Most intimidating fans
With Phil there’s not usually a written, repeated bass line but more of an approach or philosophy that drives his choices. The one thing I’m gonna do is try to play as gently as possible when I feel compelled to copy him.
Billy told me that he purposely wanted to play the opposite of conventional bass so that means it’s like the negative of a photo. That means downbeats, heavy grooves, tons of bottom, are gonna be totally elusive. He’s one of two people that I find impossible to copy. There’s a real delicate side to the Dead that I connect with from jazz recordings and some other acoustic music.
I was first called by Matt Busch, [Bob] Weir’s personal manager. I was told that I was being considered for the chair but that there were other bassists that they were looking at too.
When my wife and I were in New Orleans for Jazzfest, a picture got leaked of [Phish bassist] Mike Gordon with [John] Mayer at Weir’s studio. I think it would have been easier if I hadn’t become a fan yet.
You don’t want to copy the original guy but you feel obligated to honor what bass melodies the founding bass player crafted for the song.
It’s even harder in the case of the Dead though because with [the Allman Brothers’] Berry Oakley there’s usually a specific bass line that he wrote that you can play in the verses and choruses, so you can play that and then in the jams you totally do your own thing.
We were like, “Oh well...” Then a few weeks later we got another call from Matt Busch. After playing with [Bill] Kreutzmann and Scott Murawski in BK3, I was much more familiar with the music and had my own favorites.
When I would hear the Dead in passing, which was frequently, my ear was way more tuned to it. My wife plays Grateful Dead music around the house a lot. I had become a fan by the time I went into those jams, so I was a lot more nervous.
Gregg [Allman] approaches his solos totally differently from the guitar players.Besides, Weir, Kreutzmann and Mickey don’t want me to play like Phil.I’m pretty damn sure that Phil doesn’t want me to either. I’m going to try to be as empathetic as possible while being as authentic as possible. Grateful Dead Concerts Made Million, Set Record for Biggest Music PPV Event Ever Have you ever performed with John Mayer?Grateful Dead Weekend in Chicago: How Many People Were Arrested for Marijuana Infractions?What are your favorite Grateful Dead songs and which ones are you most looking forward to performing live? “Birdsong,” “Estimated Prophet,” “Help on the Way/Slipknot,” “Eyes Of The World,” “Bertha,” “Sugaree,” “Althea” and on and on.