Photo of Phish in 1995 by Nubar Alexanian from phish.com
I'm much more antsy to get out on the road and make another solo album. But, I'm gonna really enjoy it when
Phish does happen. 'Craving' isn't the word that comes to mind but 'excitement' is.
I like songs to be as long as possible, onstage at least. I would rather a song went for an hour and a half than three
minutes because if I'm enjoying it I don't want to stop. I like things that go on for a long period of time. I like David
Lynch's movie Inland Empire, which was three hours long and was weird the whole entire time. My friend
left in the middle of the movie but I just wished it had a fourth hour. So much of our lives are spent, ya know,
brushing our teeth, going from one responsibility to the next, trying to drive and do errands, that if I'm in this
unique headspace, if I'm in this euphoric state, I want it to last for a long time. But, on an album I want it to be
exciting but part of the excitement is for the songs to be concise and to make their statement.
Do you find yourself getting into a songwriting rhythm?
It was down to a science almost, but even when it's down to a science songwriting is still a strange art. I think that
you have to balance what inspirations you get from life and from your daily activities with a real discipline, and that
balance is a struggle to find. But we had it down to where we were taking and figuring out which fragment we
wanted to start with in the morning and then started to loosely put it together. If it was a bass and drum jam we
would take different parts of the jam and start to make little loops and maybe verses and choruses and that kind of
thing. Then, I would play guitar or sing a melody, and then we'd go out to lunch and we'd call it "Lyric Lunch,"
I really like [that] routine because there's so many variables within that habit. I do well with it. I get a little freaked
out when being an artist and being in the music business is so dynamic and always changing. I need some
constants, so having a certain routine or place where I go, or maybe even a way to unwind or even reflect that's
regular, ends up being really important to me, and then sometimes tearing up the routine and doing something
completely different to mix it up.
My favorite thing is if I'm onstage playing it feels like home. Or I guess being anywhere where it feels like you don't
want to be anywhere else at that given moment is a great feeling, and I think all therapy is geared towards that [idea
of] living in the moment, and that all of the problems people have that lead them to find a therapist are based on
worrying about the future or ruminating on the past. As soon as you can embrace the moment [things improve],
which is why meditation is so helpful.
Do you still meditate?
I haven't been meditating lately, but last year I did some meditations. I read David Lynch's book Catching the
Big Fish, where he talks about meditation and how even if he's on a big twelve-hour day of filming
he'll still, in the morning and at night, take twenty minutes each, and he thinks that some of his best ideas for the
film will come out of that. He'll change around a scene or something, so I did that, but it was minuscule compared
to what I did a few years ago where I was meditating a lot.
A lot of meditation like Buddhist meditation will start you off, at least in the first few years, concentrating on your
breath a lot. It's regular, repetitive, built in, happening, flowing. So, I've done a lot of that and it really teaches you
to embrace the moment, because that's what's happening. To allow your mind to calm down when all the other
thoughts come in as distractions can just sort of come and go without taking over because normally we're living life
as distraction to distraction, almost as if we're asleep.
This is an election year. How do you feel about the connection between politics and music?
With Phish, we always had a stance that we should avoid endorsing a candidate or a party simply because we're
musicians and not politicians, and why should we tell people what to think about politics when we're not politicians?
But, with me, I've taken a little more license. I did one other thing with Bernie Sanders where we did the "Honkytonk the Vote," and now
he's a Senator and he said that was an important event for him. It's not that I want to alienate the people who might
not agree with my politics but at the same time I just feel so passionate about Bernie and I have for over twenty
years, and I really believe in what he stands for. He's an independent. There's actually Republicans in Vermont that
vote for him, and now I'm doing something else for him [a free concert on August 15 on the water in Burlington, VT].
I don't feel like I want to get heavily involved in politics because I don't feel that it's my arena, exactly. I feel like if I
believe in something there's no need to censor it either. This is a chance to do a free concert and turn people onto
Bernie and politics. He's pretty much aligned with the Democratic party.
Where did you get those purple pants?
That's definitely American Apparel. I used to be completely Banana Republic but I switched. I know they're both big
chains. I started getting colored pants from this guy J Kos in New York, a little boutique [where] I'd see these lime
green pants that I really liked. I've been going to American Apparel lately and getting all these sort of weird pants
and shirts. High Sierra was the green and then Rothbury was the purple, so I was completely American Apparel all
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