Words by: Seth Wolfman | Images by: Dave Pecoraro
On October 27, The Breakfast ventured to the sacred jam grounds of Burlington, Vermont for their 9th Annual Fonghoulish Freakout Halloween show. In the weeks leading up to the show, they announced that they would be covering an entire album in the Halloween spirit but did not announce what album it would be. Fans at the show started to suspect something was up when Phish bassist Mike Gordon planted himself in the crowd. Then, sure enough, after playing romping versions of Breakfast originals "Buquebus" and "See The Light," the band queued up the Phish classic "The Squirming Coil." Instantly the audience knew The Breakfast was tackling Phish's second album, Lawn Boy, and began rejoicing as we were treated to Phish monsters "Reba," "Split Open and Melt," "Bathtub Gin" and "Run Like An Antelope," with Gordon eventually joining the band for the encore. Burlington was once again awash in the sounds and olfactory hues that had sprung some 20 years earlier.
| Adrian Tramontano - The Breakfast :: 10.27 :: Vermont|
Breakfast guitarist Tim Palmieri had a lot of music to prepare for this show, and now that it's over he had a few moments to give us some insight into what it takes to get ready for such a lavish and laudable stunt.
JamBase: How did you choose to play Lawn Boy?
Tim Palmieri: We were discussing what we were going to do for Halloween since we have done some wonderful productions in the past. Our venue wasn't nailed down yet. We wanted Toad's Place in our hometown of New Haven but didn't get it. Once Higher Ground said they'd host the Freakout this year, we thought, "Why not cover an album in Phish's musical costume style? And since we're in Burlington why not pay homage to one of the greatest bands out there?" On top of that, our new keyboardist didn't know one note of Phish so it was a good lesson and experience for him getting to [get to] know Phish's music. He developed a greater understanding of the scene and love for the band, and ultimately freaked out!
JamBase: What was it like trying to learn such a complex album in two weeks?
| Palmieri, Tramontano, Spears - The Breakfast|
10.27.07 :: Vermont
Tim Palmieri: Well, some of us started learning Lawn Boy earlier than two weeks before. However, Matt [Oestreicher - keyboards] didn't start until two weeks out. Adrian [Tramontano - drums] and I love the album and knew most of it by listening. We knew "Reba" and "Split Open and Melt" would be the toughest. "Oh Kee Pa Ceremony" was the most difficult two minutes of music that I've had to learn in a while. At first I thought I'd be able to just solo over the changes but when I listened to a live show, it was the same part as the album. Trey's parts are all scripted. I was super happy once I finished learning "Reba" and "SOAM" for I love those songs and wanted to learn them since I started listening to Phish.
What was your favorite moment of the show?
My favorite moments of the show were nailing "Reba" - no pun intended [laughs] - and singing, or more like shouting, "I Will Survive" with Mike Gordon on bass.
How did you feel on stage knowing that Mike Gordon was watching?
At first it was definitely nerve racking knowing a member of Phish was out there watching and listening for I knew we weren't playing it at 100-percent. Vocally those guys were amazing with execution and arranging. But, when I started "Squirming Coil" and we got into it, I felt honored that he came out to see us and that we had this opportunity to put our souls and affinity for Phish into the night.
| Mike Gordon & Tim Palmieri :: 10.27.07 :: Vermont|
What did it mean to you to play with Mike?
Mike is a genuinely nice guy. He has come to a few of our shows at the Higher Ground so I've had the pleasure of hanging and talking with him before. To play [with him] and share the stage was awesome and an honor. Any musician has influences throughout their life that really shape who they are and you don't think you'll get to jam with them in-person someday. Phish, being one of those influences, I never dreamed I'd get to play with Mike. So, it was a real treat.
Tell us a little bit about the history of the Fonghoulish Freakout
The first Fonghoulish Freakout was October 31, 1999. The name came because we are Italians and it's a play on the Italian swear for "fuck you" mixed with Halloween rhetoric, even though the Italian spelling is way different. Every year we've adapted some sort of small theme but in recent years really have blown it up. We had a circus theme, a Star Wars theme, a Big Lebowski theme and a power trio theme. It is just a great time playing on Halloween. I love seeing all the costumes, wearing a costume to rock out and just getting crazy. Next year who knows what we are going to do. It has to top this year's Freakout, which will be difficult but that's what makes it fun.
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