- 09 Sep 21
This project has been part-funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, from the Live Performance Support Scheme.
Hot Press has curated an exclusive interview between Irish radio DJ Keith Walsh and legendary musician Jerry Fish ahead of his Judge Roy Beans gig in Newbridge.
The acclaimed veteran singer took to the stage at the Kildare venue with pianist Max Greenwood, and immediately set the tone for a vibrant set. Jerry Fish is the alter ego of musician and record producer Gerard Whelan, who also leads the band An Emotional Fish. The performer founded an independent record label and the band Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club - an eclectic, roots collective of musicians, friends and songs inspired in part by a musical circus troupe from Barcelona, the movie soundtracks of Quentin Tarantino and the music of New York City artists Lou Reed, Marc Ribot and Willy DeVille.
Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club released the debut album Be Yourself in September 2002 and had a top ten hit in Ireland with the song 'True Friends'. The Mudbug Club toured the album in Ireland and the UK throughout the early noughties and became a festival favourite - playing Glastonbury Festival, The Isle of Wight Festival, V Festival, T in the Park, Oxegen and The Electric Picnic.
In 2004, Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club recorded and released a live album and DVD Live at The Spiegeltent - floating on The River Liffey, as part of The Dublin Fringe Festival. Five years later, the band released The Beautiful Untrue featuring guest vocals from rockabilly singer Imelda May and indie singer Carol Keogh.
Speaking to Keith Walsh ahead of the Kildare show, Jerry touched on life in the countryside, his lockdown experience with a 1970s caravan and seeking out that much-needed family time.
"As it went on, it was a bit of a rollercoaster," the musician tells Walsh. "We all had this feeling of 'Is this ever going to end?'. Basically, I have dropped out of music before and I took the opportunity to drop out again because I didn't like a lot of the online stuff. I didn't see why we were giving away free gigs after the trouble that giving away free music got us in, you know? I couldn't understand how you could tour. I make my bread and butter from a lot of small Irish theatres. How do you tour Wexford and Waterford by livestreaming? It's not possible. I got stuck into building projects, basically."
During Covid-19 pandemic, Jerry Fish turned a barn into a small theatre using seven tonnes of concrete to keep his mind occupied. He tells Keith about his love of circus and side show, theatrical performances, drag art and getting a band like Ash booked for his festival gigs.
"The stranger you are, the more welcome you are. In 2020, I was in the process of creating Fish Town for Electric Picnic. I want to have my own law there, like Pony Girls as the police force. I like creating a festival within a festival. I've no laminates to go backstage or whatever. It's a safe space for artists to hang out."
"Fame doesn't sit well with me," he says candidly, focusing on Gerard Whelan versus his stage moniker. "It's a very good idea to have an alter ego. I guess I'm quite shy a lot of the time to be honest. Again, a lot of artists are. There's an extreme introvert and an extrovert side, there's an insecure side of you too that craves a round of applause. I have more fun with an alter ego. Being Jerry Fish 24/7 would be a nightmare. You can't keep this shit up."
He also expands on his time of playing in a punk band, learning his craft and performing with his idols.
Launching into his setlist at Judge Roy Beans, Jerry Fish opened with Daniel Johnston’s ‘Story Of An Artist’ which he performed with emotion, and crisp, tender vocals – before moving into ‘Hell Or Heaven Sent’, which showcased Jerry's diverse vocals, switching between raspy and smooth textures.
He went on to sing a rendition of ‘True Love Will Find You In The End,’ another Johnston song, which was the highlight of his set, before he concluded with Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club hit, ‘True Friends'.
The full gig will be made available on the Judge Roy Beans YouTube channel soon. Make sure you stay tuned to hotpress.com for updates, reports and photo galleries from Judge Roy Beans' Summer of Music 2021 series!
Check out the full interview below, plus a special performance:
Take a look at Judge Roy Beans' upcoming line-up below:
Saturday, September 11: The Pale
Friday, September 17: The Frank & Walters (acoustic)
Friday, September 24: Sounds From Home (showcasing local music) – featuring Appo & The Disappointments and In The Space Between
Saturday, September 25: Mack Fleetwood
Saturday, October 2: Kíla
Tickets are on sale now from ticketstop.ie.