Listen to the Baker’s Beat’s first in a series of interviews with Phish non-initiates (spoiler: it’s my mother!) using the link above. OR – read on for the full transcript.
Good afternoon listeners! This is the Baker’s Beat reporting live from the permanent home of the Baker’s Beat which is in Oakland, California.
We are in the midst of our preview un-coverage of the Baker’s Dozen residency for Phish playing in Madison Square Garden and I am here doing the first of our series of the non-initiated, people that do not know Phish well, is my mother.
Can you say your name and tell the good people what you do and where you’re from?
My name is Jane Koval and I live in Wisconsin – Madison, Wisconsin – and I am a physical education teacher. I get to play all day and get paid for it.
Tell me what you know of Phish. What you’ve heard about them, what do you know about the band, and what do you know of the culture surrounding them?
I know that you have followed Phish since you were in middle school. You’ve, I think, probably have every single setlist that they’ve ever done, every single recording. I’ve watched you grow into a Phish fanatic and I know that they play music that is incredibly meaningful to you. Their lyrics are very meaningful. I often don’t quite get them but I know that you find great meaning in them.
I’ve really enjoyed watching you meet some really amazing people among the Phish culture and that there’s the following, which has been quite amazing to me to learn about and to watch all the different places – you have a map above my head with little tacks of every single place you’ve gone for Phish concerts, so I think you’re a Phish fanatic for sure.
(Laughs) You said you ‘don’t get’ everything about Phish. What’s one example of something you ‘don’t get’ or something that confuses you about the band?
Some of the lyrics I think I don’t quite understand. Some of the poetic…intuit…kind of…details.
Also the length of their songs. One time you played me a song that I think lasted about 10 minutes. You enjoy music and can listen to music nonstop and I’m not sure where you gleaned that from because neither your dad or I are huge music fans, but it’s been interesting to watch how you have just totally surrounded yourself and enveloped yourself in the Phish world.
Would it surprise you to know that a 10 minute song would be an example of maybe a medium-length Phish song?
That would surprise me quite a bit! I guess it wouldn’t surprise me, but it’s not something that I would enjoy listening to. I know for some people that’s the ultimate – that the song would go on and on – and that it changes every time they play it, a song that you – just because there’s a recording of the song doesn’t mean that it’s going to sound like that every time Phish plays it. I think that’s kind of an amazing thing that I’ve learned from you as well.
Great. So, I’ve told you a little bit about what’s happening this summer with the Baker’s Dozen, them playing 13 shows in one place in Madison Square Garden. What comes to mind when you think of that – of a band playing 13 times in a single place? What do you think of my decision to try to come to all 13?
I think it’s absolutely crazy, but it doesn’t surprise me at all that you’re doing it. I don’t have any musician that I would want to hear 13 times in a row. But you’ve also talked so much about how every show is completely different, how every setlist is completely different, how excited you get when they start playing a particular song, and that there are songs that you’ve… how many shows have you been to, Shawn?
I’ve been to 98 shows.
So, out of 98 shows, they’ve never played the same setlist, and some songs you’ve only heard a few times live. That is incredible to me – how a band can do that and can carry their fans, and just bring those fans in for those little details that I mentioned.
So you wouldn’t see a band 13 times in a row. What would you do 13 days in a row if not see a band?
Well, I wouldn’t see a band, but I could scrapbook 13 days in a row. But seeing a band? And I would listen to music, but not the same artist for 13 days in a row. So, that tells me a little bit more about the Phish culture and I knew you were a fanatic but this the ultimate I think.
If someone forced you to see a band 13 times in a row, who do you think you would pick?
I really wouldn’t see anybody that regularly. Just the other day I was sitting in our home and I didn’t have any music on and I immediately thought, “Shawn has music on all the time,” and it really lifts it and fills you. You’re really blessed to have that in your life and maybe I’ll have to start discovering some more of that this summer. Maybe I’ll work on that.
OK! (Laughs) Well, lastly: do you have any messages to the Phish fan community or to the band itself? Whether it’s a question or words of advice – as many of us embark on this thirteen show adventure – what do you have to say to them?
I just think it’s an amazing time for Phish fans to have the opportunity to do this. I know people in other parts of the country might be a little bit sad because they’re not going to hit as many cities this summer. But I think it’s going to be quite the wild ride and I know you’re going to have a good time.
I’m a little disappointed that I’m not able to see you as much this summer because you’re spending all your vacation with Phish, but as I’ve said over the last few days “Phish over family” and I guess I’ll have to just have to handle it this time.
(Laughing). Ohhh, alright mom. Thank you for supporting me and tolerating my habit.
Well, I tell you there’s one other detail I should mention. When they disbanded, when you were in high school I think. Would that be about the right time?
You came home from one of your English classes and for one of the assignments you had written quite an emotional farewell letter to Phish. It was almost like a funeral letter. There was something very deep in you that was dying. I have that letter saved for you if you ever want to revisit it. I’m glad that they’re back together so you can continue living large with music.
Well, thanks mom! I’m really eager to read that letter the next time I’m home. I remember writing that letter but I have no idea what’s in there exactly. Alright, thank you!
You’re welcome! Have a great Phish time.