Phil Lesh on Recording New Music: 'What's the Point?'
Phil Lesh and Bob Weir are in their fourth year of touring with their latest post-Grateful Dead aggregate, Furthur. And as far as Lesh is concerned, the road is where Furthur belongs, so don't expect to see the sextet in the recording studio soon -- or any time at all.
"Nobody's mentioned it to me, and certainly it's not anything I'm interested in doing," the bassist tells Billboard.com. "What's the point? Nobody makes money on recordings anymore -- a least the likes of us don't. And the longer I'm in music the less time I like the idea of freezing music in amber so that it's the same every time you play it back. I want it to be different every time, so I'm just not into recording, particularly."
Given that philosophy, then, it's not surprising that Lesh isn't impressed that 2012 marks the 45th anniversary of the Dead's self-titled debut album. "I don't really look at the past in terms of albums," he explains. "I'm grateful it lasted as long as it did in its original form, or something close to that, and I'm also grateful for the fact that the music was strong enough to be able to continue using it as repertoire and expand it in kind of unforeseen directions. And I'm certainly grateful for all the Deadheads who have loved the music and supported it all these years. And, of course, there's a younger generation that's coming in that's clearly too young to have ever seen Jerry (Garcia), so there's something there as well."
And Lesh says he and Weir are comfortable that, with Furthur -- which includes members of Weir's RatDog and the Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra -- they're offering Deadheads new and old an authentic experience.
"It's been a very interesting development," he notes. "It's to the point where we can play pretty smoothly together. Basically it started because Bob and I realized how much we enjoy playing together; we figured why don't we just play together if it's that much fun. We pulled these guys in and started playing, and it seems to have worked out. I'm enjoying it. It's always an adventure. It's not like I have to worry about it becoming boring; I never know what's going to happen, and that's what I live for, anyway."
Furthur's summer tour wrapped on Wednesday July 18, but a three-week fall jaunt begins Sept. 22-23 at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver. Lesh, meanwhile, continues to oversee his successful Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, Calif., a performance space and bar modeled after the late Levon Helm's barn in Woodstock, N.Y., that hosts regular shows and all-star, Ramble-style events.