Phil Vincent is very prolific, this being his twentieth solo album, plus he has been in various bands/projects through the years including D’Ercole, Legion and Tragik. Although Phil plays and produces all of the music on here, he is joined by guest guitarists Paul Sabu, David Zychek, Vince O’Regan (Legion), Pete Cox and William Roux.
Phil likes to rock out, with plenty of guitar solos and on this album songs like ‘Headines’ and ‘All Or Nothin’ do this and then some. The latter has a stunning guitar solo halfway through and keys are used to bolster the song’s main riff.
‘(This Is) Your Letdown’ is one of the heaviest tuens he’s recorded to date. Big, crunching guitar riffs on this one. On the other end of the loud scale, ‘Who Are You?’ is a keyboards drenched ballad, something Phil also does well at. ‘How Many Times’ is another good slow building song with a strong melody and chorus.
Twenty albums into a solo career and Phil Vincent still pens memorable and catchy melodic hard rock tunes, and on this album he is adding a little more metal to the proceedings. Crank it up and rock! ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
We asked Phil a few Q’s about his milestone twentieth solo album and more…
Recording and releasing twenty solo albums is pretty impressive. Looking back how do you think your musical style has changed and do you approach recording & writing in a different way?
First off, thank you so much for this interview. I hope I don’t bore people to death with my babbling rants
I don’t think my style has changed. I am what I am. :) My songs will always come out sounding like my influences, The Beatles, Priest, UFO, Winger, Dokken, Queen, Journey, Uriah Heep, …I could go on forever. Writing each song is always different. The initial seed of an idea could be a title or a riff or a melody. There is no template. Inspiration is very mysterious and interesting. I’m just so thankful I can put my feelings into songs and some people enjoy those songs. There’s nothing better than that.
Could you take us through the songs on ‘XX’ – stories behind the songs, recording process etc.
I would rather have the listener interpret the songs in their own way. That’s the intriguing part of music, to make each song your own. Like when I hear “Love Machine” by Uriah Heep or “Natural Thing” by UFO. I don’t want to know what the writer was thinking when they wrote those songs….although it’s pretty obvious with those two examples!!! HAHAHAHAHA. On a serious note, “XX” contains some very personal lyrics and content. They deal with many things that hit close to home for me. Depression (“Live Again”), elation (“No Hard Feelings”), happiness (“Ride”), anger (“This is Your Let Down”, “Who are You”), anxiety (“Sole Survivor”), end of days (“Headlines”), hope (“Hey You”), hopelessness (“How Many Times”), sadness (“Slipping Away”),…feelings we all go through at some point in our lives. How we deal with them shapes our future. Each tune has its own life and reflects the mood in which it was written.
The recording process is always a continuous learning experience for me. I always try to read articles from great producers, like George Martin’s liner notes in the Beatles’ remasters. He did so many experimental things that set the bar for music production. It’s so interesting reading all the things he did with speed variation and pitch manipulation. His technique for doubling the vocals was so creative. Some producers had their own “signature” sound.
Like David Prater, Beau Hill, Max Norman, Jeff Glixman, Eddie Kramer, and of course Roy Thomas Baker, another experimental genius. I try to learn what sonic balance they were trying to achieve when they made their recordings.
With “XX” I tried so many different mic set ups, overdub techniques, and amp simulators that I was not used to using. At first I wasn’t comfortable because I was so accustomed to hearing things a certain way. The human ear gets “trained” to hearing things after a long period so I really needed to step back and say to myself “if these great producers thought it sounded good then who am I to question it?”
I am so glad I did push myself with the production because I think this is my best sounding album so far. Like I said, it’s a continuous learning process so I’ll forever be growing into my own skin. And because being in the studio is my favorite place to be, I’m in heaven everyday.
You have plenty of guitarists guesting on ‘XX’ including Paul Sabu and Vince O’Regan. Do you give them a solo to play or allow them to create a solo based on the song you supply them?
I send them the song without the solo and they interpret it their own way. I’m not going to tell Paul Sabu how to play guitar. HAHAHAHA. He knows what he’s doing. Besides, I’m always so excited to hear their solos because a great solo makes a good song even better.
You have played live with Legion in the past. Would you like to tour your solo songs and/or Tragik if given the chance?
Yes, but now-a-days it’s not a fiscally smart thing to do. It’s very difficult to break even touring but I’m hoping Cranston, D’Ercole, or Tragik will see some spot shows here and there just to connect with the fans who have been so supportive over the years.
In an ideal world who would you like to write a song with and why?
A: I’ve said this is so many interviews that I’m hoping his chances of seeing it will increase exponentially, SIR PAUL McCARTNEY. PLEASE CONTACT ME!!! :) He is my number one musical hero. I always loved him in the Beatles, but when I heard his first solo album and found out he played all the instruments, I was blown away. No one was doing that back then. He was a pioneer for the TRUE solo artist and since I am an only child, my time alone was spent trying to figure out how to play different instruments so I could mimic my musical hero. I knew how to play piano, then the drums, then guitar, and my voice was always good enough to carry the melody so my next hurdle was recording all this together.
Thankfully, my parents were very supportive of my creativity and bought me my first 4 track Reel to Reel. WOW!!! What a piece of magical equipment that was back then. And from there I just kept trying to keep up with technology because it changed so quickly in the 80’s. Like all of a sudden, we had a laser replacing the needle, a small disc replacing a 12 inch album. But throughout my entire early recordings, I was trying to write, sing, play, and record like Sir Paul. Maybe we could write an entire album together!!!
What have you got planned for the next few months and early next year?
I have just finished the next TRAGIK album, tentatively titled “The Grey Area”. We plan on releasing it in January 2018. It sounds so good I hope people find something they like on it because it covers the gamut of styles. Just like a Foreigner album. They would start you off with a heavy rocker, segue into a melodic rock tune, sprinkle in a ballad, get back to another rocker, and so on. We try to put variety in all our recordings. Not to be too cliché, but it IS the spice of life.
I am also recording vocals for China White, a band lead by Peter Cox from Forest Field. Great music, indeed. I hope to have it completed in the coming weeks. Rock Company will be releasing that.
My recordings with David Zychek(RIP) and David Prater will come out next year too. It will coincide with a documentary being created, as we speak about David Zychek. He was such a great person and musician. His loss is still so devastating. Every time a hear the songs we recorded, I start crying. It’s going to be very difficult finishing these tunes but that’s what he would have wanted. He was so excited about this album and I know he’s watching over them. People will be very pleased when they hear our work.
Message for your fans…
Thank you so much for all the support. I can’t do this without YOU. Please go to www.philvincentbands.com and www.philvincent.com for free downloads, upcoming releases and news. Leave a guestbook message. I’ll always get back to you. Thank you, Jason for all the great questions. I hope I answered them to your liking.
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