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Part 1 - Trey on Charlie Rose (text)


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A'ight - here you go. I have so many things to say about this but I can't get my thoughts straight. Lets just say it's a weird mixture of understanding, respect, frustration and distrust. But, here ya go:

Charlie Rose

May 26, 2004

CR: Trey Anastasio is here. He is as many of you know a founding member of Phish, a band Rolling Stone has called the most important band of the 90s. They began in 1983 playing pubs in their native Vermont and slowly

developed a devoted fanbase much as the grateful dead had done a generation before, without heavy radio play or music videos, the 4 members of Phish achieved success through constant touring. Here is a look at one of their New Year's Eve shows.

<cue tweezer clip from NYE>

CR: 21 years, 1,100 live shows, and 11 studio albums later, the band has decided to call it quits. I'm pleased to welcome Trey to this table for the first time to talk about the Phish phenomenon, and the fact that they have come to the decision to stop. Can I get you to change your


TA: Umm...

CR: There's a little bit of nostalgia watching this.

TA: What I was gonna' say is no, you won't be able to get me to, but watching that clip of Madison Square Garden, you can get me to be sad, in a certain way, seeing that you know, um, but I know it is the right choice, I just know it is.

CR: Why?

TA: I think that, okay I'm going to say this and I desperately want to show respect to our audience who has been so great, beyond. And I know that people are confused by this probably to some degree. But if you step back and look at it, we started when I was 18. I'm 40 years old, I

have two kids... so do the other guys, they have kids now.

CR: Mick Jagger is 60 years old and he's got more than two.

TA: That's true. Its not that, I don't want to really put on it. It's a feeling for 18 years, the first 18 probably, it was the center of everything. We didn't build in any, we didn't build in vacations, or any place to have a life outside of Phish. And I see bands that last a long

time. When we walked in we were talking about Bruce Springsteen as an example. There are periods of time when he's been at home, right?

CR: He's in one of those periods right now.

TA: He is. Well we never really did that. And we have a large organization, probably 20 or 30 employees or are within a large office, and this thing needs us to keep touring. But that's not the real reason <laugh>.

CR: So the family, it's a reason but not the real reason.

TA: It's a reason.

CR: You need to keep touring to support an infrastructure, that's a reason but not the real reason?

TA: Well I say that because I've been going through that over the last two years, is this the reason. And I think that its at the point for the four of us, we wanted Phish, we wanted it to be the center of everything. And when it is it's so incredible. When it was it was so incredible. The experience of the concerts, when we spent 5 hours a day

practicing. When we lived and breathed Phish, was beyond intimate. It really was. And I don't know that the people who didn't see Phish really could understand that. But I know the people who did go see Phish do. And I know that there's probably some anger now because we're taking that away. But what I saw happening was that it was going away

naturally. We're all growing up and starting to have lives, so we're putting less and less effort into it. And personally I would like to see it respected by stopping. Doing 13 more shows, the best we can, and then, <pause> letting it be, letting it go, and moving on and having the

rest of our lives.

CR: I certainly don't want to put words into your mouth, but I hear you saying this thing that we had created was so much, we honored it so much, we believed in it, we sacrificed for it, it was enormously good to us, we had a fan base that loved us and came to our concerts and each of

them was a new experience. But what it might have come to is that you were not, in your own judgement, what you were doing now, it didn't have something <trey nods> that was there before.

TA: Yea.

CR: And what was that?

TA: And that was the hard thing to admit.

CR: What was it?

TA: Some kind of focus. I mean it started, this has been my opinion, the truth of what happened. We went through this millenium concert. Big Cypress, in Florida. We played all night. We played from <laugh> we played actually two days. But the last set was from 11:15 or something on New Year's Eve until eight, seven or eight in the morning.

It was incredible, and it was, for me it was the greatest, it was the pinnacle. And when we came offstage, I looked at our drummer, Fish, my best friend, and just a man I love dearly, and we looked at each other and we both had tears in our eyes, maybe we should stop? It just felt

like the wave had crashed into the shore. But we didn't. We went out for another year, then we took this hiatus as an attempt to revitalize. And when we came back it was just different. You know, and um...

