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Published: 2014/02/07
by Mike Greenhaus

Mike Gordon’s Tiny Little World

You wrote most of the songs on your previous solo albums yourself but you also have a long history of songwriting collaborations, including two albums with Leo Kottke. I heard you even toyed with the idea of releasing Overstep under both your and Scott’s name. How did this project relate to your previous songwriting collaborations?

Well, each collaboration is different. You can look at the Rolling Stones as an example. Mick Jagger is known to be the guy who is always planning, and making lists and organizing and Keith Richards is kind of the guy who goes with the flow a lot. They sometimes clash over that. I feel a little bit like that with Scott. I’m just always over planning and he’s very disciplined but when he can he prefers to go with the flow. So we kind of make a good mix in that way. And I find that every album that I make tends to be in some way a reaction to the previous one. That’s even the case with Phish.

How would you say Overstep is a reaction to Moss ?

I love [2010’s] Moss. There’s something kind of dreamy about it for me. Moss is also sort of stepping in the direction of being a little bit about the song for me, paring down for me as compared with Green Sparrow. So in that sense it wasn’t only a reaction to the previous album but a continuation of simplifying the songs. They could breathe a little more and go in with less of an arrangement. But I think some of it doesn’t stem from the previous album but stems from the live show.

That’s the great thing about being in a band with Scott and then writing with him. We had written a little bit before. There’s this song “Short Circuit” that we wrote which ended up on my benefit album Steamroller Wheelies: A Restoration Convoy. The cool thing is that since we stand on stage together we know what we like to play and there are a lot of different kinds of moods, grooves and emotions that we tend to dabble in just because of the way our personalities are. So it’s really easy to ask ourselves, “Well, what do we want to be standing up on stage and have in the repertoire?” [Laughter.] And for me, I definitely wanted some stuff that’s kind of danceable. Actually, that’s one of my taboo words in talking about the album. But maybe it’s not even the richest word either.

But I wanted to be able to stand up there and be able to sing together with a lot of harmonies and have some really simple, really strong grooves that we can just sink our teeth into. Each of my albums also has sort of a different main instrument. On Green Sparrow, it was the guitar and on Moss it was pedal steel or the bass. A lot of the songs on Moss have interesting bass lines and that’s what they revolve around. But the problem with having bass lines that are so syncopated and intricate is that it is hard to then sing at the same time.

Now, I’ve just been really concentrating on singing, and I just always find that I enjoy having very simple bass lines to sing with. It doesn’t make the bass worse. I think it makes everything better. I think that one of the goals was to have music where the grooves are kind of simpler so we could kind of just rock them out but where it’s not dumb music either—where the arrangements have some sophistication even more than before. So maybe some of the bridge chords are us pushing our limits of moving around the chords and the harmonies and certain beats dropped where it just kind of flows, and it is allowed to be sophisticated but within the context of being much simpler. So that was one of the goals besides just writing and seeing that happens.

Given that you were designing these songs to go hand in hand with the live show, was there a reason you decided to hold off from playing these songs live with your solo band over the last two years besides the two ones you played with Phish this summer [“Yarmouth Road” and “Say Something”]?

Well, at first I had trouble deciding if I should bring any songs to Phish when they weren’t close to being released or done. But I’m glad I did because we had fun with them. The main reason is that I’ve just been busy working on all sorts of projects. I wish I could do things more simultaneously—like being on the road and writing songs, which I’ve done a little bit of recently or working on multiple things. I am a multi-tasker but it just ends up being better if I focus—I can spread myself thin. So by not wanting to play for awhile we were able to concentrate on building up some new material and just focusing on the songwriting. I think that’s kind of the reason for that.

But it is weird not to have played most of these songs before the album comes out. I mean, one definitely could make an argument for playing stuff before recording it, which of course Phish just did. But I like to craft albums like a painting, and I kind of like people to hear the album version first, if possible, and then let the stage version be completely different. I think maybe sometime we will do it the other way around. But I like saying, “Okay, well this is the version that can be crafted in the studio and now let’s see how we can take that and change it radically or let it evolve for the stage.” And that’s fun for me to kind of explore both. If it is the other way around, I kind of worry about it becoming too much arranged for the stage and then maybe I worry it would be kind of harder to do the studio version because I just enjoy them being different kinds of animals.


