Ask Mike Gordon Anything On Reddit

UPDATE 2/25 1:15 p.m. PT: Mike seems to be finished answering questions. View the entire session here or read Gordon and collaborator Scott Murawski's responses below.

Today marks the release of Mike Gordon's new solo album, Overstep, and he's got a full day of activities planned. In addition to the previously announced in-store at Newbury Comics in Boston set for 5 p.m. ET, Gordon and collaborator Scott Murawski will take questions from fans via a Reddit Ask Me Anything session from approximately 3 to 4 p.m. ET.

The Music subreddit will host the Mike Gordon AMA this afternoon and you can ask your questions here. We'd imagine Scott and Mike will spend their time answering questions about the new album and upcoming tour, so you might want to pass on asking when Phish will visit your city.

In case you missed it, Mike Gordon sat in with RatDog last night.

We'll share some of Mike and Scott's responses below.

Question: Mike, what are your honest opinions about the same group of middle-aged men who not only follow Phish on tour but make a concerted effort to consistently maintain the same spot on the rail as often as possible- namely Pizza Tie-Dye Shirt Guy and Antelope Greg and his cronies. Does it ever get tiring or annoying to see the same dudes goggling at you? Was 12/31/13 Set 2 an anticipated opportunity for the band to see a new fresh set of faces?

Mike's Response: I actually like seeing some familiar faces… I don't know all the interpersonal issues, but I know Antelope Greg, and the fact that he was in Europe and keeps coming, and gets into it no matter what the song… AND has made a career out of rehabilitating antelopes … there's something cool about that!

Question: Mike, when a masterpiece like the Tahoe Tweezer happens, how does it get discussed amongst the band after the show? To what extent does it get re-listened to/celebrated? Or do you guys just do like, one flying group chest bump and then move on to the next thing?

Mike's Response: We do our own version of high-fiving, which is a series of text messages, like, "dude… how bout that Tweezer."

Question: If you had to listen to one album for the rest of your life what would it be and why?

Mike's Response: An ambient record of a coffee shop - just the background noise, since I'd probably be stranded on an island or something

Question: Hey Mike. Phish used to use musical language to inform other band members about the direction of the music. This evolved into the secret language with fans. Does the band still use specific musical cues to communicate with each other, and have you ever thought about bringing the secret language back?

Mike's Response: Actually it got so secret that the band isn't allowed to know the current language - only one crew member can know, someone on the rigging team. And he simply won't tell. Affects all the jams tho..

Question: Did Trey throw you under the bus at IT, or did you really say "no" to the band playing Fluffhead?

Mike's Response: Trey made that up - he didn't want to play it.

Question: Tell us a cool story.

Mike's Response: Once upon a time there was a croissant named Thomas. It had emailed his mom, but didn't know if her wifi was working, nor her airport.

The End

Question: Phish said they (collectively) relistened to a lot of jams to create the songs on Wingsuit, can you give us an example of a jam that directly influenced a song?

Mike's Response: I did all the initial listening… they were all in the last few years, and one special rehearsal in 1993… I can't remember which is what, though somewhere I have those playlists still… I always wanted to work that way, so I'm glad those guys were willing to… we also jammed a lot in the studio to make fresh jams that turned into songs… and we always rerecorded a new version once we changed parts..

Question: Are there any phish songs you just HATE playing?

Mike's Response: Its not the song, it's what we try to do with it, so no.

Question: Hey Mike, thanks for taking the time to do this!

My questions are in regards to MGB soundboard releases. Your live shows have been excellent these past several years and I think they really deserve the full LivePhish treatment. Great improv, fluid segues, all around fun shows. Each show brings so much variety to the table.

Do you have any say in what does/doesn't get released (or even recorded)? I could see it being an 'off the grid' type of mentality where you wouldn't want LivePhish selling all of your shows.

Were your shows over the past 3-4 years recorded and do they exist in the archive? Any plans to release shows from 2011 like State Theater or The Met? Europe 2012? Really glad we have shows like Orange Peel and The Egg, but you know how insatiable us fans can be. ;) Will you get some releases from this tour?

Mike's Response: I loved the Egg and so glad we were able to mix it and put it out… I like being selective instead of putting out every one, and I know that people are always taping too…

Question: How do you like to spend your time during setbreak?

Mike's Response: Soy milk, but not too much. Changing the setlist, which will then change again, if there even is one.

Question: Do you do anything special to prepare for a show?