CR: And you knew then.

TA: I think so.

CR: Well you knew that it wasn't quite the same.

TA: Not quite the same.

CR: Not that it would end, but it wasn't quite the same.

TA: And not to say that it isn't good still. But it was so good, and it was so beautiful and lucky. It was so lucky. We were so lucky. It just doesn't happen. I don't know, when I think about it...

CR: The magic.

TA: Yea I, what happened? We were playing in this little band around Burlington, and all the sudden, this? Pschoooo <bomb sound> and uh, I want to look at it like that. And I look at all - when we were in our meeting on Friday talking about this I...

CR: The meeting called by you.

TA: Called by me, yes, where I went in and I, pretty much I said I can't do this anymore.

CR: Were they surprised?

TA: Yep.

CR: They were surprised. They knew it was coming, they thought we're gonna' talk about the tour, we're gonna talk about something, business.

TA: They each thought we were going to talk about something else. They knew there was something going on, and it is important to acknowledge the fact that I've been incredibly tired over the last four years, and the thing has been wearing me down. And my mother and my wife and my

dad, everybody's been chiming in, you know, "you can't do this anymore, its gotta' stop." So they weren't surprised that I called the meeting. As a matter of fact the first thing about of Page's mouth was, "I'm so happy that you're having the foresight to say this, because I've been

watching you," and he was saying he was exhausted, so since he's not the center of this whole thing he had been calling me for the last few months, you know, and we're friends, we love each other, and he's been seeing what's going on, and it was just tiring. 21 years, you know. But I think he was thinking maybe we're going to axe the whole

organization or something like that. When I said that though it only took about a coupla' minutes before most of the other guys jumped right in with what I said, they were on my side.

CR: That's one of the important questions. Most of the other guys.

TA: Yes.

CR: With one exception.

TA: Yep.

CR: Who?

TA: Mike.

CR: Mike. He didn't want to do it.

TA: No.

CR: He didn't believe it was the right thing to do.

TA: Yea and I want to be very careful to not put words into his mouth. But I also dont want to paint a picture that we are this gleefull little club of people all wanting to stop, I think he was a little bit of, umm, he didn't say he was in disagreement but he said I'm not on complety the

same page as you guys, I think that we could, through work, maybe find a way to revitalize this thing again, and find that.. magic.

CR: Do you believe that, ie: that the magic might, you might have been able to find it, or do you believe it was just gone and you were fool enough to recognize it.

TA: well I don't beleive it would be possible without, we would need an enourmous amount of distance, because weve been completely existing as human beings within the context of a group dynamic and thats becoming over the years more of a group dyanamic. In the beginning you know, it wasnt as much of a democracy as it became, which is fine, but which starts to get tiring

CR: you get more of a democracy

TA: yea and more of a democracy spreading out, not even just the 4 of us anymore. the example i use. i see you have our new album over there.

CR: I do

TA: and we spent about a week....

CR: this is yours, and this is the new album

TA: thats mine, and thats the new phish album

TA: we spent a week deciding whether to put that square box around the word phish on the cover.

CR: really

TA: and it was about 20 different people chiming in and going to the meeting in the office. In contrast, when that album came out, I made the cover, it was easy, fun, and everything is like a giant boat, ya know what I'm saying, in order to turn it, its gotten so big and its not anyones fault, because anyone thats involved, i think its an natural

occurance, and i think that if we were to step away with pride, now, we could then, 10 years from now, or 20, look back and think i was part of somethign that was magic from the beginning to the end. I didnt do what virtually all of the people that I admire seem to do, which is let it go

on longer then it should.

CR: tell me more about what you thought was lost. because all of your fans and let me just read you some email i recieved today because they knew you were coming here. Why , Trey , Why, three words this is, ya know, I just wnat you thankful know how thankfully we are as a community, a community that would not exist if it werent for you, thank you.

TA: aww

CR: A question for trey, how could they decide to just quit suddenly and not even have a farewell tour to say goodbye to everyone else in the country?

