Trey Anastasio (born Ernest Joseph Anastasio III on September 30, 1964) is an American guitarist, composer, and vocalist most noted for his work with the rock band Phish. He is credited by name as composer of 152 Phish original songs, 140 of them as a solo credit, in addition to 41 credits attributed to the band as a whole. He was ranked as number 73 on the Rolling Stone List of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2003.
Anastasio, whose name derives from the Greek word for resurrection, began playing the drums as a youth, turning to guitar while a teenager. His father was an executive with Educational Testing Service. Anastasio's mother Dina, with whom he wrote songs as a child, was an author and the editor of Sesame Street magazine. He attended Princeton Day School for junior high school, where he began to write music with some of his classmates. Some of these songs (for example, "Golgi Apparatus") would find their way into the Phish repertoire, and many other Anastasio compositions refer to these early experiences. For senior high school, Anastasio attended The Taft School along with The Dude of Life, who helped pen such Phish compositions as "Suzy Greenberg", "Fluffhead", "Skippy the Wondermouse", "Run Like an Antelope", "Slave to the Traffic Light", and "Dinner and a Movie". At Taft, Anastasio founded his first two bands, Red Tide and Space Antelope.
After Anastasio completed high school, he enrolled in the University of Vermont, attending from fall of 1983 to spring of 1984 as a philosophy major. It was here that he met Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon, and Jeff Holdsworth, who founded Phish in 1983. In December 1983 the group formed to play an ROTC dance. They played a setlist of cover songs, including "Proud Mary" which was performed twice. The band was very primitive at this time and used hockey sticks as mic stands. After performing one set, Michael Jackson's Thriller album was put on by a partygoer to drown out the band. The band wouldn't return to play but were still paid for the performance. While at the University of Vermont, Anastasio hosted an early morning radio program, Ambient Alarm Clock.
Anastasio was eventually suspended from college for an entire semester after he broke into the science building and stole a human hand and a goat's heart. He sent it to his friend as a prank with a note that said "I've got to hand it to you, you've got heart." During his suspension, Anastasio attended classes at Mercer County Community College while living at home and while there met up with old friend Tom Marshall. Also attending Mercer was Marc Daubert who would officially join Phish as percussionist from September 1984 to February 1985. After seeing a Phish show, pianist Page McConnell joined Phish in the autumn of 1985. Anastasio, along with Jon Fishman, transferred to Goddard College, which he attended from fall of 1986 to spring of 1988.
During this time Anastasio also began a lifelong association with composer Ernie Stires, who taught him techniques for composition and arranging. While at Goddard, Anastasio assembled the song cycle The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday as his senior project. These songs would become mainstays of the Phish catalog. Anastasio graduated from Goddard in 1988 with a degree in creative writing.
On August 13, 1994 Anastasio married Susan Eliza Statesir. They have two daughters, Eliza and Isabella.
After the break-up of Phish in 2004, Anastasio has continued to tour periodically, both fronting his own band and also a 2006 collaboration with Phish bassist Mike Gordon and the New York City jazz and post-rock group, the Benevento/Russo Duo.
At 3:30 AM on December 15, 2006, Anastasio was stopped by a Whitehall, NY patrolman for failure to keep right. He was summarily arrested for a DWI-drugs, driving with a suspended license, and possessing prescription drugs in Whitehall, NY. The prescription drugs included: hydrocodone, percocet and xanax, all of which had been prescribed to someone else. He was released under the custody of a friend and the court date for these charges was set for January 10, 2007, at Whitehall Village Court. If convicted, he could have faced up to a year in jail. A grand jury later handed Anastasio three felony charges on February 28, 2007, to which he plead not guilty. On April 13, 2007, Anastasio pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge as part of an agreement to avoid jail time. Instead he will spend twelve to fifteen months in part of a drug court program, be subject to random drug tests and perform community service.
On August 14, Anastasio made a surprise guest appearance in Saratoga Springs, New York during Dave Matthews Band's performance at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. He sat in and jammed with the band during "Lie in Our Graves."