There are 34 comments associated with this post

Benny Franklin February 14, 2014, 15:29:30

If “Hey JC” left his wife and kids for his love of Phish they should be happy he is gone. I mean really gone.

wookinpunub February 8, 2014, 16:21:09

I stopped reading at the second “bromance”. Scott M is a monster. Mike’s hair is another kind of monster. Many beverages are best served cold so these ‘bros’ might find a cabin with a fridge. Im just trying to help.

Roger Waters February 9, 2014, 22:47:12

Wing suit will change music like the wall or dsotm. It will open at number one on the charts and craft a new course for music as we know it. Phish played their best tour ever by a mile this fall. Trey just nails every song and has written what most will consider to be jagger/Richards Lennon/McCartney level stuff in Waiting All Night and Wombat. 555 truly is The new In the Flesh. What is it like to just lay down the gauntlet 30 years in? To reach your creative peak and Treys playing peak. He even reworks tunes on the fly out of the catalog like that epic type 2 Punch from MSG. Wingsuit is truly the best thing that happened to my life in my 17 years in the tri state.

Monica marry Me February 9, 2014, 23:28:30

Oh yeahhhh Yarmouth road is probably the best reggae dub song since Exodus. It’s been amazing these last few months since Wingsuit. It transcended time and I played that set in my house in repeat for weeks. The mother of my children and wife of 20 years came in and said, Zephyr (my name), “this is the worst thing Phish has ever done. I am embarrassed you call yourself a man and think song like Yarmouth Road and Wombat are remotely good compared to even pedestrian Phish work from the past.” I stood my ground, turned up the music which was 555, and struck her down like a child. I backhanded her pathetic soul relentlessly until she said she liked Wimgsuit. Then I called my lawyer and filed for a divorce because she’s a lying hussy. I’m glad my son saw me stand up for my music. I met his Mom and New Years 1992, but she is a newb and I won’t have a family member who does not recognize the pure genius of 2013 Phish. My kids will thank me.

Um February 10, 2014, 01:23:28

Hey “Roger Waters”,
You don’t know shit. Stop talking about music. Thanks.

Roger Waters February 10, 2014, 10:28:56

Um, you don’t get music. Wingsuit is like Beethoven anyone can get it. When Wombat is on every FM channel in america and there are remixes of it with Jay Z using Phish’s work as a canvass you will get it. I literally only listen to Wingsuit songs now. I skip everything else from AC and MSG. Its the new Phish, the best Phish and the only Phish to me. I simply am concerned once the album drops we won’t even get tickets to stadium gigs. I do listen to the Hartford Fluffhead to be honest quite a bit though, because it’s the best Fluffhead since 1993. It’s by far the tightest version of all time. The Theme from AC might be the best singular Phish song of all time at a show. Bush/Kush yo.

Yarmouth Toad February 10, 2014, 11:51:04

I wonder if Mike is kind of saying Treys writing is bad now, not even Murawski level. Wingsuit is Max Creek level at the best.

elizabeth courtney February 10, 2014, 17:40:36

I’m really looking forward to listening to Overstep and then going to see Mike Gordon Band. I love the direction the band is going. It has been an amazing journey. Riding the raft atop the deep cool river…, through the evolutionary creative genius of Mike.

DrC February 10, 2014, 20:04:44

Many wild comments in this this thread. I will only add that I wish Mike had more input into phish setlists.

Zephyr February 10, 2014, 20:14:11

Bottom line I ended my marriage over Wingsuit. I will get off the dom V charge in he said she said stuff, but I felt justified. Wingsuit changed my life. I am just an actor in the Phish TV show. She got in the way and the kids sadly will learn she has not a good bone in her body. My feelings of love became hate over her comments on 555. How dare she. I paid for her freeloading ass to get to AC. Sometimes if people don’t see it you must force them to see it. I believe my family knows how important Wingsuit has been to all of our lives. Thank you Trey I’m waiting all night for Monica.

