Over the 2019 Phish fall tour, director Jake Lindy arrived on lot just like thousands of other fans. When he showed up, however, he wasn’t looking for an extra ticket, a balloon, or even a Sammy Smith’s Oatmeal Stout. Instead, he was looking for willing participants to be interviewed for his film, Talk: A Phish Lot Documentary—and if there’s one thing to know about Phish fans, it’s that they will never pass up an opportunity to talk about their favorite band.
In the wake of COVID-19 canceling summer tour, any possible fall tour or Halloween run, and most assuredly New Year’s Eve at Madison Square Garden, Jake’s project is all the more important. It serves as a reminder of what we lost due to the pandemic, but it also shows the goal that we must all work toward together. It shows our community, rallied together in the best of times.
When I ran into Jake in the parking lot outside of Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh, PA on the snowy night of December 4th, 2019, I declined his polite invitation to be interviewed for the film. Here we are now, ten months later, and I’m the one interviewing him. I got the chance to catch up with Jake ahead of the film’s premiere on October 13th—the rumored start date for what would have been the 2020 fall tour—to talk about Talk (A Phish Lot Documentary). Read the interview with the director (edited for length and clarity) and watch Talk below:
Talk (A Phish Lot Documentary)
[Note: Interview has been edited for length and clarity.]
Live For Live Music: So, was the main motivation for getting into this project just trying to capture what’s going on outside of the concerts?
Jake Lindy: Yeah. I mean, because, I was kind of like you. I had gotten into Phish back when I was in high school, and this was before they had the reunion, before they got back together. This must have been 2007, 2008? Something like that. And I just got really into them, just was listening to all different eras of shows, and all of that. Spent a lot of time on the internet, just researching them and stuff. And next I kind of spent time on YouTube looking up just Phish videos, the band. And a lot of people were talking about the lot scenes and stuff, how it’s so unique and stuff.
So, I just remember looking back, trying to find videos of that, and there were some up there … Someone walking around a parking lot with a camera, which is cool and all. But I thought it would be kind of cool to have a little bit more, I guess, slightly higher production, you know what I mean? But still have that kind of, not like a full-fledged production, just … a guy in the parking lot with a camera, kind of capturing it and recording it. I just think it’d be kind of cool to have something for, maybe even if I have kids or something, they can look at, hearing me talking about Phish…
I didn’t really have much of a plan. Sat down and started editing, and then kind of just decided to do a chronological thing. Have it be a little bit more raw in terms of that. The way I have it is the interviews are literally all in order from the time I shot them… I don’t put one interview before another interview, even if they’re next to each other. It’s completely in order, and I think it’s kind of cool, because it flows that way. It’s just more kind of like a raw kind of thing where it’s just, it is how it happened.
Live For Live Music: You told me a little bit about your Phish experience. What other directorial or cinematic experience do you have?
Jake Lindy: Alright. So, I went to college basically for music, and kind of along that way, realized that there wasn’t too much to do with music unless you’re a top-tier player. And so, I picked up video production while I was there. I minored in video production. So, we did a documentary when I was in school there for a senior project. It was on gun control, actually, during… I think it was the Parkland school shootings, down in Florida. They had a rally in D.C., so we went down, filmed that, put together the documentary, and submitted it to the school film festival. That won … what was it? I think it was the best documentary, and then it won user’s choice, which is, like, out of every video that was submitted. So, that was kind of cool. That’s where I got a lot of it, the whole beginning-to-end planning for that sort of a thing.
Since then, I’ve been working for a tech review YouTube channel, editing, that sort of a thing. I went out to Germany, we did a tech show there… So, that kind of helped as far as walking around, walking up to people, and getting interviews, because it’s kind of, if you’ve never done anything like that, it can be kind of awkward, just kind of walking up to someone and be like, “Hey, let me point this camera in the face, and you talk.” [But] with the Phish thing, just, I’ve attended shows and you just talk to people, it’s natural. So, I kind of combined the two [ideas], where I didn’t make it like a professional interview or anything. So, that kind of lined up, in terms of the interviews.
