Saturday 09/20/2008 by Lemuria


Starting around 1996, Phish's print advertisements for their shows began to get strange. But 1998 was a banner year for it.

Spring 1998 ads featured a Kung Fu character and proclaimed "Phish Destroys America".

Summer 1998 ads announced that "in addition to their other amazing expoits, the band will perform in a temple of fire", possibly referring to the "ambient fourth set" of the Lemonwheel. (Concerts LA by Casenet actually listed Temple of Fire as the opening act for Ventura!)

Fall 1998 ads (e.g. for the Greek Theatre) read "ROAD SHOW '98 ... They drive FASTER & play HARDER ! ACTION... PHISH.... Their GUTS are as hard as the STEEL in their ENGINES." The ads showed a demolition-derby-type car with a number 72 on the side.


Wednesday 06/16/2004 by Lemuria


Written by Dan Hantman 6/16/04; posted with his permission 11/5/12...

So, I've obviously been thinking a lot about The End of Phish. I realized today that the last show will be almost exactly 10 years after I first heard Phish -- a moment that itself will end up marking roughly the midpoint of the Phish timeline. In that vein, I've been thinking about the portion of Phish's career I've watched unfold in real-time...and all the "big thoughts about music and bands" that Phish has put into my head. I always tell people that Phish taught me how to listen to music. And they certainly taught me what music could mean.

I knew from the moment I heard it that the Announcement was okay, even good. It just felt right in my gut. As I said on this list before, I don't mean to say at *all* that I knew this decision was *coming*, but I definitely was wondering where the band was *going*... and in that context, it all made sense.

So intuitively, on the "heart" level, I was with Trey as soon as I got the news. But I've been trying to put it together on a "head" level. And I think I just got it:

If "Phish" (the idea, the phenomenon) was about one thing... it wasn't about intricate fugues or key changes. It wasn't about sick jamming. It wasn't about drugs or dreadlocks. It wasn't about wacky covers or about cultivating a new Grateful Dead for the suburban-scape. It certainly wasn't about "songwriting." All those things helped shape the band's personality, but they weren't at the core of it.

Rather, Phish was about hard work.

Phish proved, more than any other band, that rock and roll greatness can be archived through sheer, unflinching effort. Phish won because they practiced. Because Trey spend weeks on end writing up the score for crazy wacked-out sonic gymnastics. Because they brought *teachers* out on tour with them to school them in new genres. Because they were constantly forcing themselves to invent: 'Hey' exercises, Oh Kee Pa ceremonies, Big Ball Jams, secret language, hot dogs, musical costumes, macaroni maracas, playing through the night... They never stopped.

Aside perhaps from Fish (who I suspect was born pounding out a rhythm on his round little tummy), I don't think any of the boys is a raw, natural musical genius. There was no Dylan, Hendrix, or Garcia here. They just wanted this so bad, they saw the possibilities, and they went out and fucking did it. That's why when you see Phish at their best on stage, you can see each band member looking around going "holy shit, this is actually fucking happening to me"... no sense of entitlement or expectation, just the joy of somebody who hauls ass and watches it pay off.

And that's why, with the hiatus, and the waning of the desire to bust ass, Phish just had to end.

All bands "stray" from their original genius (use the word "decline" if you want). The Stones are still rocking, but it's just not possible for them to convey the blues-soaked sex romps that defined their glory days. In that way, to the extent that all rock and roll bands are about youth, decline is inevitable. But that's not the point with Phish. Phish *could* have gone on forever, if the impulse to work were still there. If Trey were still calling the other 3 to hop out of bed on a Friday morning and hustle down at 10:15am to work through a set of needlessly difficult exercises -- Phish could go on like that forever. But once they stepped back, took the hiatus, dramatically scaled back the number of shows... it was a foregone conclusion. Phish can't exist at 20, 50 or 75%.

Phish was a 110% operation. The minute it went to 99%, it might as well have been 0%. And I can only say one thing to Trey for having the foresight to see that: Thanks, man.

two cents


Tuesday 06/01/2004 by phishnet


This interview was conducted by Phil Nazarro via email in August 2003, and originally published in the second edition of
The Phish Companion.

