Page McConnell Discusses Making ‘Big Boat,’ Writing New Songs & More

By Andy Kahn Oct 7, 2016 1:25 pm PDT

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal posted a story regarding Phish’s just released new album Big Boat. WSJ has also shared more from journalist Alan Paul’s conversation with keyboardist Page McConnell in a newly published article.

McConnell discussed the process for deciding which songs came to the table and how they employed a similar but slightly different approach they took with producer Bob Ezrin who also handled their 2014 studio LP Fuego.

“We brought about 40 songs, or at least ideas, to the table for both this and Fuego so they are not going to all get on there,” McConnell said. “There’s a process to make it on an album. On Fuego, Bob was meeting us for the first time and took control. He rated the songs and said there’s a handful that absolutely have to be on this record and others to discuss or tweak. When we did it for this album, we had the same amount of songs but we edited down more collectively and went from 40 to 22, and there are some really good songs in there! Then we started playing and trying to develop the remaining songs and some don’t quite come together and fall off the table, or we like them but they don’t seem to fit. I imagine we will keep playing a lot of them live.”

Later, the keyboardist detailed why he thinks it’s still important for the band to continue making new albums even after more than 30 years together. After mentioning a lifelong love of records put out by legendary acts like The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, he also revealed another driving force behind issuing LPs.

“I think the bigger reason that we continue to make records is it fuels the live shows; it’s fodder for what we do every night,” said McConnell. “We get excited about playing new material, our fans are always encouraging us to try new things and every time we practice, every soundcheck, we’re working on learning new material and getting excited that we’re stretching and creating. Every new album fuels the live shows. Some of them will end up being staples and others won’t but every time we increase our song list, we’re able to do more different shows and different tours. We debuted a lot of songs over the summer and that made for a really fun time – and we still have five songs from this record that we haven’t played yet.”

McConnell also talks about his approach to songwriting over the years, how balancing family life has taken on a larger importance with him and the band – including his lack of involvement in planning recent New Year’s Eve pranks – and more.

Head here for the complete Q&A.

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