The Record Collective: Phil Madeley / An Interview

Taken from The Kings Record Collective blog. Interview conducted, transcribed, and details added by myself.

Former Arctic Monkeys rip-off artist turned original songwriter extraordinaire, Phil Madeley talks to us about his song-writing shenanigans and his apathy with the London scene...

Interviewer: When was the first time you picked up a guitar?

Phil: First time I picked up a guitar… how old are people when they’re in like year eight? I remember when I started I was having lessons and I was like "nah this ain’t for me", like I wasn’t practicing, I wasn’t doing it. And then I moved to Brazil for a year with my parents and then I entered a Battle of the Bands and from that it just all started. So from year eleven, I think it was when I really started to take it seriously.

Interviewer: So what was the first song you wrote?

P: First song I wrote was the biggest Arctic Monkeys rip off you could imagine and I carried on in that way. The first song I wrote... what was it called? Let’s say its Red Scare, like that was my first song.

Interviewer: So did you mainly begin doing covers?

P: I learnt a couple of covers. I’ve never really been a covers guy. [...] When I gigged, for example I’ve only really ever played originals, so I started gigging basically when I had five of my original songs and I’ve never really done many covers.

Interviewer: What’s your favourite song to play? Your lyrics do stand out. Banker for a Day; I love the irony mixed into all of it. It’s not like you’re singing a song that no-one fucking gets.

P: It’s a funny story about that because that’s actually a real event. I’ve got a friend who one night, he took us to this party in Fulham for this geezer who worked for JP Morgan and I was in the house and it was well weird [...] he then invited these random girls and the house was like really bare and the guy was just well lonely... he worked from like 6am to 10pm and I was just in the house… that’s when I wrote it.

Interviewer: No fucking way! 'Cos it hits the nail on the head and a lot of people aren’t happy about the bankers, me in particular....

P: Yeah there's a lot of anger behind it.

Interviewer: So when you begin to write a new song, where does it stem from?

P: A lot of the time I’ll be jamming, I’ll just be playing and then I’ll come up with a chord sequence, and then I’ll have the chord sequence for a while and then I’ll try and come up with a melody and then I’ll just write lyrics to fit that melody. So it usually comes: chords, song, melody, lyrics.

Interviewer: So what came first, the guitar or the voice?

P: The voice. I’ve always sang.

Interviewer: Did you do musicals whilst you were in school?

P: Nah, I sang in a bloody choir once! Then I picked up the guitar and really got into it when I went to Brazil; and that’s when I joined the band. I started off playing rhythm for the band [...] cos they’d never really heard me sing and then I started singing and then they were like “Alright, we’ll push him to front”, so then I started fronting the band and then ever since then I’ve been writing.

Interviewer: So why did you end up in London?

P: I’ve always wanted to come to London so throughout my A-Levels, when I started writing, year 12, 13, I was like "you know, where can I go to be what I wanna be"?, that’s why I came to London.

Interviewer: Has it been regretful in any way?

P: London isn’t what I thought it’d be. […] The scene’s not dead, you just have individual scenes, and someone like me I’ve never really wanted to be tied down to a scene. You know I’ve never really wanted to be in the psychedelic scene, "I wanna be the punk scene" or whatever. Although it’s quite difficult as I suppose you kind of have to get into a scene.

Interviewer: So, you’ve just been out on the lash, you’ve had a really wicked night... You thought you were gonna get with this really fit girl at the party and then she boys you off for the conventional jock… what’s the first song/artist that comes into your head?

P: Dylan... Positively Fourth St by Dylan. Everytime I’m like "aw mate screw this", more often than not I’ll listen to that song.

Interviewer: And finally, pick an up-and-coming artist. What would you tell everyone to listen to?

P: I’d probably say my band New Money [laughs]. Shall I say New Money? In terms of other bands: Carnivals, they’re a good band, check them out.

Be sure to check out Phil's music on Soundcloud below:

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