Jen met Trey when she was 17, and still in high school. Dave Grippo introduced them when Trey was looking for a trumpet player for One Man’s Trash and Story of the Ghost. They kept in touch over the years, and when he put the six-piece band together he called and asked her to do a tour. She has been in the band ever since.

Phil Nazarro: I’ve read that you come from a Classical background and only discovered Pop music in the last few years. Did you feel comfortable right away doing the R&B-type stuff on your solo recording? Was it a learning process?

Jen Hartswick: There are some things that I’ve come across in my life that just seem right. This music seems right to me at this point in my life. I think it’s just a matter of diving in headfirst and trying new things, which is what we did with Fuse. I think diversity is the key to making and keeping things fun. A year from now I might be immersed in tap dancing and country songs, who knows?

PN: You have played an amazing amount of instruments. Can we get a complete list?

JH: My first instrument was piano, then I moved to clarinet, flute and sax. Tuba came next, and then finally trumpet when I was 10. I still play a little flute and piano.

PN: Where do you stand now as far as broadening your musical (listening) education?

JH: I try to listen to things I feel will benefit my weaknesses. I figure that I have a lot of ground to cover with both past and present. Right now I’m addicted to Jeff Buckley. Last month it was Kathleen Battle, and before that Rachelle Ferrell. Three extremely different musicians, but it’s all a wonderful education. Kathleen Battle is the most outstanding opera singer that has ever walked the earth, as far as I’m concerned. If her album “Grace” doesn’t bring you to tears you have no soul. Rachelle Ferrell is by far the most versatile singer I’ve ever heard. Her album “First Instrument” is a more straight ahead jazz record, and the more recent album “Individuality” is slick, heavy R&B. It’s an amazing record.

PN: As far as Jambands go, what have you heard that you like?

JH: Honestly, I have no idea what a jam band is. You always get into tricky territory when you are trying to categorize music, and a lot of things get lumped together under the term “jamband.” That being said, I listen to a lot of Soulive, Bootyjuice and Addison Groove Project. Do they fall into that category?

PN: I asked that question with a grain of salt. We often banter about the merits of the term “Jamband” when we write about Phish. But in the interest of the book… can we please hear some opinions on Phish’s music through the years?

JH: You’re not going to like this answer. I just don’t listen to Phish. I know I should… it’s on my list of things to do I’ll get to it some day.

PN: Do you prefer playing large or small venues?

JH: I love playing small venues. So much of what it’s about as a band is watching people and connecting with them. There’s no vibe when the audience is half a mile away. I’d take the Stanley over a “Verizon Wireless” center any day.

PN: What single element makes a show for you the most? Is it the venue, audience, musicians, or something else?

JH: I think it’s different for everyone, but for me it’s the musicians. I get such a kick out of listening to everybody evolve and watching the chemistry on any given night. That’s not to say that the audience isn’t an enormous part of what makes a show for me, because it is. Getting to see complete strangers smiling and laughing and dancing because of something I’m a part of is such a beautiful thing.

PN: Was there an intimidation factor going from theaters in winter 2001 to large, outdoor venues that summer? As far as acoustics, audience, improv, etc. what kind of advice did you get from Trey and other bands members about playing live in a larger place?

JH: It’s all intimidating to me on some level, whether I’m playing for 20 people or 20,000 people. I don’t think there’s anything quite as wonderfully intimidating as Red Rocks; not only because of the history of the venue, but just the sheer vulnerability you feel, knowing that you’re completely insignificant standing on that stage. It’s a very humbling experience.

PN: How does one deal with this feeling?

JH: I’m still trying to figure that out.

PN: When improvising, what makes one version of a song longer than another? Do you actually say as a band “We’re going to work this one out tonight because we’re excited about this and need to know where it can go?” Or is it all in the mood, performance, and/or exchange of ideas?

JH: Nothing is ever planned. We don’t usually talk about the music unless it’s in the past tense. “Man, that “First Tube” was nasty when Tony dropped out and Cyro and Ray took over.” If the band is feeling it, we’ll play one tune all night. That’s a threat. You know we’ll do it.

