Phish lyricist Tom Marshall, guitarist Trey Anastasio's longtime friend and writing partner, said in an exclusive interview this week that "Trey wants Phish to come back."
Marshall said he has been writing and recording with Anastasio at the Phish frontman's personal Rubber Jungle studios in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., "for the past four months."
"I think Phish is his baby," said Marshall, speaking backstage after the Dave Matthews Band's concert Tuesday at Camden, N.J.'s, Susquehanna Bank Center. "It's not like there are people preventing it from coming back, it's just that the landscape has to be right for it to come back."
"I've always been hopeful in expecting a Phish" reunion, continued Marshall. "I think if the stars align and everything works out there will be. I don't think they will ever [again] be a huge touring band."
All members of Phish - Anastasio, drummer Jon Fishman, bassist Mike Gordon and keyboardist Page McConnell - appeared together at the Jammy Awards in New York on May 7 to accept a lifetime achievement award.
Although Phish did not perform, Anastasio did a cover of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" with a group of various artists.
On May 21, Anastasio received a reduced sentence of three years' probation for a 2007 drug conviction after completing a counseling and treatment program in Washington County, N.Y. Anastasio faced class D felony charges after he was arrested in Whitehall, N.Y., in December 2006 with prescription medications prescribed to another person, including hydrocodone, Percocet and Xanax.
"As one of his close friends, I'll say he's extremely happy," said Marshall of Anastasio following last month's ruling. "He's come out the other side of this in the best way that someone can come out."
Marshall believes that Anastasio has "learned a lot" from his recent legal and personal issues.
Anastasio is slated to perform his first major public concert since his 2006 arrest on the July Fourth weekend at the inaugural Rothbury festival in Rothbury, Mich. Two other Phish members, Fishman and Gordon, also are set to make appearances with separate acts.
Marshall said he was elated about his recent work in the studio with Anastasio. "We're on our 14th, 15th song in like two months," said Marshall. "We're extremely productive and got the drive again. I have the old Trey back, which is incredible."
When pressed about where these new songs will end up, Marshall said they "could take a left turn into the Trey Anastasio Band or a straight turn to Phish."
During their recent writing and recording sessions, Marshall said he sometimes has played drums while Anastasio, widely considered one of rock's best guitarists, sometimes plays bass.
"It's spilling out of us. We're both look wide-eyed when something meshes up because it's meshing up a lot better these days then it did when we were under the fog, under the haze," said Marshall. "We're not in the haze. We're just moving forward, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed."
Marshall said that he and Anastasio have not brought other Phish members into the studio yet, explaining that the pair "work best when there are no distractions."
What happens to the music, though, is Trey's decision, Marshall said.
"Re-forming something like [Phish] has so many pieces, it's a very complex, three-dimensional, four-dimensional, jigsaw puzzle."
But, he added, "No one wants Phish back more than Trey." *