This is the interview that has sat on the back burner for too long. Bret Phillips is a good friend of mine and honestly one of the most passionate, dedicated and business-minded musicians that I know of. He gets up at sunrise each morning and stays busy all day in the studio booking, promoting and getting the word out there.
Since Bret has been involved in the Atlanta music scene for a long time and is such an industrious and positive individual, I wanted to sit down with him for a bit and pick his brain about different things including the local Atlanta scene, his post-rock band 13 Day Mission and the music collective Hijacking Music.
It’s 2010 and we’ve entered a new decade. Do you have any personal expectations for the local Atlanta music scene?
B: My expectations for the Atlanta music scene this year are high. There are so many good bands and organizations out there right now making great music and putting on events and performances that push the way we think about “local shows.”
I would like to see more meshing together of collective efforts this year. Trying to practice what I preach with Hijacking Music and working with The Moon and Pluto to put on some really great events this year and push some of our hard working acts.
Who were some of your favorite acts coming out of Atlanta in the last decade?
B: (laughs) Wow, big question, can I reference the entire state of Georgia? In no particular order and there are many more – these are just off the top of my head. Stokeswood, From Exile, Attila, Sorry No Ferrari, Maserati, Cinemechanica, Jungol, Odist, Mastodon, Tea Lights, Miles From Pangaea, Arablak, Clan Destined and Vegan Coke.
Whew, that is quite the list. So Bret, I’ve known you for a while now and you have always been involved in some kind of booking, promotional and performance work around town. Can you please enlighten readers on your musical background and involvement in the local scene?
B: I’ve always been into music and as far back as I can remember I have been interested in playing music. I asked for my first guitar when I was 10 and it was a little tougher than I thought and became discouraged quickly. The next year my school’s band teacher came into my classroom and told us that we could miss some class time if we joined the band. I chose the alto sax almost immediately.
Since that day I have picked up and learned how to play several other instruments. During high school homeroom, I met my good friend and drummer Steven Mosley and we instantly synced up with musical tastes. Since we were both musicians, we started a “band” and it evolved into 13 Day Mission.
It was not until college that we started playing out and trying to pursue this music thing beyond school performance and our parents’ basement. During one of our shows we met someone that would change the way I thought about music forever.
Until meeting this guy and thankfully due the surge of mp3 file-sharing, I had no idea about music outside of the mainstream radio. Upon hearing our music, this guy was reminded of some different groups and wanted us to hear them. He was into Don Cabellero, Trans Am, Sparklehorse, Slint, in general, math rock and post rock oriented music.
After college and some time during 2006, we decided it was time to really give music a shot and step into the Atlanta music scene. Being complete noobs we had to learn how everything worked. This is where I began to pick up my experience with booking and promoting.
No one knew who we were, but I knew we had a great album and a unique performance so I just started contacting everyone I could find that had anything to do with the music that I loved and enjoyed. I also thought these people would enjoy our music.
Since the formation of 13 Day Mission, I have learned a lot. I really have to give a big shout out to two organizations that really helped us get going and those are Stickfigure Records and Industrial Strength Promo. Both Gavin and Eric have been big supporters of 13 Day Mission and any other musical venture I’ve taken on and I want to thank them.
One of my favorite records to come out of Atlanta’s underground “space/freak rock” scene was 13 Day Mission’s cd Ex Incendias Libertas. That entire cd is full of energy, loud and fast dynamics and overall it’s a brilliant record. Can you briefly explain how it was conceived?
B: The songs on that album had been worked on for about two years prior to recording it. Once we got heavy into instrumental rock music and found out it was okay to do that, we scrapped all our previous material and started writing heavy spaced out jams. We wanted a high energy, in your face kind of sound, and also something that could be listened to from start to finish as a journey.
The whole thing was recorded in two days working with our good friend Keith Freund. Keith recorded, mixed, and mastered the entire album.
13 Day Mission has moved in various stages since its inception. Can you list all the people who have been involved in 13 Day Mission since the beginning? Who is at the core of this project?
B: 13 Day Mission is an ever evolving project. From the beginning, it has always been Steven Mosley and I at the core. I’ve moved around from playing guitar, bass, back to guitar. We’ve had a number of additional members from extra percussionists, guitarist, bass players, keys, vocalists, etc.
For touring it has mostly been the two piece, but in light of everything and working on this new material, I don’t know that we’ll be able to pull it off as a two piece when we play live anymore.
You’re a member of a local artist collective called Hijacking Music. Would you explain to readers what Hijacking Music is and how it operates?
B: Hijacking Music is a collective of musicians and artists, currently all out of Atlanta, who have united to help each other reach our individual goals. By coming together, we are creating a support system upon which other members of the collective can rely in times of need.
Taking a grassroots approach over the last two years, we have been building up our name as Hijacking Music throughout the city of Atlanta. We’ve hosted several art and music showcases, presented many HJM shows at different venues, and thrown /performed at countless house parties.
Some of the things we offer are: recording, mixing, and mastering, pr, marketing, cd duplication, booking support, web development, photo and video shoots amongst other services.
What projects is Hijacking Music currently working on?
B: The future for HJM is looking bright. Currently we are supporting new releases from Jungol, Odist, and Arablak, with new albums from 13 Day Mission and Miles from Pangaea already in the works.
Artists looking to get involved with Hijacking Music can get in touch with any member at any time, but the easiest way is to contact us via the website.
*For more about Bret Phillips, 13 Day Mission, and his studio the Ozone Lair, click here
Further information on Hijacking Music can be found at http:www.hijackingmusic.com