Phishing Season's Canceled
After 20-plus years together, improv-rock heroes Phish are calling it quits. The official announcement came on the brink of the band’s annual summer tour and with a new album on the way.
In a www.phish.com web post, frontman Trey Anastasio wrote, “Last Friday night, I got together with [bandmates] Mike, Page and Fish to talk openly about the strong feelings I've been having that Phish has run its course and that we should end it now while it's still on a high note. Once we started talking, it quickly became apparent that the other guys' feelings, while not all the same as mine, were similar in many ways—most importantly, that we all love and respect Phish and the Phish audience far too much to stand by and allow it to drag on beyond the point of vibrancy and health.
“We don't want to become caricatures of ourselves, or worse yet, a nostalgia act. By the end of the meeting, we realized that after almost twenty-one years together we were faced with the opportunity to graciously step away in unison, as a group, united in our friendship and our feelings of gratitude.”
Anastasio went on to write that the last show of the two-day festival in Coventry, Vt., this August would be Phish’s final performance. He also stressed that this time, it will not merely be a brief hiatus (the method by which the band attempted to rejuvenate itself between 2000 and 2002).
Said the band's lyricist Tom Marshall, "Of course I'm sad that Phish is breaking up, it's the end of an incredible era in so many ways. However, I'm extremely proud and happy for them and more relieved, really, than anything. It's great that they were able to walk away and end on a positive note, because the potential for other unhappier endings seemed to be increasing."
Singer/guitarist Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon and drummer John Fishman formed the band while attending the University of Vermont in the mid-1980s. Their first gig was an ROTC Halloween dance at the college. A few year’s later, pianist Page McConnell joined the band and the permanent lineup was in place. Phish then began its slow-climb to stardom, picking up steam with the release of the albums Hoist (1994), A Live One (1995) and Billy Breathes (1996). Its fanatical fanbase, which followed the group all over the country, grew larger and larger until Phish was consistently among the music industry's top-grossing live acts.
The band’s forthcoming studio album, Undermind—produced by Tchad Blake (Los Lobos, The Bad Plus, Tom Waits)—is still scheduled for a June 15 release by Atlantic Records.
Fans who’d like to catch Phish on their farewell tour can purchase tickets at phishtickets.rlc.net.
“It's been an amazing and incredible journey,” Anastasio wrote, closing his letter to fans. “We thank you all for the love and support that you've shown us.”
(From Beginning To End: Top - Phish's first promotional photo, 1988. Bottom - Phish at a 2002 photo shoot at Page McConnell's house in Vermont. Photo by Danny Clinch.)
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