A straightforward, stadium-pleasing song by The Stereophonics is a perfect analogy for my life at Big Fish. It’s a classic driving tune.
At first, as the song gets going, there’s a straightforward, deceptively stripped back momentum. It is pure. Liberating, even. In my previous employment, corporate, cats-cradle complexity had bled the life out of me. This new sense of motoring, in a wood floored kitchen of a studio in Lots Road, was an absolute joy. The people were exceptional. We pulsed forward. Life seemed stripped back to the simple. There was discipline to the way that people worked, with a sense of suppressed excitement that anything – anything – could happen. I wasn’t in the slightest bit surprised when, every now and then, the whole thing opened up with a full throttle roar. This was a job with a throb.
The Stereophonics power on through Dakota with unstoppable momentum. One of the song’s great hooks is that its four progression chords have absolutely no idea of how to change direction, nor any intention whatsoever of actually changing. The metronomic synth under the verse is unstoppable. The time signature, if not exactly blitzkreig, is brisk. So much so that, when it’s all been going on for about six minutes or, in my case, four-and-a-half years, one is aware that the juggernaut has been thundering on for quite a long time and perhaps, now, it’s time for something else to happen.
In the closing, musical coda, when Kelly Jones swaggers into the chorus, blundering about at half speed, bellowing randomly as if gargling rivets, it becomes clear the conclusion is going to be a bit of a mess. The progression stops. The song grinds to a halt. All sense of forward direction evaporates. The tune, effectively, hits the buffers.
Perhaps my departure from Big Fish wasn’t entirely like that, but there are some close parallels. Nobody was hurt. Nothing really seismic happened. Except that my part was played out. It was the moment to throw my drumsticks into the crowd and wander off.
I should just conclude with two reassurances: a) I love the song Dakota (a zillion nights of very loud listening) and b), Big Fish was an incredibly enjoyable working experience on so many levels. It is an exceptional company. In the end, I guess it was just a timed visit.