we have some random interviews scattered around the paug.
let's keep them all in one thread.
if you've got a good interview (new or old) post it here.
here's a good one i want to share with you guys from Jon Fishman after he played a 10KLF with JMP.
he touches on some very interesting topics.
Allow me to set the stage for the most exciting interview of my journalistic career thus far. It is Saturday evening at the 10,000 Lakes Music Festival in Detroit Lakes. A thick, black cloud rolls into the venue and to conceal the bright blue sky which had shone above us an hour prior. As the rain begins to flow from above, the resilient fest goers were dancing happily outside to the sounds of the Radiators. Before long, they were forced to shut down the stage and many folks retreated to their campsites. I wandered up to another stage which was half covered by a canopy. This bluesy rock band, The Greyhounds, was playing vigilantly through the storm. Their keyboard player was covered in a tarp, literally wrapped up like a mummy. After their set had ended and Jazz Mandolin Project was setting up, the skies began to clear and a brilliant rainbow hung in the distance. Jon Fishman walked to the front of the stage to greet some fans; I asked him for a five minute interview after the show and flashed him the media pass around my neck. The show was truly a spiritual experience; it�s amazing to sincerely feel the music with so much passion. The combination of Jamie on mandolin with the talent of his band coupled with Fishman�s ability to have the percussion flow through him was radiant. http://www.desertrosepromotions.com/jonfishman.html
A: Thank you for tonight; I have seen a lot of shows and this was the most beautiful musical experience of my life. The energy from the storm and the rainbow didn�t hurt either. What did you feel about the vibe tonight?
J: It seems like we�ve been running into a lot bad weather, a lot of storms at these outdoor festivals so we�re actually used to it so we�re sort of in a groove with the bad weather. From May 27-June 14, I had a run with these guys and then went home and did the Phish thing and then back out for these gigs � so I�m kind of going back and forth. In the beginning of the last run, we had Peoria. IL which was the Summercamp festival and there was a big tornado that touched down about 2 miles away from where we were, which was in the basement of some farmhouse on the grounds of the festival. That seemed to set the tone for the rest-of course you have the indoor gigs-but there were a couple of other ones 3 or 4 in a row where we had to deal with it.
A: It seems like the universe is thanking you for your music
J: That�s one way of interpreting it. But, I�m more interested in your story and organization which is kind of funny because that is of course not why you�re interviewing me. My friend Deb is in charge of the non profit organization called the Pangaea Project, I had a big benefit for them in Portland. It focuses on making the world a smaller place by introducing 10 and 11 grade students to other environments worldwide. It�s just getting off the ground but the ideal vision is to have a regular rotation of kids in the Portland, Oregon area that would enter into the program to learn, right now the specific country is Mali, Africa and it is an exchange with them. They�re just getting off the ground; there are just 2 women right now. Pangaea is the name of when all of the land mass was one continent. So it�s sort of like the name implies that its an effort to try and make the world unified � instead of how we see people in other countries in the media, like these people getting bombed in Iraq now, it�s like there isn�t enough of a connection. From her experiences traveling around the world, there isn�t enough connection between the reality of our own lives and the fact that someone else�s life halfway across the world has the same issues, the same problems, just to different degrees. If we were more connected, like if you actually knew someone in Mali, Africa if something like what is happening in Iraq now occurred, then there would be much more of a heartfelt connection toward what was going on instead of a distant perception of that over there. So the first stage is taking under-privileged youth, but the term she uses is underserved because she feels that everybody, like that Dylan song �you gotta serve somebody�, ideally in a community there is an exchange of giving and taking.
A: I�ve heard of that group from Kai from Garaj Mahal. Isn�t the idea to take these kids out of their current environment and teach them new ideas and leadership, so they can come back and be leaders in their communities?
J: Exactly. They learn about the culture of Mali, gender roles, religion, and they live with a host family. It�s only six weeks right now but if they had more funding it would be longer. They live and serve in that community as a member of someone else�s household.
A: So, I�m wondering why Phish was never really political or took a stand for social issues, the environment, whatever. You have so much power � whatever you would say, people would do because you�re Phish.
J: Well that has been said to us many times.
A: I mean that with all due respect, I don�t mean to offend.
