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a happy new year and a rant from Fishman!


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Hey everyone, just wanted to wish you all a very safe and happy New Year's Eve! It's been a blast hanging out here in 2002 and I look forward to what the new year brings! Like Phresh Phish!!! It'll be fascinating to hear what goes down in the next week with the band. Likin' Round Room more and more with every play, it's a real grower and I'm totally digging just about every track on it now!

Anyway, here's a cool interview with the band, notable for Fishman just losing his nut at the end of it. Culled this from www.phisharchive.com - a must visit. Anybody know when the new Rolling Stone hits the stands? Haven't seen it yet.

So, all the best to all of you, enjoy the article and take care of yourselves so we can keep the party going! [big Grin][big Grin]


Phish food for thought

December 25, 2002 - Kansas Weekender

By Rex Rutkowski

Jon Fishman sees red about industry greed

Phish is about to swim into new, yet familiar, waters again.

Emerging from its two-year "indefinite hiatus" New Year's Eve, the revered improvisational band re-launches a new chapter of its career with a much-anticipated performance in Madison Square Garden.

"It's the best rock-n-roll room in the world, what with the history and the way the seating is set up," says enthusiastic drummer Jon Fishman.

"With Phish, I've really come to enjoy arenas. We know how to play to a room. You have to know how to play to a room. If you play real fast and sloppy in an arena, it really sounds like mush," he says. They play First Union Spectrum, Philadelphia, Feb. 25.

Rehearsals for the new shows, reports the Phish camp, progressed into a full-blown recording session, yielding the group's new studio album, "Round Room."

Contrary to popular belief, Phish never really stopped, insists Fishman.

"We've obviously been active with other things, but there has never been a threat of it not existing," he says. If anything, he says, in the time they've taken off they've gained a deeper appreciation for what Phish actually is all about. "There's so much history and everything there. You can't just build something like that for 17 years and just walk away. Yes, you can walk away if it's a bad marriage. But that wasn't the case with us."

Fishman says he can definitely see why not playing together for two years can cause people to speculate. "But we said it was a hiatus. If we were breaking up we would have said it. We meant hiatus."

"We lived together so much we started to think we heard all the jokes," adds guitarist and co-founder Trey Anastasio. In stepping away from Phish for a while, the individual members gave themselves a test to live in the moment, he says.

The break has allowed the men of Phish to explore their artistry in other creative outlets, bringing what they've learned back to the mother ship.


"(Before the hiatus) we were tired and everyone just went off and did other things. Now I go to practice with Phish and it's like I never left. It still feels like we have energy. There is a pile of material to learn. Everyone is excited about it. Any time you go away from each other it allows the people involved to learn new jokes and new things to say and do."

Having had the opportunity to play with other people, says keyboardist Page McConnell, "only increases the appreciation for the other members of Phish and what we may do in the future.""

We all agreed (the break) was the right thing to do. We all just really appreciate all the amazing things that happened with the career," McConnell says. "It's really been pretty remarkable and I'm still kind of processing it in a lot of ways."

"That was the point for us all to go out and have experiences and grow and come back together and challenge each other again, says Anastasio. One of the results of the time off, Fishman says, is that for the first time Phish has stopped planning so far in advance. "We look at this six months as a chance to get together a whole pile of new material and work on things and present it. I think we are back on a more full-time basis."

There are other priorities, though.

"Three of us have families now," Fishman says. "When we started out we were all like 19 years old (he is 37) and shared a single-minded vision of making Phish be able to sustain us in the world, and be our main vehicle through our journey through life. There are other aspects to that vehicle now. Family is a substantial aspect. Other things require our attention and love and energy also, and they take time. "As a result, the cycle Phish will be on probably will be a longer one. We used to do two tours and an album every year. I don't know that that pace will stay the same. I know we are staying a band and we will do tours and albums, but not at the same rate we used to."

The members will see what feels comfortable, and what makes sense to them, adds bassist Mike Gordon. "We need a lot of time for personal development."

The acceptance by fans is not taken for granted.

"How can you not be blown away by it everyday?" Fishman says. "I'm not jaded that people want to come see us. There is a constant state of appreciation that I can make a living doing this. I don't say it to be cocky, but the sheer joy we feel when we are playing well together is something I can't imagine being other than contagious for those open to it. It's not surprising to me people find that great vibe contagious."

Gordon believes that people relate to Phish's commitment. "People are part of that, a whole bunch of people. They get a unique sense of community," he explains. "It does stem from the four of us and the love and commitment we have. It's rare for a rock band after 19 years to get along so well and be playing with the original members.

"If we are getting along and have the commitment to communicate openly about our goals and feelings and musically whatever needs to be said, and the discipline to work on the craft and keep He is surprised at the band's career thus far. "Yes, to where we could get to the level where we stuck to it, had enough discipline and communication and getting along between band members, to where it can be so magical and easy to groove together, even at band practice. It's a very lucky situation. We never predicted it."

