Recently, lead guitarist Trey Anastasio took part in a documentary film by Stevan Cantor called “Between Myself and My Mind” that offered an in-depth look at the band’s creative process, Anastasio’s personal life, and the camaraderie within the band as they embark on various projects.
10 Witnessed The Recording Of “Ghosts Of The Forest”
Not only is the phrase “Ghosts of the Forest” a reference to elk, but it’s also the name of the new song cycle/tour that Anastasio is seen working on throughout the whole documentary. The cycle stems from Anastasio’s processing of the cancer diagnosis and eventual death of his old friend, Chris Cottrell.
In an interview with Rolling Stones, Anastasio reveals that a lot of the emotion came from spending time with Chris during his last days, as well as reflecting on other family members that he’d lost.
9 Demonstrates An Historic Moment
One of the band’s projects covered in the documentary is their preparation for their “Baker’s Dozen” tour, which involves thirteen consecutive shows at Madison Square Gardens… without repeating any songs! About their project, Anastasio comments that “you know, most bands do a similar show every night, so, my head is kind of exploding with the whole thing. It’s exciting.”
As a part of the project, they also plan to turn Madison Square Garden into a massive pirate ship on New Years’ Eve while singing their newly dusted-off tune “Soul Planet.”
8 Composition Is A Slow Process
There is a misguided idea that musical composition is easy and that it doesn’t take much time, but Anastasio makes it very clear that composition is no cakewalk! In the documentary, he mentions that “when I’m at the piano, all I do is compose, which is very slow.”
However, he mentions that he very much enjoys composing because “you can see how all the chords layout!” He adds that, when Phish was first getting on its feet, he believed that he would just be composing, not be participating in an actual rock band!
7 Creative Process Is Extremely Personal
The creative process is the backbone of a musician’s craft and, according to Anastasio, it’s a very deep and personal thing. In the documentary, he mentions that he suddenly became a lot more open about putting his personal life into songs. He compares it to a floodgate that won’t close.
He has since written songs about deceased family members or wanting to get different perspectives from his loved ones about life. He makes it clear that his songwriting is a constant journey towards the truth.
6 A Down-To-Earth Rock N’ Roll Star
Throughout the film, viewers are hard-pressed to call Trey Anastasio your average “rock and roll star.” He currently lives a very idyllic life in the Green Mountains of Vermont with his wife of 25 years. His special recording studio takes center stage throughout the documentary as he surrounds himself with instruments and writes his songs.
He also doesn’t look like a stereotypical rock star with his glasses, simple sweaters, and child-like smiles. He is always excited about music and genuinely loves what he does.
5 A Rare Insight Into The Band
Famous bands rarely open up their creatives spaces for cameras for fans and other viewers to have a look inside, but Phish decided to make one of the very few exceptions for Steven Cantor. Anastasio mentioned that he was impressed by Cantor’s idea and welcomed them in.
They only allowed cameras to follow them once, which was for the Todd Phillips film Bittersweet Motel. In the case of Between Me and Myself, Anastasio commented that “it was a good year. It was an interesting year in the Phish world.”
4 Cantor’s Ideas For The Project
Steven Cantor reveals that he and Jamie Schutz worked very hard to make the film appealing to hard-core and casual fans alike. Cantor’s focus was on making “a film for non-fans to engage with: the artistry of the guy onscreen, to care about him as a person.”
Schutz makes comparisons to The Grateful Dead in terms of cultural appreciation, saying that they”are a quote-unquote jam band.” He adds that, although casual music fans may not get exposed to Phish, it is very impressive how the band has managed to cement itself in music culture.
3 Deep Revelations
Besides the revelation about Chris’ cancer diagnosis and his influence on Anastasio’s songwriting, the documentary also delves into his past with addiction. Shortly after Phish disbanded in the early 2000s, Anastasio became addicted to drugs and was eventually arrested for possession. In the film, his wife, Sue Stainsir, actually admits that she thought that he was going to die.
She is also honest about how she used drinking to cope with social anxiety and Anastasio’s life on the road. But, when asked if she ever regretted marrying him, she adamantly denies any regrets.
2 A Special Fan Interaction
In an interview with Steven Cantor, it is revealed that, as a part of his sobriety practice, Anastasio doesn’t stay after shows to interact with fans. However, in the film, there is a very emotional moment in which he runs into a fan who had just decided to get sober, and Anastasio is very supportive in speaking with him.
According to Cantor, it was a very real moment. They only decided to include the clip after the fact so that had to “go through a painstaking process to find out who the guy was.”
1 It Takes A Village!
When they say that it takes a village to raise a child, in the case of this documentary, it takes a village to make one! The crew is quite extensive, including twelve executive producers and one producer. The cinematographer is Johnny St. Ours, who has been involved in many other documentary films, including Dirty John, The Dirty Truth, and What Will Become Of Us.
One of the producers, Jamie Schutz, is an Emmy award winner and has done work on Survivor, Satori, and Step.
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