Following in the footsteps of the Grateful doppelgangers, Dark Star Orchestra, Strange Design is taking a similar approach to the Phish. This South Carolina foursome recreates classic Phish shows in their entirety at each concert.
While I have yet to see Strange Design in action, what looks particularly appealing about their approach to the Phish is that they really seem to emphasize the surprise factor, the energy, and the general idea that seeing Phish is bigger than just the music. They are not simply focusing on the setlists and songs, but the whole shebang from the segues and bust outs to Fishman tunes and vacuum solos. Hell, the guy even wears the moo moo on drums. If the Divided Sky on their My Space page is any indication, these guys are gonna be a big hit with the fans.
The following comes from a chat with Aaron Levy (keys) and Adam Chase (drums):
Hidden Track: How often do you recreate actual jam segments? Are there any particular versions you would point to that you really worked hard to recreate?
AARON: We try our best to recreate as much as the show as possible. Phish’s music as well as their jams is very complex, so to recreate every note of a show would be a stretch. However, we listen extensively to the shows we recreate and take notes on song lengths, order of solos, teases, any highlighted/unique aspects of that shows particular vibe and jams, etc. Phish had very distinctive styles/eras and we want to give people the taste of a ’91 show versus a ’97 show. As far as particular recreations to point out, when it comes to a well known recording/show, we will do our best to play it as it was played originally.
ADAM: I’ll add that we take notes of key changes within jams, style changes, time signature changes, effects and really as many specific details as possible. On many occasions, Mike has spoken about the spiritual aspect of playing music and being in the moment and Fishman has spoken about putting enough hours and hard work into practice that when you get on stage you don’t have to think about it. So, I’d say our approach is to spend enough time in the practice room that when we get on stage we can be in the moment and know that the amount we studied the show will come through without having to force the direction of the jam just to do what they did. With that being said, we covered 12-6-97 at the Georgia Theatre per a request on our message board and knowing that it was somebody’s all time favorite show and that they were in the audience gave us the extra motivation to be as accurate as possible.
READ ON for more with Adam and Aaron of The Strange Design…