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Philip Sayce

Philip Sayce might not be the most familiar guitarist. However, he toured the world several times with mega-acts like Melissa Etheridge and Jeff Healey. Oprah Winfrey and Jon Bon Jovi are outspoken fans of his playing and he just released his debut CD 'Peace Machine' in Europe. Time for a proper introduction.

By: Menno | Archive under bluesrock

band imageHello Philip. Lets get to the point right away; why did it take four years for 'Peace Machine' to come out in Europe?
I've been really busy! I was splitting my time between writing music, recording and playing live shows, as well as recording and touring with Melissa Etheridge. Last year it came to a head and I had to finally make the decision to put 100% of my focus into my own future and get my music and message heard. I am not a sideman, but several incredible opportunities to collaborate with phenomenal artists came up, so I happy accepted. I learned on so many levels from these artists, who I greatly respect, and about how the business runs at a high level. Peace Machine was recorded with my friends so that I could document what my own live shows sounded like, and capture my songs with some of the finest musicians in the world - Kenny Aronoff, Mark Browne, and Fred Mandel.

The album is released on Provogue, a Dutch label. How did you get in touch with these guys?
I had been introduced to Ed through my manager a few years ago. We finally reconnected this year at NAMM in Los Angeles where I was performing, and discussed the possibility of us working together in greater detail. I really like his outlook and genuine care and respect for music and artists, and the timing felt right for us to finally come together. I also ran into Joe Bonamassa shortly afterwards and he raved to me about Ed and Provogue. It was time to jump in and get MY career moving and I'm glad I did.

Since we're talking about the Netherlands, do you know 'our' blueshero Julian Sas? If so, what do you think of him? If not, check him out!
I've heard his name, but I need to become more familiar with his music... I will have to check him out. Thanks for the heads up!

As mentioned before, the songs on 'Peace Machine' are not your most recent material. Wouldn't you have liked to debut in Europe with a new album and put out this re-release later?
I feel very proud of the material on 'Peace Machine'. Here's a bit of background on the recording session. It was a snapshot in time - recorded over a couple of days with my friend Michael Nielsen. A lot of friends, heart and favours went into this recording. It was a very exciting time for me, the day after performing on the Grammys with Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone, so we were pumped up! Since this album has only been “officially” released through my website, now with a label involved, it will be a new release for many people. I'm working on my new album right now, so the follow up will be not far behind.

In the States you've reached an enviable status. Are you reaching for the same here in Europe or would you like to play the more intimate bluesclubs?
Honestly, the sky is the limit, and I'm always reaching for more. I want to get my music and message to as many people as possible, and never think about keeping it exclusive to any club or clique. That's just where I'm at. I think of myself as an evolving human and artist. I am deeply influenced by the blues, but also many other genres/styles of music. I'm doing my best to be real, to be an open channel, and hopefully impact and inspire goodness in this world. I aspire to create real and connected music rooted in what resonates within my own experience.

The new album features 'Cinnamon Girl', a Neil Young song. Why did you choose to cover one of his songs in stead of maybe a more self-evident song from Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughn?
I love Neil Young. To me, he's a perfect example of someone who is connected! He is a live wire who can blow your head off when he wants to, or sing you the most delicate love song that will leave you gasping for air. 'Cinnamon Girl' is a song I really dig and it makes me feel great whenever I hear it or play it. I love Jimi's and Stevie's music as well. Maybe there will be a cover of one of their songs next time...