I wouldn’t necessarily consider [Talk] a cinema project or anything. It’s more just like a YouTube video. It’s kind of, the cool thing about YouTube is anyone can do it, you know? You can pick up your cell phone and shoot a video. You don’t need to have all of this experience or anything like that, which, it definitely helps, but yeah, this is my first big project like that.
Live For Live Music: I think that’s something that also really works to your benefit because, like you were saying, in terms of just talking to people on the lot… I went to college as a journalism major, so I’d do these general assignment stories and just go on the street and ask people about stuff that’s going on… and yeah, it would be painful. But people are not going to forego the opportunity to talk about how much they love Phish, or how crappy or great the last show was, or whatever.
Jake Lindy: Yeah, exactly. I mean, if it was on another topic, I don’t think I would’ve been able to get as many interviews, or have them go so well, because everyone just has the love for Phish, which really brings everyone together at the shows. Like you said, it’s a lot easier talking to the people who are all on the same page, loving the same thing. It doesn’t matter what background they’re from or anything, you can just connect over that and kind of go from there.
Live For Live Music: So, this whole thing was across fall tour 2019. Was there kind of a different feeling of going from show to show in each city to city? Or was it kind of pretty cohesive?
Jake Lindy: I think it’s a little bit of both, honestly. I did … something like 16 shows the summer before. In the summer it’s a little bit different. It seems a little bit more like everything is kind … cohesive, because the weather is nice everywhere you go, the weather’s not changing. And it’s just a lot, you spend a lot of time outdoors on the lots. But with this fall tour, it was very, very weather-dependent, especially the lot scene. Nassau was not the greatest. It was raining, it was cold, and it was actually kind of snowing a little bit every here and there. Providence was cold, but at least it was nice weather, and that’s it for a lot of the other shows. And then you get down to Charleston, and it’s like, you’re in shorts and a T-shirt through the day.
Live For Live Music: Yeah, I couldn’t believe that was fall tour when I saw those videos.
Jake Lindy: Because I mean, you were there at Pittsburgh. It was kind of trickling snow a little bit, and then you get down [to Charleston], and it’s a lot warmer, and the people are from a different part of the country, more Southern people. So, yeah, I don’t know. It’s kind of a different vibe, but it’s [also] a lot of people you see going from show to show … Like, there’s this group of people I met and interviewed up in Providence. It was five guys around my age, and then there was an older guy who they called their Phish Dad, who I guess they met him out at The Gorge, a year or two back, and they just ended up going to shows together.
So, I ended up meeting up with them in Providence. They weren’t going to Nassau, they were going to The Met [Philadelphia]. So, I said, “Oh, maybe we’ll see you there.” So, I ended up meeting up with them there, and like I said, I didn’t have tickets for the Met beforehand. They’re from Philly, two of them, and they didn’t have tickets. So, at the Met, everyone was looking for tickets, myself included. And then there was the overflow list, which is basically, they weren’t expecting to let anyone into the show. So, they had overflow, and basically a sign-up on the list and then they let you in, based on availability of tickets, or so we thought at the time.
One of the guys was way before me in the list, and then he ended up buying a ticket, and then we went over to the guy running the list and pretty much just bumped my name up to his spot in the line, [and I got in]. And then from there… every show I would go to, I’d meet up with them a little bit in the lot, and then I’d go off and do the documentary thing. And then once I’d go inside the show, I’d do all the shows with them. Then, we’d give each other rides after the show. We go to, like, Waffle House after like Charleston. Go sit down in Waffle House and eat together.
It’s kind of cool just how you can meet people and then just end up linking up. And a lot of people that I’ve met and interviewed were talking about how just how easy it is to make and meet friends. And then, even if you just see each other at the Phish shows, if you go from one tour, then you go to the next tour, and you see each other, and it’s like, “Hey, remember that time back there where you did this?” And you know it’s… I don’t know. It’s just a cool way of bringing people together, even if it just comes down to just Phish tour. But a lot of people end up being friends outside of it.
