Ross Smith Vancouver
26Jul2016 7:31 PM (299 days 18 hours ago)
The JAZZ BUTCHER. I absolutely love this band. I put a Jazz Butcher conspiracy album (yes vinyl) a least once a month on my pricey stereo, and have been doing so since 1987. This is what music is supposed to be. I prefer this band over Pink Floyd.
I remember just missing out to see them live and the next day an ex girlfriend of mine phones me, says she got to see the gig and then partied (Victoria B.C.) with the band. She said these Brits were brilliant to talk to. She also said they got sick and tired of her boyfriend and kicked him out.
The originality of this band and the awesome lyrics I have always enjoyed for almost 30 years, and never get tired of it. I'm so glad the albums were recorded and mixed well. When put Distressed gentle folk on the turntable and hear that guitar open up on "Falling in love" I get goosebumps. It's my natural air conditioning on a hot day.
Cheers to the band who stamped the musical soundtrack to my 80's life.
Gert.thomas[at]-remove-yahoo.co.uk - Gert South Wales
30Jul2014 12:52 AM (2 years 297 days ago)
Hi Pat, sort of been a Butcherite since the early 80s still have my vinyl copy of Gift . I think I heard you on Radio 1 possibly Janice long but it was one of those moments when the dj name checked the band and my mental note actually worked. ... But even though I have most of your tunes in my collection never actually made to a gig. I did once interview you for a radio show on Radio Wales and confessed to smashing a copy of compilation of yours I bought in Toronto 86. It was booze fuelled madness and possibly some other stuff going on too and nothing to do with the music . You played a couple of songs down the line. Soul Happy Hour one of them .Anyway I'm going to get off my arse and make the trip to Brighton .
fisheh[at]-remove-theycantstopbale.com - pat
4Nov2010 7:11 AM (6 years 201 days ago)
Hi Bob, I remember you, sir. I'm pretty much the same as ever. To be honest, I can't see me making it to Saskatoon any time soon...but you never know. That much I have learned. All best, Pat x
long time no see
redbeardbob[at]-remove-hotmail.com - Bob Rudachyk, Saskatoon
3Nov2010 2:38 PM (6 years 201 days ago)
Long time no see. It's Bob Rudachyk, we hooked up a few times after your concerts in Saskatoon and Vancouver. Just wondering what you have been up to and if you are coming back to Saskatoon any time.