Tuesday 06/28/2022 by phishnet

INTERVIEW OF CHRIS KURODA, DEC. 5, 1995, BY DEAN BUDNICK

One of the many exciting aspects of the week before Phish tour is hearing news about the crew technical rehearsal; where they are, what they’re working on, and especially what Chris Kuroda’s new light rig will look like. As Lighting Director for Phish (a position which also incorporates the role of Lighting Designer), Kuroda has been continually innovative with both available technology and presentation, making the band’s lighting an integral part of the Phish concert experience. Dean Budnick (author of The Phishing Manual and erstwhile Editor-in-Chief of jambands.com, now part of the Relix Media Group) conducted an interview with Kuroda toward the end of the marathon Fall 1995 tour, offering an intriguing glimpse into Life on the Road with Phish. Budnick subsequently posted the interview text to the Usenet newsgroup rec.music.phish, but the interview has not been republished on this site until now. Please enjoy this trip down memory lane, as we look forward to more dazzling lights on Summer Tour!

- Matt Schrag aka @kipmat

[Dean Budnick is the editor-in-chief of Relix and has reported on the live entertainment industry for Billboard, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. He directed the documentary Wetlands Preserved: The Story of An Activist Rock Club, which opened nationally before airing on the Sundance Channel. He also is the creator and host of the Long May They Run podcast, which reached #1 on the Apple Music Podcast charts, and he has written many books, including Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped, and a forthcoming book with Peter Shapiro, The Music Never Stops: What Putting On 10,000 Shows Has Taught Me About Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Magic, https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/peter-shapiro/the-music-never-stops/9780306845185/.]

Interview with Chris Kuroda 12/5/95

From: budnick@fas.harvard.edu (Dean Budnick)

Newsgroups: rec.music.phish

Organization: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Okay, here's the text of my interview with Chris. I hope you find it as interesting as I did. This interview took place around 5:00 on December 5th, before the second night of the Mullins Center run.

BTW, after the show Chris told me that he had forgotten to say one thing that was really bugging him. He's asking everyone to stop bringing laser pens to the shows and to discourage your friends from doing so. I noticed one on Trey's guitar on Saturday and people have been shining them up at the chessboard as well. On with the interview....

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DB- I know this was in the newsletter a while ago, but you started with the band in 1989?

CK- March of 89.

DB- And how did that come about?

CK- Well, I was a fan. Seeing them play at Nectar's, that whole thing. The basement of Slade Hall which was a dormitory, those were pretty much the only gigs that were going on. And I was trying to play guitar, I was in a band myself and I wanted to get better so I wanted to take lessons from Trey who in the area in my opinion was the best guitar player going. So he agreed to give my guitar lessons and while I was taking guitar lessons, two or three weeks hardly at all, he asked me if I knew anyone who wanted to carry some gear for twenty bucks because they were sick of carrying it and wanted to find someone to do it. So I said "Know someone? I'll do it, sure." So I started helping set stuff up and carrying this and that. It was myself, Paul (Languedoc) and they had a lighting guy, he wasn't really a lighting guy, they had a friend named Tim Rogers and they had eight little lights, really small they were teeny little 300 watt lights and they had this teeny little light board, very small, about twelve inches by four inches.

They'd had an ad in the paper for someone to do lights and various people came in and no one was very good at it or no one could make the commitment. So then this guy doing it, his name was Chris Steck. So I was carrying gear, Paul was pretty much doing everything and Chris Steck was there just learning how to do the lighting thing. And I guess they weren't very pleased with him and he didn't have rhythm - that was the main thing I remember if I think back. And one day at a gig, the Stone Church, New Hampshire he had to pee. He was pounding beers before and he had to pee during the gig. So he asked me if I would sit in - I remember this like it was yesterday - just sit in for him while he was gone. And I said, "Well, sure, I guess so." So I sat in and it was Mockingbird, the song was Mockingbird. And afterwards Trey came up to him and said "I finally really liked something that you did tonight and it was in Mockingbird." And I thought to myself, “Hmmm”. So afterwards, on the side, I went up to Trey and said "I just wanted you to know that he stepped out and I was doing that." So the following weekend there was another show and Trey called me up that Thursday and said "the other guy's not going to be coming," - they hadn't told me that they fired him - "so you're going to have to do it." And I said "I don't know how to do it, I don't even know how to set it up." And he said "Well, you know we'll all figure out how to set it up together." And that was March thirtieth eighty-nine. I've been running lights for the band ever since.

