In a new interview with Rock Philly, drummer Joe Russo sat down to discuss everything from Joe Russo’s Almost Dead to impending fatherhood (!), to Fare Thee Well and beyond. With Almost Dead set for a New Year’s Eve blowout at the Fillmore venue in Philadelphia, PA, Russo took the time to talk about all of his many projects in an extensive discussion.
One particular quotation that caught our eye was when Russo discussed conferring with Trey Anastasio prior to the guitarist’s role in the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary celebration. Anastasio got in touch with Russo prior to the event, as Russo had to undergo similar preparations before playing in the band Furthur. Here’s how Russo described the situation:
Well, I think he’s talked about it, so I can talk about it, I think. Yeah, I was really honored that he got in touch. He was taking that so seriously. It was really, really cool how hard he was working to do this. He did not take it lightly and he held it with such respect. He was working his [expletive] for months before he even reached out. He knew I went through a similar thing, obviously not the same thing, but a similar thing, as far as having to learn a ridiculous amount of material very quickly. So, yeah, he reached out and said, let’s do some playing. I was really excited. We got together at this little place up in New York City, in this little rehearsal space. But, you can only go over these songs by yourself so much. We got together and played for two or three days, and then towards the end of that, we were like man you sound so great, you know what would really help is if we actually played these tunes. I asked him if it was cool if I call in Scott and Dave (of JRAD), and he was psyched. So, those guys came in and I think we did another two days with Scott and Dave and were basically like alright let’s pretend we’re playing this gig. We did it and… God… I gotta say, it was [expletive] amazing. I so wish it was recorded or something because it was really cool. And, it was really fun for me.
Trey and I hadn’t really played together since we did that tour back in 2006. So, it was really cool to reconnect and do some playing. And it was really awesome to have Dave and Scott there. Trey and I were just laughing the whole time because I was like, why the hell am I here helping Trey from [expletive] Phish learn Grateful Dead songs? That’s the weirdest concept I’ve ever thought of. But that goes into what we were taking about earlier. I’ve been so, so very lucky to have had the opportunities that I’ve had and to have met and played with and hung out with so many incredible people. Trey is such a wonderful guy. That was something really special. He was going out on stage with those guys and I’m texting him like ‘Good luck man!’ and checking in between sets. I was all proud. And that was a weird feeling, too. I thought he did such a great job. He was so prepared, and so professional. And you know, he’s a fan, too. So we’re sitting there listening to different versions and he’d be like Oh no, no, no, you gotta check out this version of this song and it was just really fun. He was a fun guy to watch. He’s a good person to watch without his guitar anyway, ya know? He’s such an animated guy. It was just really fun to nerd out with him on that stuff for a while. I was so very honored to even be remotely a part of it.
Russo also spoke about how he was grateful that Almost dead caught on, and that there’s always the possibility of more Bustle In Your Hedgerow sets in the future. Russo also said that, for New Year’s Eve, that they “have some special things planned. We are going to do three sets. We’re definitely going to do a fair amount of stuff we’ve never done before. Conceptually, and song-wise.”
And, of course, the interview discusses how Joe Russo recently learned that his wife was pregnant, and how having a child is going to be “taking precedent next year,” naturally. Best of luck with everything, Joe!
[Full interview via Rock Philly]