There is life after Phish
! No, really!
Trey Anastasio.......... vocals, guitar
Andy Moroz.............. trombone
Jennifer Hartswick...... trumpet, tuba
Russell Remington....... tenor and soprano sax, flute
Dave Grippo............. alto and bari sax, clarinet, percussion
Tony Markellis.......... electric and acoustic bass
Cyro Baptista........... percussion
Russell Lawton.......... drums
Ray Paczkowski.......... keyboards
Peter Apfelbaum......... sax and flute
The Trey Anastasio Band began small and eight feet tall... as the Eight Foot Fluorescent Tubes. Shortly after Phish's Island Tour and before they returned to the studio to record The Story of the Ghost, Trey assembled a band composed of himself, Russ Lawton, Tony Markellis, Heloise Williams (vocals) and Tom Lawson (guitar) to play for one night at Higher Ground in Winooski, Vermont.
One moment, while we backtrack several months, finding Trey in the process of assembling the vehicle for his solo debut. The band's rhythm section, the core of the Trey Anastasio Band, was carefully picked by Trey during the months before their first performance. His method of selecting band members was designed to ensure the creation of a group that was built off of its own talents, yet remained under Anastasio's creative control and, above all, had a strong, positive vibe. The first member was Tony Markellis on bass. While they worked out the band's first few songs, Tony play what he felt was most interesting and challenging to him, then Trey would develop it into a tune in his own distinct style. Trey then asked Tony to give him a list of drummers he always wanted to play with and chose Russ Lawton from among them. Trey's unique songwriting process was repeated with each successive addition to the band. In this way, the group's music would be a collective production, suited to each band member's talents and tastes, but remaining firmly helmed by Anastasio.
That first night in the band's home state of Vermont saw the debut of early versions of "First Tube", "Sand", "Mozambique" and "Last Tube" among others. Trey was so pleased with Russ and Tony that, a year or so later, he asked them to join him for a tour, just the three of them. They played their first show back at Higher Ground and adopted a format very much like CSNY's live performances: one acoustic set, followed by a high-powered electric set. This tour saw updated versions of the Tubes' debut songs, a variety of new pieces, such as "Gotta Jiboo", and old Phish favorites, like "Guyute" and "Runaway Jim". The tour began in May of 1999 and ran until Trey turned his attention to Phish's Farmhouse album, which was released in May of 2002.
After touring with Phish through October of 2000, Trey returned once again to Russ and Tony in early 2001 and a new series of concerts was quickly organized for the month of February. This time around, Trey resurrected the idea of including a horn section, something he had tried on Phish's Hoist album and had left him cold. His primary complaint was that he did not write his own horn charts, leaving it to the talented, but not quite as quirky, Tower of Power. Trey threw caution and criticisms of his horn charts to the wind and the idea was rapidly realized in the forms of local Vermonters Dave Grippo on sax, Jen Hartswick on trumpet and Andy Moroz on trombone. Both Hartswick and Moroz had both played on Phish's Farmhouse album and Grippo was a veteran of both Phish recordings and live tours as the leader of the Giant Country Horns. A whole slew of songs were written for this tour that would become the band's live staples. "Push On Til the Day" debuted on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Others included "At the Gazebo", "Burlap Sack and Pumps" and "Happiness In My Pants", which would evolve into Oysterhead's song "Birthday Boys". Oysterhead was another of Trey's side projects with Les Claypool of Primus and Stewart Copeland of The Police, which took up the other half of his hectic life in 2000 and 2001.
The response to the band's few shows was so overwhelming that they immediately began plans for a summer tour and welcomed two new members to the group: Ray Pazkowski on keyboards and Russ Remington on sax and flute. After a hurried rehearsal schedule with producer Bryce Goggin looking on, the band hit the road, selling out all the same venues that Phish formerly had. Their live sound was energetic and jazzy, centered around Anastasio's unique, variable guitar style. After their wildly successful trek round the US, the band returned to Vermont that August to record their first studio album. They have since added Cyro Baptista on percussion and Peter Apfelbaum on sax and flute, bringing the band's total number to 10.
The Trey Anastasio Band's performance of "Last Tube" at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in June 2002 is included on the Festival's official CD and their performance of "Push On Til the Day" is the final track on the official DVD. Theirs was the grand finale of this legendary three day musical extravaganza. They have quickly established themselves as a powerful and respected force in the jam band scene, in their own right, independent of Phish and just as musically distinct.