If you were paying attention you would have read in the Sumner Brothers interview here that they name checked Stripmall Ballads. Well being the curious sort I checked him out and I’m sure glad I did. Phiilips Saylor Wisor being his rather grand real name, he kindly sent me his album Since Jimmy Died and the yet to be released Hooked which features Jolie Holland and Sam Parton of all people ! Some of you may know of phill from being the frontman of the old timey band The Shiftless Rounders. Since Jimmy Died is Phill, his guitar, some beautifully written songs and his voice with that country twang that the afore mentioned Jolie and Sam are famous for, and that’s it and it’s perfect. Like the Sumner Brothers, this is music played with raw emotion and full of sincerity and It’s to be admired. Also the fact it was recorded in in a 90 year old row house in a Washington Ghetto shouldn’t be ignored and given what Phill mentions in the following interview about that place, for me gives this album a certain spookiness, like it’s haunted or something.
Then we have Hooked which is Phill, Jolie Holland, Samantha Parton, Benny Chacha, Dan Whitely and Dan Rieser which is a concept album Phill wrote about his experiences about trying to help a drug addict of which you can read more below. Only 5 tracks long with a short reprise of Your Tattoo Gun Lies to finish, It’s an extremely open account of those experiences, full of emotion and if you’ve ever known anyone who was or is addicted to drugs and all that that entails, it’s an album that you can perhaps identify with.
With Phills permission i have posted two tracks. Freeloader from Since Jimmy Died and The first track from Hooked, On your way down. Here is his myspace, and here is the link to cdbaby
Phill has also granted YCD an interview which you can read right now, enjoy.
Hi Phill, welcome to the Youcrazydreamers blog, hope you are all well. Here goes.
1. Let me clear up where you are from first of all. You’re based in Washington D.C right now, is that where you are originally from?
SM – I moved to DC last year after deciding to return to the States….originally I’m from some non-descript lesser-Appalachian stripmall community in America…….stripmalls are such that their exact location is of no importance or consequence. If you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all.
2. As you know I came to hear about you when The Sumner brothers mentioned you in the interview they granted us recently, are you a fan of theirs?
SB – Bob and Brian are my spiritual brothers…..I’m not only a fan of theirs, but I feel that our souls are connected on a higher level. We’re all the kinda people who understand the importance of shutting people up in the car so as to listen more carefully to whatever rocking song is on the stereo. Aside from being amazing songwriters, they’re amazing human beings – very genuine, very heavy and very real.
3. What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t making music?
SB – I once met a man in Salt Lake City who promised he could get me a good union job on the Union Pacific Railroad………..seems like good work…….putting together trains………riding out to nowhere and coming back………a pension…….
4. You’re shortly to be releasing the album Hooked featuring Jolie Holland and Samantha Parton (Be good tanyas.) How did that come about?
SB – Sammy and I have been good friends for years. She recently moved to NYC and was rooming with Jolie, which is how i met her. I made HOOKED in Brooklyn not far from where they lived, so it was pretty convenient for them to come over. Both those ladies are fabulously talented and sweethearts to boot!
5. You told me that Hooked is a concept album about a true experience you had trying to help a junkie get better. Want to tell us more?
SB – Well………it’s not an easy story to tell in its entirety….mostly because my perspective on it changes a lot. At times I feel like I was just trying to help someone who needed it, while at other times I wonder if my insistence on helping was more selfishly motivated….like a hero complex or something, ya know? But here was a girl, a professional liar and a junkie to boot who honestly needed help…….and she asked for it………but there were two girls, really – one was her true self and the other was her junkie self….. and i guess i didn’t know who i was helping or enabling………but it all happened over three weeks…..it started with her shooting up in my bathroom and it ended with her in handcuffed to a gurney in the hospital…..there was some swindling of our fucked-up medical system in between…..a stab at rehab….really just a shit-storm of drama…..don’t know why i even got involved in the first place (well, I DO, but it’s rather personal and it’s a story I’d rather tell on stage, oddly enough). At the end of the days I found myself unable to really process what was happening and why, so I just started writing songs about it. It was a very emotional and totally random sequence of events that I felt too strongly about not to share.
6. If there is one song you could steal and claim it as your own for ever which one would you choose and why?
SB – HA! I dunno…….. “happy birthday.” “amazing grace.”
7. Ok, first non- musical question. What did you think last time you looked in the mirror?
SB – Haircut!!!
8. What’s your best musical experience so far ?
That’s tough to answer. I have had amazing experiences as both an audience member and a performer – each have their own unique aspects and transcendent moments…..as a performer, I always shoot for being part of those moments where ALL OF US – the listeners, staff, myself, etc – find ourselves on the same page and can share a personal emotional experience brought on by the delivery of a particular song. Shit, I’ve been to church and I’ve camped out with winos and both instances had some pretty moving moments.
9. What’s currently getting a lot of play on your stereo?
SB – I just got some RCA releases of Enrico Caruso from the library. I’ve loved Caruso ever since i heard him in Herzog’s Fitzcarlado, but I dunno….this record kinda sucks. They overdubbed a modern orchestra with old recordings of him singing, which is kinda dumb, if you ask me. It just sounds very fake, which i guess it is.
10. You recorded Since Jimmy Died in a 90 year old house in Washington, any ghosts?
SB – You mean other than the ghost of Jimmy? Man, the ghosts in that neighbourhood are real and living! Actually – interesting side note – when the city repaved the sidewalks in my hood all the residents came out while the cement was still wet and drew tombstones on the sidewalk squares and on each tombstone wrote “R.I.P.” and then someone’s initials and dates…..mostly victims of drug and gang violence. So yeah…there are a lot of spirits looming right outside the front door.
11. Another silly one now. If you could play any part in any movie past or present who or what would it be and why?
SB -I think I’d make a pretty good Harold, from Harold & Maude.
12. You fronted the band The Shiftless Rounders. Is that on the back burner for now?
SB – I guess so, yeah….We released an album last year (WARM CLOTHING LINE – available on CD Baby) and did a tour behind it, but Ben (Sidelinger) got picked up by another band as a side-guy and he could make better money doing that, so i guess you could say that our economy has put that band on the back burner.
13. Is 13 songs and Since Jimmy died still available to buy?
They’re all available at my shows (obviously) and I’m in the process of getting them up on CD Baby…but I’m such a slacker when it comes to things like that! But anyone can call me or drop me an email and I’m happy to mail them.
14. Finally, what’s your plans for this year?
SB – I’m looking for a nice indie-label home for HOOKED. I’d love to come over and tour the UK. Know any promoters who could help a brother out?
Phill, many thanks for the interview and we here at you crazy dreamers wish you all the best for the future.