Phish Biographer Parke Puterbaugh Speaks

Parke Puterbaugh didn't dodge the tough one during his interview with Relix magazine for the Festival 8 Express. Puterbaugh's Phish: The Biography is due out November 24.

Your situation was somewhat akin to that of Dennis McNally, who was the Grateful Dead’s publicist and then went on to write their biography. Can you talk about any challenges that you may have faced in a similar content, particularly because you may have been privy to info that otherwise might have eluded you had you not been in that position.

I tried to be fair and I tried to keep things in context and I was always guided by the notion that in general terms there are things that are appropriate to include and talk about. I was trying as hard as I could to avoid sensationalizing anything or focusing on too much negativity and the specifics of it because I just think there’s a point at which people are entitled to their privacy.

Also, I think so much of their private lives were taken with music to begin with. I heard over and over from the people who worked around them just how relentlessly they rehearsed and what a preoccupying thing the music was. You can talk about private lives but think for instance, the day Trey flew back after the Shoreline show that began the hiatus, he started working on sheet music for “Guyute.”

I know Trey said something at one point to the effect of, “I thought our scene was transparent. I thought our fans knew everything that was going on.” But I don’t think they necessarily did. For heaven’s sake as much as I was talking with them, I had no clue. When I interviewed Jon about Undermind, I remember he told me, “This is just beginning to reach its potential and we’re going to be around for many years to come…”