Fish Co was the brainchild of Fairnie and fellow Bristol church-goer Steve Rowles, the end-product of a number of light-hearted projects. After paying their dues as an acoustic duo, all strummy guitars and Simon and Garfunkelesque harmony vocals, 1975 saw the release of ‘Can’t Be Bad’ on Christian label Myrrh, produced by John Pac and recorded with a whole host of ace session musicians. The songs were intricate tales of characters with names such as ‘Jimmy Bootlace Seller’ and ‘Matthew the Miner’. The album-closer, ‘Precious Lord’, is one of the tunes to have stood the test of time. The lavish cover and inner-sleeve design was the work of one Bev Sage, who went on to join the band as backing vocalist. She became Fairnie’s ‘other half’ and an integral part of all subsequent musical projects.
A steady backing band took shape, a Transit van clocked up endless miles on motorways throughout the British Isles, and the darker ‘Beneath the Laughter’ followed on Grapevine in 1978. The atmospheric dynamics of the album still ring true. The whereabouts of the Pierrot doll featured on the cover are unknown (although the tank-top worn by Rowles is said to have recently turned up in an Oxfam shop in Torquay…). The outfit gigged to save their lives, aiming to break into the mainstream. But the time had come for a radical re-think, hence the re-birth of the band as Writz, a voluntary decision to break from the somewhat limiting Acoustic-Christian-Duo-from-Bristol pigeon hole.
The Fish Co press package was a far-cry from today’s swish glossy hand-outs. It was in fact little more than a minimalist folder containing a typewritten sheet of paper:
FISH CO INFORMATION
The basis of Fish Co has been around for some time. It started with founder members STEVE FAIRNIE and STEVE ROWLES, who now front the band they put together in 1978. Already with two albums to their credit, Fairnie and Rowles are destined to write hit singles.
STEVE FAIRNIE is a graduate of the Royal College of Art. On stage he features on vocals, crowd dynamics and rare glimpses of guitar, and his interest in the field of mime shows strongly in his presentation (main influence Jacques Tati). Often seen accompanying a well-known model/singer around London’s West End; he is known as a “loveable eccentric”, and is rumoured to have 120 pairs of Italian shoes!
STEVE ROWLES is perfect company on a cold night. Well known for his football fervour, he is highly trained in Music and Drama, and has played the leading role in a Rock Musical at the Edinburgh “Fringe” and London “Roundhouse”. His excellent lead vocals, and highly acclaimed creative ability provides the musical anchor for the band.
BEV SAGE is the third vocalist. An extremely talented young lady, she possesses not only a unique vocal style, but a degree in photography and has studied fashion and design extensively. Bev appreciates the work of Betty Bright and Polly Styrene.
JULES HARDWICK has a rich background in session work, and his performance on Fish Co’s second album ‘Beneath the Laughter’ has established his reputation as an outstanding lead guitarist. Son of a famous authoress, he has a fascination of 18th century dogma, the morbidity of the upper classes and has an ambition to be buried in Highgate Cemetery, a much loved beauty spot.
NICK BATTLE has a track record of burnt out sneakers due to excessive movement on stage. Renowned for his energy and ability on bass guitar, Nick (formerly with A.T.F.), along with Steve Axell the drummer, provides a superb driving force for the rest of the band.
STEVE AXELL is Fish Co’s latest recruit. His greatest passion is to get rid of his 1957 Morgan sports car, and move to North London (for tax reasons).
The concept of Fish Co is a melodic song band, with a high energy stage act. They are unique, exciting and entertaining. Their success is simply… a matter of time.