Interviews: Phish Front Man Trades Jamband For Philharmonic [New York]

This is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Anastasio, 44, did not set out to be a rock star. He entered the University of Vermont as a composition student, eventually leaving its Über-traditional music department for the mentorship of a composer in the area, Ernie Stires. “I walked in and he said, ‘Write a two-part invention; here’s the theme, come back tomorrow,’ ” Anastasio recalls. “And when I came back he said, ‘This sounds terrible. Want to know why?’ That was his philosophy: Start writing today; if you’ve got an ear, you’ll know if it sucks.” This was in 1984, when Anastasio and four college friends were forming Phish. “I always dreamed of writing in an orchestral context,” he says. “But when you finish a piece, you want to hear it. So we played everything with Phish.”

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