PN: What is your input as to the actual composition of the material in both Trey’s band and in the Phish sessions you’ve done?

JH: Most of my input in Trey’s band comes in the form of vocal harmonization and random horn quips. I think we all have basically the same role once Trey writes a tune. We get together and learn the basic structure, then we all add the things we’re good at. If Russell feels a horn line between verse A and verse B he’ll show it to us and we’ll harmonize it. It has become a formula, because it works well. The recordings I’ve done for Phish in the past have been orchestrated pretty thoroughly, so there wasn’t a lot of room for composition.

PN: Can you offer any details about how the horns coordinate in Trey’s band? Does one of the horns lead?

JH: I think we all take turns leading. Whether we’re off stage or on stage, we’re listening to what’s going on and writing an impromptu line to enhance what’s happening.

PN: If you could play with any one person (living or dead) who would it be?

JH: Louis Armstrong. No contest. The man is responsible not only for making some of the most amazing music in his time, but some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard to this day. He paved the way for every jazz musician after him and every trumpet player after him.

PN: Can you offer some thoughts on your own project… where do you hope to take that?

JH: We’re having such an amazing time with the Jennifer Hartswick Band. It’s a combination of some of my favorite musicians who also happened to be some of my oldest and dearest friends. Ray Paczkowski, Dezron Douglas, Dave Diamond, Russ Lawton, Andy Moroz, Dave Grippo, Christina Durfee, Alex Wolston, Luke Laplant and Conor Elmes. Half the band is from my hometown. We’ve been playing music together since we were eight years old. This band is oozing with great chemistry, not to mention funk and soul.

PN: Can you share with us one funny or interesting road story. I’m sure there’s plenty.

JH: We were on our way to Pittsburgh, and while you may never believe it, there’s a wee bit of tomfoolery when the ten of us get together. Now, I’ve been told that my Tweet impression is second to none, so Trey was begging me to sing “Oops, There Goes My Shirt Up Over My Head.” I began singing it, Trey started dancing like the white boy he is, everyone was singing along and gettin’ down; it was a scene. Loud, obnoxious mayhem. With one flashy move Trey managed to knock a full wine bottle from a counter five feet high onto my big toe, shattering the bone. So now every time I catch a glimpse of my foot there’s a scar where the bone poked through the skin. Thanks, Trey.

PN: Free Space: Is there anything at all that you would like to say to your fans that you have never been given the chance to say?

JH: I just want to say thank you to all the people who have been so fantastic over the past few years. The positive energy is ever flowing, and doesn’t go unnoticed. Thanks also to everyone who comes to hear my band – I hope you guys are having as much fun as we are.


Monday 07/28/2003 by Lemuria


The idea behind Live Phish downloads is to get as much music to as many fans as possible as quickly as possible. With that thought in mind, I am confident that Phish will continue to embrace technology as a means to achieve this goal. The sky is the limit in terms of potential applications and I am definitely excited to see how things evolve.

Brad Serling of (7/28/03)
Thursday 04/17/2003 by phishnet

TREY VS. ....

I could take Dave Matthews in a fight. No, I’ll be braver. I could take on Henry Rollins…well, maybe not Rollins. But I will take Perry Farrell.

Trey Anastasio, quoted in Rolling Stone 4/17/03
Thursday 03/06/2003 by Lemuria


"That's how our whole career has been - stupid ideas that work."
- Page in Rolling Stone, 3/6/03, p. 42

Saturday 12/21/2002 by Lemuria


First band practice. Let’s see. What did we play? I think I remember the Talking Heads’ song “Pulled Up.” There was probably an Allman Brothers song like “Whipping Post.” Maybe even a Grateful Dead song. Actually I think we played “Midnight Hour.” This was in Trey’s dorm lounge. The complex at UVM was Wing, Davis, and Wilks. He was in Wing. It was the fourth floor of Wing, in the dorm lounge. There is no tape of that, but there were 25 people dancing in the lounge. We also played some originals that day. Trey had some songs, like “Skippy the Wonder Mouse” [and] “Fluorescent Gerbils.” It was all sort of rat and mouse related [laughs]. Maybe “Fluffhead.” That was pretty early. If not then, it would have come soon after.

