TAS in Session: Phosphorescent
Phosphorescent is one lucky band. Just a day after they recorded this session with The Alternate Side, right before the kickoff of their six-week tour, the band's van was stolen in Brooklyn with all of their gear inside. Miraculously, a few days later it was recovered by the NYPD with nary a guitar pick missing. While frontman Matthew Houck and his cohorts didn't play "Nothing Was Stolen" from their latest album during their Studio A session, they did roll out two other tracks from Here's To Taking It Easy, plus one oldie, "Wolves."
The band is on tour in Europe until the end of September, but they've already lined up gigs at the Treasure Island Festival in San Francisco on October 17 and at New York's Bowery Ballroom on December 10:
Alisa Ali: I heard you rode here on your motocycle.
Matthew Houck: I did indeed. It’s an old Honda.
Alisa: You take that out on the open road? Have you ever been to Sturgis?
Matthew: The bike rally? I’ve heard about it.
Alisa: It’s like this huge bike rally. Five hundred thousand bikers go to South Dakota every year. And actually Bob Dylan played this year.
Matthew: Really? Dang.
Alisa: You’re not from Alabama are you?
Matthew: I am from Alabama.
Alisa: I thought you were from Georgia?
Matthew: No, I lived in Georgia for a while.
Alisa: I got some bad intel.
Matthew: Well, there’s bad intel out there. All around.
Alisa: Are you humble? (Matthew laughs). What is this, record four or five for you?
Matthew: Five or six.
Alisa: You have a bunch of EPs.
Matthew: There’s one that the label called an EP, but it’s a full album. Five or six releases.
Alisa: You used to record under a different name.
Matthew: I really didn’t record under that name. I was kind of travelling around playing wherever I could at like coffeehouses and stuff like that.
Alisa: What were you calling yourself?
Matthew: Fillup Shack. But it didn’t get released. It was just a home-pressed thing to sell.
Alisa: Why did you change your name?
Matthew: Well, I knew that I was going to be writing some songs that were going to have more of a sound than just a person’s name.
Alisa: Oh that was a person’s name? Well you’ve been around since 2003 with a revolving cast of players and collaborators. These guys [in the studio] are regulars now?
Matthew: Yeah, we’ve been playing with this lineup for a couple of years now. You come across musicians as you do this stuff and I’ve been lucky enough to come across five or six of the best ones living right now. We’ve got Scott Stapleton on the piano. I’ve known him for a while from back in Georgia days. We’ve got Ricky Ray Jackson on the pedal steel. Been knowing him since Texas days.
Alisa: Did you live in Texas too?
Matthew: No, but he does. That’s how he spends his days. We’ve got Jesse Anderson Ainslie on guitar. He’s a North Carolinian. Everyone else I think I met up here in New York. We’ve got Christopher Marine on the drums and Jeff Bailey over here on the bass guitar. New Yorkers, all of them.
Alisa: You’re a Southern boy. It resonates in your music. But you live in Brooklyn. What happened there? Do you live in a hipster neighborhood? Kids in tight jeans?
Matthew: No, I don’t actually. But I’ve got nothing against tight jeans. We live Brooklyn, a lot of great bands. A great music scene. And New York City is the greatest city in the world, in my humble opinion.
Alisa: You’ve done some serious travelling and you namedrop some places, like Los Angeles, Alabama.
Matthew: Well, being a touring musician I’ve been doing it for a pretty long time now and it’s only natural that would creep into the songwriting.
Alisa: You have been touring for a while. Are the cities all beginning to look the same?
Matthew: Yeah, they get that way. About halfway through they start looking like that.
Alisa: But it’s great you love New York City.
Matthew: It’s always great to come home.
Alisa: It’s funny that you say “home.” I wonder what your momma think of that.
Matthew: Let’s call her up. (laughs) “We’ll Be Here Soon”
Alisa: If I’d named the record Here's To Taking It Easy, I might have taken off the “G.” I might have said “takin’ it easy.”
Matthew: There was a longer title which is quite proper. [The label] didn’t let me [use it], but I agreed with them. It was too long.
Alisa: Well, what was it?
Matthew: Can I say “ass” on the radio?
Alisa: Hmmm. [back studio discussion]. You can say ass, but not assh**e?
Matthew: The entire title is Here’s To Taking It Easy Though The Jaws Of This World Wish Only To Grab Hold Of Your Sweet Ass. Which is from a poem. So I didn’t want to call it Takin’ It Easy. Beause it wasn’t that easy.