DB- So up to that point you pretty much had no technical lighting experience...

CK- I’m self-taught. But over the years I've learned an incredible amount of technical information. I know it cold now but I never went to school for it. It’s all been hands-on experience.

DB- Do you have a favorite song to do lights to?

CK- There's no one favorite, it switches back and forth. For years it was Reba because it took so much effort to perfect for me so that once I finally got it down because there are all kinds of parts to it, there's the whole worked out section, there's the 8/9, 5/8, 7/5 part which is the strobe flash part, there's just all these different things going on, there's a lot of weird time changes and stuff and I enjoy a challenge like that, to learn a song like that. Like Guyute I loved a lot because it was also that kind of challenge. But at the same time I get off most on songs like Bowie and Antelope, they're fun.

DB- Since you mentioned strobes, do you ever have to clear it with the band in order to do a strobe to a particular song?

CK- It used to be that there were designated strobe songs. But one day there was a Possum and it just went around, it was getting huger and huger and it went around and I had blown my wad, I had nothing left and he was going around again so I just strobed it and it was magical. That's when I realized that I had that extra gear that I never really realized.

DB- Do you know when that was, the date of that Possum?

CK- Not off the top of my head. I wish I could.

DB- Did anyone in the band ever say, "don't put any red on me" or anything like that?

CK- No. I have free reign.

DB- Going back, do you have a favorite song?

CK- You know, there are so many songs and I go through phases. Right now, you know it's funny, [Theme From The] Bottom and Billy Breathes are my favorites right now. Bottom, I think Bottom is just destined for greatness.

DB- How about your favorite new song to do lights to?

CK- I'm enjoying Free a lot, that's one that really stands out in my mind. Down with Disease was fun at first. That was an interesting thing because I'd never run lights to most of the songs on that album. So I listened to that album a thousand and ten times, went to band practice constantly, knew it cold in my sleep and still you have to do it at least fifteen times before it starts happening correctly. You think in your head you can do it but to actually run it and execute and stuff, you have to do it, no matter how much you think you know it.

June 1995

DB- How about last summer, like at SPAC Down with Disease > Free when they really took it out there, you're just making it up as you go along?

CK- I'm just making it up as I go along.

DB- You're improvising up there?

CK- All the time. People ask me, “Isn't the light show all programmed?” It's not. We just work on the fly. Everything's done on the fly. How could you not work on the fly with this band? There are so many acts out there who play the same songs in the same order every night, in the same exact time, they have a click track and the L.D. [Lighting Director] just programs the whole show and all he does is hit the same button that says go all night. It's so boring. It's impossible to do that with Phish, it could never be done.

DB- Are any of the sequences preprogrammed?

CK- I have all kinds of little things preprogrammed like there are a lot of chases that are pre-programmed. You have to pre-program, that's the only way to do it. That's stuff where you'll have a big picture, and the color theme is all the same, you've seen it a million times during the quiet sections. That's created and then I just grab it when I want it and put it in the spot when I think it belongs there.

DB- You talked about the Hoist stuff; do you rehearse with the band before a tour?

CK- For like a day in our tech rehearsals, but no, not really.

DB- So before the Flynn last year?

CK- I was cold.

DB- So what are you thinking about during, say, a sick Antelope jam?

