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Ex-Phish Frontman On Drugs, Rehab And Being The ‘Ringleader Of People’s Good Time’

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“Did drugs diminish your skills or did you just do more drugs when you knew your skills were gone?”

It was one of the few questions Trey Anastasio didn’t answer Wednesday at a sold-out Kaufman Concert Hall at the 92nd Street Y. The ex-Phish guitarist and New York City resident opened up in a candid conversation with Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis about rehab, his drug bust while driving in upstate New York and how the band’s breakup and subsequent years outside of the traveling Phish bubble led to his downward spiral.

DeCurtis opened the interview with a druggy ice breaker: “It’s good to see you without a series of numbers across your chest.”

Anastasio, in a brown suit and short haircut — considerably less disheveled than Phish fans are used to — laughed and squirmed in his chair for the bulk of the interview (favorite thing about living in New York: “I love not having to drive”) but there were plenty of reflective, serious moments.

“When I left Phish, left that community, I had to deal with a process of isolation,” Anastasio said of his addiction to prescription pain killers. At his arrest, he said, “I thanked the arresting officer … I needed help, honestly.”

Anastasio spoke of losing a grip on his role as the “ringleader of people’s good time.”

“I knew I was betraying this gift,” he added.

Anastasio said he wasn’t allowed an iPod during his stint in rehab. “I didn’t know what to do with myself.”

He also sounded more optimistic about getting the band back together than he has in the three years since Phish disbanded. “If I find myself standing onstage with those guys, I’ll be the happiest person in the room.”

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