TBT: Maroon 5’s Thoughts On Phish

Mike Greenhaus on April 23, 2020
TBT: Maroon 5’s Thoughts On Phish

Photo of Levine via Facebook; photo of Anastasio by Peter Wallace

Adam Levine’s recent performance of Phish’s “Divided Sky” on his Instagram story inspired us to look back on an interview published in the Coventry Courier newspaper in 2004: “What Is The Theme Of This Everlasting Spoof? Thoughts On Phish.” In it, Levine and Maroon 5 lead guitarist James Valentine share memories of the band and what they saw as Phish’s legacy. Their answers are reproduced below.

Adam Levine: Maroon 5

What will Phish’s legacy be?

Phish made me want to be a better musician, plain and simple. They taught me so much and I will always consider Trey to be one of my heroes. His playing is just so boundary-less and his sound is so unmistakable. Years ago I would just sit in my car and marvel at how four people could be so fucking connected to each other in a way that I can only aspire to be with my own band. People are always shocked to find out that I’m so into Phish, which I find strange only because I feel like this band has fought so hard to not alienate anyone who’s wanted to join them. I get it. I get Phish and though I’m sad to see them go, I will always have deep respect and such fond memories of the amazing musical feats they reached, some of them right in front of me.

James Valentine: Maroon 5

What’s your favorite live Phish memory?

I saw Phish live for the first time in Lincoln, NE in 1996. It blew my mind. Trey played guitar exactly the way I wanted to. The way he synthesized all of his disparate influences, but still had his down clearly definable sound, was amazing to listen to. Within two notes of hearing him play, you know it’s Trey. How many guitarists have that unique of a sound? After seeing them for the first time, I tried hard to emulate his sound, by playing a hollow body guitar with an Ibanez tube screamer. I was not the only one. I was one of thousands of the Trey wannabe’s that now litter the jamband scene, a testament to his tremendous influence. In fact, after the first time I saw Kara’s Flowers (which would become Maroon 5 after I joined) I met Adam Levine and asked, “You listen to Trey don’t you?”

Trey has the unique gift of developing narratives within his improvisations. He tells very complicated tales within his solos. Trey not only has this lofty imagination, but the skill as a guitarist to execute these ideas. As a musician, being in the crowd in a Phish show inevitably ends up in many moments where you turn to your musician friends with that “what the fuck?” look on your face. However, despite its musical sophistication, it’s amazing that it translates beyond musicians. Actually, it’s not that amazing–everyone gets it because they are so good at what they do.

What will Phish’s legacy be?

Phish has the sense of humor that seems to be missing from most contemporary bands. What I loved about Zappa was that he had no problem letting the humorous aspects of his personality exist in his music alongside his virtuoso musical talent. Most musicians today take themselves way too seriously. Phish carried this torch along to a new generation. Thank god that our tour this summer is crossing with this final tour in Pennsylvania on one of our days off. We will be there in the lot in our tour bus. I can’t wait.