Trey Anastasio likes to take measures into his own hands. The renowned singer/songwriter and genre defining guitarist took out his dissatisfaction with the major record label system by turning his passionate creativity into a platform for a business: Rubber Jungle Records, a record label built by Anastasio for Anastasio.
Rubber Jungle's maiden release is BAR 17, an album that continues his evolution as guitarist, songwriter and improvisationalist by creating a kaleidoscopic yet cohesive listening experience. Without the pressure of a multi-national conglomerate peeking over his shoulder, Anastasio was able to be completely himself on BAR 17: hard working, spontaneous and adventurous.
"I felt completely unleashed for the first time while recording," he admits. "For example, the song "Dragonfly" was completely done in real time; it was written and recorded that night as you hear it. Vocals were done from a stream of consciousness. I had nothing written down. I just grabbed the mike and started singing."
Anastasio also cites the album's title track as an example of new sense of freedom in the studio. "Awhile back I did the original version on piano," laughs the guitarist. "Then it disappeared when I recorded SHINE (Anastasio's 2005 release) but it stuck with me as it was and is really the music I wanted to make."
The genesis for what eventually became BAR 17 began three summers ago at The Barn, the former Vermont studio of Anastasio's former band, Phish. Anastasio along with producer Bryce Googin convened at the rustic hilltop retreat shortly after his legendary band's farewell performance. Said Anastasio of the experience, "With a bunch of mikes set up, I just started singing and writing. Alone. For me, since I record a lot, I don't feel like I am making THE album but AN album, it's all a snapshot of what's taking place in my life," says Anastasio.
But unlike looking back at snapshots or reading an old diary, a song continues to create new memories, which lead Anastasio to look back and reflect on his not so distant past for inspiration-- in particular an experience in 2003 with Don Hart of the Nashville Chamber Orchestra. Hart and Anastasio put together the movements for his orchestral "Seis de Mayo" set at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, an experience Anastasio considered a "leap forward" for himself as an artist.
"I always figure you gotta go for it. You can't control the way things turn out but when you have an experience like that, you learn little tricks and skills that manifest themselves in much simpler ways in your life later on. This was one of those experiences for me and it definitely influenced this record."