J: No, no. I�m not offended at all. It�s actually one of the more interesting things to talk about in the Phish world. If you�re going to do an interview, it�s much better to talk about real things. Years ago, we did a pro-choice benefit where we debut 5 new songs � it was in 92 or 93 or something. Our manager had come to us � we have never done any politically loaded issue. Honestly, I don�t think you can pick a more politically or socially loaded issue. For me, it�s a no brainer. If the Congress and the Senate were nothing but a bunch of women and they decided that it should be legal or illegal, I would feel a lot better about it. Let�s say they make it illegal, which I don�t think is the way to go. I�m not saying I�m pro-abortion, I am pro-choice. I put the choice over the abortion itself which definitely kind of gives you the creeps on a certain level, which I think is natural. At the same time, to take a choice away from an individual to make a decision about their own body and if they want to be a parent; let�s face it, the woman is the one who is really stuck being a parent if the father wants to hightail it out of there. The mom is the one that really has to deal with the bulk of the responsibility and if she is really not ready, you�re not doing the kid any favors. I�m pro-adoption myself because I was adopted.
The truth is that I ran into this issue, I was 20 yrs old, my girlfriend got pregnant and she elected to have an abortion. She came to me and said, �What do you want me to do?� and I said, �I�ll support whatever decision you make.� And she said, �Well, that�s a cop-out. I want an answer, I want your choice.� All right, I said if it were me, which it never will be in this lifetime at least, then I would probably, maybe, I can�t even say, but force me into it I�ll say maybe I would elect to have the child and put it up for adoption because I don�t want to a parent. That was her next question, �Do you want to be a dad?� and I said, �I am not ready to be a dad� and she said, �And I don�t want to be a mom.� I said, �Okay, if I was in your shoes, maybe I would put it up for adoption but that�s because I�m adopted myself and I have a personal relationship with that whole thing. If you decide not to do that, I would never judge you�, but it sucks ya know. She wasn�t any happier about it, but you�re backed into this corner and so she said, �Well, if I�m going to do this, you�re coming with me.� I said, �Okay, that�s fair.� So we went and got counseling and I would actually say if I felt that there was a bias in the counseling that we received, it was one that leaned toward going through with the pregnancy. Such as, there are people that can help, you might feel overwhelmed, and there is a lot more support than you think. However, that being said, they wanted you to have all the information. They didn�t want you to feel cornered, they wanted you to make the decision in the best frame of mind that you could under the circumstances. So, she still elected to have the abortion and I held her hand through the whole thing. It�s one of those things that you remember forever, you know, and from that point on I was like Mr. Condom. I never wanted that to happen again. I�m 39 now and when my girlfriend got pregnant this time, we were purposefully being negligent. We had conversations about it, �What happens if you get pregnant?� She�d say, �Well, I�m having the kid.� And I said, �Well, I could live with that.� This was a new thought for me like wow.
A: How old is your child?
J: My daughter is 2 and a half and my son is 9 months.
A: Are you thinking that you want to take a step back and enjoy your family? Are you going to stop touring?
J: Well, for me, I think Jamie (from Jazz Mandolin Project) has a really good thing going here, I mean I have to talk to him about it.
A: In terms of Phish solo projects, you could play with anyone. I mean, you are Jon Fishman, one of the best drummers that ever was.
J: I don�t know about that�
A: The music just comes through you.
Humbly, he looks down at the ground
J: Well, I�m getting better. I�m feeling very relaxed and comfortable.
A: Are you happy with where things are right now? Do you feel sad with things winding down with Coventry approaching?
J: We are just ripping away and we are playing really well, we haven�t been partying at all, everybody is really straight. I think that we�re in two places, one everybody is very in the moment and more focused on it and more wanting it to be the best that it can be. All distractions in the moment are being cast away whether it�s a shot of tequila or a beer � we�re just saying we are just going to play the music the best we can now. It lit a fire under our ass � a wake up call- like this is really going to end. I think any laziness or any complacency that started to leak into our career has gotten consciously�well, it�s pulled us out of that and woken us up. What I�m getting at is that if it weren�t ending, t">I don�t know that there would be as much vitality in it now. Your life changes subtly along the way until you�re already in it. Kids, my family life is developing and that�s really attractive to me.
I was making this analogy to someone else, I was reading this article in Sports Illustrated about the Army Rangers and they have the �best ranger weekend� where they have teams of 2 rangers that team up for like 60 hours straight and these teams compete against each other for all of the things that you learn in ranger school. These guys can definitely be considered among the top athletes in the world given the things that they have to do. In fact, a lot of other athletes do these things but they do it in combat boots and 70 pound packs but it�s crazy. One of the things that they have to do is the �unknown distance run.� It�s one thing if someone says, �Run 5 miles�. It�s another thing if they say, �Just run and we�ll let you know when you can stop�. And even if it is only one mile, that mile is probably harder on your mind then the 5 miles is � knowing that the 5 miles ends. I was reading that article and I went, man, that is what our career was starting to become like, the unknown distance run. I think that there was maybe that aspect. So now that we know the distance, you�re coming towards the finish line. And any runner of any race would be doing the same thing and when they get so far out from the finish line, they just sprint the rest of the way. And I think that�s what is happening to us. If we weren�t ending, I don�t think we would be playing as well. I�m personally feeling great about the whole thing. Every once and a while, my mind jumps ahead a little to when it�s actually over and I think that maybe right now I am underestimating the effect it�s going to have.
