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Trey Anastasio Previews Phish Sphere Run, Discusses The Joy Of Blowing Minds In New AP Interview [Video]

trey anastasio previews phish sphere run discusses the joy of blowing minds in new ap interview video

Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio sat down with the Associated Press to discuss the band’s Sphere run, which kicks off tonight. The interview covered a range of topics but focused mostly on how Phish will utilize Sphere’s state-of-the-art audio and visual technology.

“It’s extremely unique to any venue that we’ve played before,” Anastasio said of the ground-breaking new venue. “One of the things that we’ve tried to do is sculpt our show so that we can be the band that we always are and play to our strengths while simultaneously using the technology to kind of expand the elements of the show — like the adventure and the breaking free of boundaries.”

Anastasio explained that preparation for the Sphere run began last summer, echoing similar statements from show director and co-creative director Abigail Rosen Holmes. Even this week, however, the band is still making final adjustments to the production.

“We dropped some things yesterday,” he said. “It’s a constant process of waking up in the morning and looking for areas that we can improve. Everyone on the team is incredible, but the level of communication and proactive teamwork is hard to describe. And that’s what it takes to get something like this mounted.”

He went on to discuss the process of developing a theme that will run through the four Sphere performances, saying, “[There] were ideas on what the thematic narrative that was going to run through the four nights that went on for a month. Then we landed on one. Then it was what songs we’re going to play, what the (visual) content was going to be, how literal we wanted to make it. The answer to that is not very literal. Our fans are really smart and really involved, and we wanted to take a night or so for people to figure out what we were doing, plant a lot of Easter eggs and things like that. But it’s a never-ending daily improvement.”

He also described some of the unique challenges Phish faced in moving its show to the strange new venue, as well as some exciting innovations made possible by Sphere’s cutting-edge beaming forming audio system. “We did take a lot of the speakers and onstage sound [and] had to get rid of them. That’s just something that yo have to do. If you look at U2‘s stage there was nothing up there and the drums were wrapped in plexiglass,” he said.

“The Sphere sound system is hyper-directional. It’s so directional it’s like pinpoints of sound and thousands of thousands of them. When they give you the demo, you can stand on an x and the artist is singing in french, and you step one foot to the side and the artist is singing in Spanish. That’s how directional it is, so our sound man or any sound man that comes in here has to rearrange their concept. They have to be open-minded and embrace the technology, and if you do so, the possibilities are endless. I’m very excited about what we figured out. We figured out ways to put instruments all over, like it’s coming from every direction. It sounds really cool! I got to hear it a couple days ago.”

Anastasio said the band considered adding more shows to the run, as Dead & Company did, but decided against it. “We’ve never repeated a set and we didn’t want to start now. So we created four unique Sphere shows, top to bottom,” he explained. “There was a moment where we were discussing adding shows, because the tickets blew out pretty hard. And we decided as a team that they would be good, but not necessarily astounding — which is the level that we wanted to operate at — unless we just repeated the exact same show over again. The other thing is that Phish is such a wacky community that it kind of set up this scenario where a lot of people would probably want to come back. It’s just the way our fans are. It’s kind of like a big, giant rolling family or community or something like that.”

Towards the end of the conversation, the interviewer digs deeper into what makes Anastasio tick. The 59-year-old musician lights up as he talks about the joy of being creative every day, constantly coming up with new things to blow people’s mind, whether it’s the band’s recent production of Gamehendge or the Sphere shows or Phish’s upcoming festival, Mondegreen, which he said is going to be “unbelievable.”

“I love getting up in the morning and creatively thinking of another cool thing to blow people’s minds. I mean it’s like my favorite thing to do,” he said. “I just love the feeling of being part of a group, working on something creative, especially when it’s firing on all cylinders and people communicate well. It’s been one of the great joys of my life. That’s what a band is. A good band is a family. It’s a team. It’s communication and listening and it’s hard to describe what a joy it is when you spend almost a year working on — like what we did last year. It’s like you feel like you’re alive. And the Sphere has been like that, too.”

He also said that it’s Phish’s loyal fanbase that motivates the band to continue pushing the limits of their own creativity. “The fans and the community are everything. We have intelligent, focused fans and we have to honor that. You know, they’re not casual fans and that’s really cool. It’s an honor and it’s a massive responsibility. I feel like the longer this goes, the more we owe. The fans have supported us for 40 years — it’s our responsibility to keep raising the bar. Which is a great challenge. And it’s very unique. If you really look at the series of events that we continue to put on, that’s the thinking that goes behind it. You know, the fact that there were people in the audience last New Year’s Eve who have seen Phish 300 times, who were crying according to what I heard — and I was too, by the way — meant so much to all of us. It’s everything that we want. Which is to honor and respect the people that have been coming to see us for years. We feel like they’re family and they deserve our care and attention about every detail.”

Finally, asked whether there will be another Gamehendge performance, Anastasio said he really didn’t know but made it clear that he was more than amenable to the idea.

“[If] there is, it’s going to be better, or it’s going to be built upon,” he said. “Sort of the way this one was built upon the previous one, even though it was 30 years ago. I hope it’s not 30 years. I’d like to do it. In the Phish world, it’s like the second it’s over … the next morning you wake up like I start working on the Sphere. Go meet [Abigail Rosen Holmes] downtown at a coffee shop with a laptop and start riffing. I mean, I’m here in Vegas, and yesterday morning I was on a call [about Mondegreen] with the coolest, smartest people who are working on that. Oh my God.”

Watch the interview with Trey Anastasio about Phish’s upcoming Sphere run below.

Phish will offer a pay-per-view livestream for each of the band’s four sold-out Sphere shows (April 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st). Of note, the Phish Sphere livestreams will serve as the first-ever full-show livestreams from Sphere. While U2 did mount a brief broadcast from Sphere during the 2024 Grammy Award ceremony, none of the band’s 40 performances were streamed in full. Order your single-day Phish Sphere webcast or discounted four-night bundle here to take part in the first-ever Sphere livestream experience.

In the lead-up to Phish’s Sphere debut, fans can dig into soundboard recordings of each of the band’s live shows dating back to 2003 via the band’s LivePhish+ subscription streaming service. For more information or to subscribe to LivePhish+, head here.

[Editor’s Note: Live For Live Music is a LivePhish affiliate. Ordering your Phish Sphere webcast or LivePhish+ subscription via the links on this page helps support our coverage of Phish and the world of live music as a whole. Thank you for reading!]

Trey Anastasio on playing the Sphere, and keeping the creativity going after 40 years

[h/t Associated Press]

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