first_imgA new, extended interview with Trey Anastasio has emerged on Rolling Stone today, in which Anastasio and senior RS member David Fricke discuss the Grateful Dead reunion shows at length. From the interview, we learned quite a bit about Anastasio’s approach and thought-process behind his role as lead guitarist with the band.1. Trey Anastasio will pick a song and practice it for hours, daily: “I get up really early, when it’s still dark. I light a little fire in the fireplace, take my guitar and do a song. Yesterday, I did “Help on the Way” [from 1975’s Blues for Allah]. I’ll spend a few hours in the morning on it, then do it again later in the day.”2. Anastasio prefers learning Dead material from the 1974 and 1977 eras: “there’s really great stuff for me in 1971, when it was like, ‘What’s going on here?” It was so unhinged. But if I have to learn some things as a guitar player, I find myself going to either ’74 or ’77, because from the guitar end, it sounds like someone who has been practicing for eight hours a day. And the band was so tight.”3. Anastasio and Weir each wrote 60 songs they’d want to play, and Trey had quite a few that Bobby didn’t: “My list was called “60 Songs It Would Be Sad Not To Hear One Last Time.” It came in about a minute. Then Bob sent me this e-mail: “I’ll help ruin your vacation. You can learn these 60 songs.” And I wrote back: “These are great. May I be so bold as to add the possibility of ‘Casey Jones,’ ‘Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo,’ ‘Friend of the Devil,’ ‘Tennessee Jed,’ ‘Bertha,’ ‘Dire Wolf,’ ‘Sugaree,’ ‘Candyman,’ Dupree’s Diamond Blues,’ ‘China Doll.’” [laughs] None of those were on his list. And the ones that were were great.”4. Despite all of the setlist planning, they probably won’t lock anything down until they get to Chicago: “My guess is they won’t know [what we’re playing] until five minutes before we go on. We’re going to rehearse in June a little bit. Then we’ll all be together before the shows. I figure it will keep changing and changing, which is fine with me.”5. Anastasio knows that he’s not trying to replace Jerry Garcia: “I don’t think anybody can be Jerry’s voice. My thought is, I love Jerry’s voice, and I love these songs. I’m happy to joyously sing whatever comes my way. But my take on it is that everybody sings – the audience too. They’ll sing. We’ll sing. Everybody knows the words. People have such lifelong relationships to these songs. When I say I’m providing a service — it’s to the songs, the memories, the community.”6. But he does expect to bring some of his newly-learned techniques, both guitar playing and songwriting, back to Phish: “I’ve made a conscious effort to learn everything I could about Jerry’s incredible style. I’m playing in different positions on the neck. It’s opened up a whole world of people I’d never listened to before. I’m exploring this Fifties and early Sixties country stuff. The other thing has to do with songwriting. When you get inside of these songs, especially the Garcia-Hunter ones, they’re so vivid – the lyrics, the spacing, the intent.”7. Ultimately, Trey keeps learning from Jerry: “I still feel like a student. I had an interesting conversation with Mountain Girl [Garcia’s second wife, Carolyn] at this Garcia tribute thing [in 2012 for the guitarist’s 70th birthday]. She sat down with me in catering and said, ‘I just want to tell you something, because I know you’re a big fan of Jerry’s. He got up at 7 in the morning and practiced. He was completely nuts about practicing. This Captain Trips image of him sitting around, smoking a joint and having the music come out wasn’t what I saw. The guy I saw wanted to be the best possible singer, songwriter and guitar player.’”last_img