Phish Discusses Breakup, Reunion, New LP & More With Rolling Stone

By Andy Kahn Oct 20, 2016 9:04 am PDT

Update: Rolling Stone has published the Phish feature online. Follow this link to read the article.

Currently in the midst of a Fall Tour in support of their recently issued 13th studio album Big Boat, veteran rock band Phish is the subject of a new profile in Rolling Stone magazine. All four members discuss the current status of the band as well as the events surrounding their 2004 breakup and 2009 reunion.

Rolling Stone’s Patrick Doyle spoke with Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman about their 2004 breakup that was initiated by Anastasio. Fishman revealed he was upset with the guitarist for saying he needed a break from touring, only to head out with on solo tour soon after Phish called it quits.

“I didn’t know what else to do,” said Anastasio. “In crisis, you hurt the ones you love the most. We’ve talked about that a lot.”

The breakup strained the relationship between Trey and Page as well, with the two not speaking to each other for a period during that time. McConnell explained feeling like an “outsider” since joining the group in 1985 through 2004’s split, but maintained that sense had “completely disappeared” after reforming.

“I wasn’t sure I wanted to fire it up again. I was cautious,” McConnell said. And after “heavy conversations” with Trey the pair worked through their issues.

While Anastasio was participating in a drug-court program, his other three band mates surprised him on his 43rd birthday by taking him bowling. They also gave him a gift of an album the trio recorded of 43 tracks, each 43 seconds long for the guitarist to play along to. “They pulled me back into the life raft,” said Trey, “I’m forever grateful for that.”

Upon getting back together in early 2009 the band implemented a number of new rules: they would play no more than 50 shows a year to be able to devote time to family and solo efforts, they would ditch the backstage party at the “Betty Ford Clinic” and leave the venue immediately after the show and they entered a “No Analyze” pact to keep personal thoughts regarding their performances to themselves. The last rule came after being hypercritical of each other’s playing over the years began to wear on the members – though it also prevents positive chatter as well.

The article also touched on the making of Big Boat with both Gordon and Anastasio lamenting the fact Mike’s tune “Let’s Go” didn’t make the record. The decision not to include it was prompted by producer Bob Ezrin’s suggestion, which still doesn’t sit well with Mike or Trey.

“I still feel bad for him [Mike],” said Anastasio. “But we invited someone in with very strong opinions. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but sometimes you think, ‘Maybe I should have just stood up.’”

The entire profile on Phish is in the current edition of Rolling Stone on newsstands everywhere.

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