Photo by Stuart Levine
In a new interview with Pollstar, Trey Anastasio discussed The Beacon Jams and a variety of other topics, including his music influences, the livestreams’ rehearsal process and what lies ahead for Phish.
Anastasio notes that he was initially pitched on the idea of pre-recording the shows, but was insistent on them being “live-live.”
“There were conversations at the beginning, based on the COVID limitations,” he said. “For safety purposes and for ease of transmission, and the ability to edit, I was told it would be a little easier for us to model it after Fallon or something: you record at 11 o’clock in the morning, and then people can fix it and then stream it. I didn’t like that idea. I wanted it to be live-live.”
Later in the piece, the guitarist explains why Phish has not yet performed livestreams as a full band.
“My role in Phish has always been the cheerleader,” he says. “Like, ‘What do you mean we’re not going to do something for Halloween? We have to! Let’s just make up a band! Come on! Come on, you guys!’ That’s always been my role. I get excited and like call everybody up. I’ve tried that throughout the pandemic.
“But there’s implications,” Anastasio continued. “I’ll give you an example. I did throw some things out about some Phish options, but the quarantine rules were so strict, and you have to go by the rules. Fish is in in Maine with five children, and he’s just going through a divorce right now. It’s not going to happen. [Keyboardist] Page [McConnell] has three kids and he’s in Vermont. We talked about doing some stuff at The Barn, [Phish’s rehearsal and recording facility outside of Burlington, Vt.], and everybody was kind of in. But what it turned out was that going from Maine to Vermont was so messed up, because you had to do like seven days on either end. It was like a 14-day commitment to play together at The Barn for one day. It just wasn’t useful.”
However, Anastasio did insist that he is eager to do more streaming. “I want to do more streaming, because – OK, I was really depressed after [The Beacon Jams] ended. That was the worst week of pandemic for me, was the week after the Beacon. It was so much work doing that every week, it was just hours every day, just concentration and making it work, that the week after it was like, I didn’t even know what to do with myself.”
He also noted that in the event something could be worked out for Phish, whether a livestream or ultimately a true live show, they would do it. “So, we’ll see, but as soon as it’s feasible, we’ll be back. And I will say this, too: The amount of conversation and connection that the four of us have, it’s really over the top at this point. It’s kind of funny. We talk a lot.”