Mike's Response: A couple vocal warm-ups, dinner with family and friends, and lord knows I play along with larry graham or wayne shorter a little bit, and certainly along with Diblo With Loketo. But I'm not gonna drink too much because I'm going to need to piss.

Question: You've been a guest bassist with several bands, Gov't Mule & Phil Lesh for example. What are a few bands you want to play with but haven't yet?

Mike's Response: That band we started with Thom York, Trent Reznor, and Chris Thile.. was good, but… that was just imagined, ahmmm

Question: What is the album that you listened to the most pre-phish? Also your favorite band to emerge in the past decade?

Mike's Response: Nothing stands out like Abbey Road since my parents played it in the house since I was 5 years old… Don't know fave band

Question: hey Mike! any chance you'll dust off the ole' banjo on your upcoming tour?

Mike's Response: I tried a bouzouki instead but needs a new pickup

Question: Mike, what's you favorite song to play with phish? Also, what song would you most like to bust out that trey, fish, and page don't want to play?

Mike's Response: Fave? Undermind, of course. Those guys are always up for anything!

Question: Mike, Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Which song or songs in your repertoire do you find the most difficult to play? Are their songs that still give you trouble each and every time you play them?

Also, with regards to Phish specifically, what makes you get off stage and say “Wow, we just did something special!” Do your favorite Phish moments coincide with the moments the fans seem to love most?

Mike's Response: Strangely, while I love playing overstep stuff with Scott, Tom, Todd, and Craig, its so hard to play bass and sing for a certain 0.8 seconds of "Surface" - during the word "anything."

Special comes from some kind of relaxation that creates a deeper letting go than I realize is possible going into it…

Question: Hey Mike and Scott, thanks for doing the AMA!

1. Who would you most want to play on stage with that you haven't had the chance to? Preferably living, but either way.

2. What's your favorite mountain?

3. Is Yarmouth Road referencing the one in Wynnewood, PA?

4. What is your most awkward fan interaction?

5. Wanna come to my birthday extravaganza in 2 weeks? Okay, just kidding... (but you're still welcome to join)

6. What artists/bands out there are catching your attention these days?

Mike (first) and Scott's (second) responses: 1. etta james lowell george

2. mansfield meriden tower

3. no, mass telber, iowa

4. singing twice when they kept calling me mark

5. we will come we will not come

6. lake st. dive what's your band's name?

Question: Question for Scott - Would you ever consider bringing Mike to Strange Creek for a show?

Scott's Response: Absolutely

Question: Scott, how awesome is a languedoc to play?

Scott's Response: It's totally awesome, but it's still not "the one" (please stand by..)

Question: Do you have a favorite track on the new album?

Mike & Scott's Responses: First of all, I haven't really said - thanks so much for having me here.. .it's nice to get to talk with y'all in this hypermodern™ way!

Scott: Yarmouth Road is my favorite.

Mike: It varies with each day, but I like Peel. Possible entry to alter-universe…

Question: Hi Mike and Scott, The Egg ROCKED! What's your favorite part of Albany?

Mike and Scott's Responses: Hi back! We like the sandwich shop on the corner of park and universe

Question: Hey Mike - I've heard that the upcoming MGB tour will be an audio/visual experience. Can you talk about that or is that top secret? Thanks!

Mike's Response: This is a great question… the band isn't called MGB (though I can see how people would go there)… Still looking for a name, and Scott and I will have one in 4.2 years… The aud/vid feels special and we've been working on it for a while - visual, acoustical, interactive… it's designed to be a work in progress so that YOU can help us figure out how to gel this little foam rave into existence

Question: Throughout your career, you've played many tunes that involve a jam that revolves around one key center or tonality. Even after playing some of these songs hundreds of times, you manage to always say something new to say. What's your secret?

Mike's Response: I'm asking Scott for his secret, since I'd like to know

Scott: we always respond differently to the energy of the night, which is different every night. We react.

Mike: we can tell if someone in the room is thinking about jungle gyms, and if they are we play those gyms

Question: Overstep sounds incredible Mike. Great songwriting from both you and Scott. Do you still take the time to just sit down and practice? Or is time spent with your instruments usually just to songwrite/rehearse? If you do still take the time to practice, what sort of things do you work on? You have impeccable rhythm btw.

Also, what ended up being heavier, the adooboo or the hajini?! You really left me hanging with that one!

Mike's Response: Good question.

