Phish Capture Famous Live Vibe on New Summer Album “Joy”

phish, trey anastasio
Trey Anastasio - Phish

Rolling Stone’s David Fricke recently spoke with the reunited Phish to get the story behind the Vermont quartet’s comeback album, which RS can exclusively report will be titled Joy.

Three weeks after their triumphant three-night reunion concerts at Virginia’s Hampton Coliseum in March, the band and producer Steve Lillywhite spent three weeks in New York’s Chung King Studios, mapping out the 10-song album and recording all the basic tracks live in the studio. Joy “feels more like a live record than a lot of our live records,” guitarist Trey Anastasio tells RS.

Many of Joy’s songs have already become live staples on Phish’s reunion trek, and they unleashed new gems during both of their headlining Bonnaroo sets. Fans are already connecting to the Lynyrd Skynyrd-flavored “Kill Devil Falls,” “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan” and the epic 13-minute closer “Time Turns Elastic,” which the band released as a digital download in May. According to Anastasio, “Time” took 278 takes to get the song right, as Lillywhite forced the band to nail down all 15 sections of Anastasio’s prog-rock closer. “I wanted every member to play every section perfectly,” Lillywhite said.

Lyrically, much of Joy draws from Anastasio’s struggles with drugs and his return from a 2006 arrest for possession. The album’s title track was written when Anastasio’s sister was fighting cancer earlier this year (she died in April). Still, Trey insists that the title’s message “is affirming with a dose of reality.” For much more on Joy, which Lillywhite calls “the best Phish album ever,” be sure to check out Fricke’s full report from the studio in the new issue of Rolling Stone, on stands now.

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