Weird Phishes is a tribute band with rules. The relatively new group, comprised of Deven Massarone (drums), Pat Pingeton (bass), Derek Dupuis (keys/vocals), Josh Knowles (violin/vocals), and Alex Glover (guitar/vocals), has been gaining buzz with their hybrid homages to their two favorite bands—Radiohead and Phish.
A Radiohead cover band first and foremost, Weird Phishes uses a deliberate formula to mix in the Phish element. While the hybrid cover band thing has been done before, the way Weird Phishes combines their two sources of inspiration is both imaginative and principled. As guitarist Alex Glover explains to Live For Live Music, the band holds themselves to two main rules to keep things challenging and creative:
1. Every Radiohead song has to be modified in some way to be more groovy/funky/Phishy. No album versions.
2. Any Phish song has to be mashed up/teased/paired with a Radiohead song. No standalone Phish covers.
“This has kept it from feeling less like a cover band and more like a really fun way to re-explore music we all already love,” explains Glover. “200 people showed up to hear a band they’d never heard before play for 3 hours, and I think that has to do with unpredictability. The main goals have been to keep people guessing but pleasantly surprised and to keep the source material feeling totally fresh even though everyone in the room knows the songs so well. At a Phish show, you yell ‘boy!! man!!’ At a Weird Phishes, show maybe that turns into ‘fitter!! happier!!'”
Glover acknowledges that the premise of the band sounds like a joke. In fact, that’s how it started. “Sometime toward the end of last summer,” he explains, “I said to my friend and roommate Josh Knowles (violin/vocals), ‘There should be a band called Weird Phishes, and they should do Radiohead albums in the style of Phish. That would be funny.’ We both laughed it off because at the time it sounded like a terrible idea, and he knew I was just making a stupid pun as an excuse to bring up two of my favorite bands. In an effort to keep the joke going, I worked out a funky arrangement of [Radiohead’s] “Paranoid Android” that I thought would make him laugh. Somehow, it turned into one of those ‘this was a joke but wtf maybe it’s actually kind of a cool idea’ things.”
“I love both of these bands so much,” Glover says. “The best part of the Weird Phishes shows so far have been the tangible love that everyone who comes has for them too. A mashup band like this could be a terrible idea (“So they’re just gonna play sad songs that last 30 minutes?” –some dude in a comment section), but everyone who comes out or watches a video seems to really enjoy it. Some anti-Phish Radiohead fans have even come up to me after a show and said they were one step closer to understanding/appreciating Phish, which was awesome.”
“When it boils down to it, these two bands aren’t that dissimilar,” he continues. “Radiohead is known for consistently reinventing their sound each time a studio record is released; Phish is known for continually reinventing their songs in a never-the-same-twice live setting. Each band is on an opposite side of the rabbit hole, but neither has ever rested on their laurels or stopped pushing themselves creatively. I can’t think of any other arena-sized bands who have existed for 25+ years that aren’t bound to a ‘play the hits’ setlist. That’s what fuels both bands’ cult-like fandom, and that cult-like fandom is what fuels Weird Phishes.”
You can watch a few examples of Weird Phishes’ unique cocktail of Radiohead and Phish below:
Weird Phishes – “Fluffhead > Karma Police > Fitter Happier > Fluffhead”
[Video: Weird Phishes]
Weird Phishes has a pair of exciting performances coming up. On Friday, May 17th, Weird Phishes will make their New York City debut at The Bowery Electric, where they’ll perform Radiohead’s OK Computer in its entirety. You can grab your tickets here.
The following night, Saturday, May 18th, the band will debut their tribute to Radiohead’s In Rainbows at Somerville, MA’s Thunder Road. Get your tickets to that performance here.