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Trey seems to be the best person to grab for an interview lately, it seems like I find a new one out there everyday. This one caught my attention (thanks PT) and it speaks volumes to my own situation.

How consciously charted is your career?
Not consciously. Try your best to follow your heart is all you can do. I try to do that. Some of the changes of the last year were difficult, but healthy on a deep level. I’d love to continue to take risks, but for the right reasons. Listening to that inner voice and trying to follow it, I hope.

Everyone should listen to their inner voice all the time. Easier said than done, yet still attainable…


Here’s the whole piece just to make sure this gets archive treatment at least somewhere.

On the cusp of a new tour that brings him to town to open for the Rolling Stones on Thursday, the former Phish frontman speaks out.

Interview by Spencer Lathrop ([email protected])

My friend, Eric, has seen Phish 55 times, and frontman Trey Anastasio solo at least eight times. He states emphatically that Anastasio has been the foremost positive influence on many of the rock bands on the road today. As all Phish fans know, Anastasio and John Fishman formed the band in 1983 in Burlington, Vermont, while in college. Anastasio transferred to progressive Goddard College, and it was there that he studied music with Ernie Stires, began composing and then the band really came together. Phish toured and made records for the next 17 years, enjoying tremendous success as a live act and allowing fans to trade bootlegs that fans swear by. Fans fondly remember the annual Halloween shows where the band would cover classic albums, like The Beatles’ White Album or Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, in their entirety. Phish also played memorable New Year’s shows, including a Millennium show in the Florida Everglades that drew 80,000 fans and culminated in an eight-hour set that kicked off at midnight.

Anastasio put out his first solo record in 1996, while the band was still together, and his own records comprised music that was often unreservedly different from Phish’s loose, improvised rock. Since Phish split, first on hiatus in 2000 and then permanently in 2004, Anastasio’s music has been adventurous, never static, always searching in new directions. He has been in bands and made music with Marshall Allen of Sun Ra’s Arkestra, Police drummer Stewart Copeland, downtown jazz guitarist Marc Ribot, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds.

Trey’s new record, Shine, is due out in early November. The CD is made up of very crafted tunes that are as happy and tuneful as they can be, and out-and-out rockers that make you want to put the top down. There are lots of harmonies, plenty of B3 and tambourine, and very positive lyrics. “Come as Melody” begins with a verse reminiscent of Mystery Tour era Beatles, and develops a rocked upbeat chorus built on a fine guitar part. “Whenever You Find It” rings like post-Fab Fourdom, and “Sweet Dreams Melinda” could be one of those songs written for the beauty of the name alone. In Char-lottesville this Thursday, opening for the Rolling Stones, Trey will begin a 19-date tour with his new band, 70 Volt Parade, in support of that CD. For everyone who got a Stones ticket, get out there early and get turned on to Anastasio’s new tunes and band live.

When I talked to him by telephone last week, he had just returned from walking his daughters to school.—S.L.

C-VILLE: What is Ernie Stires’ influence?
Trey Anastasio: Not on my songwriting. He and I worked together a lot [when I was] a music student in the 1980s on orch-estration, composition and form. He is also a mentor and a great friend. He taught me how to write a fugue.

Do you consider yourself a songwriter first?
At this point, I do consider myself a songwriter. In the last five years, I am finding myself much more interested in expressing my emotions singing. I used to think of myself as a guitar player and an arranger, but I find myself more of a singer now.

Is there anyone who inspires your songwriting?
There are a lot of people who inspire me. It depends on the day. I listen to so much music. This week, I am listening to The Clash and early Bruce Springsteen. I’m having an early Bruce Springsteen renaissance. Last night I was listening to some of his early stuff and comparing it to where he is now. “Jungleland” is amazing, the operatic quality to the whole thing, with all of the sections. I grew up in New Jersey and I saw Bruce the first time when I was 12 or 13, 1977 or 1978 at The Spectrum in Philadelphia. And I remember being just floored by the whole thing. Obviously anyone growing up in New Jersey in 1976, Born to Run was what you listened to. It was recently that I went back and listened to it and realized that it was verging on progressive rock. [laughs] Some of these section-y kind of ways of writing were in that music. It was cinematic. And this happened in the last two days, so if you asked me a different day I’d have said something else. I started realizing how much I was influenced by that music without really attributing it to him. The other thing I notice when I listen to Bruce Springsteen is how much of Tom Waits I can hear in him. I’d say that Waits is the best songwriter alive right now as far as I’m concerned. Top of the heap.