On October 20, 2007, Anastasio appeared with Phil Lesh & Friends at the Glens Falls Civic Center in Glens Falls, New York. Anastasio performed the entire show, which included Grateful Dead staples such as "Bertha", "Dark Star", "Viola Lee Blues" and "Franklin's Tower", as well as performances of Anastasio songs "Shine" and "Plasma".
On January 16, 2008, Anastasio spent two days in New York state's Washington County Jail after he was found to have violated the conditions of his participation in Washington County Drug Treatment Court. A Washington County assistant district attorney says Anastasio was sent to jail because he failed to show up for a court-ordered appointment.
In June 2008, after completing all phases of NY state drug court, Anastasio graduated in good standing. His sentence was reduced to a misdemeanor.
On May 7, 2008, Trey and the rest of Phish accepted a ‘Lifetime Achievement prize’ at the 2008 Jammys.
In late May 2008, Trey Anastasio's website announced that he would perform in his first appearance at the Newport Folk Festival on August 2, 2008.
On June 5, 2008, Trey guested on the Robert Randolph Band's set, who opened for an Eric Clapton concert
He has employed the services of his friend and audio technician Paul Languedoc (Phish's soundman from 1986–2004) throughout his career. The highly resonant hollow-body electric guitars built by Languedoc for Anastasio, his Ibanez Tube Screamers, and Ross Compressors are key to his signature tone. Trey has three custom Languedoc hollowbody electric guitars:
The designs of Anastasio's Languedoc guitars, inspired in part by the Fender Starcaster, are uniquely conceived and handcrafted instruments that make use of set maple necks with 24-fret ebony fret boards, dual Seymour Duncan PAF reissue humbuckers and custom-wired electronics. The first two Languedocs also featured a single coil pickup in the middle (each was removed when it became the backup guitar). Because they are true hollow-bodies (as opposed to semi-hollow body construction), and because Anastasio typically plays with two Ibanez Tube Screamer overdrives, the guitars are prone to excessive feedback, requiring a great deal of manual dexterity and control on the guitarist's part in order to manage the signal. Anastasio has learned to tame this feedback and often used it to his advantage in the creation of psychedelic and other-worldly sounds onstage and in the studio ("The Squirming Coil", "The Divided Sky", and "You Enjoy Myself", to name a few, use this unique feedback in portions of the song).
Anastasio's electric guitar technique is largely conventional; he does not typically make use of tapping techniques and does not usually play slide guitar (an example of when he does is in the Oysterhead section of Les Claypool's 5 Gallons of Diesel). He normally uses a 2.0mm Adamas graphite guitar pick, but does not always do so. Melodically, he often incorporates modes, notably the dorian, mixolydian, and locrian, as well as pentatonic scales. In addition to scales, Anastasio makes abundant use of arpeggios while improvising as well as in his compositional material. He is known for his skill in improvisation. In the tradition of bebop players, he often quotes, or "teases" his own music or the music of others in his solos, sometimes subtly and other times directly.
Anastasio uses barre chords extensively, including open voicings of minor seventh, minor ninth, and minor thirteenth chords in addition to the sharp ninth chords associated with blues-based guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix. He incorporates exotic chord progressions and voicings, chord substitutions, ghost notes, and rhythmic scratching.
While he has concentrated more on funk, jazz, and rock music styles in his electric guitar technique (especially since Phish's Remain in Light cover on Halloween 1996), Anastasio is also well-versed in country music and bluegrass modes of playing and has credited Jerry Garcia as an influence in this realm.
Effects processors play a crucial role in Anastasio's guitar technique. He uses effects such as two Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamers (with analogman's Silver Mod) in sequence, chorus and Univibe-like effects, a Ross compressor (he switched eventually to Analogman's Bicompressor, then dropped the compressor from his rig) , a wah wah pedal (usually a Real McCoy Custom 3 by Geoffrey Teese, a Boomerang phrase sampler, tremolo, delay, reverb, and pitch shifters, as well as a Leslie rotating speaker horn. He controls these devices singularly or in batch with a Custom Audio footpedal bank. His use of delay loops is a signature.
