Sue Drew Who Brought Phish To Elektra Chats With Phishbase

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On December 28, 1990 a young and scrappy Phish played The Marquee in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. Sue Drew, an A&R Rep for Elektra Records, was in the house and was amazed by what she saw. Drew convinced Elektra to sign Phish, but actually had to work harder to convince the quartet to sign to the label. Sue discussed the experience during an engaging chat with Phishbase.

Phishbase is a project in which one longtime fan aims to listen to the entire recorded output of Phish and its members from 1982 through the present. The resulting analysis can be read on Tumblr and Twitter. Currently, Phishbase is up to the foursome’s December 28, 1990 show, hence the chat with Sue Drew.

Drew explained what she thought of her first Phish show, “I opened the door and I was just amazed at what I saw, I was completely blown away. The crowd was one thing because they were all so into their own little world and into the whole music but the band was just incredible. The musicianship was amazing. And from that minute on I just became obsessed with them as musicians and so I started paying attention to where they were playing.”

Eventually, Sue flew up to Burlington to meet with members of the band and their manager at the time John Paluska. “Frankly I don’t think they had any interest in signing to a major but at some point they came back to New York. At Elektra Records we had a wonderful secret in our record cabinet. In those days we used to keep copies of all the CDs that we had released previously. We’d have five to ten copies of everything and it was an incredibly impressive roster through the years from Elektra’s inception until that time. So I brought them into the record cabinet, opened it up and their eyes just popped out because you know everything from the Eagles to Tim Buckley to Motley Crew and Metallica and The Pixies, I mean, it was just an amazing array of talent historically speaking and current day. And I think at that point, when they opened that up and saw that, they might have reconsidered and thought yeah I want to be part of this,” Drew said.

Phishbase discussed a variety of topics with Drew including the process of signing the group, putting out A Picture Of Nectar (their major label debut), her departure from Elektra and more. Head here for the entire interview.

Listen to “Cavern” off Phish’s Elektra debut, 1992’s A Picture Of Nectar:

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