Edinburgh Popfest
Phil Reynolds and the Dearly Departed


Phil Reynolds – Portrait of the artist

Phil Reynolds is old. Like, really old. He started faffing around with guitars and cassette recorders in 1984. Old.

Originally from Knotty Ash (yeah, we know) but based on the Isle of Man , by early 2010 Phil had been involved in something like 327 bands (a rough estimate – we couldn‘t be bothered actually counting or anything) including Suicide Highlife, who released a 12”ep called “McCarthyville” in 1988. Despite securing a distribution deal with the legendary Probe Plus, the band didn’t bother sending any records to Liverpool, so the record disappeared without trace, although it‘s actually dated quite well.  More on Suicide Highlife elsewhere on the site…

Following Suicide Highlife, Phil formed Colon with friends who should have known better. Massively influenced by Big Black and Sonic Youth, they ended up recording a session for John Peel in 1990 and releasing an ep entitled “164”. The record’s otherwise promising chances were scuppered by the massive collapse of Rough Trade distribution at around the same time. You can find lots of information on Colon by using Google. Um.  Best not click on the “images” tab, though.

A couple of years after Colon split, Tea (a duo Phil formed with Pete Buttery, also known as “The Journeyman”) garnered a deal with tiny German indie “A Turntable Friend” and became a marginal success in Ghent. Long story. Two-and-a-half singles later, their label boss had a breakdown and the label folded, with a debut album weeks away from release. Draw your own conclusions.

The years passed like wind, and Phil ended up spending more and more time recording local bands and musicians and less and less time actually playing in bands. Which was actually very enjoyable and massively rewarding. He’s now quite well regarded in his field. Well, studio. Not an actual field, but you know what we mean.

Latterly, as well as Stoliday, who’ve had one single released by Cloudberry Records in Florida, he’s been playing bass with (themighty)Tate! alongside his oldest friend and questionable cohort Mark Cleator and the recurring Martin Rigby – not to mention a doorful of guitarists whose speed of rotation would vex Sikorsky. (themighty)Tate! recorded their debut album, “Love and War” largely at their own self-built studio complex in Foxdale (Google it). Sessions for the follow-up, however, proved less fruitful and During May 2010 Phil started writing songs. Not something he’d previously done with any consistency, but it seems that some sort of inspiration had struck (largely in the form of “little bits of disconnected riffs and half-arsed complaints about traffic, the weather and the content of Radio 4”).

Rather than bring the full armoury of his “day job”  to bear, he says it felt “more natural to do it all myself – to sit in my tiny bedroom studio in front of my ailing, asthmatic laptop and knock these tentative ideas into some sort of, I don’t know, thing. I‘ve always been a sideman – a collaborator – and it occurred to me that, for the first time, I had the songs and the technology to maybe put together something convincing by myself. It seemed really important to do everything on my own – writing, playing, singing, mastering, artwork, the lot. I could have pulled in lots of really talented people and recorded in the big room with the snazzy desk, but there was a real freedom in knowing exactly where the buck stopped.  Also terror.”.

A year later an album was finished and, in point of fact, ended up featuring appearances from Phil‘s wife Marie, his big brother George and bestest pal Dan Ankers, writer of the song “Freak“ which appears on the album and longtime co-conspirator (along with Marie) in weirdo (lower case “w” deliberate), Phil’s other main musical collaboration over the past few years.

Once finished, the next move was to decide what to do with the damn‘ thing. A grant application was made to – and approved by – the rather magnificent Manx Heritage Foundation and a couple of months later a boxful of the finished product landed on Phil’s doorstep.

Asked to describe the album’s sound, Phil says “It generally veers towards the noisier side of indiepop – if I had to point to specific influences, I’d be aiming my arrows towards bands like Teenage Fanclub, Guided by Voices, The Boo Radleys and general early 80′s Scousedelia, with the inevitable nods in the direction of the Velvets and the Jesus and Marychain. I’ve noticed that people tend to mention the Lightning Seeds, and although I’d like to claim Lubricated Goat as an influence, I think that’d be bit of a fib.  In actual fact,  there were three albums which I was listening to pretty exclusively in the runup to starting the LP and during the recording and writing process which were “The winter of mixed drinks” by Frightened Rabbit, “New inheritors of Earth” by Wintersleep and “My old, familiar friend” by Brendan Benson.  I reckon it’s pretty obvious when you hear”If my feet…” .  You should consider buying them”.

So there it is, “If my feet were fingers, I’d stab you in the eye”*, the debut album from Phil Reynolds and the Dearly Departed, released on Small Bear Records.


*title supplied by Mr Matthew Gell.  Yes, he was a little tipsy.