Hello Mr. Watts In 2017 you’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of your career and the one with Fischer-Z. Congratulations! There’s a lot happening for you this year, a book, a compilation album, a tour and a brand new album! It looks like it’ll be a busy time for you !
Yes, it is!
«Building Bridges is the title of the album, but it could also be the key to solving international problems as opposed to policies of protectionism, isolationism, ignorance and fear » you state in the album’s liner notes. Songs such as Disco Damascus, Let’s Put the Pressure on and Row Boys Row maybe desmonstrate this the best. Is this John Watts’ most political record to date, and is it your way to get things off your chest and offer people A New Hope? John Watts for president?
Music and art can’t change the world, but it can make people think about it differently. All my work has political content. It’s much more effective to comment as an artist than to be part of the political establishment where you are forced to play their game.
In the 80s you made albums in which you warned us for nuclear wars and politicians who are out of their mind. Fischer-Z is still exist, but the world just got more mad. I guess this really upset you too?
I would say it fascinates me. The onward march of globalisation and the internet has hot-housed and accelerated many conflicts in the world. The media hungry for 24 hour news must also take some responsibility for this.
On the new album you sound great, John. The album itself has got a great vibe to it, mostly it’s full speed ahead, with great funky and punky poppy tunes. And after only 33 minutes it’s over. Are you going to play the new songs live on the upcoming tour, and are you going to play all of them?
Thank you. We play about 6 of the new album songs at each of our shows this year.
For those – if possible – who only discover Fischer-Z just now with Building Bridges, which albums would you suggest them to listen next to, to start discovering the rest of the Fischer-Z output? Do you have a favourite Fischer-Z album, or solo-album, yourself?
There is a continuum of music in the 20 albums over the 40 year period. I suggest people check out Spotify to sample different albums, I don’t have a favourite myself. What I would say is that World Salad was very original for its time, Red Skies Over Paradise was in tune with the apolitical climate, The Iceberg Model was really experimental, Destination Paradise a classic early 90s-record, Thirteen Stories High my favourite guitar record until Burning Bridges and all the 90s and 00’s albums that combined hip hop and poetry and multi media projects.
What can we expect about the book about Fischer-Z? A biography full of stories never told before, secrets from 40 years of Fischer-Z or never seen before foto footage, or lyrics? Please tell us!
Short stories that take the reader back into the story. There will also be different viewpoints from others, comments and criticisms. No pictures, multiple languages and not an autobiography.
I heard a bell ringing that all Fischer-Z albums will be re-issued, does that include your solo albums? Will those feature some extra’s, such as previously unreleased stuff? Other surprises maybe?
The whole catalogue and some rarities will be available, but no rush, we are concentrating on Building Bridges now.
Why should people definitely check out Fischer-Z out at W-Fest? I know: Why Not ?! But seriously...
To see the classic material played by the new line-up in a great energetic way and the new material flying. Fischer-Z is not an oldies band.
At W-Fest lots of legends are playing but also some new bands. Which are the bands you’re looking forward to to check out at W-Fest? Who do you absolutely want to see?
I’ll see whatever I get chance to, depending on our schedule.
What do you prefer at festivals: French fries or beer?
I don’t like beer.
Is there something else you want to tell us? Please, shoot!
The Fischer-Z momentum is really building this year. It’s great to see so many people coming back to the shows and also the large number of new younger fans joing us at concerts and online. We welcome everyone. Thanks for your questions!
Interview by MARK VAN MULLEM
Copyright picture: Alex Vanhee, Martin Burton