Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Trey Anastasio interview Part 2
in which Trey names his next record and discovers that he has a MySpace page...
Your new record is on your new label, Rubber Jungle. Is that independent?
We have a distributor, but Rubber Jungle has just two employees: just me and Patrick Jordan. We’re distributed by Red (?garbled?)
When we spoke in 1993, Rift was just out and you were starting your experience working with Elektra. You had already been burned by another record label (Absolute A-Go-Go/Rough Trade). I asked if you thought the relationship with a major was going to work for Phish. Do you think that old model is gone at this point?
I tried it another time. When the Elektra contract ran out we did one record with Columbia. That was a big thrill because Columbia has such a history, Bob Dylan and Duke Ellington, but it was the same kind of problem: basically the fit between myself and the major label system. I think this is pretty much it now. It’s such a relief and sort of a dream to do this. I already have another record that will come out after this one, an instrumental record, no singing. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a 10-piece band with horns where the horns are layered. It’s out there. You know if this was on a major label, I’d have to explain it. Now I don’t have to explain it to anybody except Patrick Jordan my one employee.
Does it have a name?
No, the record.
The record, right now, is either going to be called The Horseshoe Curve or Cook Drive. I kind of like Cook Drive because most of the times I’ve listened to it I’ve either been cooking or driving. But I don’t know.
Cook/Drive? Or Cook Drive like an address?
Oh, Cook Drive... I like that. You just named it for me. That’s better than The Horseshoe Curve. You like Cook Drive? Thanks for naming it. That’s due to come out in March so it’s already done, mastered. That’s another thing. Major labels aren’t really set up to have something like Shine come out and then a month later having somebody standing in their office saying, ‘Can you put this one out?’ They’re like, ‘I don’t understand.’
Because they want to finish marketing the first one and fear that the second might interfere or whatever...
I think you’ll see more of that sort of thing.
And you have to take into account the state of the music industry in general, with the ongoing transition to the digital era. It seems like everything’s up in the air at this point. At least that’s what I hear.
I’ve been hearing a lot of that. Just this morning I was on the phone talking with someone about the whole song concept.
The song concept?
Well, I guess the album is becoming less important than the song. It’s because kids, like my 6th grade daughter, she’s never been in a record store. She gets all her stuff online. And when you buy online, you pretty much just buy a song, so the idea of an album disappears. I guess there are record deals being cut now where people will sign to do a song or three songs instead of three albums. That’s the wave of the future, so a lot of people are kind of saddened by the fact that you’re not going to get another Dark Side of the Moon that way.
The form will change to meet the new medium. You know when Duke Ellington was writing songs he wrote them to fit on one side of a 78.
Exactly. And I’m thinking, what if you kind of embrace that idea. Now that we have this vehicle, the Internet, where you can put something out very fast, you can be boom, boom, boom, done -- mastered on the Internet, available for download. That means you can maybe inject the time concept. You could put out a song, and then another song would come out on the heels of that song that refers back to the previous song. You know people have bought one song; they’ve heard the lyric and the melody. Now, two weeks late, I’m going to put out another song that follows it.
You know when Dickens was writing Great Expectations he put it out in serial form.
Interesting. Then eventually it would come out as a full book. You could do something like that on the Internet.
Right, after he put it out there one chapter at a time, he published it as a full novel. Similarly, you could release an album one track at a time.
And you could leave it up to people, explain that you mean for these songs to go together. When I put out Bar 17, it came out with this other album Baby Steps. A guy stopped me on the street a couple of days ago and told me he thought that four or five songs on Bar 17 really clearly refer to things on Baby Steps. He took four songs from Bar 17 and three from the other and made his own record with the quieter songs.
With something like iTunes your sequencing of an album can be thrown out the window.
And that’s kind of cool.
What exactly is “Bar 17”? Is it a particular point in that song?
It was that came to me when I was walking down the street one day. I thought if you had a really long intro...
So you have a 16 bar intro, then the real song starts...
Then the story starts...
And I guess that’s where you’re at right now: The intro is done and now it’s time fro the rest of your life...
That’s exactly what I meant. You’re the first person who kind of took it that way. That’s what I was thinking -- and it was a really long intro. (laughs)
Louise the publicist cuts in again: Guys, we need to wrap it up.
Okay, we’re being told we can’t talk any more.
You’re not going to believe this but it’s true. I remember your voice. I think I remember that interview from 1993.
You told me it was a different kind of interview that you were used to. We got into some deeper issues, partly because I don’t always adhere to the normal interview style. We were talking about growing up in Princeton and the Rhombus. Do you ever go back the Rhombus?
I have not been back to the Rhombus in quite some time, but I think it’s still there. I still talk with Tom [Tom Marshall, his childhood friend and songwriting partner].
I went to your MySpace page today...
I don’t have a MySpace page...
Believe me, you have a MySpace page. Posted on it today was a photo of you and Tom on stage playing together. Tom posted it.
On my MySpace? How does that work? I’m so sorry. I don’t have a MySpace page (he laughs).
There’s a page with your name on it. Maybe this person who’s listening in on the phone knows about it. Do you know about it? Are you still there?
Louise: Did someone ask for me?
Yes. Do you take care of Trey’s MySpace page?
Unfortunately I do not.
Does KSA? (the publicity company?)
