Emer Sugrue speaks to Jerry Fish about iTunes, Bono, and Jerry Fish, whoever he is
Jerry Fish used to front a successful rock band in the early 90s called An Emotional Fish. Their biggest hit was ‘Time Is On The Wall’, a song which can be heard on a Bulmers ad along with a voiceover by Fish himself. Sadly, this is all your interviewer knows about Jerry Fish, thus making an interview with him a difficult prospect.
When I ask if the Bulmers adverts are most people would know him from, Fish patiently explains to me that “the adverts and voiceovers fund the record label [Jerry has set up his own, confusingly also titled The Mudbug Club], but primarily I’m an artist and I think most people would see that”. At this point I’m worried I’ve offended him, only assuaged when he jokingly adds, “I’m a jammy f***er”. He was very friendly during the interview, and though I tried not to let on, it was probably painfully obvious that I hadn’t a clue who he was.
Fish’s current band, Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club, is “more eclectic” than his previous work, and Fish quickly corrects me when I refer to it as a ‘jazz band’ (damn you, Wikipedia). He describes his outfit as “more like a circus band than a rock band… with its double bass and a brass section, it’s an unusual band, no doubt about it”.
While frantically researching the band the night before, I found that their music doesn’t have a signature style, with most songs barely sounding like they’re by the same band. Fish explains, “I just kind of go with how the song feels… I just follow the route that the song dictates. My favourite albums are Tarantino compilations…or sometimes the ones you get free with magazines with lots of different bands in them. I like to kind of experiment with my voice and make it sound different… I like an album that has contrasts.”
Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club is an independent band managed by Fish himself, and the internet thus becomes a key way for Fish to promote and market the band. “The radio is still king”, he states, but elaborates that new developments like iTunes have “turned music on its head completely. If you think about it, the music industry is really only as old as Elvis… Elvis never made any albums – he just made radio songs. The way people are buying songs now I think we’re seeing a return to that… the industry is changing, it’s going in that direction.”
And what does he think of Bono? He seems a little surprised but answers, “I like him for the things he’s done that most people don’t like him, to be honest. I think he’s done quite remarkable work as a politician… there are so many in his position who don’t bother their arse.” Maybe next time I’ll be better equipped to do an interview, with someone as undoubtedly seminal as Fish, the justice it deserves.