Richard Gehr; Phish The Phish Book

ISBN 13: 9780375502033

The Phish Book

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9780375502033: The Phish Book
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Having played more than a thousand shows and recorded nine albums during their fifteen years together, Phish now brings us a different kind of performance--a written one. The first and only authorized book about the band, The Phish Book is an extraordinary verbal and visual chronicle of a year in the life of Phish, featuring extensive interviews with the four band members--Trey Anastasio, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon, and Page McConnell--conducted by writer Richard Gehr, who also serves as guide to the history, mythology, musical context, and unique audience-band relationship in which the Vermont quartet flourishes.

While it contains many of the trappings of other lavish rock monuments--including more than two hundred pieces of previously unpublished art and photography from the band's private archive--The Phish Book raises the form to a higher level by means of an innovative roundtable-style discussion format. Richard Gehr and Phish use the events of 1997 as a jumping-off point from which the band members free-associate about themselves, their music, and the dedicated and colorful community that springs up wherever they perform.

Beginning with the backstage scene at Boston's Fleet Center on New Year's Eve, 1996, The Phish Book explores the band's earliest days in Burlington, Vermont; their musical influences, which include James Brown, Frank Zappa, and the Grateful Dead; their legendary Halloween shows; the two European and two American tours the group undertook in 1997; the stories behind their 1996 studio album Billy Breathes and the following year's live Slip Stitch and Pass; life onstage and off; the sixty-thousand-fan Maine campout and art project known as the Great Went; and the experimental recording and performing techniques that informed the band's most recent studio album, The Story of the Ghost.

More than a journal of the group's evolution over the course of a single year, The Phish Book is a glorious snapshot of a band much bigger than its parts and at the height of its collective power.

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Review:

With pride, drummer Jon Fishman explains the level of success that his quirky, experimental roots-rock quartet has achieved: "We've reached the point where it's cool to hate us." As you might expect from this eclectic band, such a metric speaks louder than the legions of Phish fans that follow the quartet from town to town.

Cowriter Richard Gehr describes this enlightening book as "a studio edit of Phish in real-time conversation." Along with Fishman, Page McConnell, Mike Gordon, and Trey Anastasio are revealed in their own words, the result of a spate of interviews conducted by Gehr between 1996's New Year's Eve show at Boston's Fleet Center and 1997's year-end Madison Square Garden run. Much like a Phish show, the conversation rambles back and forth, and the complete portrait of the band only emerges subtly and indirectly, although it certainly does emerge. Most rewarding is when they discuss the process of performing and creating music. They describe "onstage love affairs" between two of the four, and how certain members basically ignored others for years at a time and then finally "discovered" them after a decade of playing together. Some may be happy to know that even Phish own up to the unevenness (read: boredom) of some of their extended musical journeys.

In many ways, The Phish Book serves as a gift to die-hard fans, often diving into some of the band's more esoteric mythology: the origins of songs and lyrics, the various recording processes, the Dude of Life, and so on. The treasure-trove of photos includes shots of bars and stadiums, onstage and backstage, giant flying hot dogs, fans clothed and not, Fishman clothed and not. But the uninitiated can gain much-needed perspective from this enjoyable book as well. They'll learn how Phish find a connection between all styles of music, and use this connection (implied or otherwise) to inform their own music. And they might be surprised to discover how much substance there is behind the twirling fans and endless jams. --Marc Greilsamer

About the Author:

Richard Gehr is an Oregon writer who lives in Brooklyn. He has written about popular (and other) culture for The Village Voice, Spin, Rolling Stone, Mirabella, Salon, and New York Newsday.

Phish is an internationally renowned musical group based in Burlington, Vermont.
    
Since forming in 1983, they have garnered a reputation as one of the world's most exciting and successful touring acts. They have released nine albums on Elektra Records, including three gold records and one platinum record.

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9780375752544: The Phish Book

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Publisher: Villard, 1999
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