Wonderful Day

Heres a record I did with Brian Ray from Macca’s band playing guitar and producing.

Dave’s Circus Record.

It has been really great fun working on the Circus record. Especially with Tom Morse who is a very “grown up” Julliard musician. For the first time I have been able to work with classical musicians as Tom is a string arranger of some note (think Coca Cola ads at the Superbowl). Those classical guys dont do “you know that bit in that Beatles record….” They want the notes. On Circus they got them in spades!

Anyway it is a whole new sound and I am excited for you all to hear it but it may be some time before it comes out because half way through Steve Lillywhite pronounced “Its a musical”! So it segued from rock opera territory to musical and now I am going to New York in April with Michael Kerker to attend some Musical workshops. Its a brave new world but stay tuned for developments.

Wishing you a very happy Punk Rock Christmas!

By Lisa Napoli
KCRW
December 12, 2012

I’m just subversive enough in my middle age that the constant thrum of relentlessly cheery Christmas carols pumped into our collective psyche this time of year makes me verrrry suspicious. Luckily, I’m resistant. (Being a card-carrying member of the Rev. Billy’s Church of Stop Shopping helps.)

This is why I dig the spirit behind the Christmas music of David Philp. Philp is the husband of our weekly Art Talk contributor Hunter Drohojowska-Philp. He’s also a 70s punk rocker, who was the lead singer of the Automatics.  (And if you know that, you remember their number one hit, When the Tanks Roll Over Poland Again.) This American Life has called him a ”punk in a grey flannel suit,” when they explored his life as a musician turned mortgage broker.

But the grey flannel didn’t drum the music out of Philp. He’s written a whole album of Christmas tunes.  There’s new stuff, holiday stuff, and a fusion of sweet and edgy and touching without the schmaltz or the consumerism.

As my holiday ditty, I’m posting one of my favorite tracks; give a listen, and join me in enjoying the glow of the holiday lights (my favorite part) and the true spirit of every season: friends, fun, family and the gift of creativity.  Inspired, as Philp has shown, even by an addling time of year.

Listen here: Come On Santa Hand It Over

Dave Philp Live at WERS Boston

Dave Philp Live on WERS BostonBy Nina Corcoran
WERS/Boston
October 18, 2011

England native Dave Philp stopped by WERS this morning to perform music off his latest album, The Dressing Gown Sessions, released in mid-July. Founding member of the English punk rock band Automatics, Philp’s punk life ties in to his solo work, but he actually doesn’t take much inspiration from bands. “I’m not really interested in other people’s music,” he said. “It’s not and easy thing to admit.” But he knows what he’s doing; Philp has been featured on This American Life for his music. “I try to get myself out of the way enough to pluck these songs out,” he explained. “A good song is a cheap holiday in someone else’s life. Whatever that song is, and if it’s enough of what it is, it will mean something to somebody else.”

Philps started his set with “If You Don’t Know By Now,” a song that put emphasis on his raspy voice, clearly reminiscent of his days as a punk rocker. Half of a lung actually had to be removed from him due to a rare form of lung cancer. “I have a different sound now and I think I like it more,” he said. “I think I’ll have another one chopped.” He laughed, then launched in to “Suburban Bali ‘Hai,” his seven-string guitar giving an at home sound. Philps closed off his set here with “An Irish Blessing,” his musical grit and honesty only enhanced by his charm.

Our Live Music Week reminded Philps of one of his favorite live shows: X-Ray Spex at the Nashville. “The Police were openers and they got booed off the stage,” he said, “but when the Spex came on… they totally ripped. It wasn’t the music, it was the energy that carried the day. That’s what live music is about; when that energy goes like that, there’s nothing else like it.”

Dave Philp’s Ira Glass Interview on This American Life.

This American Life
March 7th, 2008

 Act Two. Punk In A Grey Flannel Suit.

Ira Glass

Act Two. Punk in a Gray Flannel Suit. David Philp is the president of a mortgage brokerage firm in Beverly Hills. As you might imagine, in Beverly Hills they handle rather large mortgages. He dresses neatly in beautiful clothes. He has clean-cut hair. But in the 1970s, in his native England, he was in a punk band called The Automatics, which was never really a big commercial success, but known and respected in the history of the punk movement there by people who care about these kinds of things. And last year, through an odd set of connections, he ended up revisiting his teenage years for the first time by going back on tour in a version of his band in Japan. Here’s how something like that happens.

David Philp

I mentioned it to a client, and I said, “well, you know, I’d played in a punk group when I was a kid.” And he said, “oh, really?” He was interested. And then the next day he sent me a copy of an eBay auction and said, “is this you?” And it was. And I watched this auction, and I watched this price shoot through the roof. And then I began to realize, wait a minute– I’m collectible.

Ira Glass

Let’s get down to brass tacks, here. How much were you guys worth?

David Philp

I think that one actually went at $48. I particularly liked looking at all those other groups that were going at $0.25. You know, music business offerings along punk lines that I thought, what a load of nonsense, at the time. And it was good to see that their records weren’t valued here until later. It was–

Ira Glass

That history came out on the right side.

David Philp

Yes. That there is a sort of Darwinism in record collecting.

Ira Glass

What happened next?

David Philp

I went to go and see Ricky, the drummer. And Ricky collected everything. And he very kindly lent me these two scrap books. So I took pictures and things out of there. I just put it up, had a friend put it up on a website. And then I got an email from Fi-Fi, in Japan, saying, “I play in a Japanese punk rock band and–

Ira Glass

Fi-Fi is a name of a person?

David Philp

Yes. And, “your record changed my life.”

Ira Glass

Wow.

David Philp

And he found out through the website that there was an unreleased album, so he asked if he could put me in touch with Toshio Iijima, of Base Records. We struck up a deal. And then they said, “well, would you come over here and play some gigs to promote?”

