On Stage: Ventura fire forces cancellation of Phillips’ show

By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Veteran rock and jazz drummer Simon Phillips was forced to cancel his tour — including a local stop tonight — after his Venture County, Cal. home burned in a wildfire.

Two British musicians who first arrived on the scene in the late 1970s and have been going strong ever since have concerts scheduled in the area at different venues on December 6 – Gary Numan at Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, 215-232-2100, www.utphilly.com) and Simon Phillips at Havana (105 South Main Street, New Hope, https://www.havananewhope.com/).

Unfortunately, the following announcement was made last night by Phillips’ management – “We have some very sad news to report this evening. The Ventura County, Calif., house of veteran session jazz and rock drummer Simon Phillips was burned to the ground last night in the Thomas Fire that has swept through Southern California.

At the time that it happened, Phillips was onstage at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City with his band Protocol 4. It was the first night of the U.S. leg of their tour, and Phillips has canceled the entire tour as he deals with the fire. A GoFundMe campaign is in the process of being established.

The Thomas Fire started last night at 6:30 p.m. (Pacific) and quickly spread via the Santa Ana winds, burning an acre a second and is still considered to be out of control. As of right now, it has covered 50,000 acres, roughly 78 square miles, and has destroyed 150 buildings, including an 82-bed mental health facility. According to the Los Angeles Times, 1,000 people are fighting the fire.

A native of London, the 60-year-old Phillips has a varied and distinguished career, having played with such acts as the Who, Jeff Beck, Judas Priest and Joe Satriani. He served as the drummer of Toto from 1992, following the death of co-founder Jeff Porcaro, until 2014.”

Gary Numan

Numan, who is known for his work as a solo artist and as leader of Tubeway Army. is an iconic and highly influential singer/electronic musician/rocker. In September, he released his 22nd studio album – “Savage (Songs From A Broken World)” via BMG.

“Savage (Songs From A Broken World)” is an album with a narrative that is set in an apocalyptic, post-global warming Earth in the not-too-distant future. There is no technology left and most of the planet has turned to a desolate desert wasteland.

Food is scarce, water even more so and human kindness and decency are just a dim and distant memory. Western and Eastern cultures have merged, more because of the need to simply survive than any feelings of greater tolerance or understanding. It’s a harsh, savage environment, as are the survivors who still roam across it.

“I started writing the album in November 2016,” said Numan, during a recent phone interview from his home in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. “I did a Pledge Campaign. I wanted donors to experience it from Day One – to see how a song evolved – to see how the various elements are added. I hadn’t gone into the studio for quite some time before that.”

While Numan was writing the record, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. It made sense to make him and his climate decisions the catalyst for the apocalypse theme of the album.

“With the election, it’s an interesting connection,” said Numan. “The first song I wrote was about how much pressure I was under because my last album did really well. I was doing a lot of touring – and I was managing myself.

“I was dealing with an awful lot of things I wasn’t used to. I wrote 22 bits of music that turned into fouir or five actual tunes.  I wanted the new album to be good enough. So, that was the first song.

“Then, I started to steal ideas from the book I was writing about a post-Apocalyptic future. Then, Trump appeared. I saw that he was against climate change – calling it a Chinese hoax. The thing that really got me was the climate change. He was saying things that were very different to what I believed to be true and it worried me.

“I had had no intention of doing an album about it but Trump made it all more relevant – taking ideas from my global warming book. Without Trump, the album would have been very different. I realized I needed to tap into this far more than I had anticipated. The project stopped being a purely science-fiction thing.”

The desolate future Trump’s actions could create took a central position.

According to Numan, “The songs are about the things that people do in such a harsh and terrifying environment. It’s about a desperate need to survive and they do awful things in order to do so, and some are haunted by what they’ve done. That desire to be forgiven, along with some discovered remnants of an old religious book, ultimately encourages religion to resurface, and it really goes downhill from there.”

The album was produced by long-term collaborator Ade Fenton with recording sessions split between Numan’s own studio in southern California and studios in the UK. Numan and Fenton’s creative connection goes back to 2006’s “Jagged” album.

“In 2016, I hooked up with Ade again,” said Numan. “He is very creative. And, it’s easy for me to work with him – to come up with ideas together. He is focused on making the music as good as it can be.”

Numan will also bring his tour to another area venue later in the week. On December 8, Numan will visit Lancaster County to headline a show at the Chameleon Club (223 North Water Street, Lancaster, 717-299-9684, http://www.chameleonclub.net).

Video link for Gary Numan – https://youtu.be/lHomCiPFknY.

The show at Union Transfer, which has Me Not You as the opener, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $30. The show at the Chameleon Club, which has Void Vision as the opening act, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $28.

Midweek can often be a slow time for live music events during the winter – but not this week.

The entertainment calendar also features two very interesting shows on tap with SeepopleS headlining a show in Philly and Northern Ghost performing in Lancaster.


SeepeopleS will bring its “HATE Tour” to MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 215- 925-6455, www.milkboyphilly.com).

The anti-genre indie pranksters SeepeopleS have been a band for 17 years. The group, which is the brainchild of bandleader/songwriter/producer Will Bradford, has released five full-length albums and 2 EPs on its own label, RascalZRecordZ. All seven records were co-produced by Will Holland (Pixies, New Pornographers, Dead Can Dance).

Led by the multi-faceted Bradford, SeepeopleS is an East Coast alternative pop/rock outfit with a strong psychedelic influence. Bradford is the band’s lead vocalist and primary songwriter. Over the years, he has played guitar (electric and acoustic), electric bass, drums, percussion, keyboards, organ and the Indian sitar for his group.

