During last night’s Phish performance, guitarist Trey Anastasio took a moment to mention that the band would be working on a studio album for the foreseeable future. While some fans panicked at the notion of less shows in 2016, we’re optimistic in our hopes that Anastasio simply meant that they would be working in the studio between the just-ended Mexico run and a yet-to-be-announced summer tour schedule.
Regardless, the message confirms rumors that the band is indeed hard at work at a new studio album. The release would be their first since 2014’s Fuego, and the band certainly has a lot of material to consider for the new release. Here’s a list of some possible song selections for a new Phish studio LP:
1. Fuego Outtakes
When Phish began working with famed producer Bob Ezrin on Fuego, the band had something around 40 songs in the tank. The album, however, only features 10 tracks, and one of those, “Halfway to the Moon,” was previously written by Page McConnell. Thus, the band is theoretically still sitting on a trove of unreleased songs!
A handful of those scrapped Fuego songs actually made it to the live setting, during the band’s live performance of their new, then-titled Wingsuit album on Halloween of 2013 in Atlantic City, NJ. Among them: “Amidst The Peals Of Laughter,” “Snow,” and “You Never Know.” Will these three songs make the cut for the new Phish studio project? Probably not, but who knows what else the band might dig up.
Relive that Halloween performance with this video below:
2. Chilling, Thrilling Haunted House Instrumentals
From one Halloween to the next, Phish made it abundantly clear that the days of “musical costumes” were in the past. Instead, the group has been focused on anything new during their Halloween performances, and the group set the bar high during a 2014 show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV. The Burlington band debuted ten new instrumentals, inspired by (and sampling) narrations and sound effects from the Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House soundtrack album from 1964.
Those instrumentals have taken on a new life in Phish sets, and have been performed on the regular since the previously-mentioned Halloween show. Will songs like “The Dogs” and “Martian Monster” find new life in the studio?
Listen to that fateful Halloween set below:
3. 2015 Summer Tour Debuts
During the first two nights of Phish’s summer tour, the group debuted a total of seven new original songs. While some had been previously performed in solo band contexts, the new originals are strong candidates for the new album. Listen to each of the seven below:
Quickly becoming a favorite, “Blaze On” was the first song Phish performed in all of 2016. The Trey Anastasio-penned original made its debut on July 21st in Bend, OR, and has been in tight rotation ever since.
“How Many People Are You?”
Mike Gordon debuted this original on his solo tour during summer 2015, but it found new life during Phish sets throughout their summer tour. The fast-paced rocker was also included in the MSG run. Here it is from Magnaball:
One of the more intricate Anastasio originals, “Mercury” was debuted in Bend, OR and was played three of times on summer tour. Listen to the Alpine Valley version below:
A softer Anastasio original that also made its debut during the two-night Bend, OR run. The slowed-down, sentimental song fits in with tunes like “Bug” or “Velvet Sea,” and has been played three times thusfar. Here it is from Austin:
Another Anastasio tune, “Scabbard” made its debut with the Trey Anastasio Band back in 2012. The song appears on the TAB album Traveler, making it less likely to be repurposed for Phish, but the band still found time to perform it twice over summer: the debut in Bend, OR and the reprise at Magnaball. Watch the latter below:
With all of the new songs from Trey Anastasio, it was refreshing to hear Phish dive into the Page McConnell original song “Heavy Rotation” for the first and only time at Bend. The song was actually featured on McConnell’s self-titled 2006 solo album and was only performed once, so it seems unlikely for the new album, though who knows what tricks this band has up their sleeves? Listen to the debut:
“No Men In No Man’s Land”
Last but certainly far from least, Phish fans have certainly taken a shining to their band’s new song “No Men In No Man’s Land.” The Anastasio original made its first appearance at Bend, much like all of the songs listed above, but has been kept on tight rotation ever since. The new song was also the centerpiece for Phish’s New Year’s performance at Madison Square Garden, as the four members performed within a translucent and psychedelic hourglass on the opposite side of the arena, across from the stage. Already given its own abbreviation, NMINML, the twenty-minute, jammed out NYE performance has become the definitive rendition, and fans are hopeful that this new song continues to rock in 2016.
Listen to the Hourglass Jam below:
4. Their Newest Original, “Can’t Always Listen”
In the middle of a “Ghost” during night one of Phish’s four-night MSG stand, the band mixed things up with a new bluesy-rock number called “Can’t Always Listen.” The tune came completely mid-song, with an opening riff strangely reminiscent of Grateful Dead songs like “Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad” and “Big Railroad Blues.” Regardless, the fun tune will hopefully have room to grow at future Phishy affairs!
Interestingly, despite announcing a new album in Mexico, Phish did not play any songs that debuted after Halloween 2014 for their tropical crowd. Perhaps they’re saving the new music for the new album, though, as always, this remains to be seen. Naturally, this selection of songs is limited by the creativity of Phish themselves, who may very well be composing all new music for the new release (as they did last time).
We’ll just have to wait and see.