HT Interview: Trey Anastasio, Part Two

[Photo by S. Balaji Mani]

HT: The tour last year was lighter on covers than in years past relying more on your growing catalog of original material, do you see this band as a showcase of your own songwriting more so than Phish and previous touring versions of this band?

TA: Well, honestly, there’s a large number of songs now, and it’s fun to get to play them, so maybe that’s why there have been a few less covers. I guess I never really saw a distinction between the writing of Phish songs and TAB songs. They are all written the exact same way…with a little four track or a cassette deck or my phone, often alone, or sometimes with Tom [Marshall], or Steve [Dude of Life], or Russ [Lawton] and Tony [Markellis], or Kevin Hoffman (Burlap Sack and Pumps), or Marc Daubert (The Curtain), or my daughter Eliza (Goodbye Head) , or Amanda Green (Problem Right There, Burn That Bridge), or Suzannah Goodman (Bathtub Gin), or Dave Abrahams (Runaway Jim), or Fish (Tube, Gumbo, Harpua), or Mike and Page and Fish (Roggae, Tweezer, Spock’s Brain, Meatstick, etc, etc), or Bob Szuter and Aaron Woolfe (Golgi), or whoever happens to be standing in the room at the time. One time I wrote a song with a cab driver.

I’m basically always writing something, and when people are around I love writing together. Music and songwriting have always been forms of socializing for me. Music has brought me together with my closest friends. In high school, Tom and I would retreat to the back room at parties and write songs. Today my gang is my family, so my daughters and I are always making up songs about everything that goes on. “Take out the syrup and put it on top…ooh I like that yeaaa yeaaaa!” First Tube, Jibboo, Sand, Drifting, Cayman etc. were written in [former Phish sound man] Paul Languedoc’s garage and The Barn with Russ and Tony, lyrics to Sand from some poems by Tom that I had in my house, lyrics to Drifting by me, written about Sue and the girls. Now, we love playing some of those songs with Phish, and some with TAB. It might be fun to try some of the funkier Phish songs like Ocelot (written in a hotel room in New York with Tom), with TAB. Tony would KILL that song. It’s right up his alley.

HT: How is your role as a leader different for this band than with Phish?

TA: I guess that in some ways I feel different, and in other ways, the same. That’s a difficult question to answer. Obviously the roles are different, but maybe less so than it might seem at first glance. Everyone in the Phish organization, both onstage and off, and everyone in TAB, everyone in the office, everyone on the crew, everyone at the merch table, on the green crew, or at catering, has something to offer. The job, if you want to call it that, is to put together live concerts that offer the possibility of something spontaneous and magic happening. We need songs, and rehearsals and stuff, so we work hard at that: but ultimately the magic moment happens as the result of a whole community of people. The community continues to exist thru a combination of care, hard work, attention to detail, and an atmosphere of acceptance.

So, I guess I see it as all one big thing. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of it all.

HT: Do you have any plans to enter the studio with this band?

TA: Not right now, but we talk about it. It’s been too long.

[Photo via Phishin09’s Flickr]

[Editor’s Note – We submitted ten questions and a joke question. Trey could have very easily ignored our 11th but he didn’t.]

HT: Black shirts and jackets seem to dominate your onstage arsenal of clothing recently, is there any chance this TAB Tour will see a return of some other colors in the spectrum?

TA: Yikes. Who knows? Maybe i need to dig out the old JAH VOLUNTEER shirt. Page and I talk about this a lot…It’s tough to play if you are aware of your shirt. I live in New York now so maybe I’ve adopted that black thing that everyone seems to live by in the city. I wear that black button down all the time. I actually bought three of them. It’s a wrinkle free material. You can squish it in your bag and it comes out flat.

I’m so envious of Fish. You have no idea. He never has to think about what he’s going to wear.

DaveO and Scott Bernstein

We want to thank Trey for taking the time to chat with us. As mentioned, TAB tour kicks off tonight at the State Theatre in Portland, ME.

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25 Responses

  1. Trey should go back to the studio after this tour ends. I’d like to hear studio versions of Greyhound Rising, All That Almost Was, and Obstacle of Course.

  2. Excellent work as usual HT staff… from the bottom to the top, a group effort that was just a heckuva week for Trey Fans world wide…

  3. Good thing you cut that interview into two parts to drag it out through the week. We never could have read all that at once 😉

  4. AWESOME: “I’m so envious of Fish. You have no idea. He never has to think about what he’s going to wear.”

    Kudos bar, Scotty and DaveO. You guys rule my school. Hidden Track is a sexy beast.

  5. Great stuff. Trey’s having a blast with TAB and it’s so fun to see! Keep it up, Chuck Norris…you’re still the best.

  6. great stuff. love that you went for the fashion question and got that reply. love that he brought page into the response as he’s always lookin good in his new shirts

  7. Trey you look good in Black! Black is very boring! But Purple like that suit you wore in Time turns elastic rehersal looked really good on you! Green would be great too!Colors are good! We all really Love Ray! Ray Rocks! See ya at the Ogden!!!

  8. Nice article. Definitely all about the groove of good people, music, and #Sand! This TAB band can definitely funk it out and enjoy the positive vibe it brings. Smaller venues and more intimate nights make it special and real. Keep it up and thanks for the write-up! #keepfunkingupthatsand!

  9. “I live in New York now so maybe I’ve adopted that black thing that everyone seems to live by in the city”

    So true … it got me too , I think it’s the certain Gotham City feel to living there … you go dark… What year is the Jah shirt 93 ?

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