Two weeks after rocking New York’s Madison Square Garden with Phish for their annual New Year’s Eve run, Mike Gordon will get back into the swing of performing with his solo band at the Tedeschi Trucks Band-hosted Sunshine Music Festival this weekend in Florida, and the bassist spoke with The Tampa Bay Times about a range of topics, from his thoughts on the MSG run to his career trajectory, an album project he has is the works with longtime collaborator Leo Kottke and more.
First off was a discussion on the New Year’s Eve run with Phish, which Gordon says was “really fun” and reiterated his feelings on playing with Phish being “like clockwork, where I can jump into it and go for an incredible ride.”
“It’s interesting to have two bands, because as similar as they’re going to be in some ways, I’m always surprised by how different they are,” Gordon continues, noting how Phish can go for long stretches on the same scale and groove without even blinking. “[With] my band, there’s still a bunch of improvising; it’s just a different kind of trajectory. It’s almost a culture shock to go back and forth.”
Gordon also got into a bit of a retrospective on his career, mentioning several of his albums and the different feelings that went into each of them, including his latest, last year’s OGOGO, which he said reminded him of the experimental approach he had with his 2003 record Inside In, an album that he notes is a fan favorite. “I think what they like about it is just that there’s no rules,” Gordon explains of the earlier LP. “It’s just a lot of experimenting sonically, like banging on the washer-dryer, whatever, anything goes. I like that quality too, getting away from the rules of recording.”
On his current work with Kottke, Gordon says he’s getting deep into composing, but the project isn’t close to completion at the moment. “I’ve been taking some of his more intense compositions and spending a long time composing basslines, rather than just getting in and learning the chord progression and getting in and jamming it,” Gordon says. “It’s been years in the making. So we’re working on it, and we’re excited, but it’s slow motion.”
Along with some thoughts on the Allman Brothers Band and the late Tom Petty, Gordon was asked about Phish’s declining touring range, specifically missing shows in Tampa and Orlando for a long time.
“Oh, people say that all over the country,” Gordon says, noting that less Phish touring gives him time to work on his various other projects. “The simple fact of the matter is, Phish just doesn’t play as much. We play for more people and less time, and it’s mostly major markets. We just can’t go everywhere. People have their other lives, their other creative work and families. We’re able to do Phish in less time and have as much fun with it.”
Read the full interview here, and our own feature on Gordon from the December issue of Relix here. The Mike Gordon Band will play the Sunshine Music Festival this weekend before opening up their winter tour next month. See Gordon’s full tour schedule here.