Involving Music


It’s our pleasure to introduce you to “NO ORDINARY FISH”.

“no ordinary fish” is an Exeter-based 4-piece original pop/rock band. 
Stu: drums/vox, Debbie: guitars/vox, Gary: bass, Rich: guitars. 

They formed in 2018 after Stu and Debbie spent some years playing as an acoustic duo, then got the boys in to enrich the sound.  Of course, Stu then needed to switch from guitar to drums but still sings (he’s a big fan of singing drummers… Don Henley and Taylor Hawkins… to name but a few).  Their style is eclectic, ranging from 60s pop to 90s rock… blues, country… in thrall to the timeless classic hits such as Crowded House, Blur and Fleetwood Mac.  Their songs are crafted tastefully, and they love singing melodic and catchy harmony vocals.  Gary adds beautifully creative basslines, and the guitars are balanced out for maximum warmth.

Their USP is that they are “not exactly teenagers”…. And how many singing drummers do you know with Multiple Sclerosis?  There is a good-sized audience for people who want to hear great original songs played well. The band’s debut album, “… Start,” and second album, “Adverse Camber”, are out now on all online shops and streaming sites, including Bandcamp.  They wrote and produced the 2nd album themselves at home.  With tight live playing, beautiful and tasteful boy-girl vocal harmonies, and great catchy tunes, they are ready to show the world what good music sounds like!

 “no ordinary fish” have played several local festivals in the last few years including Thorfest and recently released their 2nd album “Adverse Camber” via a very well-received live gig at Exeter Phoenix. The band has also had lots of radio plays, plus a few live interviews. Both albums are available on all streaming sites or via the links here (plus CDs for the new album and merch).  Gigs are rapidly booking up for 2024, including Exeter Respect FestivalExeter Fest, and a live session at HMV Exeter.

Photo Credit: Gerry Morrish Photography

Band Members:

Stu Pearce: drums/vox
Debbie Pearce: guitars/vox
Gary McMullen: bass
Rich Booth: guitars

Photo Credit: @momentstomedia

Where are you from? / Where are you based now?:

Stu: born in Cyprus, brought up in Cyprus, Malta and Taunton, went to Exeter Uni, moved away, came back because Exeter is ACE!  He taught Physics at an 11-18 school near Exeter for 16 years and played in loads of pub and wedding cover bands for about 10 years, as well as numerous other fun musical projects, including theatre.  He currently volunteers for a number of charities, including Exeter Food Action, where he is occasionally allowed to drive a big white van.

Debbie: born in London, brought up in North Devon, lived in Dorset.  Stu & Deb have lived in a village near Exeter for the last 16 years.  She worked at the Met Office and has worked with the police before starting a gardening business. Both Stu and Debbie contribute a lot to their local community, e.g. cooking charity fundraising dinners.

Gary: has lived in Exeter all his life. He works in technical support for the Police.  He also plays in 2 cover bands: Static Charge and Better Luck Next Time and “no ordinary fish” is his outlet for creativity via his songwriting and arranging.  He has 2 great kids and is about to take on the biggest responsibility of his entire life: adopting a rabbit.

Rich:  from Leeds, as demonstrated by his accent.  We do not hold this against him as he is a good man, plus we are an inclusive band.  He is CEO of a hi-tech thermal solution company, so he is literally the coolest guy in the band and has the thermal data to prove it.

Photo Credit: @momentstomedia

Musical Influences:

Too many – all ideas are brought to the table, and it would probably be easier to list the genres that we’re not particularly into, e.g. Aleutian Nose Flute music, Nintendocore and Swedish Funeral Death Metal.

Stu: Rush, Yes, REM, 70s classic pop&rock, loads of indie pop like the Shins.  

Debbie: Bowie, Crowded House, Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell, Bobby Gentry.

Gary: It Bites, The Police, Queen.

Rich: Little Angels, Rolling Stones, Dinosaur Jr, Charlatans, Stone Roses.

Photo Credit: @momentstomedia

In your own words:

Only a small fraction of the acts we love consciously influence this project. We aim to write songs that are well-crafted and catchy and would appeal to the mainstream without trying too hard to be “trendy”.  The genres are eclectic and include jangle pop, shoegaze, and Beatles-style.  1st album had more songs with a slightly alt-country sound, 2nd album has some more songs that are punchy and immediate “power pop” with more of a 90s feel.