CR: but there will be some of that.

TA: Ya there will be <laughs>

CR: The fans are what made phish what they are they would not be a successful touring band does not become a success unless..of course we know that. Why was the statement on phish.com from you and you alone.

TA: I can answer that!

CR: ok

TA: ok, we talked about that, at length because other times in our history we have tried to make a statment as a group and it gets watered down. I dont know if you ever saw the doonesbury cartoon, war is bad,

CR: yea right right

TA: that one

TA: thats what happened, we had a vote, talked about who should do it and Fish came forward and said it has to be you, Page went and wrote one too, and we talked about it and they wanted to use mine. And the idea was that, I tried to be as honest as possible and knowing everyone else

was going to have a chance to talk.

CR: This is on your website, obviously, the official break up note is written by Trey. "Last Friday night, I got together with Mike, Page and Fish to talk openly about the strong feelings I've been having that Phish has run its

course and that we should end it now while it's still on a high note. Once we started talking, it quickly became apparent that the other guys' feelings, while not all the same as mine, were similar in many ways -- most importantly, that we all love and respect Phish and the Phish audience far too much to stand by and allow it to drag on beyond the point of vibrancy and health. We don't want to become caricatures of ourselves..."

CR: Did you feel you were there or getting there?

TA: Getting there.

CR: not there, but getting there.

TA: i feel, and this is the honest truth, and i would like to say this to whoever is litening that loves phish, and i love phish, Ok? nobody loves phish more then me, i want to say that, i understand, cause you know what i mean? but in the last 2 years there were a lot of moments where we were getting sloppy, we dont practice as much and its natural.

Its not anybodys fault but I dont want to see that, you know what i mean? And I think that these people who are writing, its hard for me, because when I play, I look out at the audience and i really want inclusiveness, at our concerts, I think thats obvious, i look to the last row, and I try to include people, so I'm with them, I miss it too

you know what I mean? but its natural, and I also think, this is just something I'm just going to say, one of the things I've noticed since I made this announcement is that everbody over 30 thinks its great and everybody under 30 doesnt understand it. Not everyone but.. people...

CR: everybody over 30 thinks its great?

TA: yes, for the most part, I havent seen people closer to my age, im 39, people close to my age who don't totally understand

CR: what is it do you think it is that they understand

TA: they've got, they understand life from a.. point of view

CR: in other words, they have lived life long enough , they have lived long enough to know that certain things, no matter how beautiful

TA: have to go

CR: change

TA: you gotta let em go

CR: that human beings change that your life changes

TA: exactly

CR: new people enter, new ideas, new experiences, new directiosn, new forks in the road, all of that..

TA: and that the gravity and inertia is to make you be who you were 10 years ago. Believe it or not, it is. I saw you guys 10 years ago and it was "x", just the yelling from the crowd: "DO THAT OLD SONG! DO THAT OLD SONG" and its great, I like it, but at a certain point, you feel this is

not inertia that is pushing you to grow and change as a human being. I listened this morning to the road runners, no, uh, you know, uh, Jonathon Richman and The Modern Lovers version of this song they do called "Dignified and Old" and it's, ya know, "hey kids hey kids / some day I'll be dignified and old". Well I was ya know, thinking this is the greatest song ever written, that this gravity towards pulling you to do what you were doing at 18 and 20 years old is not coinciding with what I know that I'm feeling at this point and time that we tried much as we could as a foursome to progress and age gracefully.

CR: have you been talkin this out with anybody before you walked into that room today.

TA: yea.

CR: who?

TA: well I hadn't gotten to the point where I was verbalizing it clearly, but, umm, certainly my family and some of my real close friends who had been addressing me about it, not about stopping phish, but, somethings gotta give because you look exhausted. Page, has been calling

me regularly for the last year, not just me, but him too, both of us, ya know, as an exmaple, like I said they are going to have a chance to speak for themselves, I think you'll find that it wasn't that surprising when I brought it up.

