Audio | Jon Fishman Talks Phish With Radio Free Rockland

By Scott Bernstein Jun 20, 2014 3:40 pm PDT

Next Tuesday Phish will release Fuego, their first new studio album since 2009. Usually when a band puts out an album they’ll do lots of interviews in support of the LP. Phish isn’t like most other groups, so band member interviews about Fuego have been few and far between. Today, Phish drummer Jon Fishman sat for an interview with a radio station, but we’re not talking Chicago’s XRT, California’s KFOG or any of the other major market broadcasters. Fish’s interview was with the tiny WRFR in his current home state of Maine and was barely publicized. If you missed it, we’ve got you covered.

The drummer spoke with Joe Steinberger for well over an hour and the station even took calls from listeners. Unlike most promotional appearances, Fish’s visit didn’t focus on Fuego. He certainly discussed the album, but he also spoke about a variety of topics including the current state of Phish, what he did during the period when Phish broke up, the impact of other musicians on his work and much more. Some of the revelations were that he stopped playing drums for a year when Phish broke up, the band had 25 songs to choose from before recording Fuego, bassist Mike Gordon is the funniest guy he ever met, he admitted the band can’t play songs at the quick tempos they did in the past and that the beginning of the drum part of “Fuego” is based on “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.” Fishman was even asked a question about the “second jam” in “Mike’s Song” that has disappeared for the last 15 or so years and pretty much had no idea what the caller was talking about, but seemed intrigued and wants to listen to an old version, so there’s that.

PTer Rizajj captured the interview, minus the beginning, for our listening pleasure:

Update 6/24 8 a.m. PT: In a comment below, Adam Roberts shares a follow-up, purportedly from the Phish drummer himself, about the “second jam” in “Mike’s Song”:

Followup to the Mike’s Song “second jam” question from the (Fish)man himself:

So, after looking at all this I am realizing that the second jam everyone is talking about IS what I thought it was and now I remember how that happened:

That used to always be “I am Hydrogen.” In the beginning of Mikes Song “hydrogen” was a regular part of the song. It was the only next section after the big first jam. What happened was, and I do vaguely recollect this, there was a conversation one night where Trey wanted to free that area up to do other things and not necessarily HAVE to play another composed piece of music right at this point where we had just so heavily been improvising, and which eventually led to a third more or less arranged section being Weekapaug Groove. He wanted to continue with the opportunity to improvise. The big chord that happens there took it to another key and it had the potential to get even deeper and darker, or lighter and sunnier I suppose if that was how we were feeling. The point is, we never really established WHAT we would do there, just that we wouldn’t necessarily always play “Hydrogen”.

Over time that became a spot where Simple fit nicely, and also a place where we could segue into virtually anything, or allow it to continue as an extension of the first jam, before coming back around to Weekapaug.

Overall, I think this balanced out the Arranged/Improvised ratio of the overall song and prevented it from remaining 3-4 worked out pieces with a little improv in the middle.

The reason I was confused is because I had never thought of the “second jam” as being such. I always thought of it as one big ass jam with a little oasis of power chords in the middle where you kind of got your bearings for a second before heading right back out into the wilderness. It never seemed like a beginning or end of anything because the way it was conceived was with a “let’s keep going there” attitude.

I can definitely see from the listeners perspective though how those chords define a jam1/jam2 type of borderline.

Adam is Jon Fishman’s cousin and the brother of guitarist Jason Roberts (The Candles, Norah Jones, Ben Kweller, Hymns).

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