Phish Releases New Studio Album, Trey Anastasio Uses Skiing for Inspiration

Posted By: The Ski Channel on September 17, 2009 5:09 pm

The immensely talented and eclectic jam-band known as Phish has released their 14th studio album, entitled “Joy”. For those of you who are not familiar with their music, check them out. Phish is a rarity in the music world. A band who made a name for itself without the help of mega CD sales or music videos. They sell out every show they play, and they’ve played thousands upon thousands at this point. They were one of the highest grossing bands of the 90’s, and many people have never heard of them. Their music covers all the bases. A bit of jazz, prog rock, hard rock, latin, samba, classical, funk, folk, and of course improv jam…they are always finding new ways of expressing themselves through music.


What even the most die-hard “phans” may not be aware of however, is guitarist and lead songwriter Trey Anastatio’s affinity for skiing. The bandmates are natives of Burlington, Vermont, and they’ve certainly taken advantage of their surroundings. In 1997, Anastasio bought a 175-year-old farm from a guy who had installed a ski lift in his backyard (they live on a very steep hill). The rope tow was in need of replacing, but other than that, it was good to go! Trey doesn’t claim to be any great skier, but he’s been doing it since he was 8 (longer than he’s been playing guitar!). He’s frequented the Vernon Valley/Great Gorge area in New Jersey, and because the band plays Colorado a lot, they often get free lift tickets to Steamboat, Crested Butte and Telluride. Other than Trey, keyboardist Page McConnell is the only other member of the band who can get down a mountain without biffing it.


Trey makes several parallels between skiing and making music. The biggest comparison in his eyes is that you ski better when you relax and let go, and it’s the same with playing music. Especially with Phish’s heavily improvised and experimental style. The less Trey tries, the faster he goes down the hill, and the better his music is.


Trey’s worst skiing experience? Telling his wife she’d be fine upon her first time out there and then watching her fall hard and tweak her knee pretty badly. Now, she just sticks to cross country skiing, a sport that Trey has also gotten into. He finds it very peaceful and calming. A good avenue to create good new music.


The latest album from Phish, “Joy”, is some good new music indeed. It’s a great “welcome back” album after 5 years out of the spotlight. It’s full of the deeply thoughtful and intelligent music Phish phans love while adding a “pop” sound to some tracks that absolutely work. Some memorable cuts include the radio-friendly “Backwards Down The Number Line” and Mike Gordon’s country/folk/Caribbean dance “Sugar Shack”. While some in the past of complained of Phish’s lack of quality vocals and lyrics that are just too random, “Joy” offers some of the band’s cleanest vocals and most powerful and beautifully allegorical lyrics.


If this is the kind of music that you can produce while skiing Trey, keep at it! Welcome back boys!