The An Emotional Fish band, formed in Dublin in late 1988, is composed of 4 members:
GERARD WHELAN- vocals, percussion
DAVID FREW - guitars, vocals
ENDA WYATT - bass, vocals, keyboards
MARTIN MURPHY - drums, percussion
Lead singer Gerard Whelan and guitarist David Frew spent their teen years living in the same housing estate in Dublin, and attending the same school. "We always knew, somehow, that we would get a band together, " states Dave. "We had some kind of sixth sense."
David Frew, who had recently returned to Dublin to Find his bearings, bumped into Enda, a distant acquaintance, quite by chance. Frew was hired because he was very handsome, had wonderfully kept hair, and played lots of mean, blues-streaked guitar. Frew, whose influences included Steve Miller, early Bowie, and U2, picked up the guitar when he was 17. David Frew, a guitar player who didn't quite trust his own ability, had spent all of his life wandering. He'd lived in various tips in London, played in a German strip-club, and cut hair in Liverpool, Aberdeen, and Paris to buy bread and crisps.
Gerard Whelan, who loved Marc Bolan form T. Rex, was also influenced by Lou Reed, Patti Smith, The Doors, and especially Iggy Pop. "I like the aggression and dry wit in a lot of his songs, " Gerard explains. When he was 19, Gerard met Enda Wyatt, who was playing bass in a band that Gerard was trying out for. Gerard passed the audition, but "Enda and I left the band soon afterwards, " he explains. Previously, Gerard had laid bricks in London, slept rough in King's Cross, waited on filthy rich eighty-somethings in America, made cheap jewelry in Egypt and Iran, and was now back in Dublin and restless as hell.
They came together quite by accident when Gerard Whelan and Enda Wyatt decided that they had enough ideas in their heads, music in their hearts, and feel in their shoes for some songs and some innocent and inexpensive fun.
Filled up with lots of dreams, completely broke, and going nowhere fast, Enda had some guitars and was teaching English as a foreign language while trying to complete his first novel. Wyatt also knew someone with a four track recording machine. An Emotional Fish (AEF) were out of the starting blocks.
Enda turned Gerard on to a wide range of '60s rock, including early Stones, Canned Heat, and the 13th Floor Elevators. The two began writing songs on Enda's four-track tape recorder. They collaborated for a year, and the Gerard took some time off to travel, visiting Europe, Israel, Egypt and Greece. Upon Whelan's return, Frew joined the group, and the trio continued to write songs. "We had this drum machine that would drive us absolutely crazy" says Dave.
"We finally threw it out because we were sick of the noise it was making, " agrees Gerard. At the point the had already decided on a name, and they began to look for a drummer. "We had some great musicians up, but it just wasn't happening, you know, "says Gerard. Martin Murphy, the last Fish to be hauled on board, was a young drummer on the dole who was thinking of taking the next banana boat to England. David invited him to a rehearsal, and liked the fact that Murphy played too fast and too hard. With this addition, AEF's line-up was complete.
"When Martin came in, he was the quintessence of a fish! We just knew, because An Emotional Fish is someone who's real. It's about self-expression,really, and not fearing that expression and not being worried about being judged". It was the spring of '88 when drummer Martin Murphy came on board, and An Emotional Fish's line-up was complete. "A friend of ours had a small studio in Dublin and we went in to record a demo there, " says Gerard. "A few A&R men even came in from London to hear it before we had even started mixing".
In the spring of 1989, the group played a handful of live shows in Dublin and recorded a now-legendary demo-cassette for 75 pounds. The word got out. An Emotional Fish, with its dirty guitars and its elastic lead singer who sprayed his audience with party streamers and words about travel, space, people, trains, and traffic-lights, was happening.
Suddenly, the band was getting offers right and left, but wasn't sure which company to trust. At this point, Mother Records, the label formed by U2 to foster Irish bands, stepped in. "They heard about us and offered us a singles deal", Dave states. "That's why Mother was set up, as a stepping stone for bands like us".
Initially nurtured by U2's independent label, Mother Records, the band was subsequently inked by East West U.K., to make their worldwide premiere with the release of their self-titled debut album. Soon afterwards, the group was inked by Atlantic Records.