Chris Kuroda Still Shines (Part Two)
This has been known as the sober era for Phish. Do you—both the band and crew—have to come up with new ways of changing your mindset? It seems like as people get older they turn to things like yoga, mediation and more exercise.
Everybody, especially the four band members—and I can speak for myself as well—have adopted similar ways [that] you’ve mentioned. Trey meditates and Fishman does his yoga. They all do many different varieties of those kind of Zen Buddha type of mind-clearing exercises. Whether it’s yoga, meditation, diet or exercise, it puts you in a good mindset and all four of these guys have adopted their own different ways to re-channel the energy that they channeled in such a negative way in the past. And it’s a cool, new positive way. But again, that all comes from education. These guys were smart enough to educate themselves, to know that there are other ways to channel their energy. People who don’t realize that you can do that who have been down the same road that we have—that same dark path—they wind up spending the rest of their life channeling their energy through anger and frustration. They’re not used to being straight and they’re mad about it. Everybody [in the band and crew is] very happy where they are today and with the philosophies that they’ve adopted to take that next step in the chapters of their lives, including myself.
Do you notice a difference in the music now as drugs—psychedelics at least—have traditionally gone hand in hand with improvisational music?
I do. I think it’s more solid in many ways and I think that the music itself is as motivating to them as it was before they started taking drugs. This band, before they started taking drugs, the music was everything to them. And the music was the high, and the presentation of the music was the high. To them, that was their drug. And I see it going back to that, like it was in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s. I see that it’s the music that drives them. That’s a very healthy and positive, full-circle type of experience if you ask me.
How has that, in turn, affected the way that your style has evolved in the current era of Phish?
If anything, it’s made me need to be more precise. There’re no more 45-minute guitar loops where you basically can do anything and it looks fine. It’s made me need to pay attention more to what they’re doing because the jams are way more thought out now. They’re not reckless and out there. There’s a lot of precision to them. If you pay attention enough, you can listen and understand the musical thinking that’s going on at any given live moment. And it’s a lot more intelligent than it used to be.
Trey told Rolling Stone that there will be less tour dates next year.
I’ve heard that.
He cited “family obligations for some of the band members” as the main reason. So it sounds like you will have more time off the road. I’m curious as to what, if any, your plans are. Obviously you want to spend time with your family though, at the same time I assume, you need to work in some capacity.
When I poke around looking for work and get all stressed out trying to find work to fill the void because I need to make money, I usually wind up getting way too stressed out and don’t have that much success. But if I sit back and wait, for some reason the phone always rings with the perfect job. The other thing is I always assume that [the members of Phish] can’t sit still for as long as they think they can and something will pop up within this world, whether it be a Trey tour or maybe some Phish dates will come in the future where there’s not supposed to be any. I’m not saying that will happen, but that’s happened plenty in the past. It always seems to work itself out without me having to exert too much energy trying to find the next thing.
It must be bittersweet when you get an offer for a new gig. On the one hand, it’s exciting you got the gig but then on the other hand you need to break it to your significant other, “Hey, I’m going back out on the road again.”
I always let my wife make those decisions for me. That’s always been the way it is in my married life. Not with Phish—Phish is Phish—and there’s nothing anyone can do about that. But when I did Aerosmith, R. Kelly, when I got offered Clapton, Prince, Black Crowes, and on and on, I always say [to my wife], “I got this job offer. I’m leaving it up to you to decide whether I can go do it or not. If you need me here, for whatever reason, even if it’s an emotional reason, then I won’t go.” And my wife has always, so far, said “go.” But I leave the ball in her court.
What do you have in store for Super Ball IX this weekend? Are you involved in some of the site installations?
I’ve been here for a week programming site installation stuff. I am not at liberty to give any details whatsoever. That’s just not how we roll. It’s never been how we’ve rolled. We like to keep everything—I don’t want to say a surprise—but fresh. We don’t want the people coming in the front gates and know what they’re going to see, even though they’ve never seen it. We’d like them to have the full experience of going, “Wow! Look at that! I didn’t expect to see that here!”
I completely agree. I’m sure you don’t have anything to do with this, but in that vein, any idea why the band decided to start handing out playbills at the Halloween shows? The first couple years they did it, it was so great for the lights to go down for that second set and hear those first couple notes of that cover album and have that be a surprise. It was one of the best parts of the experience. But then they started handing out the playbills. It seemed so un-Phish-like to me.
This is just a guess, but I’m guessing that it’s been justified in the sense that, it being Phish and everybody that surrounds Phish [saying], “Hey, you know what? We don’t want to give it away by giving away the playbills and that’s what we’re doing.” But at the same time, [the fans] already know what we’re going to play. Everybody knows. Even though it’s a secret, they all know. It’s a secret that’s not a secret. Somebody somewhere— in a recording studio or a practice space or a publisher or a publicist or an archivist— somebody catches wind and tells one person and somehow the whole world knows. It’s the hardest secret to keep.
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Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
Ron Sexsmith visits the Relix office to perform a tune from his latest record Forever Endeavor.
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