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Phish Talk Creation of ‘Big Boat’ in Latest Issue of Relix

October 07, 2016

Phish cover the October_November issue of Relix as they celebrate the release of their 13th studio album, Big Boat, out today. Speaking with all four members, the topics discussed ranged from crafting Big Boat with super-producer Bob Ezrin to reflecting on the collaborative writing process, their musical careers and much more. 

"What changed, starting in 2009, is this clarity of vision and this clear understanding of what a precious gift it was that the four of us met," Anastasio told Relix. "It took a couple of years after that for things to get rolling completely, but we've realized how important this is for everyone--the way that the primary relationship between the four of us is nurtured and the way that ripples out into the rest of our families and the community." 

Anastasio also discussed the "big boat" concept, accrediting it to the whole Phish team. "After Lockn’ and Dick’s, I was thinking about our crew who never come out and take a bow, but who literally make the show happen, and all of the people in the audience who are beloved members of our Phish family, and the big boat philosophy is more appropriate than ever. It's a big boat, there's room for everyone.”

On writing Big Boat, the guitarist said that Ezrin challenged the band as songwriters. "He said, ‘Who are you guys? What breaks your heart?’ He was trying to make a point—for a band where the compass has, at times, pointed toward the head, he hoped to tilt the compass a little more toward the heart this time.”

The conversation also shifts to a wider array of topics, including the band's recent summer tour and jamming style, which bassist Mike Gordon expands on, saying he has been listening to past shows. "Sometimes things don’t sound as fresh when I hear them again—I don’t know if it’s the mix or the experience of listening back or my mood or something else," Gordon said. "Sometimes things feel really unique and creative, like we’re almost writing on the spot—new rhythms, patterns and textures—and then, I hear it back, and it feels like that’s sort of ‘jamband 101.’ And then other times, I’m pleasantly surprised.”

Anastasio reflects on writing such Phish staples as "You Enjoy Myself," recounting the inspiration for the former's title. "[Fish and I] were sleeping in a car outside of Florence [Italy] and then playing in the streets all day," he recalled. "We had met this hilarious Italian guy, who we were hanging out with every day, but who didn't really speak any English. One day he came up and he put one arm around me and one arm around Fish and he said, in broken English, 'you know, when I am with you, you enjoy myself!' So that became the title." Anastasio sums it up by saying, "Phish songs cover every era of my life from 19 until 52." 

To read the full story, pick up the issue here.

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