The following was first published on the weekendwook.com (Wook-Blog 1.0) on 5/8/17...
Here is a list of 50 things we learned (or were reminded of) during Tom Marshall's first ever Q&A session on Under the Scales. If you haven't already listened to this incredible episode, you can do so here:
1. Tom first realized Phish was going to be big after Lawn Boy came out. That’s when he first saw the crowds “start to grow”.
2. Tom recalls seeing Phish early on at Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill North Carolina.
3. Every time he saw Phish, they seemed to double in size. “It was like the piece of rice on a chess board.”
4. Of their early work, Tom likes the complex lyrical pieces (including Fee, Reba, and Esther).
5. Pebbles and Marbles is about Tom’s daughter and is his common response to many questions (i.e.: what’s your favorite song you’ve ever written?) He is tired of always answering with that though.
6. Walls of the Cave was written for Tom’s son and is not about the World Trade Center (as Trey seems to believe it is). Tom admits that his “mind frame” was most likely because of 9/11, which had just happened. Both Pebbles and Marbles and Walls of the Cave are intensely personal to Tom.
7. Tom follows @ItsMiceHole (Misheard Phish Lyrics) on Twitter.
8. There is frequently a disconnect between Tom’s intention for a song, and how the fans end up interpreting them.
9. Sample in a Jar is essentially about reducing a relationship down to a clinical scientific experiment (not abortion).
10. Free is more about killing someone and less about becoming free from the womb during birth. (Note to self… do not go on a cruise with Tom).
11. Tom was severely sick with Mono for three weeks when he wrote Down with Disease.
12. Tom’s mom is Swedish.
13. Buffalo Bill has now taken on its correct meaning as of late with the current political climate.
14. Buffalo Bill is based on a story that took place when Tom worked at Educational Testing Service (ETS) involving his repressive British “bed-checking” boss and a lunch excursion to look for grey-horned owls.
15. Tom loves predatory birds such as vultures, falcons, hawks, and owls.
16. “Looking for owls?” did not get Tom out of trouble with his boss.
17. Tom will release his tax returns when he is elected!
18. Tom has always had a day job and considers his writing as an extra. He would do it for free and never expected to support his family with it.
19. Tom has been known to text full poems to his friends.
20. If a song hits number one on the British pop charts, you get a Lamborghini
21. Tom believes that, although they love it, it is highly unlikely that Phish will ever “look back” and perform a pure Gamehenge set.
22. That said, Tom would “geek out” if they ever did (as would we).
23. Tom and friends received VIP treatment at a Lake Tahoe Phish show, which included a high-roller suite behind the back bleachers. They didn’t realize at first that the food and drinks were free, but took advantage of it when they did.
24. Trey texted Tom minutes before that Tahoe show to find out what he wanted to hear. Among other songs, Tom requested Camel Walk (for a girl in front of him), which Phish then played with (3 minutes later).
25. That girl now goes by Camel Walk (but not because of the way she walks).
26. Scott Grey (aka 6-22-94) was the primary agitator behind the Ross Compressor fiasco.
27. “And when the moment comes” is engraved on Trey’s new fan bought Ross Compressor.
28. Scott and Tom first connected via Amfibian’s MySpace page (to set up getting Trey the compressor).
29. Scott also arranged for the trampolines that Phish used during the ’09 Hampton YEM to be a gift from the fans (as a symbolic gesture of returning the trampolines that were disassembled during Coventry). The idea was that the trampolines would be handed up from the crowd… but an unnamed assailant back stage screwed it all up.
30. Tom wrote some of his lyrics while working in a cube as a computer programmer for AT&T. Tom was a “cube surfer” (aka a “Weekend Wook”).
31. Some of these songs (including Squirming Coil and Cavern) resulted from back and forth electronic discourse (inner office e-mail) with a senior colleague – Scott Herman.
32. Scott also wrote part of Lawn Boy… but Trey didn’t care for that half of the song.
33. Tom did not know what the system he worked on at AT&T did. He felt as though it wouldn’t matter if he came to work or now.
34. Tom’s poems have three stages of life: First birth… Tom creates it for himself. Second birth… Trey makes it into a song. Third birth… Phish adopts the song.
35. For this reason, Tom still writes for himself.
36. On writing trips, Tom both brings lyrics and creates lyrics spontaneously during the session.
37. Writing trips with Trey always include “limited” 8-track demos and listening parties.
38. They limit the number of tracks to keep things moving.
39. Since starting the podcast, Tom has begun e-mailing mp3s of musical ideas to Trey.
40. The last song Tom e-mailed Trey (at the time this episode was recorded) was inspired by “The Secret Lives of Trees”.
41. Trey has an incredible memory for lyrics and LOVES new territory.
42. Winter Queen and Frost were written “on the spot” during a writing session.
43. Trey is very patient with Tom when creating music.
44. The music for Farmhouse came from Tom recording Trey “testing” the equipment prior to a writing session. The lyrics are based on a note that the cleaning lady had left them, which Tom read to “test” the mics.
45. Tom still has the original note that Farmhouse is based on.
46. He may consider selling it on e-bay (if he can find it). Expected bidding to range somewhere between $15 and $1700.
47. Aaron Woolf wrote Wilson with Tom as well as Golgi Apparatus (on his own). He is also known for his documentary entitled King Corn.
48. No one has listened to the inaugural Under the Scales Episode (00): Let’s Take a Ride.
49. Tom would pray aloud to a “spirit” while at Princeton Day School to help him through the tumultuous time.
50. At PDS, Tom met Phil (now the head of amphibians for Maine’s park services) and the two became best friends. Of their many shared firsts, both Tom and Phil tried weed for the first time together. One time at a party, after smoking a bit too much, Phil told Tom that he was his spirit. This happened several times (or so Tom claims…Phil denies it), and ultimately lead to The Story of the Ghost.
So there it is! I hoped this serves as a handy summary of the Q&A sessions. Please keep in mind that I have paraphrased quite a bit hear and you really need to listen to the episode to get the full experience. Until next time.