Most bands usually ride on one band member’s vocals, and if he decides to leave, the groups are left on their deathbeds. Take, for instance, N’Sync and B2K; immediately, the lead singers took off to pursue solo careers, we forgot the bands even existed. Phish has set itself apart because even if it disbanded twice and members pursued solo careers, they still came back together and remain strong as ever. However, the band’s name has been confusing even to the diehard fans who do not know its inspiration. So, here’s your chance to learn about Phish’s logo, but we will have to take you back to how each member got to be in the band.
Trey Anastasio got a start to music early because his mother worked as a Sesame Street Magazine editor. The mother and son duo collaborated in composing fun songs and developing stories. His passion for music was embedded while at Princeton Day School, which he attended until 10th grade. Anastacio then transferred to Taft and repeated 10th grade. During this time, he joined a band called Red Tide, but after most of the members graduated, the band renamed itself Space Antelope, with Anastacio playing a guitarist’s role. As the guitarist told Believer Magazine, he had always been interested in composition. However, upon joining high school, he started listening to improvisation music and became obsessed with Jimi Hendrix’s live album “Band of Gypsy.” He believes that attending the concerts by Stanly Jordan, Wynton Marsalis, King Crimson, and Robert Fripp before leaving for Princeton, New Jersey, helped shape his love for improvisation.
Gordon said that he had never really paid attention to bass players, but when he was 14, he decided he would play bass. He and his family were visiting the Bahamas when Gordon and his dad stood by the poolside to listen to the band Mustangs playing. While the guitar sound appealed to him, the bass vibrating his body was much more fascinating, and that physical aspect made him decide to one day become a bass player. He started listening to more bass players; hence, Bootsy Collins and Phil Lesh became his favorite.
Jon Fisherman was lucky to have a father who knew what it took to be in a band. Therefore, when he was young, Fisherman was exposed to different bands, and Frank Zappa became his favorite. He even tried copying the bands when he joined the percussion section and was assigned the tambourine. He preferred playing drums, though, and admitted that he was not good. He then decided to expand his musical experience by learning how to play Jazz; thus, his father introduced him to Dave Hanlon. With the growing excitement of watching live bands, Fisherman decided to pursue music full time.
Destiny played a role in the forming of the band Phish. Trey Anastacio, Mike Gordon, Jeff Holdsworth, and Jon Fisherman all happened to be at the University of Vermont at the same time. Fisherman and Anastacio were both freshmen, and during orientation, Anastacio saw Fisherman and thought to himself that Fisherman did not belong there. Therefore, when Fisherman was playing his drum in the dorm room, and Anastacio worked in and remarked, “It is you!” Fisherman wondered what Anastacio was talking about because they had never met. By then, Anastacio had already met with Holdsworth, then a sophomore studying electrical engineering, and the two had been playing music. All that was missing was a bass player, and Anastacio hung up posters looking for one. Mike Gordon, another student studying electrical engineering, responded. Although Fisherman confessed that he preferred playing with his other band, Dead Grapes, he thought that Anastacio had long term plans hence decided to be part of the band. He shared his decision with Mike, who also settled on being in Anastacio’s band, Phish.
According to Phish.net, their first gig was at Slade Hall basement on October 23, 1984. It must have been quite good because they booked another gig a week later, on October 30, but things did not turn out as expected. They were jeered off the stage, and one student was so cruel that he played “Thriller” by Michael Jackson over the Public Address system while Phish was still performing. They did not lose hope and continued playing for fellow students in basements. They landed their first bar gig on December 1, 1984. They were advertising themselves to play music of the Grateful Dead. The decision to stop performing another Grateful Dead song came around 1988 when a huge guy so high on drugs kept shouting “Jerry” when referring to Anastacio.
How the Band Came to be Known as “Phish.”
Most people have mistakenly thought that “phish” comes from “fish” and refers to Fisherman, the band member. However, Thrillist informs us the band name came as the members were brainstorming names. One of them made a balloon’s sound, releasing air “phhhsssshh,” and the rest thought it could set them apart. Still, “phhhsssshh” was not a name that could get them any gigs, so they coined “Phish.” It is easy to see why people think that the band name is related to fish; the logo is designed to look like a fish. However, the dot above the mouth resembling a nose makes it easy to conclude that it is not a fish because fish do not have noses. You would have thought that they would rename themselves after the hiatus and changing band members, but the name has stuck through the years. They performed together for 15 years but in October 2000 decided to take a break for two years. They stayed together for two years then went on another hiatus, which lasted for five years, reuniting in 2009 for a few concerts. The remaining band members are Trey Anastacio, Mike Gordon, Jon Fisherman, and Page McConnell.