Street Date:
August 31, 2001
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Product Overview

Patience, skill, perseverance…the hallmarks of a good fisherman – or a great acoustic pop vocal group.

It’s not really surprising that a group from Minnesota, the land of ten thousand lakes, would end up calling itself Go Fish. But the origin of the name doesn’t come from the trio’s home state, rather from one of Jesus’ earliest commands. The Bible tells us that as He was gathering his disciples, He said to Simon and his brother Andrew, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)

And the men in Go Fish, Jamie Statema, Andy Selness and Jason Folkmann, have done just that. They’ve followed in the teachings of their Savior, all the while gathering fans of their vocal-driven acoustic pop. Now they get the chance to take that challenge to a higher level with the release of their inpop Records debut project Infectious.

Fans of Go Fish, who helped the group sell more than 100,000 copies of their three independent releases, will notice a bit of a change in the sound of the group they’ve come to know and love - things like…guitars…a tad more percussion…and some electronics and samples, courtesy of producer Todd Collins (dcTalk, Katinas). Such a change may not be as noticeable for other groups, but the music that has garnered Go Fish such a devoted following in the Midwest was primarily an a cappella affair.

“I had the idea for the group in ’95, started it in ’96. The whole idea was to do something different, musically different,” says Statema. “We wanted to focus on vocals, so that’s why we started out as an a cappella group.”

“We did a cappella for many years, and people really enjoyed it, but all of us wanted to eventually add a band,” Folkmann says. “A cappella music, in the past, has gotten us into some opportunities we wouldn’t have had, but it’s also kept us out of some things.”

What Infectious does is expand the work of the talented vocal trio, combing the best of the base of what they honed over the past half-decade with the extra flavor Collins’ understated, yet tasty, production provides.

It also gives them the chance to reinvent some material they’ve been kicking around for years, such as the crowd favorite “You’re My Little Girl.” “The song was written for a girl after her parents went through a divorce,” Statema says. “It comes from God’s point of view to her, and out of all the songs we’ve done, that one’s gotten the biggest reaction. It’s a song that really seems to stick with people right away.

“There are two songs on this record that we took from our very first independent release and re-worked. As for me, I was so unbelievably excited in the studio, because after five years of singing a song one way, I’m finally hearing it fully fleshed-out,” he notes. “It’s like, ‘Yes! That’s what I wanted from the beginning!’ Songwriting-wise it hasn’t been that much different, but arranging-wise it’s been a lot more fun.”

As the Go Fish cottage industry grew into a full-fledged phenomenon in the Midwest, with the group’s record sales easily outdistancing many established Christian music artists in the region, it finally became the right time for the troupe to align themselves with a label partner. Enter inpop Records.“We reached a point where we were doing so much on the business side that it started to become overwhelming, so it was the perfect time to start this working relationship with inpop and get the help of a label,” Statema says. “We were dealing with 300-400 bookstores on our own, distributors, booking - all of those things.

“It’s been great to find inpop, because they really believe in what we’re doing and saw how it was working in the Midwest. So, hopefully we’ll be able to expand upon that.”

With the label partnership in place, it allowed the members of Go Fish to concentrate on crafting their new sound, which manifests itself on Infectious. Of course, the basis of any good musical transition is always found in the songs themselves.

“Our whole focus on this record was the songs. We wanted songs that we liked and that we believed in. We wrote or co-wrote nine of the 10 songs on there,” Statema says. “It definitely represents us and who we are, and if it’s a good song, I don’t think people care if it’s a cappella or not. I don’t think it’s an issue.”

The songs on Infectious draw from many a well for inspiration. There’s a certain familiar air to the album’s tracks, hearkening back to the locked-tight vocal group sounds that wafted across the landscape of ’70s radio like the Eagles and BeeGees, as well as modern day BBMak. At the same time they reflect more contemporary influences, befitting of young men growing up in the last decade of the 20th century.

“All three of us have so many different influences as far as what we listen to. For 18 years of my life, I grew up in rural Iowa and all I heard was country music,” Folkmann says. “Jamie was a child of ‘80s rock ‘n’ roll, Andy listened to everything. Before long, each of us listened to the others’ music. There are so many influences flying through our music…rock, country, a cappella…there are all kinds of flavors running through it.” All are factors which should impress the new audience which will be exposed to Go Fish’s music, as well as satisfy the fans that already embraced the trio’s previous efforts.

“We do have some people in our fan base who are a little skeptical about the change in direction. But for the most part, there’s been a lot of excitement over what they’ve been hearing,” Selness says. “I think they’re gonna love it either way, because they’re not necessarily in it just for the sound or the style, but because they relate to us in some way. We’ve got a very active website. We’re on email virtually every day. Hopefully they feel like they’re an important part of what we do because they definitely are!”

Even with all the changes going on in the creative aspects of their lives, the men of Go Fish have remained steadfast in their desire to communicate the Gospel through their music and know that this new chapter is simply the next step in what God has planned for their lives, both professionally and personally.

“God’s timing is always perfect, much better than ours. Starting this group, my timeline would’ve been way different for something like this to happen. But it’s been good because we had to take those years and really learn the business for ourselves,” Statema says. “I think that really helps us, because now we’re at a better place to handle this than if it would have happened five years ago.

“That’s why, even with the musical change, none of us are really nervous about it, because it has seemed like a very natural progression. God just keeps opening up doors and we’re just hanging on for the ride.”