“I’d let everyone down, which was my worst nightmare ever,” Antastasio tells David Fricke. “[Phish keyboardist] Page [McConnell] pulled me aside and said, ‘For 20 years, I’ve had 100 percent faith that you would lead us onstage, and it’s always made me feel good. For the first time, I’m not so sure I feel that anymore.”
Recalling his downward spiral, Anastasio says, “The first time I tried cocaine, I fell asleep . . . There was always drinking, pot, psychedelics. I’m sure there was a lot of self-medicating, self-discovery going on. Once that line was crossed, it sucked all the life out of the music and relationships.”
At the band’s 2004 farewell concert in Coventry, Vermont, Anastasio actually appeared to be nodding off onstage, but things only got worse from there. In December of 2006, he was pulled over for erratic driving in upstate New York. Police caught him with prescription drugs, including Percocet and Xanax that weren’t in his name. He was forced to spend 14 months of limited-mobility treatment and community service that included scrubbing toilets and cleaning fairgrounds.
“I spent 24 hours a day thinking about nothing but Phish,” Anastasio says of his rehabilitation. “Then the next thing you know you wake up in a jail cell with a guard in a blue suit standing outside – a Phish fan saying, ‘Dude, oh, my God, this is so weird.’ I said, ‘Yeah, it’s weird. Go away now.'”
Since then, Anastasio has made a full recovery. “I fucking hate drugs. I really do,” he says. He reunited with Phish in 2009, released a new solo LP, Traveler, last month, and is at work on the upcoming Broadway musical, Hands on a Hardbody.
“Trey’s work ethic is unbelievable,” says Phish drummer Jon Fishman. “He’s not dabbling. He’s pushing himself hard. He always says, ‘Fish practices more than anyone else in the band.’ Well, he’s written for orchestras. I’d better practice my drums.”