Gordeaux February 10, 2014, 22:41:47

I check Mikes hotline every day even if I know it’s down. To me what he’s embarked on creatively through dress, drill or upright bass combine to show us a so,etching not seen since Sir Paul McCartney. I started balling during Yarmouth Road at multiple shows this year. The world made sense again for those four minutes. I even became oddly arroused at the first vocal sounds and I am only attracted to much younger boys. When Mike takes us to new places I feel my inner child again blossoming into a black rose of dark horrific violent death.

btbuckeye February 11, 2014, 12:10:16

Congrats on the new album Mr. Gordon. psyched for the pittsburgh show. Also, I think most of these comments are Phantasy Tour goofs. So…yeah, wingsuit is kind of like DSOTM.

Horatio Gates February 11, 2014, 16:42:09

Sorry Mr. Waters but Phish songs though mainly wonderful, are not in the same league as Jagger/Richards or Lennon/McCartney.

Question February 11, 2014, 19:52:52

What kind of payload you all think Mikes packing in the shorts? A pencil, a stump or a or an unkept, unclipped mini ear of unshucked corn?

Nathan Hale February 11, 2014, 20:46:13

“Question”, Don’t abuse our freedom of speech.

Question February 11, 2014, 23:05:41

Does anyone else hear heavy heavy Jason Mraz accents in Yarmouth Road? It’s uncanny like wordplay. I really like the adult contemporary treck we are all on together. I merely act as an instrument of the band now. I am an idiot savant capable of anything in the name of Phish. They breathed life into my sails at the first lines of Fuego in New Jersey. This summer I will drop my wife and kids at the in laws, leave a grand behind and see them in August. They are trivial now if JEMP calls.

JC February 12, 2014, 11:32:56

I wish all of the Phish fans would stop arguing. It sounds like an argument about religion where no one wins. I like Phish, but you guys make it sound like Phish is your life. I have seen a lot of music in my lifetime, but it is just one piece of my life. You sound like a bunch of college kids. Grow up.

Hey JC February 13, 2014, 22:07:59

You are no Phish fan. I’m 45, and basically left my wife and family because of my dedication to the bands new direction. 2013 Phish essentially is the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s by far their best year. People that say its sloppy missed the message. Trey messes with the crowd now and pretends to flub songs to mess with people like you that can’t be trusted. At the first notes of Wingsuit an angelic figure approached me and handed me a key. In retrospect it was simply a random guy handing me 3 percocets but that’s besides the point. That angel removed me from my family and like the hand of God pointed me to a new direction in life. One where loyalty to that creator who brought me to the angel that is Trey is honored. I have brighter days ahead because of Wingsuit. Say different and just give me a location of where you want to meet and I’ll fly to you. Windorascrub

Dave the slave February 14, 2014, 13:30:47

WOW. Left his wife and kids over Phish. They are the worst band ever. What a loser. Stay strong Phish fans.

JC February 14, 2014, 14:51:12

I think Hey JC is joking, Dave the Slave. He is one of the witty ones. Didn’t take a shower for months and grew a beard at age 15 so he would think that he was a hippie. Trey this, Trey that. There are a lot of good musicians out there. Enjoy the music and stop talking.

TAB Brawl February 15, 2014, 23:34:07

I was at TAB the other night. I love TAB and Jen. A fan had on a shirt that said I am Fuego. A man came up to him and stuck his finger in this guys chest and asked if that was referring to the new Phish song. The guy kind of brah’d out and slapped a hug on this guy indicating of course it was about the new Phish song. The other guy all of a sudden took great offense. He pushed the kid in the shirt. The kid came back in for the obligatory make up Phishhead hug and was welcomed by an elbow in the face. It sounded like a Tony bass Bomb in Sand. The kid, clearly dazed, fell to the ground. The angry guy looked around with foam seeping from his mouth said, “anybody else like the Winsuit songs?” He then immediately turned to the dazed guy, who was getting up, and launched a field goal kick right in his face. Blood flew like a Hood extended glow stick war. The guy walked out of the venue untouched and left. The kid in the Fuego shirt was gurneed out while bleeding missing a few teeth. To say the least their was some creative tension in the air.

