In a recent interview with Rock On Philly, drummer and man-of-a-thousand-bands Joe Russo talks about some of his many projects, helping Trey Anastasio out with learning Grateful Dead tunes for Fare Thee Well and his upcoming foray into fatherhood.
Although he has had his hand in many bands over the years, Russo calls his Almost Dead project his main focus, at least over the past year. He reiterates that it didn’t start out as something that was supposed to get so big. “As I’ve said a million times in interviews,” Russo says, “there’s no way in hell this was the plan.”
Russo also talks about working with Simon Poshford, with whom he played in Shpongle and Younger Brother, and how they have “been speaking about doing a duo project for some time.” Russo says that they would “like to see that get off the ground next year.”
And although this upcoming year will also include the birth of his and his wife’s first child, whose arrival is expected in May, Russo also speaks on plans to get his new project, Hawaii, up and going. The band is a trio with Russo, Erik Deutsch and bassist Jon Shaw, who will be filling in for Dave Dreiwitz in Almost Dead for some upcoming shows. With everyone so busy this year, though, Russo says Hawaii, which started as “the easiest band of all time,” have changed their goals. “We’re just gonna go out, book a goddamn gig, and just improvise. It’s just too hard [to get together].”
Russo also touched on his rumored help with Trey Anastasio as the Phish frontman was preparing for the Fare Thee Well shows with the Grateful Dead. “I was really honored that he got in touch,” Russo says. “He was taking that so seriously. It was really, really cool how hard he was working to do this.” After a few days, Russo brought in fellow Almost Dead members Dreiwitz and guitarist Scott Metzger to flesh out the rehearsals. “I gotta say, it was [expletive] amazing. I so wish it was recorded or something because it was really cool. And, it was really fun for me.” Russo previously played with Anastasio when the guitarist and his Phish bandmate Mike Gordon joined the (Marco) Benevento/Russo duo to form GRAB for a summer tour in 2006.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead will ring in 2016 with a New Year’s Eve show at The Fillmore in Philadelphia before heading to The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY on January 1 and 2.