CK- I don't know, I'm just jamming. Not only that, but when it's over I can't even tell you what I just called to those guys. I'm in a zone, that's the only way I can describe it. It's an out of body experience in a sense, I'm a different human being. I don't know what I'm thinking or where I am, it just happens. That's the only way I can describe it, it's weird. And when it's done, it's draining because I'm mentally depleted every night. When a Phish show is over my brain is jello. I'm spacey, I can't concentrate on anything.

DB- I've heard the band say that at times they cue from you.

CK- They've said it. I think it would be a bold statement for me to say "definitely, oh yeah" but I think it happens sometimes. I know they get lost and I help them find One again. Or they get lost and I'm not lost and I make a change where it belongs and they catch up, that type of thing. But more often than not I'm the one who's catching up with them. (laughs) So it's nice to say that I cause that to happen but really they help me most of the time.

DB- How does the band communicate with you from the stage?

CK- Verbally, they just talk to me from the stage whenever they really want something that isn't going to happen normally. Or the language. When they do "D'oh" I gotta go "D'oh." It's not always the easiest to listen and pick that up. There are a lot of musical cues to me that no one would ever know that tell me that something's about to happen. Like in Maze when Trey's doing his jam I get a little hint that it's going to be four more counts until "BAH-BAH", you know what I mean? That's real subtle and real hard to catch. Sometimes he doesn't even do it, I just have to guess.

DB- Do you ever get mesmerized by your own work or by the band?

CK- Occasionally, because we're doing everything on the fly all the time. A lot of it turns out cool but some of it I'm just "Wow, why didn't I do that before." Something will totally kill me that's a total improv. And the band, too. When the band is playing well I'm always impressed. Also when the band plays well, it's a lot easier to light them. When they get flustered it becomes a lot harder because it's harder for them.

DB- How much variance is there between what you do for each song from show to show?

CK- I'd say, depending on the song, lots. I mean some songs turn out different every time. Some songs are done pretty much the same every time. Not many, but there are a couple.

DB- How about Sparkle?

CK- Always the same, pretty much. Sample In A Jar, pretty much always the same. The same concept always in lighting the song, there might be a different look between here and there but there will always be the same change here, lights will be doing that there, type of thing.

DB- Do you use colors for particular feels or emotions?

CK- Most certainly. The entire show is based on mood in my opinion. You always see a nice cool pleasant look at the beginning of the Harry guitar solo, you won't see bright orange-red, hot. Speaking of Harry, before we had the strobes, the part where I normally strobe now in Harry, something like that would have been red, hot. Antelope jams are red but Reba jams start out nice and blue. That kind of thing. I'm very particular about trying to put the right mood out there for everything that goes on on-stage, in my opinion.

DB- From tour to tour do your ideas change on how to light a particular song?

CK- Certainly. I'll light a song a certain way and then find certain things as tours go on. I'll find weak spots and come up with ways to augment them to make them stronger. Now I have a third lighting system to add stuff in.

DB- Do you try to set a different ambience for the first and second set? Or between say the first and last song of a show?

CK- I try. But the show is a fast moving show so it's often hard to think about making changes. Sometimes I fall back into what I'm used to. They mix it up though so you never know what song is going to be in what set so it's difficult to separate it by sets. Yet I still try. I'm always thinking that way. I try to be a lot more tame in the first half, if possible but then I'll get a first set that's Antelope, this that and the other thing. It's hard to be tame to Maze. But overall I try, I do attempt it.

DB- Do you have a favorite venue?

CK- I really liked Blossom, and Hampton, I loved Hampton.

DB- Had you ever been to Hampton before?

CK- I saw millions of Dead shows at Hampton. Eighty-three, eighty-four, eighty-five, that era. I was there for the Box in eighty-six. Stuff like that.

DB- Any other venues from this tour that stand out to you?

CK- Nothing's really killed me in the way of venues. Hershey was an extremely appealing room in general. It didn't sound so good but it looked great in there. I like the dingy old rooms because the lights breathe real nice in rooms like that.

DB- Do you have a favorite show?

