Guitarist John Philbrick, whose L.A. session work led him to meet future collaborators Justin Gariano and Dusty Schaller (Evanescence, Evaride, Reignwolf) and vocalist/keyboardist Steve Maggiora (Toto, Robert Jon & The Wreck), will release his debut full-length album, If You Say So, via TuneCore on all major DSPs, Friday, July 14.
Recorded at Heartbeats principals Gariano and Schaller’s TreeHaus Recording in Woodland Hills, CA, mixed by GRAMMY-winning Ross Hogarth (Edgar Winter, Van Halen, Doobie Brothers), and mastered by GRAMMY-winning Richard Dodd (The Black Keys, Larkin Poe, Tom Petty, Boz Scaggs), the album offers a showcase for Philbrick’s eclectic guitar style. Growing up, Philbrick was influenced by classic rock bands such as Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana which eventually led him to his discover blues greats like B.B. and Albert King. With his formal training at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Philbrick studied more formal technical players like Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman and Jason Becker.
All that and more is present on If You Say So. Maggiora, a veteran session player and top-notch singer, provides the vocal accompaniment to Philbrick’s roaring riffage, which ranges from the Guns N’ Roses-meets-AC/DC opener, “Angles” to the soulful jazz feel of “Losing Out to Crazy,” with its loping Santana-like guitar riffs and the sensuous R&B of “Took Me by Surprise,” parting ways for a searing Clapton-esque solo midway through.
The blues are well-represented with the chunka-chunka psychedelia of “More of Nothing,” while “Lovesick Warrior” has a spooky Native American primal beat anchoring a Doors-meets-“Helter Skelter” incantation that climaxes with Maggiora’s blood-curdling scream. “Not Enough” is a rock ‘n’ roll anthem, with a buzzsaw guitar solo at its center, with the title track offering an experimental, atmospheric, country-art-rock feel different from anything that came before.
As Philbrick explains, If You Say So began with him and producers Gariano and Schaller writing songs together before bringing in Maggiora – whom Philbrick had never met -- halfway through for vocals.
“It was pretty clear right away there was a lot of chemistry between us musically,” said John. “Steve is an absolutely killer musician, but maybe even more importantly, a really fun guy to hang out with and work with.”
“As a session player, there were a lot of dream-come-true moments and bucket-list moments and that’s something I’ll never forget,” added Maggiora. “This record has soul, it rocks hard, it digs deep and it grooves like a mother*****!”
The album also abounds with the some of the industry’s top session players: drummers Gregg Bissonette (Ringo Starr & His Allstar Band, The David Lee Roth Band), Randy Cooke (Smash Mouth, Alanis Morissette), and Dylan Howard (Unwritten Law, Dorothy); bassists Tim Landers (Steve Smith, Billy Cobham), Gregg Cash (Josh Todd and the Conflict, Dorothy), and Travis Carlton (Larry Calton, Sara Bareilles); Dave Eggar (Coldplay, Evanescence) on cello and string production; and background vocalists Adryon DeLeon (Idina Menzel), Dedrick Bonner (BTS), and Kenna Ramsey (John Mayer, Vintage Trouble).
Concludes Philbrick, “Each of us pulled from our respective skill sets to make this and that is probably one of the most satisfying things about collaborating in the studio.”
While If You Say So began as a showcase for Philbrick’s impressive guitar pedigree, it turned into a real collaborative effort, perhaps even the makings of something more permanent. The album will be available on all digital outlets on July 14th.