HT Interview: Trey Anastasio, Part One

HT: Can we expect new material this tour?

TA: There’s always new stuff floating around. It would be fun to play [My] Problem Right There with Tony and Russ and Ray and the horns. It’s a perfect song for this band, though I’m actually not sure yet what we’ll do. I’m excited to revisit some of the stuff that was new last tour, like Valentine, because these songs usually take a tour or so to find their comfort zone. Last year was the first tour for this seven piece incarnation, and bands usually settle in after the first tour. Even Phish was a little less relaxed on the first tour back in 2009 than we were in 2010 with one tour behind us. It just always goes that way. This band felt way looser to me at the [Hangout Festival] than it had on much of the previous tour. When the arrangements are internalized, everyone gets comfortable, and there is space to explore.

HT: What inspired the decision to once again use the 1999 formula of an acoustic 1st set?

TA: I just love playing acoustic. I walk around my living room with my acoustic guitar and my coffee all day, but my kids always make me stop because they can’t hear Assassin’s Creed. I need a peaceful place to play, so it’s time to go on tour.

HT: Will the first set be completely solo, or can we expect appearances from Jennifer, Natalie or Ray?

TA: This is going to sound like a cop out answer, but I honestly don’t know till we all get together. I haven’t thought that far ahead. I certainly love playing and singing with those guys, but those kinds of things are always so much better if you don’t think about them and just let them happen, so we shall see.

[Photo by Regan Teti Marscher]

HT: Is there any hope for songs seemingly forgotten in the TAB arsenal over the years. Whether it’s 1999’s Silicone Fairy, When [which appears on the double-live album Plasma] or the only once-played-ever Perhaps at the famed Utica Stanley Theater show? Should fans just stop asking – or should they start bringing their sign requests to TAB shows too?

TA: Don’t stop asking, because the biggest problem is that we forget. There’s so many songs. Perhaps is a cool song that I completely forgot…maybe we’ll try that one, and I LOVE Silicone Fairy.


Trey Anastasio – Silicone Fairy [05/03/1999]

I remember the Stanley Theater! The long Mr. Completely and everyone was dancing crazy hard and pieces of the balcony started falling on people’s heads! That was an unbelievable night. The manager of the building ran onstage and stopped us. No kidding. People were dancing so hard that the building was falling apart. Unreal. Wow, I remember a bunch of people backstage that night too. I think it might have been the moe. guys and some friends. Just a great night, all around.


Trey Anastasio – Perhaps [10/25/2002]

Let me explain the sign situation from where we stand onstage. We see them the first time you hold them up. Yes, we saw the Manteca sign at the Garden. Page and I were cracking up about it backstage. The problem is, if you keep holding them up all night, It blocks the view of the people behind you, so it seems kind of insensitive to everyone else. We saw it the first time, so you don’t have to keep holding it up…you can put it down. A lot of people just hold them up between songs, which is very thoughtful.

The other thing is that sometimes we need to run through some of these songs before we can play them, because there are SO many songs now that even the easy ones sometimes have a little quirk that one band member might forget. It’s usually something small. Like Fish will say that he can’t remember how My Mind Has a Mind of Its Own ends because it’s so similar to other bluegrass tunes. Stuff like that. So often we’ll see a sign, and think “we’ll check that one out tomorrow”.

The last thing is, it’s not very in the moment to be obsessing about the next song while you are playing or listening to the song you are actually playing or listening to, is it? In that sense, the signs are really annoying sometimes, I have to say.

[Photo by Laura Wainer]

HT: Before a tour like this starts, do you set aside songs that will be every-nighters (Sand, Valentine, Cayman Review, etc.) and flag some songs as more rarities (The Way I Feel, Ether Sunday, Words To Wanda, etc.), or is that something that just develops organically on tour when writing setlists? Do you write setlists for this band?

