With the Fare Thee Well reunion shows just a few months out, the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir spoke to the Wall Street Journal about everything from LSD, to his upcoming Netflix documentary, to rehearsing with Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio. Here are some highlights from the interview:
(On his upcoming Netflix Documentary)
You’ve said the documentary was a way to avoid writing a book. But you still had to dig up old memories for the film, so what surprised you?
I came to the realization that there is something of a story there. There’s an arc to it, the end of which we haven’t seen yet. But working with [director] Mike Fleiss and his people sort of drew the stories out of me. You look at yourself in the mirror daily, and having done it all your life it’s impossible to tell what you look like. To have to sit down and tell a bunch of stories in a concentrated period of time, it drew a new focus for me, which will help when I do get around to writing the book.
(On not being as “evangelical” about LSD as his bandmates)
LSD was instrumental in shaping the band’s approach. But when did the acid chapter end? Was there a later time when taking LSD backfired on the band or you just got tired of it?
First off, LSD could backfire at any minute or any night. I pretty much put a year into it, taking LSD about once a week. It put us all in a profound state of disorientation, let me tell you. If nothing else, finding our way through that disorientation was nothing less than an act of faith. We just had to find the thread and follow it, and we had to trust our intuitions. So after about a year of that, I found that I wasn’t going much in the way of new places, so it didn’t seem worth the trouble anymore. Every now and again, I would get dosed. Because not everybody else found themselves done with it as early as I did, and the rest of the guys could be, let’s say, evangelical about the use of LSD. So they would take it upon themselves to put me there anyway.
(On sleeping with more women than anyone else in the band)
The movie delves into your reputation as a “rock ‘n’ roll tomcat” who slept with more women than anyone else in the band. It made me wonder if you had fathered any children that you didn’t initially know about.
Needless to say, I’ve often wondered this myself. But so far, nothing’s come up. I know I wasn’t shooting blanks, because I’ve got a couple daughters now.
(Rehearsing with Trey Anastasio)
Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio is going to be playing with the Dead this summer. How would you describe him as a guitarist? It must be strange to hear Jerry channeled through Trey’s style.
I’ve played a fair bit with him in the last couple months. We put in a few days at my little beach house in Stinson Beach [in California], then another day in San Rafael at Phil [Lesh]’s place, then a couple days holed up in New York with Trey in a studio. He studied Jerry’s approach all along. He’s a follower of Jerry’s musicality. That said, he’s a schooled and studied musician, and he’s going to have a lot to offer. He’s not going to be parroting Jerry, because there’s no point in that. At the same time he’s going to try and ring those lofty bells that Jerry was able to ring, and I’m sure he’s going to reach some of them.
(After showing him a photo with John Mayer and Mike Gordon linking back to L4LM’s website!)
Can you shed any light on that photo of you, John Mayer and Mike Gordon of Phish that went public recently?
Eh, one thing at a time.
Read the full interview here!