Talking Sound & Style
with Phish's Mike Gordon
We have our fair share of Phish fans here at Leon, so when the firm System Integrators in Bridport, Vt., reached out to us about getting some custom speakers made for the band’s bassist, Mike Gordon, we were pretty excited (to say the least). We were lucky enough to sit down with him to get his thoughts.
You were one of the first people to get a pair of our brand new Timbre SEVEN Series speakers. How are you liking your Leons? What makes them stand out from speakers you’ve had in the past?
Mike Gordon: I am loving my Leon speakers. The great thing is that they’re not huge…but they sound huge, which is exactly what I wanted. I wanted them to fit into a small space but to project and to have the oomph of huge speakers. I’m used to standing on stage with giant speakers and I wanted to create an experience that’s larger-than-life-sounding…and that’s what I got here. When people come into the house, the speakers are one of the first things that I show off, not just because they light up, but because the sound is so impressive. They’re very accurate-sounding while also having a lot of power and warmth. To get something this small that just rocks and has a delicate accuracy to it is rare.
At Leon, our vision is to mix art with audio and design with technology. While sound is always our priority, style is just as important. How did you customize your speakers to match your space?
I am very picky in making aesthetic decisions—whether it’s a couch or a chair or a speaker, it’s just really important for me to get every detail right, because if I’m going to be living with something and looking at it every day, I want to feel like it’s symbiotic with the environment. The cypress hardwood finish was picked out to match the surrounding wood of the bookshelf—and it also might have resonated because of Phish’s history playing the Big Cypress Reservation in Florida in 1999. The grill cloth was designed to be more muted and a little cooler compared to the warmth of the wood around it, and then I’ve got the adjustable colors around the outside. It was great to be able to customize the size so they would fit perfectly where I wanted to put them, and also great to choose all of the materials and colors.
I remember the day they came, and before we put them in the shelves, I just was staring at them on the floor and thinking, “Do we really have to tuck these in?” I want people to be able to see the sides and the ends, because, wow…what a piece of American craftsmanship.
How do you listen to music at home? Do you have a dedicated listening room or is music streaming throughout?
The way I listen to music is constantly changing because it has a lot to do with what I’m creating musically. A lot of the time I’m listening to my own music and maybe I need to pick which shows to release, or I’ve written some new songs, or done a new collaboration…or maybe some friends are over and I’m just blasting music. But these speakers were put in the center of the house where everyone hangs out and they just shoot right across the central area, so I might be in other parts of the house doing things, but this is where the music happens, so this is where we put the Leons.
What’s the first track you played to try out your Leons?
The first album that I listened to when I got the system is Apache by Aaron Neville, and with that New Orleans, heavily grooving music you get a lot of nice low end, and with Aaron Neville’s falsetto, you get the high end, the full spectrum. I remember I had my Phish bandmates over because we were rehearsing, and I had my own band over, and then we had some friends over, and then a few different dinner parties, and it was always that album first.
What’s up next for you and the band in 2018? R&R or back on the road?
I’m still kind of rocking my OGOGO album which came out a few months ago and touring for that. I’m also doing festivals and there are a lot of buns in the oven because I’m writing and doing things with Leo Kottke and doing more with Scott Murawski for my own music and my own band, and some other stuff. Maybe I’ll dabble in movies again at some point, too.