Scott: a lot of times are spent sitting down and learning how to play the stuff we've written

Mike: true that - by the time a song goes thru all its permutations, there's no way I could remember the bass line.. But, both…

Question: Mike I've always appreciated your unique style of writing lyrics. The theme of most of your songs seems to be an adventure told from your first person perspective. (Andelman's Yard, Tiny Little World, Radar Blip). I think it gives us a cool little peek into your life and thought process.

How do your daily activities end up translating themselves into your songs?

Mike's Response: Very good question.. In interviews lately people have been asking what in my life this line or that line represents, and my first response is it had nothing to do with me! But then I realize a) that of course it indirectly does, and Scott and I constantly looked into our own lives for inspiration, and b) I keep finding that it literally does in cases I hadn't realized… But the norm is that as artists we try (I think) to collect ideas - thoughts about things around us, sounds that are intriguing, and we save them, compost them inside, and inject them when Scott and are on a speedboat.

Question: Hey Mike & Scott! Love the color vinyl releases. What format do you listen to these days?

Mike's Response: laser disc

Scott's Response: I listen to music encoded into the programming language, Python

Cheryl's Response: 8 track tapes

Question: Hey Mike!

I know when playing live you use a lot of really cool bass effects.

When you are in the studio (both working on your solo stuff and with Phish) do you usually have all of your effects set-up? Or do you pick and choose as you go along? I guess my question really is how do you decide what effect/tone to use and when?

Mike's Response: I usually don't kuz i like a clean signal path. But for tiny little world I tried about fifteen synth and envelope pedals…

Scott's Response: half the time

Question: If you could have any puppy, which puppy would it be?

Mike's Response: king charles spaniel

Question: You seem very connected to your fans. What do you like most about your fans?

Mike's Response: I like that people are so in tune with the world around them, thoughtful and usually very gracious

Question: Mike - Fellow bassist here of which you are a huge influence. Loved "Rising Low". Is Joey Arkenstat your alter-ego? And who besides him/yourself did you think grooved hardest?

Mike's Response: Speaking of Joseph Arkenstat, has anyone seen Inside Llewyn Davis?

Question: This is a 3 part question.

1) Do you like pizza?
See, I really make a couple good pizzas: Rosemary rock salt and a sweet potato, blue cheese, and onion. You are ending your tour here in Vancouver, BC and I was wondering if you'd stop by and have dinner with the family (I'm 45, so by family I mean me, my wife, and two kids. So you won't be walking into a "Hey mom I invited Mike Gordon from the Internet over for dinner whatca makin?" type of situation).

2) Are you sick of signing things?
Because it must be a ton of work signing all those Oversteps. Can't wait to get mine! Blue vinyl! But I have a few other things that would look good with a signature, like the Mike Gordon/Leo Kottke poster from the Fillmore. I was just going to forge it based on the signature I have on my "Phish at After the Gold Rush" poster from AZ in 1992, but since you are coming over for pizza anyway...

3) Did you used to have a hair hat? Because I have this memory & I don't know if it is real. Hat. Made of hair. Like wig that made it look like 80's metal hair out of your hair? No? Ok then...

Mike's Response: 1. Yes, I want the kinds you are making, hold the onion. Can't have the bread either.

2. No - come on down to Newbury Comics at 5pm today! Bawston Masse.

3. Yes I did - and still have it! It was $1.50 from a Boulder store.

Question: Hi Mike. Is there a specific track on Overstep that proved to be more challenging in the studio than you thought?

Mike's Response: Jumping goes, at the end, from a bar of 9 to a bar of 8.5 to bar of 8… all the way down to a bar of 0.5, and back up. Even the fearless Matt Chamberlain had to count it out on drums, and WHYYYYY did he always start with a bar of 5, adding and subtracting from there? Why why why?

Knowing how to reconcile pre-existing demos with new sounds - knowing where to draw the line, as with Different World…

Question: Mike and Scott, what are the best concerts you've ever seen?

Mike's Response: Too many to list, but I will Chris thile and michael daves on 11th street one dark night. Dead at hartford, 83 maybe. Buddy Rich at the Burlington High School. Many more probably.

Scott's Response: Peter Gabriel, 2002 ish. Radiohead, hollywood bowl.

Question: Does anyone in the band read reviews, etc. from places like Mr. Miner's site, Phantasy Tour, or Phish.net? If so, do you guys ever laugh and/or feel weird?

Mike's Response: No we don't. Ever. There are so many reasons - the first being the time it would take. Also, Trey has a great quote, and I'm not sure who he is quoting, but, paraphrasing: "you don't have the right to others' opinions of you… and the positive critiquing is more damaging than the negative" .. as artists its REALLY hard to trust our inner barometers that allow us to do work, and it's best to leave space in the lobes from the chatter sometimes.

