Passionate, Political, Purposeful. Most of all, Performer. John Watts is Fischer-Z.

A musical concept and creative vehicle that has had many incarnations. Both a solo performer and in various band configurations and collaborations over the years John’s career includes over 25 original albums, over 3000 concerts worldwide and album sales in excess of 2 million.

Fischer-Z are legendary in continental Europe, where in-the-know audiences turn out for Watts’ pointed political commentary coupled with his high-energy and engaging performances, all set to memorable melodies and crucial rhythms. John’s acknowledged abilities have led to collaborations and performances with a wide range of other musicians, including Peter Gabriel and Steve Cropper and Fischer-Z have shared stages with The Police, Dire Straits, Bob Marley and James Brown.

Fischer-Z originally developed in punk clubs while Watts was still studying clinical psychology and working in psychiatric hospitals, experiences which have provided insight and material for his music over the years.  

The first Fischer-Z album, Word Salad, was released in 1979 by United Artist and become something of a cult record which gave a taste of the politics to come with the single “Remember Russia”.  The second album, Going Deaf For a Living, firmly established Watts’ ability to convey worldly political issues in narrative songs against a background of quirky pop music. Several appearances on The Old Grey Whistle Test followed as well as a Top of the Pops appearance with the hugely successful European single, The Worker.  The single, So Long, was one of the first featured on the fledgling MTV. 

Fischer-Z’s European success was cemented with the million selling Red Skies Over Paradise, which included tracks that were a heady mix of scathing commentary (Battalions of Strangers, Cruise Missiles) and poignant love songs (Marliese).  Watts recently toured Europe, playing this album in full to sell-out audiences in Germany and the Netherlands.

Watts then disbanded the original Fischer-Z line-up, feeling the band had drifted too far from their original art punk ideals. Watts then produced several solo albums, all deeply influenced by the political events of the time.  His song, Dark Crowds of Englishmen, is about the miners’ strike and the disappearance of a way of life.

Watts then reformed Fischer-Z with a new line up and had major successes with The Perfect Day, based on lonely-hearts and Say No, a call to arms for the poor and powerless. Audiences continued to turn out for that wonderful combination of hard political commentary balanced by warm, lyrical love songs grounded in Watts’ humorous real-life observations and experiences. 

He returned to his solo career with  Thirteen Stories High, a hugely admired indie-guitar style album.   This period marks the further development of Watts’ career as he branched out to combine poetry, prose and song lyrics with a DJ and beats. An era of multimedia projects began with Ether Music and Film, recorded internationally with musicians in the streets and in their own homes using only his laptop. The project was filmed and released as an album and DVD. Several powerful albums following, including It Has To Be which consisted of tunes drawn from interactions with strangers sharing life experiences and including poems and short stories in the packaging. The This is My Universe album brings together his music, poetry and philosophy of life  to great dynamic effect as he casts a dark and rueful eye over love and marriage  in the pop single, Just a Man, and creates a manifesto for the proactive and genuine romantic in Just Like Justice.

2017 was a milestone in the Fischer-Z journey – the 40th anniversary of the band’s first show and the release of a 20th studio album, Building Bridges, pulling together Fischer-Z in a continuous timeline from 1977. This marked something of a renaissance for the band, with Fischer-Z selling out large venues across Europe

Whilst the pandemic put just about everything on pause, Watts and the band created a new album, Til the Oceans Overflow. It was started by Watts in Berlin with the band contributing via the internet to the production.

2022 saw the return of Fischer-Z to major European venues, both in the guise of Fischer-Z Solo as well as a fully formed band, consisting of John Watts as Lead Singer and Guitarist, Sin Banovic on drums, Adrien Rodes on keyboards, Marian Menge on guitar and Dave Purdye on Bass.

“There will be two Fischer-Z albums released in 2024 representing both sides of John Watts’ same Fischer-Z coin. Both deal with the song subjects close to John’s heart : people, politics and psychology, set against very different musical canvases.

The first is a band album ‘Triptych’ which will be promoted across the EU by a band tour in spring 2024. The second is an alternative collection of songs in a more radical form.

A second 4 Track Triptych EP featuring a radio single ‘A Plea’ (which deals with the sacrifice of young soldiers in the name of their warmongering leaders) will be released early in February this year.”

Always evolving and developing, Watts continues to tour as Fischer-Z in both forms and also exploring new and innovative collaborations. 

Want to know more?

Saturday aug 24, 2024


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Thomas Dolby

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