R13 chats with Fish Brothers singer Martin Fish (MF) via email, after a failed drunken attempt at an interview (by both parties!) at their recent Guildford gig!

R13:For those that haven't heard of the FB's, a brief history please?
MF: The Fish Brothers spawned many moons ago during a particularly heavy period of drinking. It was during the dark days when pubs shut for the afternoon and those long hours had to be filled via the off licence. Martin Fish (nee Edith Charnsworth) and serial drinking partner Chunky Charnsworth (no relation) had taken to visiting the magnificent Southover Wines and partaking of 'The FishBowl' a cocktail involving cyder, sherry, a washing up bowl and straws.

Usually after the first bowl was finished an album of old songs of the music hall cheaply purloined from a car boot sale would go on the stereo whilst Chunky and Edith sangalong with gusto. When finally 'The Eagle', a notorious Brighton drinking hole, had re-opened the two runnies would stagger down the hill to annoy all and sundry. Then one day Gary the Landlord offered them a gig. Five quid and all they could drink. 'The Eagle' became the busiest pub in town on Sunday nights as people rammed in to sing-a-long to the Fish mix of music hall standards played in a very punk rock and drunken style which lead on to them writing their own material. Invariably one of the duo collapsed during the set but the whole idea was audience participation. Everyone joined in regardless of what state the band were in. Eventually the ungrateful landlord sacked the band for taking the all you could drink too far.

Chunky left for France to play covers in big stadiums. Edith, now plain Martin, concentrated on being annoying. Eventually Chesty Charnsworth became the new guitar hero, Mass Murder McGhee joined as drummer and the first bass player, Captain Sensible no less, joined to form the 'Fishtastic Four.' After Les Pubshitter took over the bass, 'The Levellers' offered them the chance to support on their 'World Freakshow' tour as the band released their first album 'Sergeant Shitters Lonely Club Foot Band' to no critical acclaim. They proclaimed their motto' Fish Brothers are Carp' as bass players came and went.

R13:I've seen your music described as scatalogical punk music hall - fair comment?
MF:It's generally puerile toilet humour but with some occasional serious social commentary in a music hall way with a punk rock edge. We play a number of old songs from the music hall but basically we take the piss out of anything that moves - generally ourselves.

R13:Your first bass player was Captain Sensible I believe - I assume that was a result of the incestuous nature of the Brighton music scene?! How did it come about and what happened?
MF:We were playing a gig in town when during the half time break this guy picked up our guitar and started playing some tunes. He kept on and on til I flipped and tried to attack him. Turned out it was Captain. I think he liked the cut of our gib and offered to play bass on our early four piece gigs and produced our first cassette. He has since kicked me up the arse a number of times as revenge.

R13:The new album is due out, 'The Difficult Turd Album' (nice play on words?!), your best yet?
MF:I think its our most confident album. As usual there's huge value for money with over 20 songs of all styles with something to offend everyone including the cover with me dressed as Elvis dead on the toilet. Our producer Glover has polished the turd exceedingly well, as always. I'd especially recommend 'Gerald Durrell's Spectacled Wanking Bear'.

R13:You're big mates with the Levellers and have supported them on a couple of tours, what's the crowd reaction like at those gigs?
MF:They've been great to us and their crowds have too. Obviously we're not to everyone's taste but we've always tried our best to entertain and warm the crowd up for the main event at over 150 shows. Of course there have been occasions when we've been appalling but when 6 of you are living and sleeping in a van for 6 weeks at a time on a diet of Lockets and cyder there are times when we've been close to implosion. Not many supports recently but we will be playing The Levs Beautiful Days festival this August.

R13:Let's examine the evidence, 'Sgt Shitters Lonely Club Foot Band', 'Follow Through' and 'The Difficult Turd' (all album titles), I sense a common theme here?
MF:I just find toilets exceptionally funny. I always liked the way Viv Stanhall could do something as juvenile (and brilliant) as 'The Strain' but also very clever like 'My Pink Half of the Drainpipe'. I'd say he is our major influence, though we're not worthy.

R13:Back in the 90's you did the Reargunners single and appeared in a German film (Doppelpack), how did that come about and what was your involvement with the film?
MF:I wrote 3 songs just for the hell of it really and it was released in Germany to a riot of death threats. The name Rear Gunners was of course my usual schoolboy sniggering masked by a pretence of being Arsenal football hooligans. It also meant we got a sly mention of the war! I still really like those 3 songs though, and I think they stand up against a number of supposedly serious punk songs. We appeared in the German feature film Doppelpack as 'The Legendary Fish
Brothers' and we appeared with Attila the Stockbroker on stage at the end of the film. The whole movie is about these 2 drunks trying to get to a gig in Dortmund to see us. It has now become a bit of a cult (sic) classic apparently - a sort of Deutsch Withnail and I.

R13:Have you done much abroad and what's the reaction in foreign shores?
MF:We have quite a good fan base in Holland and Germany (we have our own German website) but seldom tour there unfortunately as we've no agent. We have gone down really well despite such gigs as Hamburg where the total paying audience was ZERO. Top that. The worst was probably when supporting The Levellers in Prague and Jon Sevink got someone to translate an introduction for me. It turned out that I read out 'Hello, we are the Fish Brothers, and we like sex with little boys'. Which received a mixed reaction.

R13:You're playing the Wasted festival this year in Morecambe (in May), what do you think of the punk scene now? Especially as lots of bands seem to be getting back together, cashing in or still relevant?
MF:A lot of us punks have got old and fat but there are also a lot of kids into the music. I still haven't come across anything to replace the excitement of punk music. Whether we are actually a punk act ourselves is a matter of opinion.

R13:What inspired you to get into the music business in the first place?
MF:I've never been part of the business per se apart from a brief encounter. We release all our stuff ourselves and run everything between us yet still have to scratch around on building sites or whatever to survive. My inspiration was The Clash and especially Joe Strummer but I found influences like Derek and Clive and Bonzos took over. Look at me. Look at me.

R13:How serious are you about the music? Is it frustrating that you never made it big with previous bands such as Salad From Atlantis (SFA)?
MF:I would love to do all this full time and survive. We've got plenty of one hit wonders in our tank but I don't think any record companies would want to touch us. Mind you the GLC give hope that someone wants to listen to insulting juvenilia (no offence lads).

R13:Which record are you most proud of and what's been the highlight of your career so far?
MF:I think the new record could turn out to be the best we've done but at the moment the first proper Fish studio album 'Follow Thru' still has some of the songs I've written that are most requested live such as '24 Hour Drinking', 'I am the President', 'Brief History of the World' etc.

R13:Are the old SFA records quite collectable now as many of the records from bands from that era go for a small fortune? What happened to the cupboard full of the SFA 7"?!
MF:Someone looked Salad From Atlantis up on Google recently and it appears that our stuff is on sale ranging from expensive to bargain bin. If anyone's interested I've got a lot of those 7" singles still in my loft!!

R13:Favourite FB song and why?
MF:'I Wonder (What You Look Like With No Clothes On?)' from the Number Two album. Its the ultimate in self deprecation which is what we are all about. Very 'umble we is.

R13:Future plans for the Fish Brothers?
MF:Get this blinking 'Difficult Turd Album' out and sit back and wait for the Elton John world tour warm up slot to come our way. Plus hope that Pope Benny XIII puts in a good word for us with the big fella.

For further info on all things fishy and details of the new album check out the website: http://www.thefishbrothers.co.uk