From The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 10th Annual Induction Ceremony
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
They arrived from the wilds of Vermont in the late 1980s as a quartet of awkward-looking music dorks from an obscure experimental college in the woods, singing show tune-injected, prog-pop tunes whose very catchiness turned rock convention on its fat, stupid nose. They jammed, too, and they were as do-it-yourself as possible for parent-funded bros conquering the New England frat circuit. Ditto their cassette-trading Phishheads. Over the next decade, Phish morphed from thick-glassed oddballs into a massively popular arena act known for their fan base's Internet-enabled frothing and post-Dead penchant for obsessive debauchery. And then, they imploded with stunning efficiency.
By the time Phish performed in Las Vegas in April 2004, they'd already broken up and reformed once and had, by then, become seriously addled hippie heroes, looking literally uncomfortable in their own skins, especially leader Trey Anastasio. The complex music's collapsed architecture mirrored some unnamed corrosion. And, apparently, reviews I wrote bounced around the echo chamber to the band. A month later, they disbanded, my words having "nudged Anastasio to the tipping point," per Puterbaugh. They were the subject of Anastasio's "end-of-band meeting" and paraphrased in a breakup announcement, too. I got a lot of hate mail, but Phish's problems in 2004 weren't solved—as Anastasio would be the first to admit—until his 2006 arrest for possession of Vicodin, Percocet, Xanax and heroin. Read more
Trey and Classic TAB features the same lineup from last fall, with the addition of horns back into the mix. A limited number of pre-sale tickets are available through Trey's online ticketing system now at http://treytickets.rlc.net . The presale ends tomorrow, Thursday, January 14th at 5:00pm ET. Tickets will go on sale to the public beginning Thursday, January 14th at 10:00am ET. For complete ticketing information, please visit http://www.trey.com
TREY ANASTASIO ON TAB
Q: Phish just wrapped up 2009 with four consecutive nights at Miami's American Airlines arena and here you are, already embarking on another tour, this time with Classic TAB
TA: I am [laughs]. One of things that we're excited about is that we're getting to play some towns that Phish or TAB hasn't been to in quite a while like Milwaukee or Kansas City. We're really looking forward to that.
Q: Is the first time TAB has toured as a septet?
TA: Yes, this is the first time we'll have seven people – it's sort of lean and mean. The group has been going since '98 and it grows and retreats in numbers. I've gone out with a three-piece, a six-piece, an eight-piece, a nine-piece, a ten-piece and an eleven-piece. I really spent a lot of time thinking about this tour. I had a lot of horn-based material and I realized that I really needed three horns to make it happen – a tenor, a trombone and a trumpet. At one point the horn section was as big as five people. But if you write economical arrangements, you can sometimes make a richer sounding chord with less people, less voices.
So this tour, it's going to be the core of the band – Ray Paczkowski, Jennifer Hartswick, Russ Lawton, Tony Markellis and Russ Remington – we've all been together for 10-12 years. And we're really excited to have Natalie Cressman, who is Jeff Cressman's 18-year-old daughter, join us. Jeff was our trombone player up until 2008. He's going out with Santana, so his daughter is our first second-generation member and she's an incredible player.
Q: Will you be debuting some new material on the tour?
TA: Yes, we'll be bringing a lot of new material to the table. This band is sort of a breeding ground for Phish material. Songs like "Bug," "Heavy Things," "Backwards Down the Number Line," "Sand," "First Tube," "Gotta Jibboo" -- all these songs started out in the TAB band and then sort of made their way to Phish. For instance, last year we did "Alaska" with TAB and it ended up being performed with Phish. So it's a process that seems to work.
Q:Will you also be playing songs from throughout your solo career?
TA:Yes, stuff like "Cayman Review" and "Push On 'Til The Day" from my first album and some songs off Shine – "Sleep Again," "Wherever You Find It" and "Sweet Dreams Melinda." There's a song called "Goodbye Head" that's on Bar 17 that I always thought could be good but we never really had time to get at it because it's pretty complicated. So we're going to work on that one. And we're including material from The Horseshoe Curve, like "Olivia" and "Burlap Sack & Pumps." The band has a pretty deep repertoire -- our master song list has at least 50 songs on it that Phish doesn't play.
Q: And rehearsals are underway?
TA: Yes, so far we've scheduled two weeks of rehearsal and that's a lot more than we've ever had, ever. We started in December with the three horn players and my friend, Don Hart, who I collaborated with on Time Turns Elastic. We spent three days at my house going through all the old charts – shoeboxes full of papers, many of them handwritten, from 10 years of horn writing. Don helped us re-voice the chords to sound richer and we finally did the work of perfecting that whole library of music. Don is also contributing some great new charts that he's been composing. The charts are now being organized into a book like swing bands used to have. That's been a dream of mine for years now because you can add to it quite easily and it allows you to proactively use your rehearsal time.
Q: TAB has quite a history. How did the band come together?
TA: Part of the reason that I moved to Burlington was because the first night I ever visited, I went out and had a great time dancing to this band called Big Joe Burrell & The Unknown Blues Band. I loved them so much. When Sue and I got married in 94', they even played at our wedding. I was a huge fan of their bass player, Tony Markellis, and I always wanted to play with him.
So when my brother-in-law was opening a club called Higher Ground in Burlington and he asked me to play a benefit concert for his opening weekend in the spring of '98, I called Tony and he suggested his favorite drummer, Russ Lawton. The three of us got together and we did a bunch of grooves that I took and wrote songs to – "First Tube," "Sand," "Gotta Jibboo," "Last Tube" and a few others. Those songs now are well known Phish songs, but that's where they started. The band, which had a couple of other players, was called the 8FT Fluorescent Tubes and we had crazy dancers on stage with actual eight-foot-long fluorescent tubes.
We went on tour as a trio in the spring of 1999. A year or two later, I started bringing the horns along. The horn section was built around Jennifer Hartswick, who plays trumpet. Jennifer had just graduated from Lyndon Institute, a high school in Vermont. She came and played a session for me and I was not only blown away by her, but quickly became very, very close friends with her.
Russ Remington, who's the tenor saxophone player, is an old friend. He was in The Giant Country Horns, so he was always out there on all those tours as well. I was also a fan of another great Burlington band, Viper House, and I had always wanted to play with Ray Paczkowski, their keyboard player. Ray joined the band around that time and we've had a real deep musical connection ever since. He's an incredible player.
2001 was a big tour – we were doing Plasma. We just kind of kept going out – 2002, 2003, 2004. Last year I scaled it back to a four-piece and we introduced some brand new songs, including "Backwards Down the Number Line," which of course ended up being the first song on the new Phish album. We played that song every night on that tour.
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