A Conversation with Drills/Bon Jovi Guitarist Phil X

Replacing a legend is never easy, replacing two is impossible but that’s exactly what Phil X has done.  He took over for Rik Emmet in Triumph and Richie Sambora in Bon Jovi but still continues to make his own music with his band Phil X & The Drills.  The latter band just released a new track called “Right On The Money” and Phil took some time to talk about it and so much more.
Please press the PLAY icon below for the MisplacedStraws Conversation with Phil X:
On how “Right On The Money” was recorded – The whole “Right On The Money” track came together with Chris Lord-Alge calling me, asking to take The Drills into Capitol Records studio in Hollywood to tape his Master Class on cutting a band live off the floor. He mixed Stupid Good Lookings, Vol. One. We started hanging out, we met many times because he had mixed a lot of records that I played on, like Daughtry and Kelly Clarkson. When we finally met, he was like, “Man, I love mixing your guitars”,  and I’m like, “Well, you’re the best in the world, so thanks”. But when we started hanging out because we were both in Rio. He was in Rio broadcast mixing Aerosmith on their night at Rock In Rio 2017. And then Bon Jovi played the next night. So he was there and we were hanging out and he goes, “Hey, man, I hear you got a sideband. I’d love to check it out.” And I sent him tracks and he totally freaked outAnd he’s like, “I need to mix this and you need me to mix this”. And I thought that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. 2:00

On getting Liberty DeVitto to guest on the upcoming Drills record – The Liberty story is crazy. We met well while we were doing a hang for the Hired Gun documentary at East West Studios, and we became friends. And then I said, “Hey if I’m in New York, will you come and recorded a Drills song?” And he said, yes. And I happen to be in New York doing two sold-out nights with Bon Jovi at Madison Square Garden. So I kind of call it the “Madison Square Garden – Liberty DeVitto Sandwich”. The bread being two nights at Madison Square Garden and the morning in the middle, Friday morning, we met at the Power Station and recorded this track called “Broken Arrow”. So I love this story. I love his playing. He’s a beautiful person. It just came out great. 7:30

“Right On The Money”
On first meeting Jon Bon Jovi while playing with Aldo Nova – Jon joined us onstage on two occasions. When we were rehearsing for the tour, we learned “Blaze of Glory” knowing that John would jump on stage a couple of timesSo we learned “Blaze of Glory”, his single, and he co-sang “Blood on the Bricks” with Aldo because he co-produced the song and co-wrote the song…Jon was like, “Hey, you know, the band, Bon Jovi’s on hiatus. Will, your band come to my house and record “Levon” for the Elton John/Bernie Taupin tribute that’s coming out?” I ended up doing that with John in his basement. So even though we played on stage together and we recorded together in his basement studio at the time, I don’t think he remembered me. I truly think that when he was calling around and asking who would be a good guy that could walk on stage and fill in for Richie when he heard my name, he was like, “Hmm, that sounds familiar. But I have no idea who that is.” 8:45
“Blood On The Bricks” – Aldo Nova feat. Phil X
On joining Triumph – I was touring with another Canadian band called Frozen Ghost It was Frozen Ghost that led into Aldo Nova that led into Triumph, that was the order of appearances. So I was doing a thing, me and Wolf from Frozen Ghost, go into Q107, which was Toronto’s rock stationWe went to a Q107 Christmas party, and then Mike Levine walked up to me and I go, “Hey, Mike Levine”,  and he goes, “Hey, man, you’re Phil X”. I was shocked that he knew who I was. And then I said, “So how’s it going? Looking for a new guitar player?”, and he said, “Well, everybody that I talked to says we should get you”. I got goosebumpsSo then when the Aldo Nova call came in and that started to come around, what ended up happening was that’s when Gill called me and said, “Can you come to Metalworks?”, which is down the street from my mother’s house. “Can you come to Metalworks? We could talk. We want to put you in Triumph and want to know if you’re into it. ” And I had just committed to Aldo Nova,.so that put a kibosh on that.  But when I came back from Aldo Nova, they were like, “Hey, what are you doing?” I said, “Nothing”,  (they said) “Well, let’s go make a Triumph record”,. I’m like, “OK, let’s do it!” 11:15
“Child Of The City” – Triumph feat. Phil X
On his favorite sessions – That’s tough. Sometimes I forget. There was a time where I was so busy, I’d go to the gym and I’d hear a Gavin DeGraw track with my guitar on it, and then it Daughtry song right after with my guitar on it, and then a Kelly Clarkson song with my guitar on it. And I’m thinking, what the hell is going on here. You know, it’s off the radio. So, that gets really exciting. Personally, I think Chris and Gavin are both incredible singers. I’d go as far as to say I think they’re kind of underrated. Chris, he’s just, I think he’s the real deal. When we were working on his record and I asked him to sing the chorus in my ear because it hadn’t been laid into the track yet, and he sang in my ear and it sounded recorded, compressed, printed, mastered, shrink-wrapped, and the shelf it was pretty amazing. And then Gavin is incredible. He’s a melody genius and I love his voice so much. 14:35
“Limitless” – Bon Jovi
On replacing Richie Sambora – The funny thing is, is I didn’t have time to fear the repercussions of walking on that stage. I had to learn a show, a two-and-a-half-hour show. My saving grace was a teleprompter because I had to memorize all the guitar parts, so being able to read the lyrics as they went by singing, of course, that helped a lot. I mean, the one thing I felt like was, the decision I made early on to to be really respectful to not only the music but be respectful to Richie and his participation in that music as a writer and recording it and respect the fans, and just to do a good job. I mean, I think that was the most important thing. And that’s what I thought.  I went on stage, people like, there’s no way you weren’t nervous. I was like, well, my first show was 50,000 people in 2011 at Jazz Fest in New Orleans. I walked on stage and was like “Dude, you’ve been playing and singing your entire life, it’s just Bon Jovi songs”…Well, this is me every night, I start playing the riff and I’d say to myself, “Don’t screw up, dude, don’t screw up”, because you could be a superstar bionic rockstar all night long if you screw (“Wanted Dead or Alive”) up and you suck. 16:50
“Living On A Prayer” – Bon Jovi Hall of Fame Induction
On playing with Bon Jovi at their Hall of Fame Induction – We had dinner a couple of weeks before, we had dinner after the first rehearsal with Richie. There was still, there was still a lot of…everybody buried the hatchet and came together as a group of friends. Hey, the gang’s back together, right on. And even though it’s temporary, which really everybody knew. It’s just it came together really, really well. And as a guy on the sidelines, I felt like I was in a cool position to witness that.  I’d never met Alec (John Such) before, I never met Richie before. So meeting those guys was really special, because I was a fan. I bought tickets to the New Jersey tour when I was young. I took my girlfriend to see them in the stadium that isn’t there anymore in Toronto, Canada. So people are like “Were you a fan?”  I bought tickets. 22:08

Follow Phil X – 
Facebook | Official | Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *