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 37 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 retiring of the moniker "Jazz Butcher".
An early sample-collage effort, The Black Eg, produced an unlikely release on Creation Records and a handful of chaotic absurdist gigs.
The Black Eg sequencer-backed approach was made more accessible in Sumosonic and featured several vocalists and percussion in traditional pop arrangements. There were three Sumosonic releases, which were Pat Fish's final releases on Creation Records.
In the early aughts, Pat inadvertently assembled a supergroup - Wilson - with ex-Sumosonic members and well known Northampton musicians. Wilson layered guitar-riffs and shouty-pop over solid sequencing and live percussion. Nearly 100 live shows were played, and a live DVD was self-released at the end of a decade-long run.
While not all side projects produced published material, demos from each may be heard in the listening room.
May 04, 2020Last Day Deaf
April 06, 2017Abus Dangereux #138
April, 2016The Record Collector
February 19, 2016Wine Merchants
February 02, 2015Louder Than War The Butch is Back… the return of The Jazz Butcher!
September 18, 2014Caught In The Carousel
November 30, 2007The Splatter Effect
June, 1994The Record Store Up Front And Center Issue #5 Treading the line between dumb and stupid
May 08, 1992The Ottawa Citizen British Popster Fights The Good Fight To Put Some Literacy Back Into Lyrics
May 07, 1992Les Inrockuptibles
September, 1991The Milwaukee Interview
November 19, 1989New Music Express
March 02, 1985
christopher.m.keen[at]-remove-gmail.com - Chris Hamilton, Ontario
1May2019 10:38 AM (1 year 35 days ago)
I can't get over there. Can you get over here? It's been a long time waiting since you played the Phoenix in Toronto with Blue Aeroplanes opening. Please come back! I've got other things to get to. Toronto or Hamilton, Ontario
salgarza[at]-remove-yahoo.com - sal
27Feb2018 8:22 PM (2 years 97 days ago)
'xican 'merrikkan looking for wotrk
Like a tributary, pale imitators
Ericrhake[at]-remove-gmail.com - Salisbury, nc
20Dec2017 7:46 PM (2 years 167 days ago)
Have loved the butcher since introduced 30 plus years ago in Knoxville tn. So glad to see that stream flow back to the river. Thanks Scott Carpenter for showing me the way to Pat Fish.
Ear to the ground
mivvers[at]-remove-gmail.com - Maureen, Cork
10Oct2017 10:28 AM (2 years 238 days ago)
Pat, first of all, thank you for this webpage, I feel like I'm back in time. Which is kind of how I've been feeling for the past couple of days, because the line "what makes your heart sing" surfaced out of nowhere the other day and I had to google it to find out that it was The Jazz Butcher. I put on the album and realized immediately that it was a long-forgotten favourite album that I have somehow not listened to since around 1989. I was actually screaming with excitement and I've been having an incredible time signing and dancing along. And then I come here and find out you've got Wasted Years coming out next week! Legend! Any plans to come to Ireland?
A patronizing letter
rossisalways[at]-remove-hotmail.com - Ross Smith Vancouver
26Jul2016 7:31 PM (3 years 314 days 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.