Page McConnell made his first solo album with a little help from his friends -- which will come as a delight to Phish fans.

Page McConnell made his first solo album with a little help from his friends -- which will come as a delight to Phish fans.

Among the players on the "Page McConnell," due tomorrow (April 17) via Legacy, are all three of the keyboardist's former Phish mates -- guitarist Trey Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon and drummer John Fishman, who was also part of McConnell's band at the most recent moe.down festival. And even though Phish ceased working as a group in 2004, McConnell tells Billboard.com that "a comfort level for me in working with these guys" made it fully appropriate to use them on the album.

"We're all still friends," McConnell notes. "I was really happy to have them play on it, and I don't want to try to over-analyze it too much or figure out what it means or says. The feeling for me was just some friends helping me out more than anything else. I think it speaks to the maturity and the depth of the friendship that we share and the bond we have that we're still able to work together beyond (Phish)."

So should we even ask about the R (reunion) word? "Certainly people ask me that," McConnell says with a laugh. "I always say the same thing; I do hope some day that happens. I love those guys. I think it would be too bad if we didn't play together again some time. But I don't see it happening any time soon."

Besides, McConnell -- who also expects to reunite his other band, Vida Blue, someday -- has plenty on his plate with the new album. After a couple of May dates in his home base of Burlington, Vt., and in Boston, he hits the road in earnest on June 1, with a quintet that includes multi-instrumentalist and "Page McConnell" co-producer Jared Slomoff. Besides the album's nine songs, the repertoire will include some new material McConnell has written, plus covers, a Vida Blue track or two and "maybe" something from the Phish catalog.

"It's been a good part of the process of putting some distance between myself and Phish -- and I don't mean that in a negative way," McConnell explains. "Just getting perspective and identifying myself as someone other than Page from Phish, just as Page McConnell, this project has helped me with that. I'm really happy to be in this place."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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