Gordon sees himself as "maybe that guy who sort of thinks left of center" in Phish. "Everybody does it their own way, but I'm into the spiritual. I'm a philosopher philosophizing on how to reach spiritual enlightenment. I think I'm funny, left of center and hopefully a solid bass player. I'm not trying to be like anyone else."

Nor, is the band.

"When Phish was starting out we were told 'You've got to open for other bands. That's how people get to know you,'" Gordon recalls. "One of the keys to our success is saying 'no' at certain times. Sometimes it's good to say 'no.' You don't even realize how your career is built on when you say 'no' (and when you don't). We said 'no' to (being an opening act for) the Allman Brothers Band. People don't like opening bands. We want to get the vibe going for two or three hours, rather than a half-hour (as an opening act). We are much better at getting the vibe going (as a headliner)."

We never particularly sought a pop hit. We made a song a certain length or mixed it a certain way because we love radio and wouldn't mind being on it. For other bands radio becomes the whole focus, where that's the goal. People lose sight of trying to find the muse and group music and self-actualization."

McConnell agrees with his bandmates on why Phish has been able to touch so many people.

"It's the chemistry between the four of us. We worked really hard at it for a really long time. Basically it just seems like four (regular) people. That's what people like about us, our personalities and the way we interact."

Phish really is four parts coming together, Anastasio says.

But why has this group of musicians so struck a nerve with people? Was it filling a void?

"We didn;t understand it," Anastasio replies. "We didn't really think about it, the void it was filling for us as it was going on. We were sharing almost a life together and we spent so much time, an unbelievable amount of time, talking and debating and listening to music and trying new experiments. I don't think we really stopped to address that." Is there something that young bands could learn from the lesson of Phish?

McConnell: "It was a little different industry at the time we were starting, but there is no substitute for playing in front of people, live music.

No one can take that away from you," he says.Or from Phish fans, ardent NEPA followers of the band included, about to gather in Manhattan to be part of watching this prize catch happily swim upstream together again.

"It's greed, just like the Enrons and Time-Warners. It's just huge greed. Phish is on Elektra and they have distributed our music, and we've made money from that. The greed of Time-Warner has benefited Phish,"says Jon Fishman.

"I totally resent the fact, and as a musician with a voice, who has a little bit of an outlet, I completely f*&%ing resent the recording industry, the record companies who have done nothing for the most part.

"I think business and art will always mix like oil and water. They will never truly be able to co-exist in a pure sense. If you pursue art for the sake of art you have to put financial matters out of your mind to a certain degree.You can't be constantly bogged down with that."

As a musician I'm saying I totally resent the fact a record company has the balls to say 'We will go and do court battles with this. We will shut down every Napster and shut down Internet radio.'

"Internet radio is one of the best things that ever happened. I got a computer so I could hear www.oz in my house. I got my computer so I could get Internet radio. Some asshole in New York is claiming to be protecting musician rights (by trying to shut them down). It's total f#@$ing bullshit. Record companies want to protect their money and investment. Why not come out and say it that way. They say 'We want to protect our artists.' I resent record companies coming and standing up speaking for me.' "No one in a college dorm doesn't know the name Phish. Because of Napster and people like them and the free tape traders, that's why people know we exist, not because of a major media outlet. To me, as a musician, that's the greatest thing that can happen.

"All these musicians who suck, all the bullsh#t the industry is pushing on you, ultimately in the end what the Internet means for musicians is that people can survive who can actually play their instruments and write good songs and don't need tons and tons of bullsh#t behind it. That's the thing. The only reason we drink Coke is because it is shoved in our face every minute of every day.

"Why the f@#k would anyone listen to b.s. on their own, Britney Spears or 'N Sync? I know that will offend people. I'm not saying they don't have talent, but I'm saying their talent is not so (out-of-the-ordinary)."

Britney Spears is not Ella Fitzgerald. Ella ought to be the one. Somebody who really loves Britney, God love them, they should. The difference is, no one loves Ella because she is shoved in their face all the time. A lot of people are into Britney because it was popular, it was shoved in their face. Ella goes on because it's really good music. Artists like Ella and Bob Marley, even if they have no machinery behind it, go on their own.

"That's something I'm really proud about with Phish. I'm not saying it's because we are great musicians. All I am saying is Phish exists because of the support of a lot of people who responded to it as a live band. The giant media ignored us. I feel like I can look at our own career and say 'We were the ones that made it,' not because of Rolling Stone or Elektra. I have nothing against the magazines or record companies. They are what they are, but at least they didn't make me what I am. I feel good about that detachment. I don't have to sit back in my old age and say 'It wouldn't have happened without my face on a billboard.'

"I really resent when a record company stands up and acts like they are speaking for artists. Let the artists speak for themselves. Record companies have never been looking out for the artists' interests. Record companies are looking out for record company interests. Let's not be fooled. They are defending their own money. If that artist is not taking care of them the way they want they will get rid of that artist anyway."

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