Music Article

Rift

Phish are breaking up, this time for good. The jam quartet will call it quits after their album release and summer tour

Here's Phish's to-do list: 1) Release new studio album, ''Undermind,'' on June 15; 2) Go on tour, wrapping with two-day stand in home state of Vermont on Aug 14-15; 3) Break up. The veteran jam band announced on its website on Tuesday that it's splitting after 21 years. And unlike the hiatus the band took from 2000 to 2002, this time it's permanent.

The announcement came from guitarist Trey Anastasio, who said he and bassist Mike Gordon, keyboardist Page McConnell, and drummer Jon Fishman had decided to wrap Phish before the band jumped the shark. ''Last Friday night, I got together with Mike, Page and Fish to talk openly about the strong feelings I've been having that Phish has run its course and that we should end it now while it's still on a high note,'' Anastasio wrote. ''Once we started talking, it quickly became apparent that the other guys' feelings, while not all the same as mine, were similar in many ways -- most importantly, that we all love and respect Phish and the Phish audience far too much to stand by and allow it to drag on beyond the point of vibrancy and health. We don't want to become caricatures of ourselves, or worse yet, a nostalgia act. By the end of the meeting, we realized that after almost 21 years together we were faced with the opportunity to graciously step away in unison, as a group, united in our friendship and our feelings of gratitude.''

The quartet, which started in a college dorm in Vermont in 1983, became renowned for its intricate improvisations, extensive repertoire, and marathon live shows. Even before Jerry Garcia died in 1995, Phish became the presumptive heir to the Grateful Dead's jam-band crown and fan base. In 2000, the band shocked fans by splitting to work on solo projects, but the foursome reunited two years later. Don't expect a similar reunion announcement this time, however. ''For the sake of clarity, I should say that this is not like the hiatus, which was our last attempt to revitalize ourselves,'' Anastasio wrote on Tuesday. ''We're done.''

Phish's brief summer tour begins June 17 in Brooklyn's Coney Island and concludes two months later in Coventry, Vt. Fans who can't get to see them in person may still catch the tour's opening night, which will be broadcast live in 47 movie theaters across the country, Billboard reports.

Originally posted May 26, 2004
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