Was it a deliberate choice of yours to become a travelling musician or did you just happen to roll into your career?
I always wanted to get out on the road and perform for people. Even before I actually started playing live. I was fortunate and loved touring heavily with Jeff Healey, and I got a taste for being on the road for long periods of time. I love the idea that every night is a new blank canvas, where we can make it a new experience for ourselves, and the audience - obviously within the parameters of the song.

band imageThe European press is all over your appearance in the Oprah-show. Could you describe the impact of such a high-profile appearance on a musician as yourself?
That was an incredible experience. I had just finished playing a few songs with Melissa for the segment, and was cooling down. Suddenly, Oprah calls me up to the microphone and wants to talk to me! Fantastic! Melissa gave me a chance to shine, and I'm grateful that it resonated with Oprah and her audience. I was just being myself, and the amazing feedback from Oprah was truly wonderful. It has impacted me in massive ways, and that kind of endorsement is an enormous gift. I can't wait to go back on her show to perform and let her know how much it means to me! A nod from her can change your life.

You now play Fender guitars exclusively. Have you always played Fender guitars?
I have always played Fender. The majority of my heroes play or played Fenders, so it was a natural migration for me. I love that they can take so much abuse and can also be soooo sensitive. To me, it's what I want to hear when I pick up an electric guitar. I do have a couple of lucious old Gibsons that I use in the studio, a National, a Martin, a Flying Finn, you know, the good stuff.

Could you elaborate on your gear a bit more? What do you use for shows, at home and in the studio?
I am a complete gear nerd and this could go on for days, so I'll keep it brief for now. Live, I'm using a Custom By Cougar/Mystic Mother (now actually a Philip Sayce signature amp!), a 4x12 with EV's, a late 60's Super Reverb that was modded by the late great Cesar Diaz, a Bassman Head modded by Cesar Diaz that powers a Fender Vibratone. I'm also using an amazing purple 1968 Marshall Super Bass for the new album. I use this rig in the studio, live, and at home, although it varies depending on logistics. For fly in dates, I usually use two Fender Twins and a Marshall Head and cab. My two main guitars are a Stock 1963 Stratocaster named “Mother” and a 1962 Stratocaster. I have a great Candy Apple Red Stratocaster that John Cruz built for me, based on my old Strats but with a reverse matching red headstock, named “Oscar”. John got it to me for my performance at the Oscars with Melissa two years ago. My 66 Gibson SG is one of my favs as well. I love old pedals and use a bunch of different ones, mostly Fuzz Faces and Vox Clyde wahs, Tubescreamer 808, Univibe pedals - my fav new ones are the Ultravibe, Mega Vibe, or any pedals by MJM, Echoplex, Diaz Squareface & Tremodillo, on & on...

In my review of 'Peace Machine' I called you the John Mayer Trio on cocaine. What has been the best/funniest description of your music thus far?
Well, that's a funny one... If a journalist or blogger is having fun with the review and is being complimentary, I'm in. In a perfect world I wouldn't let reviews impact me one way or another, but hey, I have feelings, don't disrespect. Especially around music & truths that come from the heart.

You will head over to the Netherlands for a couple of shows this autumn, but nothing has been elaborately promoted as of yet. When and where will you perform in our country?
The tour is still being booked and finalized as we speak, but I do know we'll be playing several dates in The Netherlands and we're stoked! The dates will be from late September through the end of October. I have an amazing band. We're in the middle of recording a new album right now and these musicians and friends are blowing my mind! Ryan MacMillan on drums (Matchbox 20, The Pushstars), Fred Mandel (Queen, Alice Cooper, Elton John) on piano and keyboards, and the amazing Joel Gottschalk on bass.

Talking about the Netherlands, lets dig in our music heritage for a bit. We for instance have the obvious Focus, but do you also know Barrelhouse? They cut a live-album with Albert Collins in Alkmaar in '78
I'm watching Barrelhouse with Albert Collins on Youtube right now... This is amazing! I will have to check these cats out. WOW. I've travelled through The Netherlands several times and have always loved it. Played at The Heineken Music Hall and Paradiso. Some of my favourite venues! My brother just went to law school in Groningen so he'll have some info for me, I'm sure.

Anyway, that's it for me. Have a final shout at the Dutch crowd!
(I hope this makes sense!) Krijg mijn Nederlandse vrienden klaar, gaan wij naar ROTS FUCKING!!!

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