Ogden fight February 16, 2014, 01:54:53

Yeah man we were digging deep at the Ogden and these guys were on something just boooooing Trey all night. This Security guy spoke to one on his way to get a brew and apparently got nowhere. So they keep booing and one guy is screaming Obcenties at Trey. My buddy approached one and asked them to chill. This guy just laughed and put his cigarette out on my friends forehead and spit in his face. He goes, “you newb go listen to some of that new Phish bullsh$t.” I ran over to defend my friend and he immediately lifted his shirt and was packing a glock 9. I thought about moving for his gun and finishing him, but thought better. It got out of hand when my buddy got arrested for punching the guys girlfriend while his head was burnt. She dropped like a straight flush. I thought we were gonna get shot but the guy just laughed and proceeded to urinate on me while people watchd. It was kind of cool in the lights show. And itt was hot in our area. We label it the hot piss Ogden Jam.

Safety at side projects February 16, 2014, 02:01:09

Things sound altered on the road. The energy isn’t cosmic, the art is fraud and the natives are restless. We are yet the chameleons of color who soon have not to show a deeper understanding of Wingsuit. As mere palms rather than songs we are left to have more faith than belief. The thing we have all loved has yet become thy thief.

Yeah Mike February 16, 2014, 10:42:04

Is he like the best bass player ever or what. He has supple lips and big thumbs while his voice is comparable to an opera singer. If anybody starts what I read above about TAB when I am at Mikes shows they will learn. I am going to four shows, so my eyes will be wide open. Mike to be is pretty much as important as a being that sits between man and God. He is a bridge for God to communicate with us through his bass and singing. If someone gets in the way of that mid show I will not know what to do. I am sure you guys understand. I was a Golden Gloves runner up in Baltimore. I try to keep these lunch pails harnessed. You come between me and God and the Sherpa Mike will release my hounds.

hey yeah Mike February 16, 2014, 10:55:30

We understand. It seems like shows are getting a little more caustic. At times I feel like perhaps you are safer at shows in Conceal Carry states? Nonetheless, seeing most of the shows in the New York area I have noticed a pickup in distaste for the new Phish work and a violent reaction. I certainly understand your position, and do not think you should hold back your aggression. If someone even looks at you, it is possible danger will ensue. You are probably better off just taking them out immediately and moving on the next one. Do not take a chance, just start the devastation. Tech lessons to people.

Kids? February 16, 2014, 18:01:22

Do not take shots at Hey JC for leaving his kids. It wasn’t long ago I found myself confused and on Phish tour in the late 90’s. 1996 fall to be quite exact. There were quite a few kind people on that run as we explored new land that fall. The fact that we ended up at the LA Forum, well that was sublime. Unfortunately that was toward the tail end of what was a long Summer and Fall Season. I had been pretty active on the road and really don’t believe that protection should even be legal when it comes to my partners. It turns out we were pretty much living off a clean batch of Pyramids and Gel Tabs with a generous helping of whiskey from our mercantilism. I had a memory issue from the Summer and slept in lots of different tents, apparently where I littered the lawn with my own grass seed. I remember my friends telling me that multiple dank mammas were looking for me. It’s been rough financially since then with 3 different Child support payments. I do my best to avoid paying those leaches. I have changed my name and moved, yet they seem to have a beat on me. Sometimes it’s just better to leave the kids behind to fend for themselves.

Wingsuit RULES! February 17, 2014, 18:05:29

Fuego is an example of just how tight these guys have remained. That Wingsuit set kicked ALL EARTHLY ASS! I bet God even smiled and turned the volume up! May Phish rock on forever…..and by the way who is jagger/Richards anyway….?

