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Sponsor a Hook and Spot the Zebra!

Posted on: 22nd August 2018Peter Kirmond, saxophonist in 'Spot the Zebra', 1984. Photo courtesy of Fiona Maguire
The 'Spot the Zebra' Living Planet sleeve

Not the blog title you might expect from a website dedicated to longline fishing and seabird conservation….


However, Nottingham-based, 1980’s jazz octet Spot the Zebra and Hookpod have a link through Sir David Attenborough and crowdfunding which could result in saving hundreds of albatrosses in New Zealands fisheries. 


Thirty years ago, Spot the Zebra made an LP (this was even before the days of CDs, never mind iTunes, Spotify etc). Side A was entirely given over to part of a suite written by saxophonist Peter Kirmond and pianist Andy Moorhouse, for the 1985 Nottingham Fringe Festival and inspired by Sir David Attenborough’s 1983 natural history television series The Living Planet.


Every part was named after an episode of Attenborough’s series, each of which was dedicated to the exploration of a different natural habitat. The band are no longer sure quite how the TV series came to chosen as a theme, but Sir David was contacted and Peter still has letters from him, expressing his support and giving permission to use extracts from the text of his Living Planet book on the printed insert. 


The group raised money to make the record by selling copies in advance to friends, family, fans and sympathetic acquaintances (including singer David Essex, and the entire cast of a London theatre production), and everyone who bought an advance copy is listed by name on the back of the sleeve. This makes it one of the earliest crowdfunded projects long before ‘crowdfunding’ was even a word!


By 1986 band members were moving away to different parts of the country and the band split up leaving many of the LPs unsold.


Just a few weeks ago, Sir David also gave his support and helped promote the Hookpod to crowdfund over £72,000 to equip five Brazilian longliners with Hookpods. This project is now well under way with production of 6000 Hookpods commencing shortly to be delivered to Brazilian vessels later in the year. Skippers and vessels are lined up and ready to start using the Hookpods and stopping seabird bycatch. The power of crowdfunding in action today! 


In December last year, Peter saw a presentation on the Hookpod at the BTO conference given by Director David Agombar. He was impressed by the both design and simplicity of the Hookpod and the results for preventing seabird bycatch and wondered how he could help. 

Move forward to spring this year and by complete chance, Martin Lovegrove  (producer of DIG magazine, a magazine  for people who hunt out obscure vinyl recordings – ‘diggers’), happened to find a copy of the Spot the Zebra LP in the Marie Curie shop in Burton-on-Trent (for £1.50!). After contacting Peter, and following a front cover article in DIG, the remaining copies of the LP havebeen flying off the shelves with buyers from all over the world.

It seemed to Peter & Andy that this unexpected windfall ought to be used to ‘make a difference’ and that Hookpod (crowdfunding with a Sir David Attenborough connection) reflected the origins of the LP so well it seemed a natural choice and one that ex-band members and the original LP crowdfunders would thoroughly approve of. So, all proceeds from these recent sales have been given to sponsor over 300 hooks - providing a quarter of the Hookpods needed to completely equip a vessel in the seabird-rich waters off New Zealand. 

This is an amazing start to the new Sponsor a Hook campaign. We have a vessel ready and waiting in New Zealand to receive these Hookpods. The vessel is fishing in the West Coast bluefin tuna fishery, which is high risk for bird captures and according to NZ fisheries officers “near impossible to mitigate bycatch when setting”. During full moon periods, this fishery deploy all best mitigation gear and follow correct procedures, but still take multiple albatrosses. We want to raise money for 1200 Hookpods to virtually stop this onboard one vessel.

By sponsoring a hook for just £5, you can help send a Hookpod to New Zealand and prove that this device dramatically reduces bycatch when nothing else will work. 

The Spot the Zebra LP was pressed in a run of just 500 copies; around half were sold by the band as pre-sales or at gigs, while a few went to hand-picked shops. Most of the remaining copies were later thrown away though some (thankfully) were kept by Peter who could never quite bring himself to throw them all away. ‘An unusual and compelling recording, blending elements of the pastoral and modal tradition with a sophisticated take on fusion and combining the whole within a carefully arranged thematic suite, Spot the Zebra is a fascinating document - hidden away on a tiny private pressing, it is also an unsuspected missing link in the chain of British jazz composing.’

If you would like to get your hands on a copy you can do so by contacting Peter at kirmies@aol.com. As proceeds from LP sales are coming to Hookpod, it’s a unique way of saving the albatross and owning a small part of British Jazz history at the same time.