CR: here, this idea ought to be expressed also, you guys had it the way everybody wants it to be,

TA: right

CR: everything was on your own terms

TA: right

CR: everything was on your own terms.

TA: yup

CR: you lived where you wanted to live, you made the decisions you wanted to make

TA: right

CR: you sang what you wanted to sing,

TA: yea

CR: there was no record producer, there was no anybody saying, phish will do this.

TA: right

CR: ya know you guys had it the way most musicians most creative artists

TA: right

CR: would love it to be

TA: right. and thats the point, this is the last example of that and I want to look back on this and I know this is right, so thats what your saying, thats exactly it, we made the decisions, no-one is going to tell us what to do, so 20 years from now when I look back on this I wanna know we did the right thing. Thats it, what we had was... beyond lucky,

like you were saying, we are aware of that, I count my blessings every morning. I cant believe that such a situation arose but i think that needs respect, that kind of situation.

CR: We also have to say this, I'll finish with your statement. "So Coventry will be the final Phish show. We are proud and thrilled that it will be in our home state of Vermont. We're also excited for the June and August shows, our last tour together. For the sake of clarity, I should say that this is *NOT LIKE THE HIATUS*, which was our last

attempt to revitalize ourselves. *WE'RE DONE*." How do you like it when i say those words? "WE'RE DONE"

TA: well

CR: its been, go ahead.

TA: I like it..Thats the hard thing. . I havent had any doubts about this. Ive had people express their anger in the past. Its been hard for me to, I'm the person that wants people to feel good, so I want to respond and I've been feeling that I've gotten to the point in my life where I cant do that anymore, it's not serving anymore.

CR: You end by saying this, and I've got to give you credit: "We thank you all for the love and support that you've shown us." I mean, there. Your final thought is about the audience, without them, there is no Phish. You don't seem to have any doubt, you're not thinking, "Oh my god, I'm going to say this the way I'm saying, we're done, its over, we're not playing games here, folks, this is it, you wanna see the Phish, now is the time, come." You're saying, "we're not worried about our commercial success, we knew that was there, it was riding strong. We've had good

tours, people were coming to see us. We decided to make this", there is no sense of you saying, "oh look, I've got some time here, I might change my mind..."

TA: no, no.

CR: ... "I don't know what's going to happen, you know, I may fall back in love with it. We might rediscover the magic a month from now..."

TA: Oh that's not going to happen.

CR: ."..when we do that, something could turn us around, you know, don't give up yet folks, there's always, I have to say this is what I believe, I'm sure this is the course I'm on, but, you know as long as we're out there performing, something could change our minds."

TA: I've never been so sure about anything in my life. It took, uh, I know this is the right thing. I know it. I, um, I don't know. One person sent in a letter that said "this is your, Trey's ego, egomania or something". My thought about that was that I think people feel like we're pulling the rug out from under them or something, but, how can I explain this, I have to at a certain point make decisions based on what I know is true in my heart. If I'm not doing something that's true and honest and from my heart, its not going to resonate, and that's what an

artist is supposed to do. So, when I saw you interview Bruce Springsteen, and I thought he did Born in the USA, and then he left the E Street Band and did Nebraska, then he stayed home for eight years, and then he went back on the road for eight gazillion shows, and that's the

way it goes, you know. You have to follow your heart. If you're making decisions based on keeping a bunch of people employed, I think that eventually that's going to start to sound stale. No matter how badly you want it to...

CR: Inevitably.

TA: Yea. And so I probably, I feel like from Big Cypress to the end was a lot of exploring on everybody's part, and the hiatus was an attempt to say, well ok lets break the whole thing down and maybe we'll come back or maybe we won't. That's what we said. But of course everybody was

just like, "is it next week?" and anything you did was a kind of intrusion on the Phish world. If somebody went out a did a tour or an album a little bit, well its good but its not Phish. To speak about the other guys, I was proud to watch Mike, for instance, do an album with Leo Kottke, who is one of my heroes and go on tour with him. Um, you're

holding that up there, um, I'm completely and utterly sure. And I also am pretty confident that some day, if people don't get it already, they will.

