Blondie.net wishes to thank Little Fish for their supporting performances on the U.K. leg of Blondie’s Endangered Species tour. We hope you enjoy reading the thoughtful answers that guitarist and lead vocalist Juju provided for this interview by Daniel Alonso and Barry L. Kramer:
Blondie.net: The duo Little Fish was formed about four years ago in Oxford, England. What was the premise for starting the band with your friend (and drummer) Nez?
Juju: We never set out to form a band and rule the world (although now we would obviously love to!). We actually met on a drunken Saturday night out in a Fish n’ Chip shop in Oxford. I was slating drum solos and much to his annoyance, he decided to butt into my conversation and protect his species. The following night, we found ourselves bashing out drums and guitar in my garage, having fun, playing music. We hung out for a while and just jammed once in a while before actually biting the bullet and deciding to form a band.
And how did you come up with the band’s name?
The name ‘Little Fish’ originally comes from the title of one of my songs. We used the name Little Fish because we never really knew where Little Fish would end up or where it wanted to go. The word ‘Little Fish’ has a singular and plural ambiguity to it, there could one day be many more Little Fish in our band.
When did you first pick up the guitar?
I picked up the guitar really late. I started to play and write when I was 17 years old and so I have had a lot to catch up on as many, if not most musicians, start learning instruments at an early age. This was my path and so I have no regrets. Maybe it has made me have to work hard and working hard has been instrumental to the movements, attitude and progression of Little Fish.
Your voice and stage presence has been compared to the likes of Patti Smith, Grace Slick and PJ Harvey. Who were some of your earliest musical influences?
To me, it wasn’t so much who influenced me, but more a case of what the people that did influence me had in common. Artists that I loved and that I heard were all passionate performers and so it was ‘passion’ that influenced me. From French artistes such as Jacques Brel, to Brassens and Barbara to American artists and singers such as Patti Smith and Grace Slick, all had passion and all were 100% committed to their performance and embodiment of song. This is what my main influence is and what I think people might refer to when they compare me to artists such as these.
How did that translate into your sound?
For those who have never seen Little Fish live, our performances are intense, highly energetic and passionate. We all commit ourselves to our songs and play them every night as if we were living them. This intensity of performance is crucial to the Fish sound – Little Fish wouldn’t be the same without that ‘fight’.
What is your songwriting process like?
It’s more like an exorcism. Nothing is intellectual. All the songs that I write come from an emotion. I tend to feel something and then I try to express it by singing and playing the guitar. I suppose by not having the best technical musical abilities I rely on instinct a lot. I hold the guitar, relax and feel whatever I am feeling. I follow feeling until I find it on the guitar. Once I capture how I feel I then start to hone it and work on it until it becomes song.
You are an active presence on your site/blog – how important is it, especially as a new band, to stay connected with fans via social networking sites, like Twitter or MySpace?
I’m not sure how important it is because it’s just something that we have always done – so by not doing it, we wouldn’t know how it might affect us. I would imagine that it is important these days to connect to fans via the social network sites because the industry is not what it used to be. The internet has changed everything – it has made it possible for fans to connect and contact people in bands and so the dynamic between band and fan has changed. To not acknowledge the contact a fan might want or take the time to make would, I think, be rude. Without the fan, the band is nothing. In our eyes, you have to respect that, which is why we do our best to respond and interact with our fans. This I think is what has led us to having a good active presence on our sites. The fact that we are quite crazy and love making our lives more hectic by writing blogs and posting up videos and pictures has also helped! I think it is really important for new bands to go with this new wave – too many people are on the internet these days to shun it.
Your band has supported big names in the world of rock – Blondie, Courtney Love, Alice in Chains, etc. What have you learned from touring with and watching these bands perform over the last few years?
We have learned lots of things, but I think the most important thing we have learned is that all of these top bands work hard. There is no rest or time to be complacent no matter how successful you are.
Debbie Harry saw your performance supporting Hole at the end of April and now you’re supporting Blondie. How did that come about?
Supporting Blondie came from a mutual contact after the show where there was a sense of mutual respect and like for each other’s music. Unfortunately, I never got to know what specifically impressed Debbie as when we spoke to me that night I couldn’t hear what she was saying to me and after asking her to repeat herself once already, I didn’t have the courage to ask again!
What was your experience like touring with them this past month?
It has been a complete honor. Watching the greats perform every night is an absolute privilege. Not only do you get to hear great music but watching the best is like having teachers. You watch them play, you watch them perform and you learn. I have learned a lot by simply watching them play as well as talking to them – Blondie are such a friendly and approachable band.
You’ve been interviewing band members and Blondie’s crew for your FISHTALK video feature on your website. How did that come about?
Well it started as a joke really. We were trying to think of something that we could do and post for our fans every day on the tour and we just came up with this ‘silly question FISHTALK’ thing where we would ask everyone on the Blondie crew and band a question. We wanted to make it exciting for us and others and the aim was to end up asking a question to Debbie Harry – to make it a little like a treasure hunt. It was exciting and fun because we weren’t sure who would and who wouldn’t want to join in, but in the end, everyone did, the band and the crew. Everyone on the tour in the end knew what we were doing and really dug it.
Who are some of your favorite musicians/bands at the moment?
I am completely enamored by Jack White. All of his creative endeavors, from The White Stripes, to the Raconteurs and now The Dead Weather have been incredible. He is, to me, a visionary as well an incredible song-writer, musician and singer. All his projects are clever, cool and perfectly designed. Love his energy and again, his passion and commitment to what he does is astounding. I give him my utmost respect.
Rock and roll has become very mainstream over the last decade or two and has lost its sense of forbidden – where do you see the future of the genre?
I’m not sure about the future of rock n roll. In fact I am pretty concerned myself. I see more and more people who are just numbed out, people who don’t want to fight for what they believe and love – these are the foundations of rock n roll. I do however think that rock n rollers are loyal so the breed won’t die out too soon – but I do think that we have to fight to keep it alive.
Lastly, what is next for Little Fish?
We are really excited about our debut album, Baffled & Beat, which comes out on August the 16th. And well, apart from that, we look forward to driving up and down the country, playing shows and doing what we love the most, making music.
Daniel Alonso is a long-time Blondie fan and writer who recently interviewed Chris Stein for the cover story of the July 2010 issue of the Philadelphia music magazine Origivation. Daniel’s other work can be found on his blog and in the Arts and Culture section of awantedmag.com.