The Inside With Turner & Seth podcast just released their new episode featuring a wide-ranging interview with Jon Fishman in which the Phish drummer talks with the hosts about an array of topics, including the band’s fans, vocals and lyrics, his iconic onstage dress, his idols and more, plus some on Col. Bruce Hampton, as the interview was conducted backstage at the Hampton 70 birthday tribute in Atlanta that turned out to be the legendary honoree’s final concert (The podcast also previously released an episode featuring several more interviews from that night).
The interview starts off discussing how Fishman and Phish met Hampton, a meeting of the minds that didn’t happen until 1990. Phish and Hampton’s Aquarium Rescue Unit teamed up for some shows around that time, along with H.O.R.D.E. tour later on. The drummer talks about how he was in awe when meeting Hampton, which provokes a discussion on Phish’s notoriously rabid fanbase, which Fishman says he had trouble with in the beginning as he wasn’t used to the fame and adoration.
“I was an asshole for one year,” he says, referring to 1997. Fishman explains that the band has a word for fans fawning over them: “gauzing,” which comes from fans saying, “I love you guys” with the “guys” sounding like “gauze.” He claims that meeting his hero Kurt Vonnegut, who treated him very nicely even though Fishman was “gauzing” him, prompted the change in demeanor and treatment of avid fans. He also admits to “gauzing” Captain Beefheart guitarist Danny Walley and Ella Fitzgerald in the past.
The conversation also goes deep into some of Phish’s tendencies, as Fishman discusses their influences, lyrics (“We’ve had some good ones here and there.”), striving to improve their vocals and harmonies, working through disagreements and more, plus why they don’t ever have openers (it tires out the fans).
Fishman also touches on his iconic donut dress, which he says helps him focus on his craft. “You cannot put that thing on and go on stage and take yourself seriously. It’s over. The only thing I can possibly be there for is the music. I’m not gonna look good, like Bowie.”
Listen to the full interview below.