By: Elad Avigan
Bryan Phillips is Alive In Stone's frontman. The Orlando based band have released 5 singles thus far, and is one of alternative rock's most promising new acts.
Bryan, first of all thank you for taking the time to do this.
Let's start off with your childhood. What kind of music did your parents used to listen to?
My parents kind of used to listen to a lot of classic rock growing up, bands like Led Zeppelin, Billy Joel. My mom grew up listening to Frank Zappa, Yes, Yellow a lot of really classic rock bands. I kind of grew up just in a very musical household that was inspired by a lot of what my parents grew up listening to.
What music did you to listen to growing up?
It was mostly inspired by my brother Mike, who used to listen to a lot of Smashing Pumpkins , Metallica and stuff like that. But I would say that I didn't really find my musical identity until the Nu metal scene really took off, bands like Linkin Park and Staind if you even want to call that Nu metal… I would actually say that bands like Linkin Park, Staind, Tool, Chevelle, Alice In Chains… Kind of a melting pot of popular mainstream hard rock I think really influenced me to wanna play music.
When did you realize you wanted to be a musician yourself?
It was probably around 11 years old. I had always fantasized about playing music but I would probably say once Hybrid Theory came out and once I heard what music could sound like, and once Break The Cycle by Staind came out I really decided that I wanted to try make a living as a musician, even thought it wasn't really much of a career decision in my household. I always wanted to be a singer, I just never really had the confidence. My first instrument was guitar, so I always started from that place and eventually got into singing much later in my life. After college was over, I was going back to my career path and I thought about going back and finish my masters, but I realized that I probably wasn't gonna be happy doing that and I needed to really explore and fight for a career doing what I love to do and that was the moment I truly committed 100% to being a singer.
How did Alive In Stone came together?
Alive In Stone came together as a side project while I was in another band, a band that I didn't really have control of. The person that ran it was someone who had control of the group but didn't have, in my opinion, the reliance of being able to drive the momentum so I was able to be a singer, play guitar, bass, drums, I could program the drums, I could write the songs but we weren't going this quick with this band and I don't really have much control here, so I was at a point where I felt the music was stag and we were just spinning our wheels and a lot of other stuff going on that I didn't really liked very much and decided to depart from the band. While I was in the group, I have already started writing for it and basically wrote the first 6 songs on my own, and I was like "OK, while I release those songs I better go find the band" and that's what I did, I found the band piece by piece.
Is there a special meaning behind the band's name? I'm taking a guess it might be about something spiritual, the souls that keep on living after death?
There is this guy named Damian Keyes that had a video about picking a band name and he said "why don't you try to take a bunch of words you like in a song and try to combine them?", so there was the word "alive" and there was the word "stone" and I really like both of those words and then I tried to combine them and thought "how about alive in stone?" and that's a perfect metaphor for what I'm dealing with right now.. I'm not in a band, I am completely alone doing this, it's like I'm alive but still encased in stone, I'm still held back but I'm alive. It's kind of a metaphor for being down but not out, no matter how hard it gets you, you are always alive so that's where it comes from, but it's definitely spiritual, it could mean souls that keep on living after death, it could mean something that's not dead but still alive. I think that people that listen to our music should find the meaning themselves, and what they think it means and kind of run with it.
Your debut single "Blood Moon Rising" is a real banger and I still listen to it.
I know there is a real interesting story behind it, please tell us a little bit.
I wrote that song about the pandemic, comparing it to the rapture, like a metaphor. I think that we saw so much division in our culture , of our political beliefs and all the other things that were going on that we lost the humanity in it, and there was a piece of us turning our hatred towards each other when we should be unifying regardless of what side we support, finding unity is something we should agree on because we are a country and not just here but around the world. It's the seeds of destruction and that's kind of what was going on in my mind at the moment. I don't care what you believe in, what you really want to do with your life, but when it comes down to it, we need to find a way to still keep each other alive, you know? and that was what "Blood Moon Rising" was saying "I see a blood moon rising", I see a foreshadowing of the end.
Your latest single "Fatboy" tackles eating disorders. Is that a topic that's close to your heart?
Fatboy is a song that is very close to my heart, I kind of struggled with being… I was always a little shameful of being a heavy kid my whole life, I always kind of been a chubby kid, I struggled with girls for a long time, I struggled with liking myself for a long time, one time I decided I was gonna take all the ridicule and the teasing and I'm gonna use this as power. I got in the gym, I always went in the gym, but I started paying more attention to my diet and got really lean. So much to the point where I got super lean and also super sick, I was eating food and spitting it out, I remember one day just started eating and I didn't stop, I was like "I'm wanna eat until I don't feel hungry anymore" and it was kind of like an eating disorder. It was seeing yourself pushing so far in one spectrum that you are basically hurting yourself. So it's about finding a way to fight your demons, that's basically what the song is about, and using your pain that you feel to overcome it, but not pushing it too far in the other direction where it destroys you, the words "swallows your life" so to speak, using the voices in your hear to dominate it.
Listening to your music, I noticed influences of Korn, Chevelle and Filter to name a few, but mostly I hear a resemblance to Linkin Park, namely Chester Bennington's vocal style. While similar, you still stay unique and distinctive. Do you hear that a lot from people?