CK- I do. It was at the Front in eighty-nine and I can't remember the date but I have the tape. That was the show that put me over the edge. If anybody's looking for the tape, it's got Sloth into Possum. And its got a Mike's Song from hell. Yeah, the end of side A is Sloth into Possum. The first song on side B is Mike's. And the set starts with a jazz tune, just some random jazz tune.

DB- Is there any night of this tour that really struck you as your favorite?

CK- It's hard for me to remember what was what but I had a great night with the last Tweezer that they just played. That night the jam in that I thought was just stellar so I like that show {editorial comment: take that you 12/2/95 bashers, you- get the tape and don't miss out on the stellar audience chess move by, ahem, Dean Budnick}. I liked Madison Square Garden last year a lot.

DB- A lot of people I know were disappointed with that show.

CK- I know. It's funny. It's hard for me to formulate a musical opinion of the show as I often base a good show on my night, as compared with the band's night. So it's difficult to listen with that head-frame; “do I like this musically or not” as opposed to working the songs. But regardless of that there are some shows that you realize are stellar.

DB- Do you throw on tapes when you're at home?

CK- Most of the tapes that I have are oldies. So I used to do that. But also now I find that it's not helpful because they don't play half the songs the way they used to, or they don't play half the songs anyway. So no, not really. And the last time that I actually listened to Phish to practice was the Hoist album for that tour. Even though I go to band practice, one time I taped band practice for Theme From The Bottom and the few new tunes that came out at the benefit show.

DB- I noticed at the benefit show {5/16/95 if you're scoring at home} that Paul had a set list. Do you see lists before a show?

CK- On occasions the band writes setlists. A lot of times they write what are called reference sheets- thirty songs on a piece of paper and they might do any one of these, which is no help. A set list is no help because the band will literally sit in there for an hour and a half in their dressing room and formulate a set list, think about it, how they want the show to go, what would go good after this, then walk on stage and not play a single tune, not one. They won't even open with the first song, so it's pointless.

DB- Does that drive you crazy?

CK- It doesn't drive me crazy because even when they write a set list I don't look at it, I hear one note, and I know what's going on. It would take me longer to look than to realize what's happening.

DB- If they're going to play something different like Shaggy Dog, do they let you know or do you just fill it in? Like if they were to play Brother tonight?

CK- I would just light it up. I know every single song they play, so cold that it doesn't matter what they play.

DB- And when Fishman played that Bette Midler song {Wind Beneath My Wings}?

CK- I was ready for it. (laughs) Barely.

DB- Those of us taping right behind you last night noticed that a new guy came out to run one of the lighting boards and he seemed a bit confused.

CK- I always have the same guy there but what happened was his wife was ill and had to go to the hospital. When we swapped guys last night the guy who came on had never done it before and if you're an operator, you won't be any good to me until you've done a hundred shows with me. Because I call a show different than anybody in the business, and that’s because the band plays different than anybody in the business. I don't just say "next...next...next" I say "set this up-no wait, no, they're doing this, quick". You gotta know what I'm thinking and he hadn't done it before so we didn't get very much accomplished.

DB- So are you constantly giving out orders?

CK- Constantly. What I do is call the light cues for the show. I run my board and then the guys on either side of me, the only way to describe it is they're brainless robots, they're listening and doing whatever I say- "set this up, stand-by, go, maybe this color, maybe that color, set this cue up but instead I want you to make it look like this instead of the way it's built." They just push the buttons I'm telling them to push.

DB- How long have the guys who run the other two boards been with you?

CK- One of the guys has been with me for years- Mark Vincent and he knows me cold. But the guy who's on the Vari-lites, his name is Skee, he had never operated for me until last tour and I'd say he's just getting there now.

DB- How about the fog machine, do you run that?

