All Access: A Whiskey Riff Exclusive Interview with Josh Phillips

Country meets rock in the best way.

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Introducing Josh Phillips, Nashville newcomer from Sanford, North Carolina who is ready to bring the party. Josh is unapologetically honest (in a good way) and will tell you what’s what, which we need more of in the music industry. I sat down with Josh before his gig in South Carolina to talk music, life, and find out what all the buzz really is about.

So even though you didn’t get into music until your college days, does the way you grew up have an effect on your music now?

Absolutely. From the writing side of it I talk about things like small towns. And coming from a lower middle class family it helped me with that drive. Playing baseball my whole life, especially in the college days where you have to bust your tail because there are guys who are just as talented as you are. It helped me a lot with the music to more or less want to work harder than everyone else.

You moved to Nashville a little over a year ago, what are some do’s and don’ts and places to go?

Don’t play “Wagon Wheel.” For places to go, as an artist I wouldn’t go to Broadway, but as a tourist definitely go to Broadway. The Johnny Cash and George Jones museums are both great. You have to go to Loveless Café and Hattie B’s. Pour House on 8th & Division has 200 whiskeys which is amazing and they have good food and live music too. Monday night Whiskey Jam, Tuesday night Tin Roof Revival, Wednesday night YNOT Wednesdays, Thursday night writers rounds at Pour House.

Favorite venues & shows you’ve played so far?

My favorite venue is City Limits Saloon in Raleigh, NC because that’s like a hometown show for me. The Blue Stone in Columbus, Ohio is another one of my favorites. And then my favorite show would have to be the show I played with Sam Hunt on the beach in South Carolina.

What do you think about artists who seem to be overnight sensations who blow up over people who have been at this for years?

At the end of the day, I think that there are people who are born extremely talented, and this business is a talent business so no one makes it if they aren’t talented or if they don’t work hard. People look at Florida Georgia Line or Sam Hunt and think they were overnight successes. They’re really not. They beat down the road for years playing and the reason they might look like an overnight success is because people didn’t know who they were yet. So, in reality I don’t think there is such a thing as overnight success. I think there is hard work whether you’re beating down the road playing shows or writing songs every day, or even starting out selling merch for someone like Cole Swindell did for Luke Bryan. And then he busted his tail and he made it too. Hard work and talent as well as who you know will help you make it.

When you’re not on the road what are you doing?

Sleeping. It fluctuates. Some weeks we’re out during the week, and others we’re out early Friday morning through the weekend. Like this weekend we’ll be back late Saturday night and on Sunday I’m taking all of my guns out and we’re going to blow some stuff up. But, normally I don’t have a lot of time. Sundays you usually catch up on rest and rehydrate and then Monday through Wednesday you’re writing songs with other artists.

Your sleeve tattoos are one of the first things someone might notice about you, what’s the story behind them?

So it’s a long story. When baseball was my thing in high school and the plan was to go pro, the Braves were interested. I tore my meniscus in my knee so I couldn’t play ball anymore. Needless to say, I went down a dark road that I shouldn’t have gone down because everything in my life was gone. Technically I should be dead and it’s only by the grace of God that I’m alive right now. But that’s the road that lead me to music. But more or less that’s why I have the reaper and the horse. I have the hand of death, skulls, tombstones and a black train, Johnny Cash’s “The Beast In Me” lyrics. It’s so I never forget what happened and then my other arm are good things that have happened to me. It’s still a work in progress but I have a music related one, and then a baseball related one. On my chest I have “God Bless The Beast In Me.”

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What’s something a lot of people don’t know about you?

I don’t do well with crowds, which is weird for an artist. I love the people who come out and support what we do, but if you put me in a packed bar crowd, I just can’t do it.

What is the funniest or weirdest thing to happen in the crowd while you’ve been onstage performing?

We’ve had quite a few fights and I’m not sure if it’s because we’re more on the rock side of things and that just makes people want to fight while they’re drinking or what. That’s always funny because they’re drunk. This isn’t funny, but it wasn’t something you’d expect, but we do a cover of Copperhead Row in our set and there’s a dance that goes with it. This girl was doing that and she just broke her ankle right in the middle of that. She flat out broke it. From the stage and seeing that, I felt bad and went to see if she was okay.

What’s to come for you?

Right now I’m doing a lot of writing, recording demos, shopping publishing deals, working on an EP. Once the publishing deal is intact, we’ll look at record labels. We have some record labels interested but I want to get the publishing deal first and then look at that. As long as I can be Josh Phillips that’s what I’m interested in.

Josh’s current single out right now on iTunes is “What the Buzz is All About.” It’s is a feel good, shot gun a beer to, party song that will get your Friday night going. Josh is currently out on the road every weekend playing shows so if you get a chance to catch a show, don’t pass it up. It’s a great mix of country and rock with a fire set list. Josh may be just getting started but big things are headed his way.

Check out the music video for “What the Buzz is All About”

Keep up with Josh on social media at @imjoshphillips

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