I'm flattered that you hear those bands in our music, and that you actually compare my voice to that of Chester's. That is something that I hear a little bit here and there. I do hear that I resemble his voice and I think we both have the same light kind of vocal folds, we both have I would almost say androgynist sounding tenor voice, lighter male voice, I don't have a deep powerful voice, I'm kind of a little guy, I'm like 5' 6" and 150 pounds so I'm not a big guy, I don't have big vocal cords, but yeah.. I get that a lot. I would say Chester Bennington's voice was the first person I ever tried to emulate in terms of singers, he is my favorite singer of all time, I am Chester Bennington influenced the same way Steve Perry was influenced by Sam Cook, where he tries to sound like him. I'm not saying I'm anywhere near as good as Steve Perry but I definitely loved Chester's voice.
Filter is one of the bands that I'm very pleased you think we sound like, because Richard Patrick is one of my favorite vocalists of all time. I think he is very influential to Chester too, they both did pitched screams and Rich was someone that I loved, someone that pushed the boundaries and had an amazing voice and it's a big privilege that you think I sound like him or Chester Bennington, so thank you.
If you could only pick 3 albums to take with you on a deserted island, what would you choose?
Oh boy.. 3 albums? let's see. I will say.. Chevelle's Venus Era, Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park, Places For Breathing by Revis.
When was the last time a song made you cry?
I'm not really much of a crier to be honest… OK this is gonna be hilarious for most people because it's not what you think.
I would say "Wildfire" by Michael Martin Murhphey…haha… is the last song that made me cry. So for those of you who don't know, this is a song about a relationship between a girl and a horse, it's about a beautiful relationship that they have together.
This woman was eventually trapped in a blizzard, in which in her final moments of being alive.. it still makes me wanna cry… she is calling out Wildfire's name. Wildfire instinctively knows that she is in trouble and he breaks down his stall looking for her, and he can't find her. She passes away.
That's the last song that made me cry because it makes me think of my girlfriend Rebecca, how much she loves animals and how I'm sure she would , if she was ever in a place like that, she would probably do the same thing. It's a very hard song for me to listen to, it's a very beautiful song.
What's the best advice a musician ever gave you?
It comes from two people. The first one is from one of my favorite singers, he is a mentor of mine, his name is Mike Protich, he is from a band called Red Sun Rising, he also plays in another band called The Violent, and he said don't ever chase after what is popular now. Be original, in the sense that, play the music that you wanna hear yourself, that you wanna play, because by the time that you put out your version of what's popular, that trend will already be gone.
The second one is from a producer called Kyle Odell and he said "just make it past the first two years as a band" because it's so hard for bands to continue after two years, he actually calls it "the pain point". I think it's because once you are so excited and you put so much work into this project and you release it, no matter how good you sound it's hard because you don't have a fanbase yet, and a lot of doubt creeps in, a lot of burn out happens, and you just have to make it past the first one or two years, because most band start and they stop.
Besides being the lead singer, you are also the band's manager and from what I can tell, you do all the band's social media yourself. How hard is it taking on so many different roles?
It can get redundant sometimes, but I signed up for the role.
It's not that bad, I took on the roles that I wanted to take because I wanted to do it, most of the social media is just reaching out to fans and making new relationships with people who may like the music, I like to talk about them, I like to talk about their stuff, and don't usually talk about our music, if people find our music they find it naturally, I don't go around saying "Hey! You guys could check us out', I mean that's so disingenuous, I'm not into that. The thing is I try to plan out our social media ahead of time, so if it's well prepared you are gonna be fine. The part when it's so overwhelming you can't focus, that's the time to get a manager.
Alive In Stone's Instagram page:
If you could pick any musician, alive or dead, to step into the recording studio with, who would it be?
Oh boy… I would say like Chester, Chester Bennington, my homie. I would pick him.
What's the best live show you ever been to?
It's probably when Static-X when they were in Orlando. It was sick! It was two big moshpits that turned into one. I completely let behind of all my fears, all he things that scared me and just jumped in the pit and got busy, it was fucking great, I loved every second of it! They were playing "Bled For Days", I loved it. Probably my favorite live show of all time.
Speaking of live shows, do you guys plan on going on the road soon?
Honestly, if we get a tour, if we are able to book a tour, a mini tour we would love to do it. We don't wanna announce it yet, but will be playing in the very very soon future.
And in closing, what is the wildest dream you have in terms of Alive In Stone's music?
I would honestly love honestly to have our music on a wild scale audience, I would love to be able to make a sustainable living as one of the best rock acts in the world, I mean, that would be great.
But honestly I just want to have a huge fanbase and have this music touch a lot of people and make people feel our message, and feel the music, I would love to do that.
I mean, if we had a super huge fanbase and everyone loved our music and I would made like $20,000 I wouldn't give a shit. I'm doing something on a large scale, it's always been around the fans, it's never been about the money.
My wildest dream is to play to huge fanbases and really inspire as many people as possible with our music, and not even with music, but just inspiring people to live their lives the way they want to and have te choices that they want to have, inspire them to reach for something more in themselves, that's the wildest thing that I can ask for.
I would love to be able to do this as a career.
Elad Avigan hosts "Ze Rock Porto" every Tuesday between 15:00 – 16:00