Jon Fishman, Drummer, Explains How He’s Trolling Phish Fans On Summer Tour

Jon Fishman - Phish Perform Live Exclusive Concert For SiriusXM And Pandora Listeners At The Met In Philadelphia

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for SiriusXM


Phish fans can be a cranky bunch, with a smug and dismissive attitude about the very thing they love. Chalk it up to musical entitlement or the prolonged neurological effects of the brain being drained of important chemicals from too many blissful high octave sustains in “Harry Hood”. As far as I know, scientists haven’t uncovered the long-term audience effects that come with chasing rock band nirvana over and over again, but there’s no way it’s healthy for latent narcissistic personality disorder.

Any Phish fan who claims they “get” Phish should always be taken with a grain of salt. The only thing to “get” about Phish is the patterns that come with the experience, knowing that two nights will never be the same, musically, and a little respect for the everlasting spoof.

The only thing worth taking seriously is that Phish is never going to take themselves too seriously. They don’t care if something they wanted to do on stage ruined something for you. It’s right there, in spelled out in the lyrics of Walfredo: “When Fish played the vacuum and ruined your set.”

Meaning this: Stick around this Phish thing long enough and Phish themselves are going to troll the living sh*t out of you.

And you will enjoy it. 

This leads us to drummer Jon Fishman’s new digital sample button, a new toy for the 2021 summer tour.

The “Yeaaahhhh”(s) are pure musical mischief. The fact that it made some Phish fans cranky pants in the first couple days of the summer tour completely rules.

 

With a handful of shows under the belt, Ari Fink from Phish Radio on SiriusXM chatted with Jon Fishman about how Summer Tour 2021 is going so far.

One of the highlights of the conversation – besides Fishman saying he never wants to take a year off from performing for the rest of his life – is the discussion on the new digital samples.

Here’s a quick history: The drum pad that’s being used on this current Phish tour started with Ghosts Of The Forest. Fish needed certain sounds at certain spots in the performance every night, so his drum tech Lee Scott got him set up.

Scotty gave him an idea: Load the drum pad up with samples and deploy onstage during Phish, like a Looney Tunes sound machine unleashed by the Tasmanian Devil.

Listen to the full episode on SiriusXM’s Phish Radio.

Scotty, my drum tech was like, “you know, when you [have] this thing up there you can put anything you want, you can sample farts.” And so it was over there on the left side aisle or in the outfield for a while …

Scotty just started putting things like the voices, the different laughs and the voices and all that. I was like, ‘oh my god.’ So I went through this whole library of stuff. I just marked the ones that I liked and had him load up page after page that I’ve sort of boiled down to — I’ve got that voices page, and I took a couple of the laughs out of there, and I put these two long effects on the same page. There’s like this wobbly sheet metal sound, which I really like.

I saw some memes some people sent me that were kind of complaining about the thing. I’m like, well, that’s just going to get you more of it. You understand that? Now it’s like the troll button.

Just hearing Fishman call it “the troll button” brings so much joy to my face. Like many great “tucking” Phish tropes of Summer Tour past, it is now The Trope of this tour.

Phish isn’t PLUR EDM bullsh*t – Fishman will f*ck up your zen while you’re peaking out to “Slave To The Traffic Light” and you better be able to laugh it off.

When talking about the placement of the samples, Fishman adds:

That’s really all it is. Like everything in music, it’s just the placement… It’s the right place at the right time.

My favorite one so far… The one I got a lot of complaints from was in “Slave”. I can’t remember which sound I was hitting, I just remember it was so f*cking obnoxious.

There was sort of quiet build-up and I kind of like hit the [sound effect noise] “Oooohohohohoho” or whatever it was, and I remember hearing and going, ‘Oh God, that is the most horribly placed [sound]. There couldn’t have been a more tasteless placement of something.

Then I just could not do it again. I just kinda kept [doing it].

I was just shocked at how poorly placed it was. So it works both ways. It’s like, ‘wow, that’s the worst f*cking place.’

I actually had the thought that if I was a percussionist and that Phish was auditioning to hire a percussionist for a show, and I did that, I’d get fired, immediately. ‘Sorry I don’t think this is going to work out.’

I would have been the one to fire him. I’d say ‘god, that guy is the most tasteless percussionist ever, get him the f*ck out of here.’

It works if it’s that bad. There are good ones too, but when it’s that bad, you kind of have to double-down.

Ladies and gentlemen, Bob Weaver.

Just another thing I love about this band.

 

These are the little whimsical things about Phish fandom that make the experience so much fun. If you’re going to get on this trip, you have to love the nonsense.

Because this: The only people who truly get Phish are the four people who have never sat in the crowd for a Phish show. The dudes on the stage that exhibit their musical talents in profound ways and dream up new ways to keep the experience for us, the fans, exciting.

Some Phish fans like to think they’re in on the joke; That they and they alone “get” the bit. That these guys are speaking a secret language those non-Phish fan normies can’t understand. And, therefore, our tribe as fans, is a Special One for “getting” the sacred creed of Icculus and all the other silly sacred cows in the Phish multiverse.

Then we find, in due time, that the joke is on us the entire time. We may be the ones doing the laughing, but we’re actually the ones being laughed at – “Control for smilers can’t be bought” and all that.

It’s a sort of kinesis between Phish, the band, and us weirdos in the audience that enjoy the fourth wall being Nuked everything single night, over and over again.

The bit itself is a cat and mouse game; 4D chess.

Anyway, I’m done here. There’s no better way to ruin a good joke than trying to explain it.

So let’s enjoy the “Slave to the Traffic Light” in question:

 

And while you’re here, a truly remarkable 20+ minute Simple from the first night of Deer Creek. How about those spacy soundscapes? They really have me zazzed out.

Phish is the best.

Brandon is BroBible’s publisher. Follow him on Twitter for Phish tour-related sh*tposts or email him at brandon@brobible.com. 

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