Trey Anastasio Biography

Ernest Joseph Anastasio III, 30 September 1964, Fort Worth, Texas, USA. Anastasio is widely regarded as one of the finest guitarists to emerge from the American rock scene in the latter part of the twenty-first century. He is best known for his work with the highly successful US jam band Phish, for which he was both the guitarist and the main songwriter.

Anastasio was already recording with Phish by the time he graduated from the ‘free school’ Goddard College in 1988. During this period he struck up an important association with composer Ernie Stires, working with the older man on composition and arranging. Anastasio’s charts were central to Phish’s early work, but their impact lessened as the band began to evolve into a highly efficient improvisational unit. Anastasio was able to give free rein to his more avant garde urges on 1996’s Surrender To The Air, an experimental recording that leant heavily towards free jazz and saw the artist working in a big band format. Other musicians on the album included Marc Ribot (guitar), John Medeski (organ), Marshall Allen (saxophone) and Bob Gullotti (drums). Two albums of demos and song sketches were also released during this period.

Phish was put on temporary hiatus in October 2000, leaving Anastasio free to indulge himself in solo work and collaborative projects. He worked with his mentor Stires and teamed up with bass player Les Claypool of Primus and drummer Stewart Copeland to record an album under the Oysterhead moniker. During this period he also worked with his own trio, featuring Russ Lawton and Tony Markellis, a line-up that was subsequently expanded in live settings to include up to 10 members. Anastasio’s self-titled debut for Elektra Records was released in spring 2002 and struck a largely successful balance between the discordant experimentation of his earlier demo recordings and a more structured approach. The 2004 follow-up, Seis De Mayo, featured fully orchestrated versions of some older material, an approach that did not endear Anastasio to critics enamoured of the previous album.

During this period Anastasio had rejoined Phish to complete two new studio albums before they finally disbanded for good in 2004. Anastasio formed his own 70 Volt Parade Band (later the Trey Anastasio Band) and completed a new studio collection, 2005’s Shine. This excellent release saw Anastasio tackling straightforward pop/rock, and was full of sparkling melodies with not a jam in sight. The first release on Anastasio’s Rubber Jungle Records label, Bar 17, followed in 2006.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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