Listen to the Baker’s Beat’s second in a series of interviews with Phish non-initiates (spoiler: it’s with two of my co-workers who know nearly nothing of the band!) using the link above. OR – Read on for the full transcript.
Hello Baker’s Beat listeners & Phish phans everywhere!
It is mid-July here in Oakland, the permanent home of the Baker’s Beat and we are just nine days away from the start of the Baker’s Dozen, Phish’s 13 night residency at Madison Square Garden. We have another, extremely special, preview edition of the Non-Initiated, our feature that shares and celebrates the non-Phish phan perspective – or non-Phish phan yet perspective, let’s say. This episode may not actually premiere until the Baker’s Dozen is underway, so, if that’s the case, hope you all are enjoying the shows. But back to the topic at hand.
What makes this episode so special and dear to me is the company I’m with. Two of my wonderful colleagues Deborah and Edith. Ladies thank you so much for joining me today.
D: Thank you for asking!
E: Thank you for having us.
Of course! Introduce yourself to our friends and tell the good people a little bit about yourself: your name, what you do, where you’re from, any background information you’d like to share.
D: I’m Deborah. I’m probably the oldest of the three of us…and I’m originally from Los Angeles. I started my musical background in classical but I pretty much like all types of music, except maybe country western. I can’t get there yet.
But anyway, I like all types of music. I sing and perform. A lot of gospel/spiritual type, new age-y kind of stuff.
BB: Listeners, you should hear Deborah’s silky smooth voice. You don’t know what you’re missing, she’s a very talented vocalist to say the least.
D: Oh my gosh! Thank you.
BB: And Edith, how about you?
E: I’m Edith. I’m probably the youngest of us three. I’ve been in Oakland, about to be 18 years now, ever since I came from Mexico when I was 4. I really like all types of music as well. Country, I sometimes enjoy it. I don’t know why! Sometimes I’ll just be in that country mood and I’ll just listen to it. Other than that, I listen to anything just whatever mood I am in, I guess.
BB: In terms of concerts, what music will you tend to gravitate towards in concerts or a live music setting?
E: For me, I really enjoy the Mexican banda style. There’s concerts, but there’s also dance floors you can go to. Whenever there’s a banda, like a big huge banda, I enjoy it better in a concert rather than just standing or dancing around.
D: I don’t get out to too many concerts, but back in the 90s I was really into Patti LaBelle and I went to several of her concerts here in the Bay Area. I actually got to meet her once at the airport. I went to see her and the last few years I’ve gotten more into jazz, especially since now I started to perform jazz with a new ensemble that I’m with. But I don’t get out to too many concerts.
So, before we went on the air here I did a little bit of a show and tell with you two. I brought a few Phish artifacts and we listened to a few Phish songs and watched a few videos. I asked you to keep your reactions to yourselves so we could do it live. So I’m wondering, now, what you know of Phish. What were some of your reactions to what I’ve shown you or maybe what I’ve told you in the past, whether it’s the music or the culture surrounding them?
D: They sound like a band that really has a cult following, in a good way, because you don’t…well, I don’t listen to all radio stations but I don’t hear them a lot on the radio so I suspect that their fans are really with them and that they, whether you hear them on the radio or not, that they’ll show up at their concerts. That’s the impression that I get.
My thing with music is, not so much music theory, but I listen a lot. I hear a lot of things in different music and they definitely have a Grateful Dead flavor to them so that really stuck out for me when I heard them for the first time.
E: For me, I was always heard you, Shawn, talk about them and I never actually listened to their music. But right now, when you showed us, they seem like a cool band. They’re unique on style and they perform having fun with their fans…
E: …and they’re doing it for their fans and for them. I could tell they enjoy their music and what they’re doing for everybody else.
BB: Sure, sure. Those are both pretty accurate observations and I would agree with them. What did you think about some of the songs like “Ass Handed” or “Farmhouse” or were there any particular songs that I played for you that you had a reaction to, positive or negative?
E: What was the 36 minute one?
BB: The Tweezer, the Tahoe Tweezer.
E: That one it seemed to be, by you skipping some of the minutes, it got to different moods. I could listen to it the whole time and my mind would be switching. I would be thinking different stuff with the little rhythms that it has. It really caught my eye and I’m going to listen to that later on!
BB: There you go! The Tahoe Tweezer challenge, see if you can make it through all 36 minutes!
D: That one reminded me, just by the length of it, I flashed back to Peter Frampton. The “Do You Feel Like I Do?”, the full version of that. Because it starts out like heavy rock and then they go into this instrumental thing where it doesn’t really slow down, but the instrumentation is low and it’s kind of a groove kind of thing. After a while it kind of builds back up and builds back up, and then its full rock mode again. That instantly made me think about that in terms of structure.
