Home Live For Live Music Trey Anastasio Discusses Phish’s Longevity, Grateful Dead Comparisons, Sobriety, More With ‘New...

Trey Anastasio Discusses Phish’s Longevity, Grateful Dead Comparisons, Sobriety, More With ‘New York Times Magazine’

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In a new interview with New York Times Magazine, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio discusses jam bands, Phish’s longevity, comparisons to the Grateful Dead, Phish’s fan base, what success means, sobriety, and much more. Here’s a few of the best snippets from Trey’s recent interview with New York Times Magazine:

On whether there will continue to be new jam bands:

Trey: “I’m going to tread lightly around this. Will there continue to be jam bands? If people look backward, there won’t. If people start writing new music using the language of improvisation, sure. But if you’re just celebrating something that happened in 1970, it’s got to die.”

“I had dinner with a young band. I’m not going to say their name. We had this big dinner, and I said, ‘Who’s your favorite band?’ They were naming these ’70s bands. This nostalgia thing going on in the whole music scene, it’s killing me. Anderson .Paak and Kendrick Lamar and people like that are moving forward. I also like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard a lot. They’re not a jam band, but they love the act of creation, and you can feel it. But, God, of all the people to be talking about nostalgia: Trey from the hippie band. Maybe that’s why I’m grappling with this. I’m feeling the needle pointing a little bit backward.”

On Phish’s rise to the top and becoming a big business:

Trey: “Look, people came from the beginning, but the bigness existed outside of my personal sphere. I still don’t believe that it’s big. My life isn’t big. I’ve been married for 25 years. I have my kids. I’ve gotten comfortable with the bigness now because we have a healthy understanding of what’s real, but it was tricky for a while.”

On whether there’s a “dream concept” for a Phish concert:

Trey: “When we were younger, our dream-concert idea was ridiculous. Part of the idea involved not wanting it to be taped because we wanted everyone to be in the moment. So we were going to dangle cassette tapes with fishing poles just out of the audience’s reach. Now the dream is that you’d walk in and there’d be 10,000 massage tables and people walking around with herbal tea and bowls of fruit salad. The sound would be perfect. Everyone would have their own private bathroom. There’d be enough room to dance and no one squishing into your space. Endless supplies of really good coffee.”

On drugs’ effect on the music:

Trey: “Mistakenly, I thought it was making me work harder: Now I can stay up three more hours and do more work! I can have five bands instead of three! These are the lies you tell yourself. So was it useful? Nah. I hate all that stuff.”

“Acid — none of that was a problem. The problem was when hard things came around. Now I don’t do anything except coffee.”

On comparisons between Phish and the Grateful Dead:

Trey: “The comparison was too easy. At 14, 15, 16, I worshiped at the idol of Peter Gabriel — the first couple of Genesis albums and then his solo albums. He was like a god. Prog rock was our thing. Then, through Peter Gabriel and ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’, I was introduced to Brian Eno’s music, and I had the ’70s Eno albums on perma-loop. I didn’t get into the Grateful Dead until 1980, ’81. That was when my parents got divorced and I went to boarding school and people there liked the Dead. So we would go to shows. We took acid. It was great. But at the same time I was going to see Frank Zappa and Sun Ra. King Crimson’s ‘Larks’ Tongues in Aspic’ was one of my favorite records. I also worshiped at the idol of early Talking Heads. So if you listen to the first couple of Phish albums, they don’t sound anything like the Grateful Dead. I was more interested in Yes.”

On whether Phish can still consciously improve as a band:

Trey: “Someone always has something new to offer. It’s just life stuff: Page McConnell’s father gets Alzheimer’s and passes away. Then Page and I will have dinner and talk about things that used to intimidate him about his father. Then we’ll walk onstage, and if I’ve had that conversation with Page and he plays something sort of sad, he’ll hear me accompanying him. That’s a loving gesture. It’s the most loving gesture. And the loving gesture is, I’m listening to you. That oftentimes leads into an emotional moment. You feel the whole room explode, and it came from a place of completely accepting that moment, being in that moment and not judging it, not resisting it.”

On there being a reason for Phish to ever stop:

Trey: “None. I’ll tell you a story. We just had band practice up in Burlington in anticipation of the summer tour. We were talking about having gone to see the Modern Jazz Quartet in 1983, in Burlington, when we had just started the band. We remembered looking up at the stage and thinking, ‘That is the model for the band we want to be.’ We’re going to be the Modern Jazz Quartet of rock ’n’ roll! Then at the practice we just had, we were all like: ‘Oh, my God. That’s what happened!’ Which is really weird. Careful what you wish for.”


You can read New York Times Magazine’s full Trey Anastasio interview here.

For a full list of Phish’s upcoming tour dates and ticketing information, head to the band’s website.

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Source: L4LM.com