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Interview with Philip Sayce

Welsh-born guitarist Philip Sayce was raised in Toronto, Canada, and developed a passion for music from an early age. Being inspired by such artists as Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Sayce began performing in his first band at the age of just fifteen, before being handpicked by Jeff Healey to join his own group.

After over three years performing together, Sayce relocated to Los Angeles and began collaborations with Uncle Kracker and Melissa Etheridge, as well as embarking on his own solo career. His second album, Innerevolution, was released earlier this year to great acclaim and Sayce will be embarking on a tour of the UK on November 7th with support from Marcus Bonfanti.

Philip Sayce talks about his upcoming tour and experiences performing in both Britain and Canada.

Having originally come from Wales, how does it feel when you return to the UK as a performer and how would you compare the experience to touring in Canada?

It’s an enormous privilege to come to the UK and perform. I feel honoured and grateful, and I will be performing from my heart for every show. Touring in Canada is quite different, because of the absolute magnitude of the country! At the same time there is a strong English heritage in Canada – you don’t have to look too far for Toronto’s Kensington Market or London, Ontario. The UK is my birth homeland, and I was raised in Canada. I do feel allegiance to both, but of course in different ways. Now I live in America, I have love for this country too. I’m an international man of mystery. Ha!

The reception that your latest album, Innerevolution, has received from both fans and critics has been very positive, how much material was recorded during these sessions and did you perform any of the songs live before the album was released?

I’m so glad to hear that. Thank you. These songs are all stories about my personal experiences over the past couple of years. We recorded more tracks than are on the released version of the album, and they may end up on another album, or I may just hold on to them for a minute. We played many of the tracks live before recording them, but not to the point of wearing them out.

The guitar on the track Scars recalls Jimi Hendrix, who you have cited as an influence on your work. Do you ever consciously pay homage to your idols in your songs and what covers have you featured in your sets over the years?

I love Jimi Hendrix, that’s an enormous compliment. I want to continue to grow as an artist and every time I listen to my heroes I feel like a child again. I have the same feelings of awe and wonder and I can’t wait to grab my guitar and learn. However, the whole idea is to get deeper than just the technical side. It’s really about being open and channelling in the same way my heroes do.

When writing your latest album, were you concerned about repeating yourself and how did the music that you were listening to at that time influence the songs that you wrote?

I was in a place of incredible growth and change. Thus, the title INNEREVOLUTION. I had a manager who was telling me to not play so much guitar in my music and wanted me to record pop music, I was incredibly busy with Melissa Etheridge, and a big shift was happening within me. This album is about my life and what I was going through at the time. My intention was to create music that summed up my experience at that moment.

Yes, there’s certain things I like to do when writing, I feel safe in them and know them very well. But there are other times where I want to bring something I love and share it with an amazing co-writer. They can bring an amazing idea that blows a song into the stratosphere.

How did you first hear of Marcus Bonfanti and was it your decision for him to join you on your current tour? What is it about his music that you find so appealing?

My agent contacted me and suggested we check out Marcus. We immediately loved his music. He’s a deep, powerful, soulful performer and we’re excited he’s joining us this tour.

Philip Sayce

Philip Sayce

Do you find it difficult to adjust to the touring lifestyle and how do you occupy your time in between shows?

Usually the first week is a bit of a blur, with jet lag and jumping into the scene. It’s intimidating actually, but I love to perform with my band. In between shows we’re probably rolling or sleeping, or both. Our laptops give us a quick glimpse of home via Skype, and we watch a lot of movies, write music, look for food, look for the hotel, and really just try to crack each other up.

Are radio stations in Canada supportive to rock and blues artists and what kind of outlets are there for musicians to promote their work?

Canada is an incredibly supportive nation when it comes to supporting the arts. It should really be an example to the world. Artists are awarded grants from the government to create their art! They also have a system in place where Canadian artists must, by law be played on radio thirty-five per cent of the time, called CanCon. I live in America now where the government has allocated their funds to pursue different interests (let’s leave it at that), however there is no limit to what you can accomplish in America. You just have to get it yourself and when you do, make sure you let it in!

After your UK shows, you have dates in the Netherlands and Germany. Once this tour is over, do you have plans to return to the studio?

Yes! I’m going into the studio in January to start working on a new album. I’m very excited about it. I also have an EP of new material ready to be released, and we’re going to start planning a live album for 2011 as well. It’s on!!

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