Interview: Pink Talking Fish to Awaken Putnam Den with Concept Show

Concept show artwork created by PTF guitarist Dave Brunyak.
Concept show artwork created by PTF guitarist Dave Brunyak.

In the hustle and bustle of Saratoga Springs, sits a treasured concert venue known as Putnam Den–not only to its show dwellers but to the talent that plays its stage as well. Gurus of blending together a trifecta of Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Phish, Pink Talking Fish plan to put a fresh spin on their faithful covers during next Saturday night’s gig, which they just so happened to save for the Den.

Only preformed once prior in 2016, the hybrid fusion group will unleash their concept show, Dark Side of Gamehendge, on November 19. What exactly is that, you ask? Well, in simplest terms, its two sets of genius. The entire night will be a blanket tribute to Pink Floyd’s prominent and timeless album, Dark Side of the Moon, which still finds its way onto the charts today, as well as Phish’s rock opera, Gamehendge. The two sets combine tunes from each album while Talking Heads favorites will be peppered throughout.

PTF closed out their winter tour in North Carolina with the first and only performance of Dark Side of Gamehendge and referred to it as “quite the journey” on their Facebook page. Judging by the show’s artwork, crafted by PTF’s own Dave Brunyak, let’s take bets if the second journey will bring us to anywhere close land far, far away. See we shall. Doors open at 8pm and Primate Fiasco takes the stage at 9pm followed by Pink Talking Fish shortly after.

Q & A with PTF Guitarist Dave Brunyak:

Alyssa Ladzinski: You’ve only performed this concept show once before while closing out a tour earlier in 2016, what made you want to bring this show back?
Dave Brunyak: There’s something symbiotic about combining Pink Floyd’s iconic “Dark Side of the Moon” with Phish’s grand oeuvre “Gamehendge.”  Both catalogs share elements of the battle between light and darkness and good versus evil. Quests for knowledge, desire for peace, and the race against time are themes universally present in the music.  One informs the other and, by linking the two tales together, they both gain significant emotional gravity.  For instance, in my head I see the Famous Mockingbird flying through the sky as the lyrics “Breathe, breathe in the air” set the opening scene. Below him, Colonel Forbin has just stepped into yesterday and is immediately on the run.  Rutherford the Brave is under the same sun in a relative way, but he’s older and shorter of breath. King Wilson likely owns a football team and his insatiable greed for power is the root of all evil in Gamehendge, so they say. The Helping Friendly Book is what the fighting’s all about and the lizards are just ordinary men.  The deeper you look, the more connections you find.
AL: The Den is a venue you frequent, what made you want to bring the concept show to Putnam Den specifically out of all shows on the fall tour?
DB: The Putnam Den has been a staple for us in recent years and may be our most frequented venue to date.  I think we’ve done a pretty good job making our performances as diverse and entertaining as possible with each visit. That being said, we have to keep pushing the envelope to maintain that cutting edge. Also, Saratoga Springs has an active nightlife scene and people there are lucky to have great choices in entertainment every night.  Bringing back “Dark Side of Gamehendge” for only it’s second exploit is another attempt to raise the bar in a community that demands (and deserves) our finest work.
AL: What do you hope to do differently this time around to set the show apart from the first time you played it in NC?
DB: Well, given the nature of what we’re doing, two-thirds of the songs in the show are predetermined. Choosing the Talking Heads tunes that support the narrative will create the concrete diversity from our first attempt. Executing the composed sections with precision is always a priority, but improvising harmoniously and meaningfully during the jams will inevitably be what makes this performance stand out on it’s own.
AL: If you had to choose one song off of Dark Side and Gamehendge as your favorite to play, what would it be?
DB: Tough one.  Let’s use the deserted island analogy. If I were stranded with a lovely bunch of coconuts and a guitar that would only play two songs, I would choose those two songs to be “The Lizards” from Gamehendge and “Time” from Dark Side of the Moon. Both are pieces with broad movements in texture and they both have those epic guitar moments. Ask me tomorrow and I may have a different answer!
AL: How long did it take you to throw together the Star Wars inspired artwork for the show?
DB: This one came together very naturally.  Take the two words “dark side” out of context and I bet you 99/100 people infer a Star Wars reference. Cloaking the blend of the two albums in a Star Wars theme really brought the whole thing together visually. It took most of one workday to craft the artwork.
AL: I gotta say, I sure hope someone dresses up as a Jedi or a Sith, or at least throws in a Chewbacca or R2D2 loop somewhere. Can we expect any Star Wars treats?
DB: Hey! Ixnay the poilersay!
AL: Who shot first?
DB: Bon Jovi. See “Blaze of Glory.”
AL: Do you plan on introducing innovative concept shows to fans in the future?
DB: Absolutely. We’re due to bring back a Talking Heads-centric concept show.  “A Live One” was the album that really blew me away when I first started listening to Phish, so I’ve been bugging the guys to get that ready.  Our NYE concept “PTF in the Mirror” incorporating Michael Jackson songs is going to rage in Boston!  The concept shows are caveats we’ve employed to bring diversity to the schedule and keep things fresh and we’ve benefited from that.
AL: As a band that covers three huge music phenomenons, what other avenues do you hope to explore to make your live shows different as your careers move forward?
DB: The possibilities are endless! There is still so much ground to cover in the Pink Floyd/Talking Heads/Phish worlds, we could spend the rest of our career digging for gold in those catalogues. Like you said, they are phenomenons, so gold is not hard to find! Right now, I’m working on surrendering to the flow and trusting that, wherever we’re destined to be, we will get there.

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