GREETINGS FROM METZGERVILLE

 
There was a short period where [Trey and I] were holding onto this bulk of music which Phish may or may not have been excited to use. So we formed a band called Utalk with Matt Kohut on bass. Our first rehearsal in Vermont was disastrous for one reason or another. On the drive back, Matt told me of a guitarist who could fill in the Trey slot of our band. I listened to Scott play and just couldn't believe how good he was. Just an amazing kid.

-Tom Marshall of Amfibian and Utalk (and Phish Lyricist).

 
Scott Metzger

Scott grew up in Lambertville, New Jersey, which is walking distance to New Hope, home to the famous club John & Peters and all things Ween. Whenever he visits his mom's house, he also stops off at Ween's studio to hang out with Mickey, watch ESPN, and play guitar. Scott started on saxophone in middle school but moved to guitar by 8th grade. His early playing was inspired by aggressive blues players like Albert Collins, Albert King, and Son Seals. Though he played with a few punk and Ramones-type cover bands in high school, he didn't gig with his first real band, F-Hole, until three days after his high school graduation in 1996. The other two members of the trio were veterans of the close-knit Jersey music scene. Bassist Matt Kohut not only played bass with Ween on their 12 Golden Greats tour in 1995, he also attended Princeton Day School (a New Jersey high school) with Phish lyricist Tom Marshall and Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio. Kohut later recommended Scott to Tom Marshall for guitar duties in the band that would become Amfibian. Marshall explains, "There was a short period where [Trey and I] were holding onto this bulk of music which Phish may or may not have been excited to use. So we formed a band called Utalk with Matt Kohut on bass. Our first rehearsal in Vermont was disastrous for one reason or another. On the drive back, Matt told me of a guitarist who could fill in the Trey slot of our band. I listened to Scott play and just couldn't believe how good he was. Just an amazing kid." The fact that Scott was playing with two different bands that shared members wasn't unusual. As Mickey from Ween describes the Jersey music community, "There's just a very organic scene down here of friends and people that interchange. I think there are about a dozen of us that make up like twenty bands." He adds, "I mean, people need to figure out that all the best players are from New Jersey. Our group of friends rocks harder than anybody."


Scott Metzger with RANA by Rena Sewig
During this incarnation of Amfibian, Scott got his first chance to play with Trey Anastasio. As Scott explains it, "Amfibian was playing Higher Ground for the first time and sold out. Trey showed up and wanted to sit in on the song 'Olivia's Pool.' Every night during 'Olivia's Pool,' I played the guitar solo behind my head. It was just part of the show. After he walked out of the room, hundred dollar bills started flying that I didn't have the balls to play the guitar behind my head with Trey on stage in Vermont. I caught a lot of flack because people thought that it was an extreme thing to do, but it was just what I did every night — I just happened to make $500 bucks doing it that night!" While playing with Amfibian, Scott met Andrew Southern, another Princeton Day School alum, who was playing acoustic guitar in the band. Being the only two guys in the band in their twenties, they had an instant connection. At the time, Andrew was playing in another band called RANA with some high school buddies. The first time they invited Scott to play with them was at a Princeton Day School post-prom party. As Scott remembers it, "The first gig was total jamming and the place went bananas." According to RANA drummer Ryan Thornton, the band members felt like, "This is the line-up now." He adds, "Andrew moved to bass, and I had to learn to play drums all over again just to keep up with Scott. We all had to step up our game a lot."

In 1999, Amfibian took a year-long break. Scott kept busy gigging with both RANA and F-Hole. He was also taking classes at William Patterson College in New Jersey in a three-year program for jazz guitar. In 2000, Tom regrouped Amphibian for version 2.1 (he's currently up to 2.5) with Chris Harford on guitar and vocals. Chris had been part of the New Jersey and Boston music scenes for years. He'd played extensively with the Ween guys in different groups including the Jimmy Wilson Group and his own Band of Changes. Sadly, this version of Amfibian only lasted six months. Scott remembers their big breakup at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey, "It was the biggest gig I'd ever played, and as we're headed to the stage, there was a big argument and everyone's like 'Fuck you.'"


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