J: Yeah, I think that there is going to be some kind of unraveling that I�m not aware of psychologically. Way back in mid-May, I knew what I was getting into and I made up my mind it was time to get my act together, and then Phish, and then nothing until January. Mentally, I�m not really letting myself let up at all until mid-August when the Phish thing is over. Every once and a while I jump ahead; I want to set up solar panels and I want to develop this sustainable lifestyle where I can grow most, if not all of my own food and we are going to get some goats.
A: That�s a movement � Look at the earth right now
J: We need to get off oil for one thing. That�s such a critical thing � I know that me personally getting off the grid is just one person, but it starts with individuals, and then all groups and communities, all states and eventually the whole country. In my mind, there is no excuse for a city like Phoenix, Arizona to be using petroleum. They should just go set up a couple of square miles of solar panels out in the middle of the desert somewhere which wouldn�t occupy nearly the space that the city itself does �it�s just sprawling out in every direction. There are cities in this country that could immediately be taken off the grid with very little effort in 5 years. Like Phoenix could be off - not a drop of oil would be used to air condition or anything they use electricity for.
A: But big businesses would never have that
J: Well, it will happen when drilling is so expensive to get to the oil that is left in the ground and such a pain in the ass; it will be worth going the other way more. Ya know what I mean? When it hits them in their pocket book, but they�re going to suck every last dollar out of oil that they can. It never made any sense to begin with, sucking dead dinosaurs out of the ground and putting in the air to breathe is just stupid. We�re like these big mosquitoes and everyone wants to kill mosquitoes, they�re the one creature I have no guilt killing. I realize that they�re good food for other things, but I feel like we�re a mosquito if we don�t stop soon enough the earth is going to invent its own version of the mosquito magnet or it�s just going to slap us out of existence or something. It doesn�t have to be this apocalyptic nightmare; it can be a gradual and sane transition from one energy source to another. Like that Planter�s peanut can lid, there are so many petroleum based things but now we can recycle it and use it to make solar panels. There�s a guy working for the Department of Energy in Boulder at one of the alternative energy research programs, federally funded, and they�re working on using hydrogen fuel cells. Right now, they have to use fossil fuels to generate this reaction and to separate the hydrogen. But they�re working on a way of doing it with solar power so using the sun�s energy to create the hydrogen fuel which creates water as a waste. That would be an unbelievable system that could be viable and maybe in the beginning some wealthy people could use it as a residential thing but eventually you�ll have super sonic jets with hydrogen fuel cells. Look, it�s this simple, if you took 100 of the smartest scientists in the world right now and you stuck them in a room and you said that things are so critical that we have to be off fossil fuels and nuclear energy and within 10 years we want you guys to come up with a viable energy source that will be able to replace the grid without whole systems having to crumble. I bet they�d have it done in 3-5 years if you gave them 10 years with all the funding they needed.
A: It�s all about funding
J: Yep, like when Kennedy said I want a man on the moon at the end of the decade, they shot him a year later, but they still got it done by �69 � it�s where you put priorities.
A: What do you think about the war?
J: The war is ridiculous! Right now there is genocide going on in Sudan and Colin Powell gets up at NATO and says, �I want these guys to stop murdering the Africans in 48 hours or else.� Or else what? I saw Clinton talk on Larry King. Larry asked Clinton what his biggest regret was and he said that it was not jumping on the Rowanda situation fast enough. But he said the whole thing happened in 90 days and some crazy number of people was totally slaughtered. By the time they were really able to grasp the situation, it was over. This administration was so concerned with hating Clinton that they didn�t bother to check the memos he left behind about a Bin Laden and I�m sure that they�re not bothering to reflect on Clinton�s experience with Rowanda. Now that same shit is going to happen in Sudan. It�s happening as we speak, right now they�re mowing people down, murdering people, raping the women, killing the kids, and doing all kinds of terrible shit, totally out of control. And what�s our government doing? Have they learned anything from Clinton on Larry King saying that he really wished he would have gotten on that? Where�s Bush? Is he watching it? Does he care? Looking at any of the memos that came before? No. I feel that politics has gotten to where it has become to the issue of not right and wrong, but good and evil. The idea of bi-partisanship has gotten so volatile. In the old days of politics if you strongly disagreed with someone, there was still some sort of respect. There was agreement or disagreement � now it�s if you don�t agree with me then you�re evil. What this comes from is the failure to keep separation of church and state. The chipping away and letting religion and religious fanatical ideology whether it�s Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hinduism, I don�t care what it is. This is why I was not into Joe Lieberman, I was raised Jewish but I don�t believe that an Orthodox Jew should be the President of our country. There�s no way that he could separate religion - look at the Palestinians and the Jews right now. Do you think for one second that if Joe Lieberman was the President that the United States would have any credibility to the Palestinians as a broker for peace in that region in the world? No, No way. They would think that he is so biased.