Question: Mike, if you had to leave behind only one solo album and one Phish album for the world to hear. What would they be?

Mike's Response: Overstep. To-Be-Titled.

Question: Have you guys ever thought about playing near yarmouth or anywhere on Cape Cod? I feel like it'd be great seeing you guys in the area.

Mike's Response: If I say yes can we run down those huge dunes near wellfleet?

Question: What is your favorite song off overstep? And what is the most challenging part of balancing your social life, phish, and your solo project?

Mike's Response: favorite song this EXACT second? Ahmmmm. Jumping. The hard thing about balancing… well, it's been great to have family time and work time and have both able to coexist. The real challenge is not to be a perfectionaist .. which makes certain projects take all of my time

Question: What happened to the Second Jam in Mike's Song?? Bring it back please, we miss it.

Mike's Response: I can't remember the second jam…. can you please hum it, or send me an mp3?

Question: Do you think you'll ever tour with Leo Kottke again?

Mike's Response: We have been talking… just waiting for our schedules to permit… Would love to even be in a room with him again tho - so musical, and a special feeling friend

Question: What is the meaning behind 555?

Mike's Response: Actualllly… meaning is a tough concept to get at ☺ But…. it started as a jam with my band at a recording studio in NH (we had spent a weekend jamming onto tape).. and Scott and I loved the feel of it, so took the groove and the bass lick, etc., and made up the song … then it evolved a bit… (including Bob Ezrin wanting five more - the song was called The 550, and he wanted it to be 555)

Question: Mike, if you could play chess/checkers/connect-4 with any famous person, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Mike's Response: I would like to play chess with Magnus Carlsen. And I would like to WIN, please (Bill Gates lost to Magnus in 79 seconds).

Question: As a bass player myself, I have a few questions:

1. How does your approach to playing bass differ between playing with Phish vs. playing in MGB?

2. Are there any bass instruction books that you would recommend or really helped your playing?

3. If you had to pick one phish show that represents your finest bass playing, what show would it be. Basically a show where you went, "damn, I killed it tonight".

Mike's Responses: 1. I like oomph. My goal would be to have a band where every note is written (or added) to have oomph. Gettin there….

2. Ohhh.. ahmm… I worked with one page Bach Etudes to get the fingers going, but I don't know who published em.. Ask Jim Stinnett?

3. Tahoe? DUnno.

Questions: 1. As a MA kid, why did you choose to go to UVM?(We are all happy with that decision). What other schools were you looking at?

2. Why didn't you transfer to Goddard with the rest of the guys?

3. Do you take more pride in Phish or MGB these days?

4. What was the deal with Halloween 98 3rd Set. What is the real reason Trey just walk off stage?

5. As the member of the band that didn't partake in the drugs in the late 90s as much as others(what it seems based upon articles/books/interviews) what did you think of what was going on? Did you remove yourself? Did you feel it helped the band get to another place/try new styles or did you see it hurting the band?

Mike's Responses: 1. I liked the lake in Burlington… Looked at 12 schools… SU… UPenn

2. Big institutions are so cool!!! No, really, I need some structure, man

3. I have equal pride in both… They fill different, essential voids for me.

4. Since I can't remember, I'll guess: he had to pissulate?

5. I had a drug or two, but yes, not as much. Ya know, honestly, I kind of liked having a crazier era, a little bit, so I was definitely not removed. And glad that era is over. Musically, well, once I saw James Brown on his '64 tv special, and then the greyboy allstars… well.. why else do you think we wanted robert walters on Overstep? :)

Question: Is that new bass you tweeted a picture of a few days ago an Alembic?

Mike's Response: This is so secret that I can't even be responding with words like, "This is so secret that I can't even be responding with words like…" and, nuff to say: Scott has one too, and etc., and okay, just come to Syracuse. Oh… you can't - it's sold out.. well, you know what i mean…

Question: Mike I'm gonna see you this evening in Boston- I was wondering if you might trade scarves with me. I'm sure you'll be wearing one and I'm offering a thick, warm green/white one in exchange. It even has snowflakes on it, whaddya say?

Mike's Response: Glad you reminded me - I'm just around the corner, but I gott GO now to get ready for that… It's so exciting for me and Scott to have our album be coming out today, and i want to thank all of you for such great questions… I wish I could sit here all day and answer them… Maybe we'll have a chance to peak back in, not sure… but anyway… thanks!

[Published on: 2/25/14]

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