Ira Glass

So you go to tour. How old are you at that point?

David Philp

45.

Ira Glass

45 years old. A little bit of gray hair coming in, perhaps?

David Philp

A little bit of gray hair coming in. And I really wasn’t sure whether I’d still be able to do it because I hadn’t played those songs in 22 years. Not in my shower, not to anyone. I mean, prior to being married, I remember dating women for a year who never knew that I played, that I had ever played.

Ira Glass

It wouldn’t even come up?

David Philp

It wouldn’t come up, really. I mean, I’d have a guitar hanging around, but lots of other guys did, too.

Ira Glass

Would you ever pick up the guitar and play for yourself?

David Philp

Yes. I wrote a lot of songs for my dog during this period.

Ira Glass

Really? Some of the titles would be?

David Philp

“We’re Going to the Park” was a big favorite.

Ira Glass

To be followed by that, “Who’s a Good Boy?”

David Philp

“Oh, What a Good Boy” is actually–

Ira Glass

It is?

David Philp

[PANTING SOUND] “What a, what a good boy.”

So we went over there October 6. I took my wife, which possibly was a miscalculation, but– no, it was a good thing to take my wife because–

Ira Glass

You were approached by dozens of teenage girls?

David Philp

I was getting stopped on the street.

Ira Glass

So what happened the first night you went on stage?

David Philp

Well, there was just the announcement, the light, and a moment’s silence which lasted forever.

[SOUNDS OF CROWD]

[BAND STARTS]

And then out at the back I heard the opening riff of “When the Tanks Roll Over Poland.” And there was just this whole ignition of energy from the club in front. And all these kids just started going mad, and it just clicked right in.

[BAND PLAYING]

It felt like I was in an Automatics cover band or something like that because it was so long ago I didn’t feel that association as the writer. Even though I wrote the material and all, I didn’t have that association as the writer anymore.

Ira Glass

See, but I would wonder if as you sing the songs the conviction of the writing returns to you, and you remember all the feelings of it. Did that happen?

David Philp

It was a muscle memory. It was there. You know, the movements are all locked in the lyric and the beat and the parts. And as I played them, they all started to come out and it was just like being a marionette or something. Here you’d punch the air, there you’d remind the drummer to come down, and there you’d point at the guitarist for the solo.

Ira Glass

Had you forgotten the thrill of being on stage?

David Philp

Yes. I’d forgotten what it was to have the audience right there.

Ira Glass

Before this, had you ever performed a punk show sober?

David Philp

Never. Well, unless I was taking the antibiotics.

Ira Glass

There’s so much information contained in such a brief sentence.

[LAUGHTER]

David Philp

No, actually, it was one of the great paradoxes, really, I suppose, that it was great to do it sober.

Ira Glass

Were there moments on stage where you feel your age? Where you just thought, ugh–

David Philp

Towards the end, you really feel yourself– because it’s like a sauna up there. I mean, there’s so much energy going around and it’s louder than bombs.

Ira Glass

So your wife had never seen you do this before. There must have been a part of you that felt so pleased that she could see it.

David Philp

Yes. I felt kind of like I had become this other person. And when I was over there, my life over here seemed to have a sort of almost dream-like substance. And then, of course, as soon as I got back, the events in October in Japan just began to assume that sort of mantle of dream.

I did three shows– two in Tokyo and one in Kyoto.

Ira Glass

And all three just great.

David Philp

All three sold out. In Kyoto, we set a club record for the largest attendance ever. And it was so packed we couldn’t actually get off stage. The only way out was over. I had to sling myself over the audience and they carried me on their hands back through the crowd and gently deposited me at the stage door.

Ira Glass

So this is your last gig? That was your last gig?

David Philp

Yes.

Ira Glass

And it ended with the entire audience lifting you up and passing you bodily out and gently depositing you out of the club?

David Philp

Well, not out of the club, but to the stage door, yes.

Ira Glass

Wow.

David Philp

It was amazing.

Ira Glass

I don’t think I’ve ever really been lifted by a mob of teenagers and people in their twenties. What exactly is that like?

David Philp

Well, in Kyoto I felt pretty good about it. I’m not sure how I would have felt about it in London in 1977 where the scene was incredibly violent. You know, whenever you played, you were just as likely to get beaten up as you were to get paid.

Ira Glass

Describe what it was like to come back after the tour.

David Philp

It was hard for me to get motivated again to do my business after the tour.

Ira Glass

It just wasn’t as thrilling as being on a stage in front of cheering–

David Philp

Well, not many things are. And it was a bit like my dad’s generation, you know, after growing up as a kid being fired on in World War Two and all that kind of stuff, it was kind of hard getting it up for working in the shipping industry again.

Shortly after I got back, Steve Lillywhite was in town.

Ira Glass

And that is?

David Philp

He was the original producer, and he was also my roommate at the time that all The Automatics’ stuff was going on. And now he’s incredibly successful. He does U2, Dave Matthews, and all that stuff. And anyway, he was in town and he had some time, and so we hung out together for a couple of days– and Hunter was off.

Ira Glass

Hunter, your wife.

David Philp

Yes. Hunter, my wife.

So we got to hang out, and we talked a little about the old days. And he told me Big Paul from Specs does catering. And Nigel from The Members is in Australia now. And Walter from The Heartbreakers, he’s a stockbroker in Manhattan. I think I got to see we don’t get what we deserve– you know, we get what we get, and we have to be OK with that.

Ira Glass

David Philp, the lead singer of The Automatics. Though he hasn’t quit his day job since we did that interview a few years back, he has released several albums. And a couple of the songs have actually become number one hits on the UK charts. His next album, Jukebox of Human Sorrow, comes out later this year.