BB: You both are so perceptive. Great! So, 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. I’m going to all of them, very excited about it, leaving this weekend. Tell me – what comes to mind when you think of that – of a band playing 13 times in a single place? In all honesty, what do you think of people like me who decide to go to all 13 concerts?
E: You must be a big fan!
D: You must be a fan. But it sounds, like Edith was saying, it’s like a whole experience because the band is having fun with the fans, the fans are having fun with the band, so it’s like this big experience. So if you have that, I could see where you would want to do that 13 times! So it sounds like a lot of fun and, as musicians, I like that they’re in it to please their fans and to enjoy their fans. It’s a mutual thing, so that really impresses me because I know of and have heard of a lot of musicians who are very much in their head and their ego. They’re not very giving musicians and it’s all about them. But these guys sound like they’re really fun and they look forward to their shows for the experience of playing for their fans.
BB: Edith, do you think I’m crazy for doing this?
E: No, not at all. I’m just thinking, if they have 13 shows, do they have themes for every show? I don’t listen to them, but will they have a certain theme?
BB: I think that’s a good question that a lot of Phish fans are wondering that : will theme certain things? What they’ve said publicly is, ‘We’re keeping it really open, we haven’t made any plans.” I think secretly their fans are assuming that they’ll make some shows stand out more than others through setlists or something like that. That is a good question.
E: You let me know when you come back.
BB: Oh, I’ll let you know during! And you can check the website and see how I’m doing!
D: It sounds like they’ve been around for so long that they can pull from their different albums and stuff. I don’t know if they have a traditional song that they end with that people like, a big encore or something like that. But that could also be a possibility.
BB: I think people are wondering how many songs will they repeat because they’re known for making every setlist different. They have big closing songs, but they would very rarely play those songs back-to-back shows or even once every three shows, they try to spread it out is, historically, how they’ve done it.
Would you see any band 13 times in a row? Who would it be? If not music, what would you do 13 days in a row, what do you like that much?
D: I can’t even imagine.
E: I don’t think any type of music that I listen to would do 13 shows in a row. I feel like I would see the same thing over and over again. But this one I don’t get the feeling like…this is my first time listening to it and I get the feeling that they wouldn’t like repeating themselves.
D: Yeah, I don’t think so. They sound very diverse. They’re going to want to give their fans something different at every show.
Coming to the close of our conversation, I’m wondering if you have any other questions. I really like your question Edith about ‘are they going to do any themes?’ Do you have any questions about anything I’ve shared with you or any curiosities about Phish?
D: Yeah, when are they going to be in the Bay Area?
BB: Right! Good question. They normally will…they really like the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in Civic Center, San Francisco.
D: I could see that.
BB: They historically have done 3 nights in a row there the last few years, but because they’re only playing…I mean, they’re playing a little bit in the Midwest but pretty much the Baker’s Dozen is their one big thing, their tour this summer. They don’t have any dates announced for San Francisco many… but there have been rumors that they may try to come out to San Francisco and LA for their New Years Eve run in December. So, we’ll see, it’s just a rumor. Maybe I’ll bring both of you! I owe you one for this.
E: That would be cool. I see myself going home and, when I’m doing homework, putting Phish on my laptop or something.
BB: Yeah! We got a convert! Woo hoo!
D: I would need to listen to them more and then…usually, I can pick out something I relate to and then I like to listen to it over and over.
Any last questions or observations?
D: No, just tell us how it went when you come back.
I will! So, last question here. You know, there are going to be Phish fans listening to this from around the world, so do you have any messages to the Phish fan community or to the band itself as they embark on this thirteen show adventure?
E: Enjoy it. Let us know!
D: Oh yeah! Have fun. It reminds me of…what is that festival that people go to….I can’t think of it now…like one of those weeklong festivals or something like that, outdoors…
BB: Like Burning Man?
D: Yeah! It kind of reminds of that where people are just out there, having a good time. So, I would just say: Everybody have a great time. Be safe. Have fun.
BB: Check and Check:
E: That’s my biggest one: have fun and enjoy it!
BB: We will. You’ll be there in spirit with me for sure.
In closing, I just wanted to thank everyone out there for letting me be your tour guide through the cosmos…sorry. If you can’t tell or those of you that don’t know, that is one of our friend Harris Wittels’ favorite lines. He sadly passed away last year and if you can’t tell, this feature of the website is very much inspired by his and Scott Aukerman’s Analyze Phish podcast. I’m always thinking of Harris and how he would’ve liked the Baker’s Dozen and how Analyze Phish would’ve continued. I’m very indebted to him and his creativity, especially in this certain feature. So, thank you Harris and thank you Scott!
Stay cool everybody out there and we’ll see you at the Garden.