Before Phish kicked off last summer's tour, Mike Gordon was unsure about introducing some of his new songs onstage. "They weren't even finished yet," says the bassist. But he was relieved in Saratoga Springs, New York, when the band nailed "Yarmouth Road," his endearing, reggae-steeped groove about an emotional rift. "I'm glad I did," he adds. "Phish has been having a lot of fun with them."
"Yarmouth Road," will be released on Gordon's fourth solo album, Overstep, due February 25th. Gordon wrote the LP on weekend retreats throughout New England with his longtime collaborator, guitarist Scott Murawski, who also plays in Max Creek. The duo visited towns including Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire, where they wrote on a boat, and North Adams, Massachusetts, where they spent a day at the MASS MoCA museum writing poems based on paintings. On each trip, they brought along lots of experimental equipment. "We had a toy drumset, little pocket gizmos, backpacking guitars," says Gordon.
The duo interviewed several producers before hitting the studio with producer Paul Q. Kolderie (Radiohead, the Pixies, Warren Zevon). "We wanted to find someone that would appreciate what was kind of quirky about it but also what was trying to be a little more fun-oriented than I had been in the past," says Gordon. "It's not an album of long jams or anything like that. I like to be kind of song-y on albums and let certain things extend."
"Yarmouth Road" was completed in South Boston, inspired by a walk through a building owned by Gordon's uncle – an old oil distillery-turned-artists' building featuring honeycomb-shaped ceiling sculptures. The final piece of the song was incorporating the "Banshee" pedal, a modern version of the talk box popularized by Peter Frampton. "It just pushed it over the edge," says Gordon.
Gordon will play the new material on a tour – with a band including Murawski (guitar), Craig Myers (percussion), Tom Cleary (keyboards) and Todd Isler (drums) – kicking off February 28th at Syracuse, New York's Wescott Theatre and wrapping April 6th at Burlington, Vermont's Higher Ground.