CR: This is part 1 of the conversation Trey and I have. Part 2 will be a look back at Phish and a look at some of the things he's doing now.


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Tom Marshall, from PT:

"did the overall outcome of this event have anythign to do with what us people say over the internet? i just hope trey knows which im sure he does. that in a community so large there is inevtiabbaly gonna be assholes on everylevel. i think its almost greedy for people to think that the fanbase may have caused something a stir."

hey homewrecker:

on Charlie Roase Trey mentioned the ship -- he's used that analogy before -- how it's like the Titanic under full throttle, even though they saw the iceberg, they couldn't turn the ship in time because of the tremendous inertia and momentum which just forced it to continue on its course despite any attempts to change directions

so I think the fans were ON that ship certainly -- the negative and positive ones alike -- just more bodies which added to the overall mass and momentum

you know what I mean?

Trey DEFININITELY didn't break up Phish because of negative reviews.

He's been dealing with negative reviews for 21 years. The press, until recently, hated Phish. Many fellow bands hated Phish, again until recently. When they were at a festival in Japan, there was a common area for all the bands to hang out, and there was a bulletin board with tons of nasty comments from the other bands about Phish. I have a picture of that somewhere -- it's really funny actually. They laughed it off. They always have. Phish always listened to the fans, but they listened MUCH more closely to themselves. Trey in particular has been telling himself that it's over since 2000. He tried to ignore it...but he couldn't anymore. He ended Phish -- no one else.

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Thanks Esau, Though I couldn't access the site.

Thanks MarcO, For posting the intverview in transcript form. I was on night shift that night and didn't get a chance to tape the show. I look forward to Part 2 of the interview. And as my other posts have said I respect Trey's decision to not continue if his heart is not in it anymore, and I look forward to seeing what the world holds for the four members outside of Phish.

I listened to "The Last Waltz" the other day because of Levon Helms birthday on May 26th. After I put on "Lawn Boy" and thought wow when I go to Coventry it will be in many ways like what those boys in The Band did back on the American Thanksgiving in 1976. It will be a beautiful weekend.

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:(Just sharing what seemed like a pertinent post from PT:


Posted: 05/28/04 1:25PM ET

I am pretty sure I will get some negative responses to my post, but hear me out. As someone who has seen this band evolve through many stages of their career, I, like you, was pretty shocked on Tuesday. I started seeing Phish in '94, and frankly, SO much has changed since then. A lot for the better, but a bunch for the worse...

First of all, the scene has gone to shit and most people have accepted this. I remember shortly after the Hiatus began talking to a few friends who know the band on a pretty good basis and we talked about how Trey was REALLY not into what the scene/type of fans that had been overruning the lots. We're not talking about the L taking, party here and there folks- I mean to say the kids who tend to be on the verge of a heart attack/OD'ing at any given moment of a show and/or in the lots. It was GREATLY disappointing for the band to watch their supposed "fans" being so fucked up in the lots that the music clearly was becoming an added bonus for showing up on tour. This was NOT the way it was back in 90-98ish, and older heads (like myself) became increasingly annoyed as well. I remember when I'd meet kids at shows who had been seeing the band for awhile and seemed to GENUINELY care about the music first, the party was just for a little extra fun.

Somewhere around 99, this changed. Somehow this also was the time that Trey band went out on tour, and I hate to say it, but there was a direct correlation there. First of all, by 98/99, the scene became overrun by molly and pharmies. To the point where small countries could have been high on E off a single Phish lot. Call this the "wook effect" or "dead tour rats spilling over", but it was obvious that things were different. Around this time, I noticed many friends/myself/others seemingly to stop caring as much about the greatness of the show and really enjoying the party/meetup w/ your crew from around the country at a show to get down.

Now this might have been ok, however, by 99, I think Trey decided that practicing and devoting himself 100% to PHISH and only PHISH was not going to cut it for him. This is where his casual drug habit turned more serious, and even though some people knew what was really happening/had first hand experience with Trey on drugs, most people blew it off as a "whatever" type of thing.

