Phish, Russell Wilson Unite In Seattle

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Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Phish lead singer Trey Anastasio have collided thanks to a single word. (Otto Greule Jr./Getty;Scott Gries/Getty)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Phish lead singer Trey Anastasio have collided thanks to a single word. (Otto Greule Jr./Getty;Scott Gries/Getty)

On Dec. 2, Seattle Seahawks fans set the world record for the loudest outdoor sports stadium. One of the chants heard at CenturyLink Field that night was, “Willl-sonnn, Willl-sonnn.” Paul Camarata and Chris Weaver were in Seattle that night producing a video for NFL Films titled “Phish and Russell Wilson.” Camarata and Weaver joined Bill Littlefield to discuss the project.

BL: Paul, could you please explain the connection between a rock band formed 30 years ago, the 25-year-old Seahawks quarterback, and that Seattle crowd?

PC: Well, it comes down basically to that one word: Wilson. And they all have divergent origins, and they have collided here. The song’s origin is in the senior thesis of Phish lead singer and guitarist Trey Anastasio. He was at Goddard College, and his senior thesis was a musical called "Gamehendge," and one of the songs was called “Wilson.” So for the last 30 years, as Phish has grown and grown, “Wilson” has become one of their staple, iconic songs. And the opening chant to it, is, I think we can safely say, one of the reasons why.

Trey [Anastasio] pleaded with the fans ... to get this happening in the stadium, and it’s happening.

Chris Weaver, NFL Films

PC: It’s immediate, yeah. As soon as they hear the "double-E," they call it, the E notes, they immediately respond in full throat and kind of help cheer the song into its opening guitar riff.

BL: All right, Chris, so this isn’t one of those cases where an artist is gonna sue over unlicensed use of a song, because it was Phish’s idea to bring it to the stadium, right?

CW: Trey pleaded with the fans, or sold to the fans the notion to get this happening in the stadium, and it’s happening. So I think everybody’s happy.

BL: Now according to a Seahawks fan that you guys interview, not every fan figured out right away what they were supposed to do. 

“It’s gotten better,” she said. “In the beginning people were busy talking, and then they don’t catch the beat, so they’re like ‘Wilson!’"

Chris, are Seahawks fans now experts at the Wilson chant?

CW: Well, I don’t know if they’re experts, but it’s definitely catching on and growing game by game. I believe they started doing this — they experimented with it a little in the preseason, at least that’s our understanding of it, and they’ve been doing it ever since, and I think each time it’s getting bigger and bigger.

[sidebar title="Seattle's Seismically Loud Fans" align="right"]In December, a fumble recovery and touchdown sent Seahawks fans into a frenzy. The roar in Seattle registered as an earthquake.[/sidebar]BL: Paul, Russell Wilson said the chant was “sorta cool,” but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has been a lot more enthusiastic, right?

PC: Yeah, our understanding, and I think it’s pretty well known, he’s a pretty big music fan. And anything that energizes the stadium and sorta helps support the team’s effort to win he seems in support of.

BL: Carroll has coached in lots of places — college and the NFL — but I understand he might have a future as a disc jockey.

PC: Well, I think he likes being involved in, as you see in the piece, sort of the playlist at the stadium. So, I think he understands that the vibe that comes out of that song is not a bad thing.

BL: You’d think that an NFL coach would have enough to worry about without selecting songs to be played in the stadium.

PC: No stone left unturned if it means helping victory, Bill.

BL: Phish drummer Jon Fishman was suitably philosophical about the way Seattle fans have embraced the chant.

“Like many of the things in our existence as a band, I would say it’s born out of a sense of humor,” he told NFL Films. “The idea has snowballed. They take on lives of their own, as this one clearly has.”

So what other ideas are snowballing around the league? I can’t help wondering what would happen if something like this were to happen here in New England? Bill Belichick has such a wonderful sense of humor. I think he’d jump right on it, don’t you?

CW: Well, I think he’s more of a Bon Jovi fan, by the way, so I’m not sure. I know he’s told us before they play “Livin' on a Prayer” at practice. Now, I don’t know if he wants to incorporate that into a crowd chant, but like I said, being an old Jersey guy, and a New York guy, too, I believe, he is a big Bon Jovi fan.

This segment aired on January 11, 2014.


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