You go Zephyr February 17, 2014, 18:38:15

Wingsuit will be HUGE when it’s released. You old duffers need to drop that Lennon/McCartney Bullshit and listen to what they both only wished they could produce. Jagger/Richards don’t EVEN stand up to what my New England boys have brought to the audio eateries table. Watch out world… Phish is only getting started (again)!

John Hancock February 19, 2014, 16:30:55

These comments seem like people suffering from delusional disorder symptoms.

Well to be fair February 21, 2014, 01:57:35

John some of us have been on cloud nine out of body since the opening nights notes from set two at boardwalk. The announcement of a summer tour with these songs I think is slightly more anticipated than the birth of my twin daughters even.. They don’t change much from year to year, but there is only one year of the first developments of these sonnets Trey constructed from pure brawn and genius. My wife is by the book and that set moved her so much we left the twins at home a night alone to go the third night. Cleveland is a ways and the sitter was only good til that morning. The kids slept in the bathtub so when we got home we immediately played Bathtub Gin for our daughters. I made it to every show on TAB tour and have tickets to every show on Mikes tour. It isn’t that bad since I sell copiers cold calling offices so it works for deep tour. I feel like if you don’t realize Trey laid down his Houses of the Holy with the Wingsuit songs, you don’t understand music or art.. This will be in the top five albums in sales in history. Thriller, Another Brick in The Wall, Cheap Trick Boudakan Winsuit, Led Zepplin 4, Revolver. I think after a couple years go by this will reflect global acceptance of a new form of music that God graced us with on 10/31/13. THANK YOU LORD

Clive Bigsby February 21, 2014, 11:49:19

Is it just me, or cannot I not tell the sarcasm in some of these comments. I maybe wrong. Great effort from Mike, a solid CD. Loved Wingsuit, and can’t wait to hear the final product. Can’t wait to see Mike out on the road with either his solo band or Phish!

MikeisGod February 25, 2014, 15:36:20

Marco I started crying hysterically at your post. Wingsuit is as important as the St James Bible in my mind. It will take a year or two to be in everyones head, but it will heal you just the same. I’m sitting here looking at tickets to 23 of Mike’s shows for which I am going on tour. This is life man. Nothing else matters, Mike is touring and getting his own pulpit for many nights. I really think you should hit some of the shows to change your Chakra. When I turned forty last summer, I resigned myself to the fact that I was no longer a follower of God. I believe in the power of JEMP. I am not going to miss the opportunity to see these men in any setting. What if right now you knew you could have listened to Nelson Mandela in a room of 500 but chose not to? What if you could have seen Jimi Hendrix but you chose not to? What if you had a head shot at Bin Laden and you chose not to? Mike is that type of archetype. He will be viewed as a mythical leader in 50 years. I would not miss my chance at seeing this generations Mandela, so I am going to see him 23 times this tour. I’m Fuego!

Marco Polo Esquandolas February 25, 2014, 13:55:07

Wombat is the most embarrassing shit Phish has ever played.

Fuego February 25, 2014, 17:31:58

The band was supposed to kick out an album by April based off Wingsuit. It looks like the producer in Nashville told them to get real, and come up with some actual work to present professionally. Wingsuit is a tragic disaster by my favorite band. I do enjoy seeing heads new and old pretend to like it to be Jimmy Phishead to the max, but seriously you need to get a life. Phish laid down an egg in AC. An embarrassing display of ego and a fall tour full of flubs and a few good Carini’s and the Reading DWD. Trey call Tom Marshall pal, Wingsuit is a mess. No wonder Mike is going on a huge tour, then coming back for that Summer money. If they take a break again after this year it will be hysterical to see all the Wingsuit people who pretend that it’s nothing more than some new bad tunes. 2013 certainly was a very depressing year for the band, but people at least seem to be insecure enough to need to like songs like Wombat.

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