I know this is long, but fast forward to post-Hiatus Phish. At this point, practicing amongst the 4 guys is not only a rarity, it doesn't exist. Phish has been put on the back burner to side projects, families, and a million other things. However, it has now been around 5 years that Trey had been indulging over the top in drugs. While people complain about flubs, I personally could deal with them (to an extent), but when i was first 10 rows (which i usually was), I noticed a SEVERE change in Trey. He LOOKED fucked up, and unlike some musicians, I don't think the drugs helped trey focus his music genius as much as others. Now, I don't know what you guys do or do NOT know about a conversation between Trey and Santana last May at the Warfield, but something serious happened.

Santana essentially told trey that if he didn't stop doing drugs NOW, he would die. Now, I'm sure others had told trey to chill out, stop doing so much, etc, but Santana hit home for Trey. This would be like one of your idols calling YOU out on being not cool- a scary, embarrasing nightmare. Trey took his words to heart, and last summer tour (to the best of my knowledge), Trey was sober. And OH HOW IT MADE A HUGE DIFFERENCE. I caught almost all of summer tour and at deer creek, Trey seemed INSPIRED, like the magic WAS back, that he TRULY BELIEVED in this wonderful band he started when he was 18, and he knew ANYTHING WAS POSSIBLE. I know this will sound snotty, but as somone who has seen over 100 shows, I can honestly say that I saw some of the best Phish I've ever seen last summer. Shoreline, deer creek, and moments of other shows were BRILLIANT.

BUT, somewhere along the line (after summer), Trey seemed to have gone back to his old habits. It doesn't matter what drug he was on, it wasn't a good thing. Miami, like summer tour, was GREAT, but somehow, between new year's and vegas, trey had even more problems. He watched one of his best friends (Kuroda) almost lose his life to drugs, enter rehab, and still struggle. I've been told Trey was SUPPOSED to go to rehab w/ Chris, but for some reason, chose not to.

All of this "tired" BS on charlie rose clearly indicated that Trey's inner circle, his support group (family friends band members), KNEW that trey was about to enter a scary land, and that was one where he might ACTUALLY die if he didn't get a hold of his drug problem.

So, even though, by most of the band members accounts (i've spoken w/ mike A LOT about last summer, miami, and the future of the band) being that Phish was once again reaching what it USED to be about- THE MAGIC- suddenly the plug is pulled. Now, I'm sorry if I seem like the dick for talking about Trey's issues, but it's pretty obvious to me that after talking with several close friends who ACTUALLY know the band, that Trey had the most EPIC of choices to make:

1) Break Phish up, get help, and try to clean his life up


2) Do this fall tour/Miami NYE run and risk DYING.

However, he did not consider option 3, which would have been to take off the fall (even NYE if needed) to regain his health, stamina, and mental shit to STAY OFF DRUGS. Therefore, he called the now infamous meeting a week ago today, and the rest is history.

I've been DEEPLY saddened this past week, as I feel like I've lost a close friend. However, I'm afraid I REALLY would have lost it, had Trey continued to keep Phish alive to the detriment of his livelihood.

If Trey had wanted to put in the time/effort to practice w/ the boys, stay clean, and stay focused, Phish would have had AT LEAST 4 more good years, but instead, he chose the option that was most logical- no Phish tour, no partying on drugs to the extent he started heavily abusing several years ago.

IMO, NO ONE in their right mind would break up their band (and the love of their life) if they were not confronted with this life or death situation. Trey knew he might not make it out alive and chose to do the BEST THING FOR HIM. Mike knew he couldn't stop trey from doing this, hence why he said "let's try to make this work", but knew that when the day arrived where trey hit his breaking point, no one could lead him back.

So, that's my REALLY long 2 cents, if you made it this far, congrats. I LOVED Phish, will continue to love Phish, and hope that Trey becomes healthy again and goes on to make music that makes him happy.

THANKS FOR ALL THE MEMORIES BOYS- the last 11 years provided me with some of the GREATEST memories I could EVER have asked for.


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