In the late 1990s, Anastasio moved from a custom 2X12 cab powered by either a 100w Mesa/Boogie Mark III head or, later, a Custom Audio Electronics 3-channel preamp and Groove Tubes power amp, to a pair of modified late 1960s Fender Deluxe Reverb amps, one serving as a backup. It was also around this time that the compressor pedal was dropped from his stage rig.
Anastasio currently plays an acoustic by Martin. In 2005, Martin released a Trey Anastasio signature model acoustic guitar. In his acoustic playing, Anastasio makes use of nontraditional tunings to create ethereal ambiance or to recreate folk styles, as did Jimmy Page and Nick Drake.
In college, Anastasio studied composition under composer and arranger Ernie Stires. The two were introduced during Anastasio's residency at the University of Vermont. "Guelah Papyrus", featured on Phish's major label debut A Picture of Nectar, features a Stires-influenced fugue instrumental section called "The Asse Festival" as a bridge between verses. In the early years of Phish, many of Anastasio's compositions were through-composed, intricate and detailed in conception (e.g. "The Divided Sky", "You Enjoy Myself", "The Asse Festival", "Reba", "Fluff's Travels"). Particularly in the music he has written for his touring and recording projects apart from Phish, Anastasio has used improvisation as the driving force behind simplified songwriting.
Tom Marshall, a New Jersey computer systems professional and friend of Anastasio since his Princeton childhood, has been his primary songwriting collaborator, acting as lyricist. Anastasio has often pulled lyrics for his music from large notebooks of poems and prose kept by Marshall, and the pair have also taken working retreats during which they wrote and/or recorded demos of new material. One such demo, Trampled By Lambs and Pecked by the Dove, has been commercially released, and many of the songs included on this release were reincarnated into Phish's 1998 album The Story of the Ghost. Anastasio also writes a number of his own lyrics, including all of the lyrics on his first release with Columbia Records, 2005's Shine.
One of Anastasio’s signature compositional techniques is the use of episodic (or organic) form. “Fluff’s Travels” and “You Enjoy Myself” are good examples of through-composed pieces which evolve from one musical idea to the other, never returning to a previous musical statement. This technique had been used in a rock music setting by relatively few before Phish (Frank Zappa and the Grateful Dead are two such examples).
Anastasio employs modal improvisation, first made popular by Miles Davis in the late 50’s/early 60’s.
Anastasio has also demonstrated skill at composing chamber music and music for orchestra, most notably on Seis De Mayo, his eponymously titled second album, and in his collaborations with the Vermont Youth Orchestra.
On September 27th 2008, Anastasio and Orchestra Nashville premiered a new work entitled Time Turns Elastic, an original long-form piece that was orchestrated by composer and arranger Don Hart, and featured Anastasio on lead guitar and vocals. Anastasio previously collaborated with Hart and Orchestra Nashville in his orchestral performance of "Guyute" at Bonnaroo 2004.
The Barn is the name given to Anastasio's rehearsal and recording facility in the countryside near Burlington, Vermont. It was reconstructed between 1996 and 1998 from an existing structure, the Alan Irish Barn. The Barn has been used by Phish and most of Anastasio's projects since 1999.
Other artists who have recorded or performed at The Barn include Herbie Hancock, Béla Fleck, John Patitucci, DJ Logic, Toots and the Maytals, Tony Levin, Umphrey's McGee, The Slip, RAQ, John Medeski, Jerry Douglas, Patti LaBelle, Nicholas Cassarino, David Gilmour, and Addison Groove Project, among others.
Beginning in 2006, The Barn was transformed from a commercial recording facility into a studio environment providing accommodations and work space for artists participating in the Seven Below residency program.
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