CK- I call the fog. For Mike's Song and stuff like that. They're on headsets backstage. Everybody's tied into me, behind the stage, my operators, everybody. We also have these mineral oil diffusers; they're actually good for your health, believe it or not. That's the stuff, the haze coming up from behind the stage, kind of like steam? That's mineral oil. And we got those because they make the lights look better and we wanted to remain healthy. That's why we didn't go with some toxic crap. The mineral oil diffusers send mineral oil into the air. Even though you can see it from far away, it dissipates. It just makes the air a little denser. It helps the lights stay crisp.

DB- How long have you had those?

CK- About three tours. We only learned about their existence about three tours ago, and I immediately said we've got to get them, right away.

DB- And the fog, you just call that?

CK- Yup. That's from a smoke machine. I only use it for Mike's and Great Gig.

1995

DB- I've heard that you've had offers from other bands?

CK- I have. The Dead offered me a job on three separate occasions. Not to be the designer but to help out. As a kid I always thought, “Wow, what a great thing that would be”, but I had to turn them down because this is where I live.

DB- Any other offers?

CK- Well, ELO asked me to do stuff for a stadium tour that I had to turn down just because I didn't like the type of lights they were using, a lot of laser-type stuff that I'm not familiar with, I didn't think I would be qualified enough for the job. That was about four years ago, something like that.

DB- Anything else?

CK- I went and ran lights for Tito Puente in 100,000 seat stadiums in Columbia, South America for a couple of weeks once and that was just the greatest thing. That was about two years ago.

DB- How did that come about?

CK- I used to work with a lighting company in New York City just a little bit on the side, called Prism Lights, they're just a little company, and they're friends of mine. This tour was going out and they happened to be friends with the sound company that was doing the sound for this Tito Puente tour and somehow they needed a designer because Tito's guy couldn't make it. So my name came up and they called me up and asked me to do it and I jumped at the opportunity. And I went down to Madison Square Garden to watch a salsa show to get a feel. And this guy there, in a suit and tie running lights, everybody's telling me that he's the world's most famous lighting designer from South America, that he's just a god. And I watched this guy's show, and thought it was awful. He just pounded the buttons all night and didn't care about a thing. And I thought to myself, “I think I can do better than this”, so I disregarded everything I saw from him and basically I went to South America and did what I call Phish lights to Tito Puente. And the music's pretty simple so I would guess and be right on timing a lot, and I would do slow house audience sweeps at big moments and they just loved it, they'd never seen anything like it because it wasn't just some guy pounding buttons.

DB- Back to the Dead for a second: I remember reading an interview with Candace Brightman {lighting designer for the Grateful Dead}-

CK- I read that. I love Candace Brightman. Candace Brightman is my hero. She improvs, she has a beautiful eye, she creates beautiful pictures and I really have a lot of respect for that and she's just a sweetheart of a woman. She’s sweet, nice, willing to help you out. We've become kind of good friends over the past few years and I can't say enough wonderful things about her.

DB- I remember she said that when the Dead weren't touring that she tries to see other light shows.

CK- She's come to see us three times and she just loves it.

DB- Cool. Uhh, here's something different. On this tape from the Colorado run in April 1990, Trey mentions from the stage that you are looking for a date and Fishman starts saying "Sexy lights, sexy lights." I suppose my question is...

CK- I got the date.

DB- That was the question. {Thank you Joe Rioux}.

CK- (laughs). Yup. She was actually a friend but she chose that opportunity to get to know me better.

DB- Back to the old newsletters: I remember they used to have the results of sports competitions.

CK- Band versus crew.

DB- Does that go on anymore?

CK- It does. It's rare. There are a lot of people. We're organizing a hockey game right now, band versus crew hockey. And band versus crew Tetris is always a favorite. (laughs). We used to play football on the beach and the crew used to crush them all the time. So the band of course forced us to play hockey because Trey's a great hockey player and John Paluska, our manager, is a great hockey player. So we were out there basically falling down, toes pointed in at each other and these guys were just having a field day with us. The whole reason was that we beat them so many times at football they just couldn't take it anymore. We've done bowling too.

DB- I remember reading about bowling. I think one of the teams won more strings but the other team knocked down more pins.

