Phatfish: 15 years and still going strong

Friday 6th March 2009

Clem Jackson met up with three members of PHATFISH


Amazingly, Phatfish have been around for over 15 years now and their latest album '15' is a collection of some of their best-loved songs across the years, including four from their acclaimed 2007 album 'Guaranteed' and a couple of previously unreleased tracks "Funkmine" and "The Call". Those who know Phatfish, either from their early days as a jazz-funk gigging band or latterly as an accomplished worship band, will have their own favourites and will probably find them on this album. Whether it is one of those worship "standards" like "Holy, Holy", "Awake, Awake O Zion" or "There Is A Day", or some of the earlier songs such as "An Audience With God" or "Mr Happy Fudge", they're all there and the album gives a good flavour of the development of the band's style over the last 15 years.

In that time four of the members of the band have remained constant; Nathan, Luke and Lou Fellingham (originally Hunt until she married Nathan) and Mike Sandeman. But after Alan Rose, whose guitar playing made a significant contribution to the band's sound between 1998 and 2003, left the band they decided not to engage a permanent replacement. By 2006 it wasn't clear whether the band was going to continue gigging. But in 2007 a couple of new guitarists, Jos Wintermeyer and Ben Hall - both members of the band's home church in Brighton - were recruited.

I met up with Nathan, Lou and Jos a week before they started recording the next Phatfish album to talk about '15', 15 years together and the future. I began by asking each of them what their favourite track on the album was.

Nathan: I have to pick two; one is "There Is A Day" because of the significance of the song to me and the impact it has had, and the other one, which I co-wrote with Simon Brading, is "Rise Up" - I just really enjoy that one.

Lou: Well I don't have one - they're all good. I like all of them for different reasons. They are all songs which bring back different memories and that's the pleasure of it for me.

Jos: It would have to be "Heavenbound", purely from a guitarist's point of view, written by a guitarist, for a guitarist pretty much.

Clem: 15 years is a long time to work together. What have been the highs?

Lou: 15 years is a long time (and we are going to have to continue for quite a long time). I guess a real high was the time at Stoneleigh in 2001 when we did an "unplugged" session which was very special and this led to the 'Hope' album and tour. The highs are really when you get feedback from people who say they have been touched by a song or at a meeting they were at.

Nathan: A high for me would be the Truth tour, which was the biggest undertaking we've ever done. We did 15 dates, ending up at Fairfield Halls (Croydon) with a sell-out gig. I just remember that whole period as being quite exciting.

Clem: How would say the sound of the band has evolved over the last 15 years?

Nathan: When we started we were quite focussed on the kind of jazz funk style which was popular at the time. I guess we've always enjoyed some of the more complicated kinds of rhythms and chords ("self-indulgent" says Lou). Then Alan Rose joined and we did an album which Alan Shacklock produced, and Alan (S) really ironed out a lot of complexity. He was a big contributor to the style change which resulted in the 'Purple Through the Fishtank' (1999) album. 'Heavenbound' was a kind of a pivot for us, a kind of a mixture of the two styles, not quite back to the jazz funk style trying to insert a few more of our creative ideas back, while at the same time keeping the arrangements a bit tighter.

Clem: But vocally Lou the jazz-funk style gave you more freedom to experiment I guess?

Lou: I think vocally it has changed. When I came down for the interview for the band Nathan and the guys played a couple of songs and I thought, 'There's no way I can sing that - there's absolutely no room for vocals and I wouldn't even know where to start.' But I enjoy adapting my voice to the different styles. If we have an album with some rocky stuff I enjoy adapting to the sound, the way you emphasise things and bringing out certain words - I enjoy that kind of dynamic.

Clem: When we last met there was some doubt about Phatfish continuing as a gigging band. What's the situation now?

Showing page 1 of 2

1 2

Reader Comments

Posted by Neen in Melbourne, Australia @ 02:21 on Mar 21 2009

Agreed with Povas and Clair =-) Go Phatfish ! Your music bridges rescue to me when I need it. Thanks !

Posted by Clair in Midlands UK @ 21:59 on Mar 18 2009

These guys are awesome!! well worth checking them out if you haven't already!!

Posted by povas in India @ 11:49 on Mar 7 2009


The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

Add your comment

We welcome your opinions but libellous and abusive comments are not allowed.

We are committed to protecting your privacy. By clicking 'Send comment' you consent to Cross Rhythms storing and processing your personal data. For more information about how we care for your data please see our privacy policy.