‘Do you know April Fish?' someone asked me in a chat room the other day.
‘Yes,' I lied. ‘I know them.'
Truth be told, I don't know April Fish. I know they exist, I know of them, but know them? No.
Avant garde, proto-punk anarchist musical duo from Wellington. She plays the keys and he plays the Warr. Their music is weird.
But that's not really the story, is it?
Let me put it this way. I know them in the same way that I know that Kennedy was shot in ‘63, or that transmissions were detected from Gliese 832 in ‘86, or that Britney went mad and shaved her head in ‘07.
I know all about April Fish.
Which means I know nothing at all.
Everyone talks. The what and the where and 'facts'. Everyone thinks they know these sorts of things, these things that occupy the strange space between the spiritual and the spectacle, the real and the not-so-much; everyone has an opinion, but no-one really knows.
Because you just can't grasp these things, really, and certainly you can't understand this band in those inane, pedestrian terms.
My life has, in a way, been bisected by April Fish. Let me put it another way: There was the time before I'd heard those strange, tempestuous jazz meltdowns, that delicate disjointed clang, and then there was everything that came after.
And like exposure to a wet sneeze in the isolation ward, or the blessed loss of one's virginity, you're changed, for better or worse, by the event. You just can't help it.
I never heard how they met, those two, but I fancy I know.
It was one of those strange Wellington city nights when the insane wind howls in the streets, the sound of the full moon echoing off the concrete like some pyrexia dream. When the new drunks, thinking themselves invisible, spill into and out of the tacky bars on Courtenay Place; when the beautifully unhinged of Cuba Mall find and lose one another in the ether of the alleyways.
I can imagine Katie, a sharp-toothed bluebird, leaning into the wind, her sweet skull heavily pregnant with those disobedient harmonies, already fully-formed, so riotous and so impatient to be born.
And I can imagine John, standing in the eave of some building somewhere, centuries of strange inversions whirling in his dark eyes, flicking his cigarette and muttering an oath against the night, and the night receding accordingly.
I can see the two of them, separate, but somehow synchronized, coming closer together, their own peculiar meters beating louder and louder as they near, knowing, somehow, the other is approaching, knowing that the syncopated rhythms that seemed for so long to be arbitrary are nearing their downbeat, nearing some great revelation, the sudden realization that the whole thing is somehow premeditated, perfect.
But that's just me and what do I know? For all I know they met at art school. Or in a petri dish.
Research them yourself, if you want, but I doubt it will do any good. I don't know April Fish and I don't think anyone does. I don't think anyone can.
But having said that, don't let me, of all people, discourage you. Because maybe you'll succeed where us
others failed. By all means, set off in search of this thing called April Fish.
Close the curtains, turn it up and listen. But don't blame me if,
later that night, with some vaguely-remembered tantrum still
humming in your ears, you look in the mirror and don't quite
recognize what you see.
April Fish is real, I know that much.
Everything else, however, is now very much in question.
Morgan Hopkins, November 2008