CK- Yeah well we would win but somehow they would find some weird way to say that we didn't. It's that old saying, the boss is always right. (laughs) No, but you know, they don't behave that way. They'll lose gracefully if they lose. They're actually a bunch of talented guys much more than music goes. Like Fish is pretty athletic, Trey's very athletic. Fish is a great pool player, Page isn't so bad himself. Parlor sports or any day to day type thing they're not losers, you know what I mean? They can do it all, it's kind of cool.

DB- Again, I remember from the profile in the newsletter something about lights melting and you bouncing on trampolines. Did that really happen?

CK- It's a true story. It was at 23 East Cabaret in the Philly area. Paul used to tie my power in everyday to power up the light show, and he tied into 220 instead of 110 so he fried the light show, just fried the dimmer rack. The lights themselves were okay so the band said, “Why don't you light one light at a time? Take the lights off the light rig, plug them into the wall and slowly throughout the night build a lighting collage”. I didn't want to do that but I didn't have a choice, something had to happen. So I started building my lighting collage, putting lights on the piano but it wasn't really working out so they said just do stuff, whatever. Trey was doing his trampoline solo and then in the end when he got off I got on the trampoline and held the light over him for his guitar solo and I was bouncing up and down. It was just a night I don't like to remember that much.

DB- Do you recall any other nights like that?

CK- There was one night in Buffalo, New York at Nietzsche's a long time ago where the same thing happened, the light show got fried again, tied into 220 but that night we just did no light show.

DB- Any other similar moments?

CK- Things break all the time. I remember the Mann Music Center a couple of years ago we lost two out of three lighting systems and the one that was left was not meant to light the band, it was meant to do a few other things and that was all I had and boy, that was just an awful night. It was huge, sold-out and I was just wigging, I was freaking out.

DB- Now that you're videotaping the band, do you feel that there's more pressure on you?

CK- Yes, it's a personal thing. The quality of the video is so good that the band can now see what their light show really looks like from the audience perspective. It doesn't read that well on video but you get a better idea anyway. For the first week I felt pressure, now I've forgotten about it really. In fact I enjoy going and looking at the monitor during the show to see what my lights are looking like. I tilt my head over and have a couple of glances, sometimes.

DB- Do you ever look back at shows?

CK- I try as often as I can to review my work. The last few days I've been watching Great Woods stuff from last summer and I've learned a lot from that. Lighting for video and lighting for audience is very different. You need different color temperatures and stuff. Plus I like to watch a show where I totally stunk, to rub it in so I won't stink next time.

DB- Can you think of a recent show where you stunk?

CK- Hershey (laughs). My timing was way off. Things just weren't clicking, it just wasn't happening. On certain days I get up there and call a storm of a show and on other days I'll sit there and can't think of what cue to call next. In general, when I say stink, I'm my worst critic, so it was probably okay, it was good, but not to me. There have been some great ones on this tour by my standards. Los Angeles came off like a charm...Fort Worth I liked a lot, lighting-wise. The two Austin shows, loved them. That was the whole arena rig in a club (laughs). I loved it.

DB- How does your work differ in that setting?

CK- In an arena I'll have all three lighting systems hot at once. In a situation like that I'll bounce back and forth from system to system. Do a look on this system, do a cross-fade to a look on another system, do some huge bang on a third system. Do some blending but keep it minimal. I like that kind of stuff. I like being as subtle and tasteful as I can.

DB- How about Halloween?

CK- I liked it. I enjoyed it a lot. I felt a lot better about what I did than the previous year with the White Album. I was kind of nervous with the White Album and didn't do too much lighting. Quadrophenia was another one I listened to a million times, drilled it in my head. We actually practiced Quadrophenia; the Beatles thing was never played live before. But we practiced it in an empty arena and I got to play around so I was ready for that. I always feel better when I'm ready.

DB- How long does it take to set up?

