Neil Phillips at
just 26 years old is the oldest member of the band and already a seasoned
musician. He was a guitarist in Danny McCormack's successful rock band
The Yo-Yo's. Neil recalls how that came about.
"Me and Scott, the drummer from B*Movie, went down to London. We
were finally getting our arses into gear, going round labels and gigs
with demo tapes. We were walking round Camden market and bumped into
Chris McCormack. Chris had recently been in the music press because
he'd started his own label. We decided to give him a tape. Didn't think
anything about it for a couple of weeks. Then one day I was upstairs
in my bedroom at home, when I got a call from Chris."
That phone call
was a huge turning point for Neil, which lead him to audition for the
position as a guitarist with The Yo-Yo's. The audition also heralded
an amazing coincidental meeting between himself and former B*Movie Heroes
guitarist Dean after two years apart.
"We got chatting and ended up doing a couple of gigs
I came down and joined The Yo-Yo's."
Neil's time in The Yo-Yo's was a memorable and happy learning experience.
He built up a strong and loyal fan base, which stood him in good stead
for his first love, the B*Movie Heroes.
"I had a good core following of people from The Yo-Yo's who came
to see us from day one and that's still growing."
When broached on whether he would ever go back to The Yo-Yo's Neil remains
"To be honest I don't think I will
but never say never. Maybe
in the future for a couple of one-off gigs. But this was my band before
I wouldn't swap being in The Yo-Yo's for the world,
because for me that was my university to learn the trade and I learned
off three of the best people you can learn off."
It's a lesser known fact that a very young Mr. Phillips also auditioned
for The Wildhearts.
"It was ironic really because I auditioned for The Wildhearts when
I was only 17. This was when Jef (Streatfield) joined them. They didn't
know how old I was
I was way too young. I didn't actually play
a note that day because Rich Battersby had to go to hospital, so I was
just sitting around drinking with Danny and Jef."
is Worcester in the Midlands. His upbringing was what you would describe
as normal family life, even down to going to football matches with his
dad to see West Bromwich Albion, something he's still passionate about
this day. He's not the only talented member of the family either; his
older brother is a stand up comedian.
Neil recalls his teen years growing up in Worcester.
"It's like most towns really, you don't notice the music scene
until you start playing in bands yourself
hanging round the music
shops and rehearsal studios. There's a lot of talent in Worcester, but
there's this small town mentality that thinks big labels are going to
come and see them
it just isn't going to happen. You have to stretch
your horizons a little bit."
Neil was always very ambitious acquiring his first guitar at 16 by hard
graft, working part time on a fruit and veg stall motivated by his dream
to start his own band.
"I worked all weekend to buy my mate's cousin's guitar off him
for 60 quid. It was called a Rockster. It came with a little free battery
powered amp, lead and plectrum. At that time I stopped going out
just used to sit in with a friend who bought a guitar at the same time,
learning Black Sabbath songs
then I was hooked!"
With a lot of enthusiasm
and rock 'n' roll pulsing through his veins, it wasn't long before Neil
played his first gig in a band called You Don't Care.
"There used to be this great old venue in Worcester called The
Northwick Theatre. Hendrix actually played there. It was a really great
scene on Friday and Saturday nights. My first gig was with a band called
You Don't Care. I didn't name the band!" he laughs. "It was
an awful name. We did three numbers of our own and a ton Guns 'N' Roses
From then on Neil knew he wanted to be a professional musician. Infused
with serious intent for success, he joined a performing arts course
at the local college in Kidderminster where he met the other members
of B*Movie Heroes.
"All the other musicians were into jazz playing crazy chords
we were the ones playing AC/DC songs and got told to tone it down!"
Those early college
days are a happy, but distant memory now for Neil and the other members
of the band. But those formative days also played a major part in building
a very strong bond between the lads in B*Movie Heroes, a bond that has
held them together through some tough times particularly financially.
Recently the band had just a fiver a day to survive on during their
rigorous touring schedule.
Neil admits originally
he did dream of ultimate fame. But age and experience has taught him
what is really important.
"My expectations changed the older I got. I've basically been touring
non-stop since I was 20, in various bands and when I joined The Yo-Yo's.
When I first started out I obviously thought, "Yeah, I want fame
like Bon Jovi," and to be in the biggest band in the world. But
the older I get
I love this romantic idea of being a songwriter,
travelling the country, playing my songs, making enough to live comfortably
Just to enjoy what I love doing."
To find out more about B*Movie Heroes and buy a copy of their excellent
debut album 'Anthems For The Underdog' reviewed in issue 38 of Black
Velvet, log on to the band's website: www.bmovieheroes.co.uk where you will find some free sample tracks to download and a comprehensive
guide to the band.