Today we meet, Greg Phoenix Experience. It’s not often that you get the opportunity to listen to guitar work part Steve Howe part Johnny Burnette. And from someone who has listened to a lot of music over the decades , it’s refreshing to watch and listen to two people living the dream. It’s hard work to make it all go right , it takes dedication , perseverance and talent and these two have all of that in abundance. Give a listen today and if you get the opportunity, catch them live .
There are thousands of books on the market offering advice on creating a successful band, or keeping a happy marriage. The Greg Phoenix Experience seems to have accomplished both; the simple solution is to marry your bandmate. Guitarist/vocalist Greg Phoenix and drummer Erin Berry comprise this rock and roll duo out of Philadelphia. With 55 years of combined experience making music, the two continue to explore new territory with the Experience. Phoenix has an extensive background in rockabilly and it’s harder-edged psychobilly offshoot, most notably with New Jersey psycho outfit Speed Crazy. Together with Berry, the two of them formed a rockabilly-meets-40’s swing quartet called Delco Nightingale, with Berry on vocals. During a hiatus from that project in 2013, the pair purchased a $200 dollar drum kit from a local thrift shop and not long after that, the Greg Phoenix Experience emerged.
Meet -Greg Phoenix Experience
for those unfamiliar with your bands history, can you tell us all how you all met up and decided to start a band ?
We met when we were both living in Brooklyn. I was playing in a psychobilly band called Speed Crazy at the time; we had a gig at Hanks Saloon and Erin had come out to the show. We got to know each other and started dating. Erin had been a vocalist in a few bands prior to coming to New York, and while we both loved music, we didn’t necessarily think a band was on the horizon for us. Erin was into old swing jazz (which I knew next to nothing about), but I took a stab at it, and that led to us forming a band called Delco Nightingale, which was a hybrid of swing and rockabilly. That was fun, and we had a good run for about 4 years, but turnover with the rhythm section got exhausting, so we hung it up.
Funny enough, we wound up being the rhythm section for the next band we played with, Bikini Spiders. It was really just a bunch of friends having fun – Erin picked up a cheap drum kit (indulging a 15-year old fantasy) and I picked up the bass, and we played straight up rock and roll with those guys; it was a very Slade/Stones/Johnny Thunders kind of thing.
Greg Phoenix Experience developed concurrently with Bikini Spiders (who aren’t active now). We started out about three years ago playing a whole lot of rockabilly, but between the rock influence of Bikini Spiders, and Erin’s record store job where every week she was bringing home anything from Colosseum to the Monks to The Blues Project, we started getting a handle on what kind of sounds we wanted to create together. This is the first band we’re writing together in, and it’s very exciting seeing what’s coming out as we collaborate.
who would you list as your musical influence?.
There are many, a lot of which we can attribute to our older siblings. My brothers introduced me to the Kinks, Blues Magoos, Yes… Erin’s older brother fed her a steady diet of Led Zeppelin, Kiss, and Rush. We both had early exposure to prog rock in our formative years, ha. That’s definitely coming through more and more as we write. Also, the Brit invasion and 60’s garage groups. Erin’s favorite drummer is Keith Moon and you’ll find a Who record on our turntable a good portion of the time. Or the Yardbirds. Any of the 60’s pop stuff too, like the Hollies – especially things that were poppy, but then would kind of take it over the edge, whether it was in a solo, or in a break in the middle. Nothing like a good rave-up!
whats the coolest thing that’s happened to you as a band since you started up?
I don’t know about coolest, but something that felt great for me personally was someone said recently that my guitar playing brought the band Yes to mind. I don’t know that I could have a higher compliment, at least right now, with what we’re doing. The band – well, we just played a string of dates earlier this summer, and it was our first time doing that as Greg Phoenix Experience. It was great – we played some new cities, and repeatedly tested the limits of packing a drum kit, two guitars and three amplifiers into our Honda Fit, aka the Clown Car. Went off without a hitch.
what are your hopes and dreams as a band for the next few years.
We want to play and record as much as we can, and to keep developing the sound that we’re creating as a duo. We definitely count ourselves among the ranks of musicians that aim to keep the music raw and unprocessed. It’s a challenge, you know, being the two of us; you have to be creative to really flesh things out, and it’s been fun figuring out ways to fill up the space.
what are some of your favorite albums from the past few years?
Atlantic Thrills – both “Vices” and their self-titled. Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds’ “La Arana es la Vida” too. Billy Joe Winghead’s “Spanish Asshole Magnet”. And Ex Hex’s “Rips”. There are a ton more favorites that are not of this decade, but that’s another interview.
Do you see any real use for social media , or is it all just a pain in the ass to keep with?
As far as running a band, so far I’d say it’s equal parts blessing and curse. It’s how a good deal of marketing and connecting gets done these days, so what can you do but go along with it. It’s also a great way to discover new music, and keep up with the bands we like. It provides an ease I never imagined back when there was no alternative to cutting up 300 postcards and mailing them to your mail list, and updating your phone answering machine with your next show. But on the other hand, there are so many platforms out there to attend to, you’ve got to be a good time manager. I think it’s made it harder to stay balanced.
Do you pay attention to reviews or comments from people about your music or do you just turn that noise off.
Of course I pay attention; reviews and comments are great. I love making music, but we make music for people, so there’s nothing better than seeing that somebody digs what we do. If they don’t, we can’t take it personally; it’s not a value judgment, we’re just not their bag. There’s something for everyone out there, and when you do find those people that are like-minded, it makes it worthwhile.
If you could tour anywhere in the world , where would you want to go.
I’d like to go over and tour Europe – I played some shows in England with a couple bands prior to this one, and it was nothing but friendly and a good time. It seems like England (and Europe in general) have a real appreciation for up and coming bands, and “handmade” music, if you wanna call it that.
Can music save the mortal soul or is just a good backbeat to your life.
For me, music is always there and always in the background; it’s a big part of my life. Half my thoughts are plays on musical analogies, or melodies…I want to play as long as I can. Whether its playing, or studying – everything about music, it’s been my thing. There’s something about a creation, be it music, art, or the craft of whatever you do, I think that’s what makes life worth living.
Any last thoughts for your fans?
We appreciate you, and we’re glad you dig us. And we promise to keep churning out the hits.