If you called 212-330-9092 today, aka Mike Gordon’s “hotline” you’ve heard the Phish bassist address an issue many fans have discussed over the course of the group’s recently completed 18-show tour – why doesn’t Phish do extended jams as much these days as they did in the past? Considering that some fans felt Gordon was unhappy with the lack of exploratory improvisation, his answer may come as a surprise…
“Why doesn’t Phish do extended jams anymore? I don’t understand the question because I thought there were a lot of long jams and I was always surprised about how long they were going. And I kept writing in my journal even saying, ‘wow, what’s great about these jams is how long they are.’ Now, of course anyone that wants Phish to be Phish in ’93, Phish in ’94 is just deluded because that year is gone forever in the history of mankind at least until we loop around time again [unintelligible]. Maybe it’s because now in the jamming, the chord progressions stay similar rather than veering off and I think that’s a good thing. I think it makes the jam get deeper.”
[Mike Gordon Hotline]
There’s always been this great divide between what artists think about their own music and what fans think about an artist’s music. Gordon’s comments illustrate that divide. While some fans (myself included at times) are mostly looking for jams that veer off the structure of the song, aka Type II Jams, in listening back to the Merriweather shows I was stuck by just how good the jams that didn’t lose the structure of the song were in songs such as Bathtub Gin, Crosseyed & Painless and On Your Way Down.
Cactus also answered another fan’s query about intoxication…
Another question was about intoxication, drinking and having beers before playing and we don’t drink beer or alcohol or pot or anything like that in Phish now. We play sober. But I think that the places that we’re going are actually adventerous in terms of what happens with my conciousness as much as it would’ve been with intoxication.
Here’s the whole message:
[Audio thanks to DaveAHZ via Eric Wyman]