Time ago I wrote a piece about the band Tropical Fish Invasion on the blog. I really liked the few songs I have heard, and always wondered if their flexi that I own was missing a sleeve. There were many questions and this band remained very mysterious to me. Happily Cat got in touch and was very kind to answer all my questions about his band in the late 80s, early 90s. Here is the interview, hope you enjoy it!
++ Thanks so much Cat for getting in touch and being up for the interview! I know so little from the band, so let’s start! I had the idea the band hailed from Derby, but you are based now in Nottingham, right? Where was the band from?
The band was mainly based out of Derby but we did all move to Nottingham in 1991
++ When did the band start? Who were the members and how did you all know each other?
The original band (The Pink Sugar Cube Boogies) formed in 1985/1986. The driving force behind it was Matty Pearson – a larger than life character who once went to a ladies hairdressers in Heanor and asked for a ‘monk cut’ – which was literally having a bald patch shaved into the top of his head to look like a Benedictine Monk because he thought it would be a good look for a party we were attending that night. I was mightily impressed by this rather committed fashion gesture and soon became his disciple!
++ Have you been involved in bands before?
This was my first official band but I’d always been drawn to performing from a young age. At the age of 5 my teacher used to make me stand up in front of the class and sing to everyone. I used to love it and never felt shy or embarrassed. I also sang in a couple of choirs at school but The Pink Sugar Cube Boogies opened up a new world to me and writing songs with my best friends was the best thing in the world.
++ Where does the band name come from? It’s such a good name!
After leaving college we decided to get serious with band and renamed it Mr Cinzano and Tropical Fish Invasion and moved to Nottingham (we eventually dropped the Mr Cinzano – I can’t remember why). The name was inspired by our love of Tropical fish, the beautiful colours and what they represented, freedom to move in beautiful waters in some of the finest locations of the world. I guess it brought a bit of glamour and relief to intercity living at the peak of Thatcher’s reign over the UK. We eventually moved to Derby where we developed a really good following.
++ And I have to ask, even if it’s a bit silly, did any of you had pet fish?
++ What sort of music were you listening at the time? Who would you say were influences for the Tropical Fish Invasion?
Our influences were wide: 60’s psychedelia, Frank Sinatra (Witchcraft) Dean Martin, James Brown, Sliced Tomatoes by Terry, Divine, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Hendrix, early B52s, Stan Getz, Astrud Gilberto, Nick Drake, Ella Fitzgerald
++ Were there any like-minded bands in your area that you were into?
There were some great bands that we were fortunate to play with, these include The Moonflowers (supported twice) and The Frauds (from Leicester)
++ There’s this flexi with the song “La Di Da”. Was it self-released? Did it have a proper picture sleeve?
Yes the flexi was self-released on our own ‘Octypurple’ label. We had 1000 singles pressed and I probably have a few hundred left in my garage somewhere. We never created a proper picture sleeve as we didn’t have enough money. I think I may have funded the whole thing myself!
++ I love this song, so I wonder if you could tell me the story behind it?
The song has a simple message about positivity and how to remain positive when things take a turn for the worse – just take a look around (take stock of everything and find the positives) . It’s also about love and friendship – you might have material wealth or nice things but what’s the point if you don’t have any friends or loved ones to hang out with.
++ The catalog number was OCTY 6-5000. Does that have any meaning?
++ The other song I know from you is also great, “Ring a Ding”, that was on the “Seahorses” tape compilation. Do you remember how you ended in there?
Ring-a -ding is one of my favourites and was a homage to Frank Sinatra. I can’t remember how exactly we got onto that compilation but at the time there were many talented and dedicated people travelling to gigs, writing reviews and creating fanzines and putting compilations together. We would have met at a gig, had a few drinks and passed on a tape to them.
++ You were telling me that you recorded many more songs. Do you remember how many demo tapes you released?
++ And from all your repertoire, which one was your favourite song?
My favourite changes all the time, at the moment it’s Ring-a-Ding.
++ What about gigs? Did you play live a lot? Any favourite or not too favourite gigs that you remember?
++ During the late 80s, early 90s, there were a lot of guitar pop bands in the UK. Was wondering if you ever felt part of a scene there?
++ What about press? Did you get coverage? Radio? What about fanzines?
++ And then when and why did the band split? What did you guys do after?
I guess we split due to the usual and predictable differences
++ Are you all still in touch? Are you still making music today?
++ Looking back, what would you say are your happiest memories, the highlight of being in the Tropical Fish Invasion?
My happiness memories of a time when only music mattered – whether it was writing songs, rehearsing, performing – the whole creative process. Having this process validated through positive audience reactions and getting approached by young ladies was also a very positive outcome!
++ Let’s wrap it here, but before we go, why don’t you tell us about Nottingham a bit. If one was to visit, what are the sights or the places one shouldn’t miss?
++ Thanks again so much Cat! Anything else you’d like to add?
No – I think that’s covered it all. Good to talk with you Roque and thanks for keeping the memory of the Tropical Fish alive!