Live For Live Music: That’s all good. I feel like what you were just talking about is kind of what is at the core of Talk—all of those kinds of relationships. And so, to kind of piggyback off of that—obviously, there was no summer tour this year. There’s not going to be a fall tour. It doesn’t look like there’s going to be New Year’s Eve show. And so, how do you think, if at all, has the meaning of Talk changed now with COVID?
Jake Lindy: I mean, I think it’s kind of funny you say that. Because I was going back through the clips and you’ve got clips of people saying, this is the fall tour, and the next time they were going to play was New Year’s Eve, which is later on that month, in December. So it was like two or three weeks, I think. And I was going back because I was editing, and there’s a guy talking about how, “Oh, you got to get it in now, because we’re not going to see Phish for a whole ‘nother two weeks.” And then, it was a girl I interviewed, and she’s like, “Yeah, we’re not going to New Year’s, but we’re going to see them in the spring. So, we’ll wait ’till then. And then we’re going to see Oysterhead at a Peach Festival], and all of this.
I didn’t really think about it at the time, shooting all of this, about how we kind of take it for granted that they’re playing every single year. I don’t know exactly how to summarize all of this that I’m saying, but it’s kind of interesting, just going back through and editing and seeing all of these people that are talking about the next time they’re going to see them, how happy they are, and then bam—no more Phish for, until… you don’t know. I’m hoping that they can play the summer tour next year. That’s kind of where I’m at. But I don’t know… I also think, at the same time as all that’s going on, it’s kind of… Of course, I miss them and I love them, and I want to see them really bad, but I think there [are] a lot more important things going on with the virus than needing to see Phish right now. I don’t want to get too political, but you know what I’m trying to say, hopefully.
Live For Live Music: Yeah. It really puts everything in perspective of, ‘This is probably not the most consequential thing happening,’ but just… It makes us realize the conveniences, how easy things were before this.
Jake Lindy: And then you have Dinner and a Movie. Yeah, between the Dinner and a Movie and then [The Beacon Jams], it’s kind of nice that they’re at least giving us something. … I was thinking about trying to release [Talk] before one of the [Dinner and a Movie streams], which I didn’t really get it done in time or anything. But I think it’s just the coolest thing that we’re able to get together once a week on the internet, with all of our Phish buddies, and talk about the show, and relive the memories, and all of that. That sort of, it ties into this, where people can go back and watch this and remember the fall tour, or remember their times at Phish, or remember just the scene in general.
Live For Live Music: And then, I realized, doing all these interviews in all of these places, not everything’s going to make it into the movie. What was a good interaction that you had that you couldn’t put into the documentary?
Jake Lindy: It was probably about three hours of just interviews [in total], so I cut it back. Right now, as I’m finishing it up, it’s just under 50 minutes. So, there’s a lot that couldn’t make it in there. A lot of it could have made it, but I didn’t put it in, just because of the length of the interviews. I mean, there’s a lot of really good long interviews, but when it’s like a 15-minute interview sitting in there, I think that could lose a lot of people’s attention, and I don’t want to make something that was extremely long.
But, I guess, one of those interviews, one of the long ones, there was an interview with… actually at Pittsburgh, the show I had met you at, there was this guy who was selling T-shirts and stuff, and he had been on tour since the nineties. And he had just, like I said, a longer interview, but it was really great, because he was talking about the comparatives between the scene in the nineties and today. And a topic that was kind of mentioned in that was drug use at Phish shows, and that sort of a thing. Like I said, just because of the length, I didn’t get to put the whole thing in. So, I cut it back to where he talks about it a little bit, and a little bit more, then a little bit more, but there’s a lot in between those little cuts where … it’s more in-depth how it was then versus now, and how it is and isn’t [similar] to the nineties.
Live For Live Music: Do you remember any specifics that he was talking about, in terms of the nineties versus what’s going on right now?