About the latest release:

“Adverse Camber” was written and recorded in the shadow of COVID, bereavement and Stu’s Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis and subsequent loss of his 25-year teaching career.  Unlike the 1st album “…press start” which amalgamated songs written by Debbie and Stu and demoed over 20 odd years, this one was written with a view to create more “radio pop-friendly” songs, though with no compromise on what we would actually listen to ourselves.  Also, on this album the other (ie non-Stu & Debbie) members of the band had more input into every song’s structure and Gary wrote Confusion, Rich wrote “Back to ‘91”.  Stu learnt how to use music software to record the band, sometimes remotely, and produce it.  Final mixing and mastering was done by the wonderful Duncan Chave.

What inspired the latest release:

We knew we were onto something with the 1st album but couldn’t promote it as Stu was suddenly hospitalised the week the album came out.  Upon his recovery, it was decided that the 2nd album was necessary to help us focus during hard times and make the most of our sound.  We did very few gigs to promote the 1st album, but the feedback from the audience was impressive.  Quality not quantity at that point, but the impetus was there to make a “proper” go of it and make a collection of songs that we could promote and gig to a wider audience.  Cue a change in guitarist (the old one didn’t share our ambition) – when Rich arrived (we found him on Gumtree- no lie!!), he brought a level of musicianship, commitment, drive and quality ideas that lifted the band significantly.  Even though he is from Yorkshire, we welcomed him into our band, and he’s probably going to be kept on past his probationary period…… 

We are ready to record the next 4 songs, which are absolute class, and we can’t wait to unleash them!  This time, we are using engineers and producers to do the heavy lifting, both to speed up the process and ensure a better quality sound.

Photo Credit: Ian Poole Photography

Quickfire Questions

If you’re on the road…

The weirdest gig you’ve ever played happened

  • The Beer Engine, headlining a festival.  We thought the lights in the beer tent would be sufficient, but on watching the video recording, the band gradually disappeared into darkness.  We have since invested in some stage lighting.

The place with the best bathroom graffiti is…

  • Exeter Phoenix, stickers on the urinal lighting are the best way to find out about current local acts.

The best part of performing live is the feeling of…

  • taking something you have created and revealing it to the world.  Pride in sharing creative accomplishments. Sense of community within the band and between the group and audience.  Our album launch at Exeter Phoenix was the most rewarding gig that Stu has played yet (over 1000 gigs with various bands)

How you prepare for a show….

  • Get there early, stay sober, make sure we are rehearsed and hydrated, soundcheck is SOOO important and skimping on this is an insult to the audience.  We are planning to use yoga, breathing and tai-chi techniques plus herbal tea to adequately prepare.  Or maybe not.

The place with the best bathroom graffiti is…

Tell us about an independent eatery in Exeter you love.

Shout out to a local business in Exeter and why..

  • Bomba for putting on great bands and having a cool atmosphere.
  • Thorverton Arms for hosting a lovely open mic night plus superb food and landlord/lady.
  • @100 Café Crediton for their acoustic open mic, which has a super-welcoming “Greenwich Village” feel.

Photo Credit: @momentstomedia

What’s the best attraction/place to visit/hang out in Exeter?

  • Exeter Phoenix has so many good events that it’s hard to attend them all – band gigs, cinema, comedy, talks, workshops, quality bar including chilled outdoor seating.
  • Cavern for both up-and-coming bands and established legends.
  • Cathedral Green – lots of independent cafes and a relaxed place to just sit and chill for a bit.  The Cathedral itself is being used for more and more musical events.
  • Quayside – picturesque, great antiques shop (lots of historical postcards sorted by region).
  • Anywhere in Gandy Street – how could we ignore the original Harry Potter street?  Medieval architecture, hipster businesses, including Red Panda Café for bao buns and tasty salads.
  • Topsham Brewery/Taphouse on Exeter Quay – great for hipster ale and open mics.
  • Can we mention Comptoir Libanais? A chain of Lebanese restaurants but also one of the tastiest eateries with excellent service. The lager is superb!
  • Picturehouse Cinema – lovely independent vibe (even though it’s a chain).

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