Mike, in interview with Jonathan Cohen, Billboard, 12/21/02
Saturday 12/21/2002 by Lemuria


Well, the funny thing about styles is that we used to dabble in a lot of different bags. I think as we matured a bit, there was an effort to try to be a rock band and not be something we're not. We wanted to get better at one thing rather than trying to do a million different things, like jazz, or bluegrass, or other things we have tackled.

Mike, in Billboard, 12/21/02
Friday 09/27/2002 by Lemuria


The biggest sacrifice to me is to not be in an atmosphere where I can keep writing and moving forward. I tend to move forward fairly quickly and I enjoy that. I feel like there’s something out there and I have felt that way for a long time, that involves all those elements that is very inclusive of the audience but also very deep.

Trey to CNN, 9/27/02
Saturday 06/01/2002 by Lemuria


Phish is not the next Grateful Dead, but the Phish scene is to the Grateful Dead’s something of what Volkswagen’s new Beetle is to the old: obedient but hardly servile; bolder, with more horsepower; slicker seeming, yet goofier when you think about it; a good idea to some, a bad one to others; an idea whose time has gone, or come. But not merely a replacement. Such things, to the people who hold them dear, the true groupies, are irreplaceable.

Jonathan Keifer, The Moment Ends?, Gadfly Online, 6/02
Thursday 07/19/2001 by Lemuria


We always knew we'd be a cult band. People who liked us really liked us, right from the beginning, from the first show. But we would just do this stuff, and have these rituals where we would play all night long, and it was amazing. It just was amazing, it really was. Right to the last minute, we ended this last show in San Francisco, and we were doing 'You Enjoy Myself,' which was always, we felt, the song. It ends with a vocal improvisation, and it was just so emotional. I felt such a huge wave just to think that for seventeen years we were focused on this thing. It was overwhelming. And we just went backstage and sat there for hours.

Trey Anastasio in Rolling Stone, 7/19/2001
Thursday 08/10/2000 by phishnet


By Jon Lober (Atlanta, GA), originally published in the first edition ofThe Phish Companion

Reflections of life often surface in Phish songs like pieces of sky captured in water’s natural mirror. The loss of my girlfriend Mitzi was the still-life reflection of Bouncing Around the Room. At the University of Florida we bounced around the roomy confines of our relationship until one day she whispered words and I awoke to find that the woman was a dream I had, one I could not keep. As I tuned out the siren’s song she sang for me I saw the beautiful coral maze of our relationship was a prison. I realized we lived underwater in a hazy reality we created. Once I awoke from that dream, I could no longer sink beneath the sea of our troubles obscured by the crystal haze of our dream world. So the siren disappeared beneath the waves and, barely alive, I swam to the shore and recovered in the shallow waters of solitude. But even today, three years after we broke up, I can still hear the gentle echo of her beautiful voice bouncing around the roomy confines of my mind. I know she is happy and I know another man tends the beautiful coral maze of the siren Mitzi and this makes me smile.


Monday 07/03/2000 by Lemuria


I felt at Big Cypress so relaxed and so much part of a thing much bigger than us. This amazingly cool group of people in the audience, and hooked up on the Internet. It was a turning point in my mind about this potential that had just appeared. This community that has been created around the four of us. That's why my mind is on this type of music  that is a positive community-building activity. I feel the cool thing about the Internet is the availability of all kinds of music in the world. I hope a new kind of music will come out of all this. I hope that some form of non-commercial, ritualistic, spiritual music is the end product.

Trey, quoted in 7/3/00 SonicNet
Thursday 06/01/2000 by Lemuria


I did a bass duet with Mike Gordon when I sat in with Phish [on 9/17/99]. I generally abhor bass duets, but it was marvelous. It was actually beautiful. …we just played it by ear. He knows how to get out of my way, and I know how to get out of his. It was like two hippopotami humping!

Phil Lesh, quoted in the June 2000 issue of Bass Player Magazine

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