Phish’s Jon Fishman on The Who’s Keith Moon: A Beat To Call His Own
The rule is that there’s a strong internal pulse; that there’s a groove. You don’t break that rule but there are many different ways to interpret that rule. Keith Moon was certainly one of the really most unique people of all in rock and roll that way.
There’s constant acceleration to his playing. He made it feel like it was always accelerating but [the band’s] time was always really solid. The music didn’t speed up. The tempo of the tune didn’t speed up. But it felt like it was accelerating all the time because he was pushing through the fills to a beat. Every four-beat phrase or every four-eight measure phrase, whatever it was, he’d be pushing through the last…pushing the last juice out of the orange or whatever it was…the last ounces of sound would be squeezed out of the amount of time that was left. And it so it felt like there was an acceleration even though the groove is really solid.
The best example that I can think of that, there’s this moment in the live version of “A Quick One [While He’s Away]” from the Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus that’s in The Kids Are Alright. There’s a moment before they go into the last section, the last movement, of that piece. [sings] It’s right before they get to the “You are forgiven” part…[sings]… there’s this break right before that section where the instruments…it’s almost like the entire band comes crashing into a wall. And there’s actually like a split second of dead silence. The drum solo that happens right there is the quintessential example of what I’m talking about but he did that all the time. That was what he did, that was his playing. It was, “That thing is finishing and that phrase is going to end and Pete Townshend is hitting a big chord there and everything is coming thundering down on that one spot” and he’s still cramming some more [stuff] into the suitcase before he’s got to sit on the damn thing and zip it closed. The last second he would turn it over with security breathing down his neck, “Sir, you gotta move ahead, there are people behind you.” It constantly felt like that.
There’s an elastic urgency here. It’s not simply rubbery. When I think of rubbery, I think of Zigaboo Modeleste. His playing is rubbery; that’s really a flexible funk. There’s a real elasticity to that. With Keith Moon, there was an acceleration. I want to convey that sense of urgency; that acceleration to get that last thought in, that last damn thought in at the last second just before the door closes.
Or [it’s] like there’s a storm coming and you gotta shut the barn door before the storm hits. The wind is howling and you just get that door closed in time and just as you do, there are all these objects that come blowing into the door on the other side. You hear all the rattling and banging of the storm outside.
When he had to learn Quadrophenia, that was the one time where I started to actually learn some of the stuff that he did beat for beat. And I found it was incredibly difficult because of that. Because you couldn’t really say, “Oh, well here he plays a roll that’s eighth notes and sixteenth notes and 32nd notes or even triplets; it was like a triplet that piled into some sixteenth notes that actually had a five in a space of four phrase at the very last second.
Page was always a really big Who fan and we were all Who fans. That’s just one of those albums that stands the test of time really well. We all grew up with it and we all went through phases in our years where we were obsessed with it.
All of the albums we’ve done for Halloween met that criteria. Waiting for Columbus was a big one for all of us at one point. Exile at Main Street of course. They all were albums that had been around, stood the test of time, were what we grew up on and were more or less part of our metabolism. I guess, in that sense, it was just a very natural evolution. I can’t remember who specifically brought up Quadrophenia. The way that choosing of the Halloween albums has gone is usually just like there’s a big list.
There’s nothing on Quadrophenia that I couldn’t actually physically play. There were actually couple of things, a couple of moments, on Waiting for Columbus that I could not physically. I couldn’t play some his rolls that fast. I couldn’t actually play some of the stuff. It did teach me how to play some Phish tunes better which is good. Since learning “Tripe Face Boogie” I’ve been working on my left hand shuffle beats a lot.
Beth Hart shares the opening track from her latest album, Bang Bang Boom Boom, live at Relix.
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Here’s another song from Crystal Bowersox’s new record All That For This, live at Relix.
WYATT share a song in the famed Relix boiler room.
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Warren Haynes performs a solo, acoustic version of “Railroad Boy” and explains how he adapted the traditional Celtic song for Gov’t Mule, backstage at the Hangout Music Festival.
Australia’s Alpine recently made their NYC debut at the Relix office with this song from their new album A is for Alpine.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
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