Philip Sayce

Interview date

Avril 2010




Interview Philip Sayce (Face-to-Face)

Thanks Philip for accepting this interview for the french metal webzine

As you're maybe not very known by metal readers, even if you played with Jeff Healey, can you please present yourself, a short biography and some words about your collaboration with Jeff, with Melissa Etheridge ... ?

A good friend of mine introduced me to Jeff. Jeff and I started jamming together and he invited me to play, we started touring and that was amazing, fantastic ! I've played for about three and a half -four years, then I moved to Los Angeles and started playing with a band named Uncle Kracker and after that I started playing with Melissa Etheridge for about three and a half-four years as well. Just last year, I left her to do my own things.

How is your latest album "Innerevolution" different from your previous one "Peace Machine" ?

There's a lot more focus on the songwriting. "Peace Machine" was something that we recorded in one, five day, very quick. With this new album, it took a bit longer and everything was recorded in the same way, we recorded live in the studio, getting a good sound, really focusing on the sound.

Where did you record this album ?

We recorded it in some studios in Los Angeles.

What is your line-up ?

My bass player is Joel Gottschalk, a great bass player. Ryan MacMillan plays drums on the album, and Fred Mandel is the keyboard player who's legendary. He played with Queen, Elton John, Supertramp... he's amazing !

A lot of the songs of Innerevolution are so catchy that they could be played on rock radios. In which direction did you want to go ?

Sometimes, there might be a direct inspiration from a song. Never is the idea to directly copy something. Sometimes, you write a melody that can be really catchy but sometimes it's not a concern. The concern is what I'm feeling emotionally, that what's most important.

One element is strange comparing with other guitarists like Bonamassa or Kenny Wayne Shepherd : your guitar solos are always very short, you never shred. Why ?

Live, we play really long solos, it's the opposite live. Sometimes, it can go to twenty minutes long. It's very different live. The idea of the recording is working from the inspiration of the Beatles, Hendrix, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Stevie played long solos, Clapton on some songs also but lot of these artists are magic because the songs are short. You want to go back and listen again. Some Hendrix songs were two minutes long, he played a solo and it was short. You knew that he could play for three days if he wanted to and I think there's a real beauty in not showing everything. It's like your first date with a woman, if you show everything the first day then it doesn't leave anything to the imagination. My intention on this recording was to be more tasteful and not to play super long solos.

You have, in your songs and in your voice, a lot of similarities with Lenny Kravitz. How do you react to this comparison ?

Lenny Kravitz is fabulous. If somebody wants to use my name in the same sentence than Lenny Kravitz, I take it as a compliment. I'm not trying to be Lenny. I'm a huge fan of Lenny, especially his first three albums. In a strange way, Lenny and I share the same influences.

How do you train your voice ?

I studied with two vocal teachers working on warming up and on cooling down, on protecting it. Sometimes, when you're seven days on the road, you're gonna be tired. And also working with Melissa Etheridge, she's such an amazing singer. I studied a lot from her also.

For two years, Joe Bonamassa has encountered a huge increasing success. Some reviews compare you to Joe. Do you see a comparison ? How do you react to that ?

I think that Joe is great, he'e awesome. Again, if somebody wants to compare me to Joe, that's a huge compliment. We're totally different. We both play guitar but we play differently. Joe is a friend of mine, I don't feel any competition, he's a wonderful player.

You sound very much Fender. What gear do you use ?

My main guitar is an old Stratocaster I use the most, it's a 1963 Fender Strat, her name is "Mother". I use old amps like old Marshalls, old Fenders. There's a gentleman in Sweden named Tommy Cougar who made some amps for me ( that are fantastic, really loud and really clean. I also use fuzzs, wah-wah...

Try to define your music with a percentage between blues, rock and funk.

33, 33, 34 ! All of those are related, they're like sisters, they're very much connected.

"My Pearl" is a cover of an old band, it sounds very weird at the middle of "Innerevolution". It sounds like the ambiance of Huggy's bar in Starsky & Hutch.

Yeah ! That was a song I always loved, I've recorded it some years ago, we went to the studio and everyone thought "that song is so cool !". It's a love song, it's about my lady.

In your biography, you declared to be very much influenced by Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler. Do you know that "Alchemy live" will be soon released in DVD and Blu-Ray ?

No ? Really ? Yeah !!! Whooo !!! I didn't know that. His playing is so great on this live. Thank you for telling me !

What do you think of the evolution of Mark Knopfler ?

Mark Knopfler is a true artist, he's continually expanding. He never sucks, His music is always good. If he wants to be more melo, he can play three notes and you know it's Mark Knopfler. He has the touch. And he's a true artist, he's beautiful.

Do you listen to some new artists ?

I like James Morrisson, he's a great singer. I like Dave Grohl, I love Foo Fighters, Queens Of The Stone Age... He plays real rock live, he's great.

On your next tour, what songs will you play ?

We start in Netherlands on May, 4th. We're here in Paris on May, 26th in "Le Réservoir", I hope you can come. We'll do a collection from "Peace Machine" and "Innerevolution", we're gonna be three people, no keyboard, we're gonna play very loud !