During a break from recording his first album since his band Phish called it quits, guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio received some sage advice from Bruce Springsteen: “As soon as you become celebrated for something, that’s the point where it becomes crystallized,” the Boss said. “And that’s when you have to change.”
For Springsteen, change meant busting up the E Street Band and shedding his image as “the guy who wrote about girls and cars.” For Anastasio, it is leaving Phishville, charting a new course and dealing with the backlash and anger caused by the breakup of a monster touring machine that grossed $187 million from 1991 to 2004, according to Billboard Boxscore.
The changes were swift. “I turned 40, handed in my last record to Elektra and closed the Phish offices,” he says. “That was kind of rough. I got a new manager, a new band, and I moved.”
Following the final Phish concert at the Coventry festival in Vermont in 2004, Anastasio began writing “furiously.” After aborting sessions at his Barn studio with producer Bryce Goggin, he took up with a second producer. Those were ditched too. Backpack in tow, Anastasio headed to Atlanta to work with Brendan O’Brien, who produced some of his favorite albums, like Springsteen’s “The Rising.” Two months later they completed “Shine,” a collection of concise, uplifting pop songs due this week from Columbia.
“In your heart you feel like you’re doing the right thing, because, ultimately, honesty is your gift to these people who are willing to listen to your music,” he says. “Changing is part of that. You’ve got to change, and that’s hard.”