It all started with Reagan. Okay so the guy is dead, but if the dead did wrong, you�re going to learn from history. Look, we�re alive, I have to live in this world going forth and I�m not going to sit here and suck up to some notion that this guy was just all roses and rainbows and now that he�s dead we�re going to play up the nice stuff. He was the President that married the Republican Party to the Christian right, it started with him. He didn�t keep that separation of church and state, for whatever reason he allowed their influence to become much stronger and his Republican world. Who was the head speaker at the Republican National Convention for Bush�s attempt at a second term? Jerry Farwell. In the old days, even though there was always foul play in government, always wheeling and dealing � that�s the way the world is, right? But, I�ve always felt historically that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were documents which previous administrations have relied on as a guide when things got dark. When you say separation of church and state, you can argue all day long but I think it�s Argue, Apply, and Observe. You argue about how it should be, you apply the conclusions you come up with, and you observe what happens. Does it make society more stable? Does it make us more able to tolerate and accept each other? Does it make us more multi-ethnic? Does it make us evolve and grow? Or is it something that is creating walls? I would say that from what we�ve learned from history, across the board, whenever governments are run by religious law you get nothing but trouble. You get Spanish Inquisitions, you get public beheadings, you get soccer stadiums turned into execution chambers. I think that the previous leaders used these interpretations and applications, it seems like for a while there was an evolution and I think that we have a de-evolution now where you have people in the government who actually view the Bill of Rights and the Constitution as an obstacle, as something in their way. Find the loopholes; they get around that free speech thing, detaining people, whatever it is�
He pauses and comments about John Mayer playing his bluesy guitar solo
J: Wow, He�s pretty good. I didn�t know he could actually play guitar.
A: Yeah, it�s definitely good background music. A lot of people gave him flack for coming here, thinking that he was too mainstream.
J: I just hated that �Your Body is a Wonderland� song. But you know that�s so funny because it�s typical and it makes sense to me. I should definitely know better by now that you can never begin to judge somebody by hearing what their radio song was. That�s was our whole thing the whole time, �You gotta see Phish live.�
A: So when�s the reunion tour?
J: You can never say never, but you can�t see how far down the line the next time would be so it�s not worth sticking around for. Like I was saying before, we hit some sort of wall. Things change, priorities change. You have life changing experiences like you had�
A: They give you strength
J: Right, exactly. Whatever is good or bad happens you don�t have a choice but to get the good out of it. I feel like if you have a chance to speak out and someone gives you that exposure then you should say what you think because it�s all part of the discourse that we need to be having in the world. Ultimately, Phish decided consciously that there had to be things that were for their own sake and despite the world we live in, if every art form, if every human expression was turned into an opinion about the political environment, then there was something wrong with that. It�s okay for some things to just be beauty for beauty�s sake, art for art�s sake; that at the end of the day ended up being the winning argument.
A: The separation of church and state
J: Yes, exactly! Music is a religion. Trey said before that people go to church but I think God is music. God serves humans but humans serve God. It makes a lot of sense that it�s a good idea to keep it out of politics. And not that many people are very good at being political singers; there are very few people that can motivate you politically to get involved in the process. I thought Bob Marley was amazing. �You can fool some people sometimes, but you can�t fool all the people all the time. Now you see the light� That�s amazing � it�s so direct, right into your brain. You could be high or half-dead and I am awful at remembering words but for Bob Marley you do not miss the words. They�re not just sounds that are going by. His drummer was my favorite drummer of all times. So that was our final decision and we learned after doing that right to choose event, from that experience Trey had received some mail. I never saw it myself, but he said it was very reasonable and presented very compelling arguments for choice not getting a priority. I couldn�t disagree with it, ultimately I still feel the way I do, but I have more respect for people that might have a different opinion. So again in that experience it became less about good and evil but it was a balancing act. Having had that experience made it easier for all of us to see the value in keeping the art for art�s sake. We felt that it undermines the original reason why we started Phish. The one thing that I was really into was the vote registry and we have voting registration at all of our gigs. I feel that it�s a great thing because that�s just telling people to vote and it�s not saying who to vote for, it�s just saying get involved. I don�t think it�s wrong to try and encourage. You�re not shoving it down their throats; it�s their choice and you�re not telling them how to think.
A: Just to think!
J: Yes, it would be better the more we all can think a little bit.