Trey Anastasio Discusses His Phish Show Day Rituals On SiriusXM
Yesterday, SiriusXM launched the Phish Radio channel and premiered “Ask Trey,” a question-and-answer session with Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio. Some of the topics Anastasio touched upon were his favorite New Year’s Eve gag, the eras of Phish, the song “Mercury,” how the band came up with the Kasvot Växt lyrics and advice for composers. One of the more interesting responses came to a question from fan Zach Roth about the rituals the guitarist has before shows.
“It starts kinda the minute I wake up. I do some funny, weird little things,” Trey revealed. “First I meditate and do all my morning stuff, which is a big part of my day. Then, usually when I’m drinking coffee I read through the entire Phish song list every single morning. I’ve read through it so many times now … that’s a lot of songs.” He doesn’t just skim the song list but reads each title, “And that just starts my day by thinking of possibilities of songs we can bust out and what not. Then, as the day goes on, I do that a couple of times more. I also exercise and all that stuff and I do guitar and vocal warmups I’ve been doing for years.”
He also seeks input from others, “I walk around and talk to band members, ‘what do you want to play?’ ‘what are you feeling?’ that kind of thing. Even though we do walk on stage completely blind, which we do, we walk on stage without a song list because I don’t think that decision could be made without the introduction of the audience energy.” The guitarist made an interesting comparison about his process, “It’s kind of like martial arts to me in that there’s an enormous amount of preparation into not having any thought at all. Probably five times throughout the day I read through the whole song list and I start letting my pen flow about songs we might play. Just thoughtless fast … really open-ended: ‘Oh, I love that song,’ ‘maybe [Phish keyboardist] Page [McConnell] wants to sing that song,’ ‘maybe [Phish drummer] Fish wants to be Bob Weaver.'”
The next part of the process involves a crew member. “Sometimes I’ll send an email to our road manager so that when I arrive at the next spot, like at soundcheck he’ll hand me a piece of paper with 100 songs on it I wrote earlier in the day,” Anastasio explained. “And then I’ll read through that, circle some more faves. And then I’ll take to [Phish bassist] Mike [Gordon] and he’ll say, ‘What about ‘Infinite’ and then we’ll add that to it. Then, I’ll change it, I’ll change it and I change it and I do that all day long. And then, about 10 minutes before I walk on stage I rip it up and throw it out. When I walk on stage I’ve trained myself to go completely blank until I step up, I pick up my guitar and I know what to play.”
Replays of “Ask Trey” will air throughout the week on SiriusXM’s Channel 29. Phish Radio will continue through January 1 including a live simulcast of the band’s New Year’s Eve concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
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