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« on: October 30, 2007, 10:03:01 AM »

Page McConnell of Phish

By Michael Gallant | March, 2005


Page McConnell is a polymath keyboardist, a monster player whose musical voice is equally fluent in delicate jazz-inspired piano and with hard-grooving Hammond action. For their farewell tour, he will join Phishmates Trey Anastasio (guitar), Mike Gordon (bass), and Jon Fishman (drums) to play across the country. \"Pa




Page McConnell is a polymath keyboardist, a monster player whose musical voice is equally fluent in delicate jazz-inspired piano and with hard-grooving Hammond action. For their farewell tour, he will join Phishmates Trey Anastasio (guitar), Mike Gordon (bass), and Jon Fishman (drums) to play across the country.

\"Page is a vintage player,\" says McConnell's tech Kevin Brown, a veteran keyboard doctor who has also supervised rigs for Tom Petty and Elton John. Central to Page's road setup is an acoustic grand piano: \"I play a Yamaha C7,\" he says. \"It has a nice bright rock sound and it's very roadworthy and solid. It holds its tuning very well out there.\" Adjusted by Brown three times per gig - fresh upon arrival in a new location, after soundcheck, and between the band's often marathon sets - the C7 broadcasts Page's licks and harmonies through a custom-built Helpinstill pickup.

Also central to Page's rig is a Hammond B-3, overhauled and maintained by Goff Professional. \"Both Al and his nephew Dave have been great throughout the years,\" he says. \"They worked on it, fine-tuned it, hot-rodded it.\" The main modification the Goffs performed, according to Brown, was an overhaul of the amplifier, replacing the original tube wiring with a more roadworthy solid-state setup.

With Phish's great success comes the great temptation to tour with too many keyboards. McConnell told Keyboard , \"I tried being surrounded on four sides, but it becomes really difficult to play,\" he says. \"I don't want to be dominated by my rig.\" Instead, Page judiciously augments his road setup with a Fender Rhodes (through a Maestro phase shifter), an Alesis Andromeda synth, and a Hohner Clavinet D6 run through a bevy of effects: a Crybaby Wah-Wah, a Boss distortion and delay, and Digitech Whammy pedals. The crowning jewel of Page's rig, though, is a Yamaha CS-60 analog synth. \"I think of it as one of my signature sounds,\" he says. \"I find it user-friendly, I like the tuning ribbon, and it has a very warm, unique sound to it.\"

A collector as well as a player, Page has a home stash that includes a Moog Theremin, a Moog Source, and a Chamberlin. Several of Page's pieces have stories attached: \"[The Theremin] arrived within the last week of recording Billy Breathes . I was out there every day trying to run scales with my Theremin instructional video. It's a piece of work - if anyone can really play that, they know what they're doing.\" Even more intriguing is the mammoth, creaky Chamberlin that set itself on fire during the recording of the same album.

For Phish's latest and last official studio album, Undermind , Page added to his collection and continued a tradition: \"I allow myself to buy one or two keyboards before each album,\" he admits. A few tunes on the new record feature recent acquisitions: Hohner Organettes, which are small keyboards that sound like harmoniums or melodicas.

Undermind is an impressive synthesis of styles and flavors. From Page's spirited, gospel-infused piano feature \"Army of One\" to the soaring, extended jam of \"A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing,\" the tunes on Undermind display the characteristics that have made Phish stand out for over 20 years: overflowing creativity, unparalleled versatility, and deep-running, ever-grooving soul. Undermind has a noteworthy freshness that Page attributes largely to producer Tchad Blake: \"There's a certain roughness to it. [Tchad] likes it to sound like the band just sat down and started playing.\"

Live Phish is one thing, but canned Phish could be another; how does the band's improvisational energy translate into the recording studio? \"A live show is a live show and an album is an album,\" says Page. \"They're different experiences that are meant to be experienced in their own ways.\" While the medium may vary, the message is the same. \"What people want more than anything else is to see us enjoying ourselves, being ourselves, and having fun.\" And it has indeed been fun. \"We've been together for over 20 years and we've had such a good time. But it's all about appreciating it and knowing when to stop. This has been a very rare, unique, phenomenon. We're incredibly lucky to have been a part of it.\"
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« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2007, 10:03:41 AM »

but canned Phish could be another; how does the band's improvisational energy translate into the recording studio? \"A live show is a live show and an album is an album,\" says Page. \"They're different experiences that are meant to be experienced in their own ways.\" While the medium may vary, the message is the same. \"What people want more than anything else is to see us enjoying ourselves, being ourselves, and having fun.\" And it has indeed been fun. \"We've been together for over 20 years and we've had such a good time. But it's all about appreciating it and knowing when to stop. This has been a very rare, unique, phenomenon. We're incredibly lucky to have been a part of it.\"
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