SeepopleS have toured virtually non-stop for almost two decades and have performed more than 1,500 shows in 46 states during their long career.

The band’s influences come from rock, soul, funk, dub-style reggae and electronica (including trance, drum-and-bass and jungle). But, more than anything else, SeepeopleSis a guitar-based rock band known for lyrics that have been described as melancholy, cynical, world-weary, and angry.

SeepeopleS was formed in Allston, Massachusetts in 2000, when three ex-members of a New England band called Cosmic Dilemma — Bradford, bassist Dan Ingenthron, and drummer Tim Haney — decided to keep working together.

SeepeopleS hadn’t been together very long when they landed a gig opening for Cracker at a New York City venue known as the Acme Underground, and after two years of East Coast gigs, SeepeopleS released their first album, “For the Good of the Nation,” in 2002. In 2004, SeepeopleS moved from New England to Asheville, North Carolina and released their second album, “The Corn Syrup Conspiracy.”

Through it all, SeepeopleS has been a New England band and they recently returned to their home.

“We started in Massachusetts and then were based in Portland, Maine,” said Bradford, during a phone interview last week from his home in Maine. “Then, we relocated to Asheville. We really liked it there but then decided to come back to New England. Now, we’re based in Portland.”

The band was recently nominated for “Best Live Act” for the 2016 New England Music Awards.

SeepeopleS released their newest EP, “HATE” earlier this year along with a brand-new video animated by Pete List (Celebrity Death Match/MTV, Marilyn Manson). The video for “New American Dream” features great graphics and a poignant look at the history of America and the world over the last few decades.

“We spent a lot of time conceptualizing that video,” said Bradford. “We wanted to make it historical.

“Actually, I wrote the song a long time ago – back when we were involved with Iraq. This year, we did a pre-election video of the song. Pete saw the video and said he wanted to work with us to do a post-election video of the song.”

The new EP is part of their triple series of EP releases – “LOVE,” “HATE” and “LIVE,” which is scheduled for release this month. All three EPs will be released digitally with some bonus tracks as “SeepeopleS LOVE HATE LIVE” at the same time.

“We made the studio EPs last year,” said Bradford. “We released the first half – the five-song ‘LOVE’ EP last year followed by the second five-song EP ‘HATE’ this year. We recorded the tracks at a wonderful studio in Bostonb — Chill House Studio. We worked with a great co-producer – Will Holland.

“He’s worked with us for 16 years and is like a fifth member of the band. I also produce other bands. When Will and I are together in the studio, we work together pretty well. He’s adventurous and that fits well with the music our band makes. The 10 studio songs were recorded over the last year.

“In our live show, we play stuff from almost every album. We do play the 10 songs from the latest EPs a lot.”

Video link for SeepopleS – https://youtu.be/V8TUkRqV6pw.

The show at MilkBoy Philly, which has Wyllys and Post War Dream as the opening acts, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Northern Ghost

Northern Ghost, a metal band featuring Tony McVaney (vocals), Alan Bryan (guitar), Nolan O’Renic (guitar), Kenny Pohorence (bass) and Michael Mazzoli (drums), will perform at the Lizard Lounge at the Chameleon Club (223 North Water Street, Lancaster, 717-299-9684, http://www.chameleonclub.net) as part of the Tour of Pure Tragedy with Tragic Hero Records labelmate Set to Stun.

Northern Ghost, which hails from the Cleveland/Youngstown area of Ohio, is currently touring in support of its debut album “Happy: Sad: Depressed: Suicidal,” which was released back in July via Tragic Hero. The band is known for creating emotional, honest metalcore music with influences from bands such as Underoath and Architects.

“We’ve been doing this band for two years,” said McVaney, during a phone interview Monday from his home in Youngstown. “The record just came out in July and now we’re going full force.

“Before this band, we knew each other from playing in other bands in the Ohio metal scene. With what we did in our older bands, we built our reputation with industry people before we even became Northern Ghost.”

In 2017, Northern Ghost signed with Tragic Hero Records. The partnership was an easy decision once they met label owner Tommy LaCombe. According to McVaney, “Right away he made us feel like a priority and made it very clear he believed in what we’re doing.”

McVaney explained the band’s family tree.

“Prior to Northern Ghost, several of us were members of the band Set to Reflect,” said McVaney. “So, we’ve known each other for a while. The metal scene around here is pretty tight-kinit.”

Northern Ghost is definitely a metal band – but it is also more than just a metalcore act.

“We really are more than just a metal band,” said McVaney. “We have a lot of band influences. Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead are big influences on what I add to our sound.

“We finished the album in July 2016. Then, we sat on it for a year to make sure everything was ready. We shopped it around to labels and Tragic Hero stood out to us. It’s really chill to be part of that family.

“We cut the album in Columbus, Ohio at Capital House Studio. Nick Ingram produced, mixed and mastered it. We recorded the first five songs with him independently and those were the songs we shopped out. Tragic Hero sent us back in the studio with him to finish the album. I’d say we were in the studio for one month altogether.

“We’re the kind of band that never stops writing. I do the lyrics and the melodies but everybody in the band does a fair amount of writing. It makes the writing process a lot easier when you have multiple minds working together.”

Video link for Northern Ghost – https://youtu.be/JW4zO7wFICk.

The Tour of Pure Tragedy will start at 6 p.m. at The Lizard Lounge. Tickets are $12.

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