Other new artists?
This is going to sound like I am jumping on some kind of bandwagon, but I really like The Arcade Fire. I just saw them at Summer Stage about a week ago, and Bowie came out and sang with them. That was a great concert. First band I’ve heard in a while that to me…a lot of people say Talking Heads, but I am hearing more My Bloody Valentine at one end and Phil Spector’s wall of sound. Because they have got that ’50s big-chorus thing happening, but the chord progressions are more modern. And they did some cool stuff. It was super joyous and inclusive of the audience. Everyone was singing along because the choruses are catchy, but then they would change the bass lines. They were very unique.

Your new band?
I try to embrace all of the things that the other band didn’t have. The whole thing kind of built around the drummer, Skeeto Valdez. There was something that Fish [Phish’s drummer] and Mike [Gordon] did that was very unique that was dependent on the bass in a lot of ways. Strong bass player, and Fish is very feathery and he would dance on top, and Mike would lay down this strong rhythmic foundation. So I didn’t want to do that again, because nobody is going to do it like that. And the other band [his first solo band] was very metronomic, very deep in the pocket, but they never really varied and I wrote a lot of music for that band based around that quality. So I wanted to find a drummer who was more like Zappa’s drummers. Like real backbeat and heavy, like Aynsley Dunbar style, but when I would do solos they would go with me. I’m really happy about that. And then Tony Hall, who used to play with the Neville Brothers and Harry Connick, so it’s a lot more funky. I met Tony when I did the Dave and Friends tour.

I really liked the Dave Matthews and Friends band.
I loved it too, the whole band. Ray [Paczkowski] came with me to that band. He is an amazing keyboard player. We are going to redo that band in October for a couple of performances in Las Vegas.

To me, you seem unafraid to take chances musically.
I like taking chances. One of the reasons that I said I was looking into Bruce Springsteen is that I am looking into people who continue to progress into that stage of their life. I think he is embracing being the age that he is, in a way that seems very healthy to me. He is playing music that sounds very different, and that is something that I want to do. If you have these musical moments that are genuine and spontaneous, then you get that feeling, and that is the feeling that everyone wants to get. Like Arcade Fire, they have one album out, and there is a sense of discovery to their music, right? And I could see all these people from the music industry in New York there and they are trying to get a piece of this thing. It is so powerful, that feeling. The band does not even quite know what is going on. They do, but they are jumping around, because it’s new. So, if you want to continue to have that feeling, you have to be really careful. When you discover it, you feel suddenly plugged into that socket, you have to be willing to go into a situation where it is only going to happen again in a way that you couldn’t have predicted. So you have to keep moving forward and taking chances. “He not busy being born is busy dying.” It is of the utmost importance to me, without being self-indulgent. The ultimate goal is to try to be inclusive. You want people to go with you. I want to.

Are you a catalyst for the jam bands out there today?
I don’t know. It is interesting that the band that I just put together, with the exception of Ray, and Tony because he played with Dave, but none of the others had even heard a jam band. Les [Hall—guitar and keyboards] loves Radiohead and Maynard and Tool, and I do too. If I am a catalyst, then I hope I am a catalyst to keep branching out.

Interested in jazz?
I love jazz. Classic music.

Musical achievement you are most proud of?
Maybe it’s not really musical, but the feeling that my friendship with Mike and Page and Fish continues to be so deep. At this point in time, as we are moving into different areas than Phish, that makes me very happy. Making that move that was so difficult, and making a left turn out of that world, the essential bonds stay healthy. Because it was a move that had to be made. Taking this risk. It was so hard, and everybody is fine.

Uprooted?
But I like to feel rooted and uprooted, both. When I made the new album, I went down to Atlanta to Southern Tracks. I was alone and went with a backpack. Before, we always went with an entourage, and that was very symbolic. I think you can hear it in the album. There is a light and unhinged quality in the music that I hadn’t heard in a while. Everything had gotten so big around the Phish world, more and more stuff and more people. And we were kind of attached to that world. I was in Atlanta alone for two months in a hotel, just me and Brendan [O’Brien, the producer]. It felt so right because it was just about songs. It was very much of a contrast, so that quality of being uprooted felt very good.

Stones?
I saw them in the 1980s at a stadium in Montreal. Sticky Fingers is probably my favorite. Exile on Main Street of course. I love Some Girls. I have not met them, but my apartment in the city is right next door to Keith Richards’. I have never seen him, although I’ve seen his daughters. I’m his next-door neighbor.

Enjoy making records?
I loved making this new record. I can’t wait to start another one, believe it or not. It is a great experience. Very pure in a certain way, and I needed that. Atlanta is a super-cool place to hang around. It is a great area. It had a big effect on the record.

How consciously charted is your career?
Not consciously. Try your best to follow your heart is all you can do. I try to do that. Some of the changes of the last year were difficult, but healthy on a deep level. I’d love to continue to take risks, but for the right reasons. Listening to that inner voice and trying to follow it, I hope.
–10/6/05 C-Ville.com