Runaway Gin to Perform First Show in NYC

11192016posterRunaway Gin – a Tribute to Phish, will perform their first show in New York City on Saturday, November 19 at The Highline Ballroom. Featuring two sets, this South Carolina based Phish tribute act will kick things off at 7pm on Saturday, warming up the crowd as they prepare for Phish at Madison Square Garden in just under 46 days. Runaway Gin is Andy Greenberg on guitar, Bobby Hogg on bass, John Fitzgerald on keys and John Pope on drums. Andy talked to NYS Music about the upcoming show, what makes them a unique band, and performing with Holly Bowling this fall.

Pete Mason: This show marks your first in New York City. Where has the band been playing the most and what are your plans for this first show the Big Apple?

Andy Greenberg: We are so glad to finally play in New York. Since we started in 2014 we definitely have played many many shows at the Pour House in Charleston, South Carolina in particular with our weekly Sunday Phunday residency. Beyond that we ventured into North Carolina and then Georgia and Florida as well as Chicago in the summer of 2015 and then up to Washington D.C. Just this past weekend we went to Birmingham, AL and Oxford, MS for the first time. Our only plans for the show are to get weird, have fun, and play our hearts out. I know so many from NYC and surrounding areas from Phish tour and I am ever so excited to play for many of them for the first time! Some places we play we try and keep things a little light on the jams and more “songy.” New York is not one of those places. We are assuming most everyone there is very familiar (and obsessed) with Phish’s music and we want to go ahead and dive in deep right from the get-go without worry of easing into the show.

PM: What was it like playing a sold out show at Hard Rock Chicago after Fare Thee Well in July 2015?
AG: It was incredible. The whole experience was completely surreal. First of all, being in Chicago with Trey playing with the Dead was beyond anything I could verbalize. To see my guitar hero play with many of his musical heroes in such an epic setting certainly had us all feeling very inspired. The crowd’s energy the whole weekend and at our show was absolutely euphoric and we couldn’t help but reflect that back to them. The fact that there were so many people there was overwhelming, in a good way, especially people that I know well and love and people from our hometown. It was a bit of an out-of-body experience up there on stage. Sometimes you just forget where you are and what you are doing and put all your brain-power into just being in the moment. I guess that’s what we always strive for, especially while jamming. That’s how I felt for that show. I walked off stage not remembering much of what just went down – My mind was too occupied with forming memories in those moments.
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PM: Among all the Phish cover bands, what makes Runaway Gin the most unique? What makes you stand out among the rest?
AG: To be honest I’m not really familiar with the other Phish cover bands – not because I don’t want to be – there just aren’t any near us in Charleston. I went to see Phix when I was in college and I’ve seen Pink Talking Fish and become friends with them, although I guess you wouldn’t exactly call them a Phish cover band per se. I can tell you however what we are all about. We try to sound as much like Phish as possible during written sections of songs – I imagine some tributes may put more of their own spin on the written parts. We try to be in the moment and embellish some things from night to night but in a similar way that Phish would deviate from the composition. When it comes to jams we approach them in the same way that I imagine Phish does and has. We don’t learn jams or try to emulate specific versions typically (although we have once or twice) but I’m not sure if other Phish cover bands take this same approach. In terms of setlists, we create our own shows in the same way that Phish would. We don’t play a show that has already occurred like Dark Star Orchestra does. We felt that doing so would take us (and the audience) out of the present moment which I don’t think is authentic to the experience of being at a Phish show. Another thing that is unique about us is – we play all the time. Since 2014 we have played over 200 shows and I think that a big part of Phish’s sound is the chemistry they have developed from playing together so many times. It would be really tough for us to play as we do without playing as often. When we are off for even a week we can all feel the rust – when we play 3-4 nights in a row it typically gets better and better with each show. At least from my perspective.
PM: You’ve recently played a pair of shows with Holly Bowling. How were they and did you collaborate at all during the shows?
AG: We had so much fun sharing the stage with Holly! We did two shows with her the weekend after Dick’s in Charleston and Columbia, SC. It was my first time seeing her live so first of all I was blown away. Piano was my first instrument so I have a very deep connection with what she is doing. I used to sit and transcribe Phish on piano in the earliest stages of my “phandom” and fuse songs together after school for my own amusement. I can’t help but wonder if I had continued playing piano and not switched to guitar in my early teens if I might be doing something in the same vein that Holly is. So the shows were so much fun – really a magical vibe all around! She had the audience in the palm of her hand (you could hear a pin drop during soft sections) and even in tears. Most everyone at the shows, like me, were hearing Holly for the first time and it was such a beautiful thing to facilitate and share in. We did do some collaborating! in Charleston the first night Holly joined us spur of the moment for “Harry Hood” (we chanted “Holly” instead of “Harry”) and again during the encore “Frankenstein” on the keytar. In Columbia for what turned into our “Meat” show Holly joined us for “Also Sprach Zarathustra” and for our first set we closed with “the Squirming Coil” and we brought out Holly’s piano right as we got to the outro section and we walked off stage leaving Fitz and Holly (each on their own pianos) to close the set together with an impromptu piano segment which was stunning to behold!
PM: What else do you have coming up this fall?

AG: After this weekend we are going to be putting on “the Animal Carnival” on Friday, November 25 in our hometown of Charleston. This is also my birthday so it’s basically just a big costume party where everyone is going to dress up like animals and we’re going to play all Phish songs and songs they have covered that reference animals. In December, we are headed to Athens, GA to play legendary Georgia Theater on December 8 and then we play Savannah, GA and Tampa, FL that same weekend. The weekend after that we have our first two-night run in Charlotte, NC at the Rabbit Hole and then on the 30 and 31 of December we will play a two-nighter in Atlanta, GA including a 3-setter for New Years which runs until 2:45 am. This is our first time playing on New Years – I’ve been at Phish every NYE since 2011 and I had to choose between Phish at MSG or at Mayan Riviera. I chose Mexico so that left me open for New Years. We normally don’t play shows when Phish is playing but with MSG tickets being so tough and the weather up there vs. down South I figured we could throw a party nearby for all the phans in the Southeast that couldn’t get tickets or make the trip to New York. So yeah it’s a busy Fall and Winter for us and we’re gonna have some fun!

Saturday show has doors at 6pm and the show starting promptly at 7pm. Check out more info here.