TA: Organically is always the best bet. Despite some valiant attempts, setlists were a dead end last tour, again. I often try…I think i’m going to write one and then I hand Tony a list and he just laughs at me. Same thing with [TAB/Phish LD] Chris [Kuroda]. Some nights I’ll write some kind of list backstage, with Phish or with TAB, and Richard [Glasgow], our tour manager, will copy it and hand it to Chris right before we go onstage. The other guys on the light board tell me that just as he kills the lights, Chris always rips it up and throws it on the ground, because we never end up playing any of it. Over the last few years, I’ve finally come to realize that it’s utterly impossible to know what to open with or what we’ll play until we’re standing onstage. You just can’t tell what the vibe in the room is until you are standing out there. Why even bother trying? It never works.

Scott Bernstein and DaveO

Tune in tomorrow for the continuation of Trey Week, which concludes on Friday with the second part of our discussion with Anastasio.

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43 Responses

  1. Dude, you opened with Shine every night. So every night when you walked out it just happened organically?

    Rest of this is the balls. Great questions HT and thanks for answering T Money.

  2. Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs
    Fuckin’ up the scenery, breakin’ my mind
    Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign

  3. Nice job Scotty and DaveO. Can you please put Trey’s e-mail address up? Need to drop him a quick note. ‘preciate it.

  4. Great interview, HT!

    I’m so glad you covered the signs, and I really appreciate Trey’s honesty.

    Let’s just be sure to respect others when it comes to displaying your big ass signs.

    Can’t wait until tomorrow!

  5. Loving that Big Red is doing 2 nights in Colorado, much love. However, Mike one upped you by playing Tride and saving me gas money.

    I am glad he addressed signs at shows. Congrats to Benny and the Manteca sign, there have been signs from him from ATL>Tride>MSG just to name a few.

    If you see the signs the first time, then its about time you play Whipping Post!! Thanks for the insightful questions, TREY WEEK! Genius!

  6. Teejay…i have often thought eminence front would make an excellent cover for phish, but with TAB, adding in the element of the horn section, it might be even better. The Who version on Join Together might serve as a template for that and it rocks…

  7. I appreciate the thoughtful questions and Trey’s articulate and in-depth answers. Class act all the way.

    I’m deeply disappointed that the Southeast got shut out of this year’s tour schedule, but it’s nice to see the West Coast finally getting a look-in. Perhaps we can hope for a slightly longer and more evenly distributed tour next time . . .

  8. STANLEY THEATRE. I got off the balcony because it felt unsafe. Upon going below it, I got showered w/ some plaster. I still have a chunk.

    thanks Big Red!

  9. if you wanna hear “will it go round in circles” just a bring a sign and hold it up the entire show so trey sees it.

  10. Thanks all,

    I will be in Albany I love the Palace ( not so much the city) Im excited for the accoustic srt. I hope its not like how he use to come out during intermisssion and play gin, sample, makisupau waste etc. I hope he opens it to some songs like mist, snow flakes and yes maybe even a TTE. It is a great song when played by trey on the accoustic. Maybe not so much by phish though. I like it all old new and everything in between. I was at that utica show with my japanese roommate right under the balcony and he didnt speak english so he had a brick in his pants. Either way I think this tour will rock and thanks scott and crew for a good interview. I know he like the 7 piece band but I would like to know how he sits with the truth grippo. I expect magic at the palace.

  11. great interview guys! thanks for bringing up Silicone Fairy and Perhaps! maybe we’ll be fortunate to get those this tour! I can only pray for Come As Melody and Greyhound Rising too! thanks Trey for giving us some more TAB! I can never get enough! 🙂

  12. lol sign asshats, straight from trey. consider fans around you and simply be in the moment rather than constantly waving your silly sign requests. everything about it is only about you, but ya know what? none of us care or came to focus on you and your stupid fucking sign, esp the band nitwit.

  13. Great Article Guys. Would love to see Greyhound Rising,Olivia, and an acoustic Pebbles & Marbles get into rotation this tour.

  14. Awesome.
    Should be a nice show with it being part acoustic and part electric. I like Trey at both.

    If you’re looking for a post show, I’m headed to Wyllys a few blocks away. The horn section of Trey’s band are playing with…

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