Robert Fisher from the Willard Grant Conspiracy died of cancer this weekend just gone. This news is sad as fuck, basically.
I am going to be brief here as I didn’t in all truth know Robert all that well, so I don’t want to tread on the toes of people with deeper relationships with him, but he was incredibly nice to me at times when he didn’t have to be and his songs are on the next record we are releasing, so I didn’t feel I could let it pass without just adding a little.
With the Willard Grant Conspiracy I am not one of those stereotypical fundamentalist fans who was a fan from the start and dislikes their recent or their popular stuff. In fact I reckon their last album was their best – just an absolutely fantastic piece of work – and I only actually got into them with the release of Regard the End back in about 2003 or 2004 or so, before going back to explore their entire back catalogue. But once I found them, I absolutely loved them, and I threw myself instantly into digging out everything they’d released.
In 2008, a few years after starting the blog which grew into this label, Robert was the first person I ever interviewed. I was a complete rookie, with no experience and no training, and I can only assume I must have made a pretty shitty fist of it, but he was so patient with my incoherent mumbling, taking the time to turn bad questions into good ones, and keeping the conversation ticking over in such a gentle, friendly way that to this day his graciousness and generosity stay with me.
I knew his music inside out of course, and was clearly a massive fan, so maybe that’s why he was so generous about the whole thing. But maybe he was just a really nice guy.
I went to every WGC show I could after that of course, as I would have anyway, from the Queen’s Hall to the Fringe to Sneaky Pete’s, and he always had time to say hello and shoot the breeze for a few minutes, no matter how busy he was.
Then a couple of years ago the band were coming through Scotland again – Robert with Jonah Sacks on cello and David Curry on viola – and I thought I would chance my arm and ask if they wanted to record some songs for a Split 12″. The band said yes, and for a couple of days they stayed with us, relaxed, ate nice food, and recorded eight incredible tracks in The Happiness Hotel in those gloriously sunny days you often get in September in Leith.
They didn’t need to do this, they just wanted to, and all three of them were such a pleasure to work with and we had such a nice time, talking about recording methods, about the music industry and just generally chattering about any old shit that it will forever remain one of my favourite memories of working in music, no matter what I go on to do in the future.
So that’s it, really. I loved his music, and he was always such a nice guy, generous with his time and attention, encouraging of everything I’ve tried to do with Song, by Toad… it’s just sad as fuck, really.
Meursault – Klopfgeist from Song, by Toad on Vimeo. This is out today! Klopfgeist, the first single from the new Meursault album is released today, and the album is due in a couple of weeks, on the 27th. We’ve got an amazing all-day album launch extravaganza planned for Summerhall on the 25th to celebrate the […]
Never let it be said that this record label is all boorish drunks and ramshackle amateurs, because we aren’t. Well, I am, but not everyone I work with is. The Food Of Love Project, for example, is a compilation album featuring renditions and re-imaginings of various songs and poems that appeared or were referenced in the […]
Meursault – Klopfgeist from Song, by Toad on Vimeo. Above is the video for Klopfgeist – the first single from the new Meursault album I Will Kill Again. The launch party is an all-day event at Summerhall called ‘Song, by Toad’s Granfalloon’, with a Granfalloon being defined by Kurt Vonnegut, who coined the phrase, as […]
Swimming from Modern Studies on Vimeo. Modern Studies are heading off on tour with King Creosote at the end of this week. They have half a dozen shows around the country before coming back to Glasgow to play a Celtic Connections show with our pals Tissø Lake. Jan 20th (supporting King Creosote), Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool […]
I am not going to harp on much about the disaster that was 2016, partly because celebrities dying doesn’t strike me as something much to get worked up about, sad as it is, and partly because for all the political disasters we have suffered, if they are anything like as bad as we think they […]
Yes, we have a double A-side Christmas single with Jonnie Common and eagleowl featuring two songs based around the plot of The Greatest Christmas Story Ever Told (TM) (Die Hard, obvs) and yes we’re releasing it as a hand-made snow globe containing Lego John McClane. Of course we are. And because we have all (except Canada) […]
Meursault – Simple Is Good trailer from Song, by Toad on Vimeo. After a couple of years in the wilderness Meursault are back with a new EP called Simple is Good, available as of now from Song, by Toad Records on digital or as a CD in a variety of brightly coloured hand-printed sleeves. We recorded […]
Split 12″ Vol.5 – Eskimeaux, Furnsss, Small Wonder, Beach Moon Peach Moon from Song, by Toad on Vimeo. Welcome to the first and only release on Toad Flake Paint Records, the New York Split 12″ Tom and I curated and which I recorded with my brother when I was out in Red Hook, Brooklyn with […]
Eef Barzelay Toad Session from Song, by Toad on Vimeo. We have an absolute ton of gigs coming up in November, so I thought I should probably write them down in one handy list so you can decide what you want to come to and what you can’t be arsed with. They’re all at our […]
Virgin of the Birds new album Secret Kids is out now, and can be purchased from our webshop here. There are two singles, Spooky, Stony, Barely Over Thirty which you can hear above, and Victor Bockris which is embedded below. The two songs showcase the sort of breadth of Jon Rooney’s songwriting gifts, and his […]