CK- Getting here at 9:00 AM, we're ready to do a show by 5:00. The riggers come in at nine and they set all the points because it's math, measured, everything is exact. And then the lighting crew comes in and they build the light show and it goes up and then the sound crew comes in and they build the sound system and it goes up. Then I come in and update everything because you have to update everything every day because the position is going to be a little off from where it was yesterday. And then Paul comes in and he tweaks the room, and then there’s soundcheck, and then about 5:00 we're ready to go, barring any problems. There are often problems.

DB- So what's the usual procedure in moving from city to city when you don't have a day off, say from Niagara Falls to Cleveland later this week?

CK- What happens is we'll pack up all the gear from one show, load it into the truck and drive to the next show. The crew stays on the buses, everybody's got bunks so then we wake up at the venue, go in, take a shower. There's breakfast, we have catering and then about 9:00 the rigger starts making marks on the ground.

DB- How many people do you have working with you?

CK- I have a crew of seven that just does lighting.

DB- How has that changed over the years?

CK- Well, back in the day when it was just Paul [Languedoc] and Peter [Schall] and myself, or Paul and myself if you want to go that far back, we drove, we set up the stage, we built the light show, built the sound, did the show, broke it down, packed it up and drove. All by ourselves. Which was a nightmare back then but it's obviously all paid off now.

DB- What was the first big venue jump that you remember?

CK- It's funny, we were just talking about this the other night. We were trying to remember what room we played where we said "wow, now something's happening." For me, along the way there were a few, but the big one that I remember just knocking my socks off was New Years at Worcester Memorial Auditorium, a 4,000 seat room. That was the debut of the new Minkin at the time. And it was just "Wow, this place is huge." I was in there about a year ago for some business reason and it looked like a little club.

DB- Do you prefer having the Minkin backdrop?

CK- I prefer having no backdrop. I liked the backdrop when I had it and it was very tough to get rid of and I wasn't sure but now that it's gone I'm very happy. I felt and the band felt, actually they felt more than me, it was their observation before mine, that it was pulling the focus of the audience away from the stage. People were looking up at the backdrop while key things were going on, on stage. It was very distracting and we all wanted to bring that focus back. I also wanted to make the light show as pure as possible.

DB- Back to venues: is it hard to make the transition from Compton Terrace to Will Rogers Auditorium?

CK- It is. It drives me nuts. It's hard because you're always adapting. You just can't fit a huge light show in a small room so you have to break it down, take parts out, squish it. But everything's planned out, cable lengths are exact, all cables are bundled together, every break-out from a cable is exactly as long as it needs to be, so when you start taking pieces away or changing shapes, now the cables don't reach. Also, lights remember where they're supposed to be from night to night but now light number one which is over here not over here, it's idea of where Page is, is going to be at the ceiling. And the amount of updating... we're updating until the doors open, sometimes even while people are inside we're trying to get it going. But it's worth it. You go through all this hell all day and by the time the show's going on and you look around and everybody's having a great time you get a feeling of satisfaction. “Okay, it was worth going through that hell”.

DB- Do people often come up to you after the show and say "Hey, great job"?

CK- I often get compliments and I appreciate every single one.

DB- Back to the beginning: you started out by asking Trey for guitar lessons. Do you still play?

CK- I hang out and play. I was in a band once and it was great and I would do it again. But you know, to be honest with you my whole life is absorbed in this. When I'm home I'm still working Phish. If I have six months off maybe two of those months will actually be time off. The rest will be planning the design for the new light show, designing it and then making a thousand phone calls a day for four months talking to all these people organizing the whole deal: personnel, gear, money, prices, everything. It's a lot. There's a lot to do.

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There you have it, from your ace cub reporter. Cool stuff. And if you dig Chris's thing and you're down on the floor AFTER a show, it couldn't hurt to walk by and share your appreciation with him. I sure have. - Dean Budnick

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Comments

, comment by FunkyCFunkyDo
FunkyCFunkyDo Always fun to see (read) the band's history. Thanks @kipmat.
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