Photos by Jesse DeFlorio and Molly Barber
Technology has had a massive impact on the music industry in the last couple of decades. The internet changed the game with Napster and YouTube. Cellphones allowed people the convenience of adding to and carrying on them their media library. And television, well television brought us American Idol.
American Idol is a singing competition series that first aired in 2002. Contestants battled it out for weeks on end for the winning prize of a record deal with a major label. The contestants not only had to make it through the judges but also audience voting.
While not everybody who won American Idol garnered the success they hoped for, on the opposite spectrum not every earlier-eliminated contestant was never heard from again and because of the show we now have performers like Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, and Phillip Phillips.
And this is where our story really begins- with the singer/songwriter Phillip Phillips. His name might not be something you recognize right away but his songs are. After winning the 11th season of American Idol in 2012, his coronation song, Home became the best selling song from any American Idol contestant. It sold over 5 million copies in the US, peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and has been used in commercials, TV shows, movie trailers, and coverage of the Olympics. In January of 2013 Home was certified Gold in the US and went Platinum in August. Phillip’s second single, Gone, Gone, Gone went Double Platinum and reached number one (his second consecutive number one) on the Adult Contemporary chart.
Earlier this year Phillip released his third studio album Collateral. Since then he’s been on tour but luckily for us Phillip carved out some time to talk.
Can you tell me a little about your newest album?
Yeah, it’s called Collateral. We release it the end of January but I think it’s my favorite album that I’ve released. It’s one of my most honest. Lyrically I spent a lot of time on it and I think it’s some of my best lyrics. It also just takes you through a rollercoaster of emotions and the music as well. There’s a little bit of R&B in the there, there’s some rock, a little funk in there, some blues, and also a little more of the stripped down songs. I’m just really proud of it, I kinda wrote it a lot about my wife and these past few years of not being able to release music, that’s kinda what this album is about. I think people like honesty, you know? So I think that’s kinda what this album is- it’s a real honest album. I like it a lot.
You really enjoy playing live, for you, what’s the best part of the “live experience”?
Awe man, the best part for me is we play a different show every night. Nothing’s ever the same. Me and my band, we’re always coming up with something new and it keeps it fun for us and also for the fans. I have some fans that will come to three or four shows in row and I don’t want them to see the same show twice. You know what I mean? And live for me has always just been such a huge part of why I love music- it’s just so free. There’s no tracks or anything, when we play music and it’s just honest musicians, if you mess up, you mess up- that’s what makes it real. We have a good time. You don’t have to worry about any phone calls, emails, or anything like that and that’s also why I like it.
If you got challenged to a lip-synch battle which song would you choose?
Oh man, a lip-synch battle… That’s a good question… Sexual Healing would be a fun one I think. That would be good. Gosh… Oh! Maybe AC/DC’s Back In Black.
If you could collaborate with another artist, who would you choose?
Anybody that would want to collaborate with me. I’m always open to anything. Alison Krauss would be so much fun. She has one of my favorite voices, one of the most beautiful voices ever. Stevie Nicks. LOVE Stevie Nicks. Anyone. Anyone.
If you could have anyone cover one of your songs, who would it be and what song would you want them to cover?
Oh man, see I need these questions before hand so I can get you some cool answers. Probably Rush to see what they can do. I think it would be absolutely insane.
Oh right like Rush doing like Raging Fire
Yeah just to see what they’d do with it. Neil Peart killing the drum section you know? It would just be insane.
What was the first cd you ever bought?
AC/DC- Highway to Hell. That was my first cd I ever bought. I still have it to this day actually. AC/DC was my first inspiration into music and Angus Young was my first hero, I copied his duck-walk he did from Chuck Berry. I learned every AC/DC song you could think of and that was it man. I have so many AC/DC cds.
If I was looking through your music collection, what kind of music would I find?
Well, definitely a lot of AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, James Brown, Funkadelic, Neil Young, the Beatles, the Eagles, 2pac, a lot of Eminem– love Eminem. There’s a long list. A lot of Led Zeppelin. I don’t know, there’s a lot.
I read you had some medical issues while filming American Idol
Yeah, I had an EDJ obstruction which is almost like if you have a water hose and when you squeeze it together and fold it in half, it kinda kinks up you know? Water won’t come through so good. So that’s kinda what was happening with my kidneys and bladder. It had like a bad kink in it, so my right kidney was like twice the size as my left kidney, it was really, really painful. I had a stint in and that was really painful on the show. I had like seven surgeries and my body created a lot of calcium so I had a lot of kidney stones. That was the whole thing but I’m good now. I’m good now.
What was one of the craziest parts about being on American Idol?
You know, I never watched the show or anything so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into but a lot of people were so competitive. I’m not very competitive because I don’t consider myself an amazing singer, I’m more of a music guy and people that were on the show, like Josh, Jessica- they were on my season, their voices, they out sing me any day of the week. I didn’t know what to expect they were just so good. I was just doing what I do, the best I could. It was definitely competitive but in a good way I think… It was kinda like Hunger Games but without anybody wanting to kill each other.
That should be their new slogan
Yeah, exactly! Welcome to American Idol.
Do you have a favorite line from one of the songs you’ve written?
Oh man, I’ve got a few favorite lines. Just off this new record, there’s a lot of lyrics I love off of it. There’s a whole song called What Will Become Of Us, that whole song I’m really proud of and there’s a lot of great lines in that one. But I guess the one I’m thinking of right now, it’s a song I wrote for my wife and our first dance. That whole chorus, it’s one of my favorite chorus’s but the ending tagline is ‘when the song ends and everyone else leaves will you dance one more with me?’ When I finished that one I was like ‘Oh, yeah! I’m getting married!’
When you guys play, do you do cover songs?
Yeah we do some cover songs. Got a few covers, we’re working on a couple of new ones this run, maybe we can get those a little tighter. The more you play it, the tighter it gets, the better it sounds. We’re still working out a few kinks. Me getting a little more comfortable and everybody else too, but it’s sounding good. Yeah, I got some in my back pocket that’s always solid, that go over well too.
You got a favorite one you like to preform?
Favorite one… Thriller by Michael Jackson is always a fun one. I love that one. We always have a good time playing that one. That one’s always solid. Wicked Games Chris Issac, I’ve changed that one up a long time ago and that one’s always solid too. Nice and Slow by Usher, people always feel sexy when I play that one. So yeah there’s a few that I like. *
This guy is awesome. It’s no wonder Stevie Nicks (told Phillip that he would have been good enough to join Fleetwood Mac back in 1975) was so taken with Phillip. He’s super easy to talk to and he’s hilarious. And you can tell how much he loves music just from his live shows. He goes out of his way to make each show special and different.
Phillip Phillips is an artist who puts a piece of himself into his songs. He loves music and what he does and that reverbates through his performances. It’s no wonder he was the only competitior to have never been in jeopardy of elimiation during his season of American Idol.
I can only hope his career is as wonderous as his stint on the show was, though I have the feeling that as long as Phillip Phillips is making music people will listen.