Trey Anastasio Discusses Future Of Phish & Power Of Live Music In New Interview
Those holding out hope Phish will perform at a empty venue or The Barn may want to recalibrate their expectations. Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio gave an interview to Relix in which he states that he’d personally rather wait for the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic to end before returning to the stage.
Anastasio is among a number of musicians featured in the new issue of Relix, which includes a section on “The Power Of Live.” Trey was asked by Relix’s Dean Budnick about the chances of Phish or any of his solo projects performing at an empty venue akin to what Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires pulled off in May at Brooklyn Bowl Nashville. “I love Jason and I’m friends with him. It was a great thing. But for me, so far, I’ve said no,” Trey responded.
Read more of Anastasio’s reasoning for why he’s said no so far below:
So much of what I do is informed by the close proximity of the people in the front row—in the front 10 rows—and even by the person in the back row. We don’t have a song list because that connection is a big part of who we are as a band and who I am.
I think the Phish experience is very much about the “group think.” It’s the same with TAB or the trio. I do a prayer before I go onstage. I don’t decide what the first song’s going to be. I think about it a little, but I can’t decide until people are standing in front of me. I’ve tried. The guys in TAB make fun of me. They’ll ask, “What are we going to open with?” and I’ll tell them, “We’re opening with ‘Sand.’” But then after I walk on the stage and I see everyone, I turn around and say, “We’re not opening with ‘Sand.’”
I don’t know if I want to play without our community with me. It’s a bridge I haven’t been able to cross.
I have been asked by many people: “Let’s do this Zoom concert” or “Let’s do it Brady Bunch style.” Maybe it’s my spiritual belief system, but I feel like this is where we are today and this is where I am— “I’m home. The concert isn’t happening right now.”
I almost don’t want to go halfway. If it’s possible, I want to celebrate that resurgence of live music with our family, which is our audience. And it doesn’t even feel like an audience—it feels to me, like a community.
Trey went on to clarify he was speaking for himself but noted Phish went through a lengthy layoff in the past when the band broke up from 2004 – March 2009. “Then, we came back to Hampton Coliseum in 2009 and our community was there,” Anastasio added. “Not everyone was there but it was a large group of people. I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live, which was the opening song in Hampton when everybody was back. When I think of that moment, it can make me cry.”
“The virus is going to have its way,” the guitarist said. “So again that goes back around to: ‘Yes, I want live concerts to come back, but I’m not going to race into something half-baked just out of my desire for things to change.'” Other topics hit upon were Trey listening to a stellar “Tweezer” from this past year’s New Year’s Run, how the quarantine has impacted his creativity, a concert he saw that helped show the connection an artist can have to their audience and more. Head here for the full interview and here to subscribe to Relix.
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[Hat Tip – @Ry_Storm]