Louise: No, it’s probably Patrick.
Trey: Yeah, Patrick, my employee in Rubber Jungle probably does it.
You partner in crime, well, not crime exactly.
My partner in putting out new exciting records...
Well, I know you have this set of new toys in the studio and you probably want to go play with.
I do. I’m standing in front of them right now.
I’m looking forward to this show coming up. I hate to admit it, but I haven’t seen you play since 1993.
You’re going to like this. It’s a really killer horn section, a great drummer, great bass player...
From New Orleans right?
Right, Tony Hall. You ever hear that song “The Maker” by Daniel Lanois. That’s him, he’s the money.
I have a couple more questions, but we’ll save them for another day. Good talking with you again after all these years.
Have fun with the new toys. Make some more great music...
Talk to you soon...
Louise: Bye. Thank you.
Monday, December 04, 2006
This note came in today from my friend Gus Mozart, a very serious Richard Thompson fan (and a KHSU deejay among other things).
The photo came from concert photographer John Chapman (who sat right behind me at the
show) via CenterArts.
Gus (aka Russ) writes:
> I posted this to the RT discussion list, and thought y'all might like to read it. If you were there, you know of what I speak! If you missed it...... sorry!
> best, russneversleeps
"A holiday, a holiday..."
Mr. Thompson has certainly earned one.
His touring schedule for 2006 ended Friday evening with a truly phenomenal performance at the Van Duzer Theater at Humboldt State University. I've seen Richard close to 50 times, beginning in 1985, and this was easily one of the finest solo shows I've seen him do.
Obviously rested from the Hawaii trip, and in prime condition after the 3 night run at Montalvo, he didn't coast for one second of his 2 hour set. He opened and closed the show with new songs, both of them worthy additions to his prodigious songbook. In the last dozen years ago, he has started almost every show I've attended with new material. I've always been struck by the audaciousness of this move - generally, an artist wants to pull the listener in with something "up", and preferably instantly recognizable. Yet Richard doesn't play that game. Whether it's because he is simply being true to himself as an artist, believing as he does in the strength of his work, or just being playfully obstinate, either way, it's ballsy!
I might be disappointed by this habit, except that every time I hear these new tunes, I'm always bowled over. "Poppy Red" was gorgeous, and a perfect way to begin an exquisite evening of song by one of the best singer-songwriters on the face of the earth.
"Crawl Back" was riveting. He did a long guitar solo in the middle, very different than anything I'd heard him do on this song -- It was jagged, prickly, even a little odd, and I loved it. Then, at the end, when he repeats "crawl back", his voice built in intensity until he was roaring. It was an absolutely thrilling moment. A co-worker of mine, who'd never heard a note of Richard's music, was in tears.
"Oh my god, he's incredible!" she said at the end of it. Yep.
The second new one, "'Dad's Gonna Kill Me" was as great as I'd heard. A moving depiction of a soldiers' experience... stuck in a place he doesn't want to be, and can't get out of. This song, along with Tom Waits' recent "Road To Peace", are two examples of a new breed of songs inspired by the conflict in Iraq. Sad that war has to be the source of such inspiration, but perhaps when people hear these tales sung, more hearts and minds will be opened to the futility of this stupid military mess.
And what did he follow that with? A witty ditty like "Hots For The Smarts". I'd heard this once before, and only thought it okay, but RT was on a roll. He delivered verse after verse with comic timing, and the audience was thoroughly charmed. A broken string brought a singalong with "Sam Hall". "Persuasion" was lovely. "Vincent".... He does this virtually EVERY NIGHT, and it's STILL amazing. How he manages to make it sound fresh each time, I don't know. It's a tribute to his excellence as a performer.
I hadn't heard that he'd started doing "Matty Groves" recently, so I was
pretty surprised when he actually did it. Another epic story, expertly presented. Classic Fairport from the man himself, when you thought you'd never, ever hear him play it.
Then, the "1,000 Years portion of the set: "Shenandoah" was sung with such wrenching emotion. Breath taking. "Oops!" absolutely rocked, and he did the Britney-hand-movements around his eyes at it's close, which was hilarious. Pardon me if I don't relay a more detailed accounting of the set, and encores, because I'll run out of superlatives. Suffice to say that everything was superb.
Except I have to mention "Sunset Song". I'd read a few things posted on the discussion list about this song, but I was not prepared for how stunning it was. Wow. A beautiful melody,shifting timbre in unexpected ways. A lilting, heart breaking guitar figure that propels that melody. And lyrics that convey a wistful,longing, sadness, that, while melancholy, leave you with a warmth, and an ache, at the fragile and fleeting beauty of life.
The next album is going to be a real keeper!
> Poppy Red
> Walking On A Wire
> Crawl Back
> Down Where The Drunkards Roll
> 'Dad's Gonna Kill Me
> Hots for the Smarts
> I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
> (broken string) jokes / Sam Hall
> How Will I Ever Be Simple Again?
> Cooksferry Queen
> Matty Groves
> So Ben Mi Ca Bon Tempo
> I Feel So Good
> Cold Kisses
> (encore 1)
> 1 Door Opens
> Dimming of the Day
> (encore 2)
> Wall of Death
> Sunset Song
> (pre-show soundcheck)
> Goin' Back
> Withered and Died
> Drinking Wine Spodie-Odie