It's always interesting, the wonders you can find through Google. This particular wonder is named Steven Mark Phillips. He is the founder of a Christian power metal band, Crowned Warrior, and at present he plays all of the instruments and does all of the vocals. Pretty cool, huh? This is also very similar to how Theocracy, one of my all-time favorite bands, was started. Originally he had another member is his group, but they had to leave.
At present, Phillips is working with an organization to help him get off the ground. He has several songs recorded, which you can listen to on ReverbNation. When I asked him about them, though, he told me they were each recorded in 3-4 hours in his own studio, and that he could do much better if he put more effort into them. I was quite impressed.
I do feel a little bad, as this interview took place in July, and it's now October. But, then again, better late than never!
Reuben Horst: Hey Steve! How’s it been going lately?
Steven Phillips: Great! Things are moving along and I am growing both musically and spiritually. I have all kinds of musical ideas bubbling up as I like to say. Now I just have to find the time to develop them into songs.
RH: When did you start playing music?
SP: I wanted a guitar when I was 11 but never ended up getting one until I was 15. I am self-taught as we were fairly poor. I couldn't afford books let alone lessons. I figured out everything from basic major and minor barre chords to basic lead scales by listening to my favourite rock bands at the time.
RH: In becoming a one-man band, originally a two-man band, what have been some of your greatest influences?
SP: In power metal I would have to say Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and early Ozzy with Randy Rhoads. As far as early guitar influences probably the most influential on me were Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow), Brian May (Queen...early Queen...the good stuff ;-) ) and Allan Holdsworth. Of course there were many others such as Gary Moore, Tony Iommi, etc.
RH: If your record deal is successful, how long would you estimate it to take for you to complete an album?
SP: I am actually not working on a record deal per se, it's an artist development deal. There are many aspects to becoming successful in the music business besides talent. You need some guidance with developing the talent including song writing, vocal coaching, stage presence, audience rapport, etc. as well as the business side of things. But even more important is the ministry aspect. I am focused on being real and reaching out to people who have been through similar pains that I have been through. The folks I am working with are very focused on developing the ministry aspect along with everything else. They help you tap into your life experiences and what God has done in your life and help you bring that out in your music and on stage.
RH: I stand corrected. If you successfully release an album, do you think you will form a full band to play with you?
SP: That's a good question. I have always wanted to work with others in a collaborative way. My problem has been finding people who are as committed as I am, can play really well and can see the same vision. On the other hand it's not easy to get what's in your head and heart out in a way that others can reproduce what you are after. It's probably easier to do it yourself but then you lack other perspectives. So I am divided on it from a writing perspective and to some degree from a recording perspective.
If you think about it, classical composers do it all themselves then get musicians to play their music. That's one way to approach it I suppose.
Of course I would love to have some like minded and talented musicians to play with live.
RH: What is your favorite song, series of songs or concept album (by any band) that tells a story?
SP: Wow that's hard. I am an old Rush fan and I always loved the Hemispheres album. The story actually starts with a song off the previous album, "A Farewell To Kings" called "Cygnus X-1" then continues on the full side 1 (from the vinyl days) of Hemispheres. Then there's the old Todd Rundgren album with the so-called electric fairy tale "Singring and the Glass Guitar" but I am probably getting too obsure for you now. lol
RH: In the future, will you produce any story songs yourself?
SP: I'm not sure. I have always liked the fantasy story type of thing and have thought about it in the past. It's a bit more for the more progressive genres I think but that doesn't mean I won't explore it if I get inspired in that direction. I think it would be a lot more work to put it all together but it would be worth it.
RH: What exactly do you do for a living, and how does it compete with writing and performing music?
SP: I do computer work, from software development to systems integration, mostly server-based stuff. Of course I would like to work out of that and more and more into deriving a living from my music. It's not only a passion it's a calling so why shouldn't I be able to make a living at it. That's how I see it anyways.
RH: What are your dreams for the future of Crowned Warrior?
SP: I am taking a step by step approach. I am finally getting some music out there, mostly to get some feedback and see if what I am hearing, feeling and writing generates any interest, which it has. That makes me want to work all that much harder to put together an album of material that I can be proud of and can hopefully reach some people that may be searching for something more to life.
Beyond that I don't know because I think each step is built on the previous step so I won't know until I get there.
RH: What’s your favorite brand of soda?
SP: I don't really drink much in the way of soda but if I had to pick it would be A&W Root Beer.
Thanks for reading, and don't forget to check out Crowned Warrior on RevebNation!