Jake Lindy: Yeah. I mean, this kind of made it in, but he was talking about how in the nineties, everybody’s younger. I basically have it memorized word-for-word, because I’ve edited it, gone over it so many times. But one thing he talked about was how in the nineties, how everyone was so much younger and everybody had a lot of money. It was a lot more money in the scene, like how someone had their mom’s Volvo, or someone’s dad bought them tickets, or somebody just had a birthday, so they had money, and that sort of a thing.
He was [also] saying how, when you’re younger, you don’t think about how much drugs you’re taking, or how much you’re drinking. And so, there was a lot of people back then that were just wasted, he was saying. And he’s talking about, like, the types of drugs that were used in the nineties versus today, which I don’t want to… I don’t want people to think it’s the focus of the documentary, because it’s really just sort of a brief section where he covers it. But I think it’s very relevant, because there definitely is drug use at Phish shows, like it or not.
Live For Live Music: Yeah. Something you can’t really glide over. You can’t really get any B-roll footage of the lots without just balloons everywhere. Trying to avoid it is kind of, yeah, just taking away part of what’s actually happening.
Jake Lindy: Absolutely. And so, I mean, yeah, he was talking about that, and I don’t know, just sort of the differences… It’s funny, because I can go and ask all these people interviews, and get interviews from other people, but then when it comes to me being interviewed, I don’t know what to say half the time.
Live For Live Music: It’s easier to ask the questions?
Jake Lindy: Yeah. Yeah. I’d say so. Unless it’s like, I don’t know, there in person, I guess. I don’t know.
Live For Live Music: And then, kind of wrapping up, you’re talking about getting this first cut out and possibly getting some other cuts out. What’s next on the horizon, after this project?
Jake Lindy: Well, I’m probably going to be releasing these uncut ones pretty soon after, but I guess that’s still part of the project. … I’d kind of like to spread out and do some other kind of jam band or just music-related stuff. I live in Connecticut, and I think maybe linking up with some local Connecticut musicians, bands, that sort of a thing. Kind of, I don’t know, maybe doing something that features the band or like a live performance of the band, or maybe trying to get into one of these [socially-distanced] shows that they’re doing up in Northwestern Connecticut, and kind of documenting that sort of a thing. But I mean, it’s pretty open at this point. There’s nothing that’s set in stone planned. But I definitely have some ideas, and I want to keep it kind of more music-focused, to fit with the theme of the [YouTube] channel.
Live For Live Music: There’s plenty to document right now in music, and it’s a great time to be a band that doesn’t play arenas or stadiums, because all the local bands that are the only ones that can really play.
Jake Lindy: Yeah. Yeah. There’s like New York with the whole … I don’t know all the details about it, but they shut down being able to play ticketed shows in New York recently, and then they overturned that, apparently?
Live For Live Music: Yeah. I just saw that.
Jake Lindy: So, yeah. I don’t know the specifics, but … it’s kind of a risk/reward situation, where it’s like, I could go out there and try to do something like that at the risk of COVID, but I think it’d make for a really cool video, either covering a bar’s perspective of it, or a venue’s perspective of it, or even a band’s perspective, or that sort of a thing. So yeah, it’s just pretty open, but there’s definitely some ideas in the works and some people that I’ve reached out to, trying to get things set up. We’re just excited to see what’s going to go on from here.
Finally glad to be done with this edit. I mean, I love it, the whole process, but there’s a lot of times that, maybe if I didn’t take on something so adventurous, which I’m very happy I did, and I’m very happy with how it’s turned out, but I could probably pump out a bunch more little videos. But I think this is really, to me, a definition of a passion project, where it’s something that I just really love, and I’m putting in… I’ve been up till 5:00 AM this past week and a half, every night, after I work. But it’s not about the time or the resources spent on it, because I want to put out something that I just really stand behind, and I really just love, you know what I mean? It’s just that defining passion project, in my eyes.