Josh Phillips Breaks Into the Country Music Scene Unapologetically
Nov 16, 2017 04:00PM ● Published by Nicole Gould
It was only when an ex-girlfriend convinced Phillips to post a song he wrote for her on YouTube, did he realize he might have just created his new future plan.
The North Carolina native officially introduced himself to country fans with the release of his EP Lee County. The five-song track list speaks volumes to the artistic ability of this singer/songwriter. Not only did he co-write each track, but he showcases lyrics considered to be unapologetically honest twisted with a great southern sound.
“My whole goal with any song I cut, especially on records and during live shows, is that I want you to get a feel of exactly who I am and feel like were buddies at the end of the record or show. That’s where the unapologetically honest comes from. It’s what you see is what you get.” – Josh Phillips
Although he’s just making a name for himself, Phillips has performed alongside some of the genre’s top artists including Sam Hunt, Cole Swindell, Chris Janson, Tyler Farr, and currently Luke Combs.
As the saying goes – when one door closes, another one opens.
Catch this up and coming country sensation on Friday, November 17th, 8 p.m. at Rams Head Live as part of Luke Combs’ Don’t Tempt Me With A Good Time Tour, presented by 93.1 WPOC. Tickets are $15.
Growing up, you were a baseball player and even dreamt about going professional. How did your interest for music develop during that time and what ultimately led you to pursue it as a career? Do you ever believe that music was something you were always meant to do?
My mom made me take guitar lessons when I was four or five. I never sang other than in the church choir. My dad wrote poems a lot when I was a kid, so I guess that’s where the writing thing came from.
Baseball was definitely priority, but when I got hurt, I was just playing around and writing some songs. I was dating a girl at the time and during my second year of college was when we broke up. I went home for Thanksgiving and did the weird boyfriend thing where I broke up with her, but wanted her back. So, I wrote her a song and sent it to her. I didn’t have any plans to do music outside of that. Writing stuff down was the best way for me to describe my emotions.
I sang it and sent her a video. She said she wanted me to make a record and I told her I’m not doing that. She told me she was going to put it on YouTube and if it hit like 2,000 views in 24 hours, then I had to do it. I knew it was never going to happen, so I let her do it. 24 hours later and it had over 4,500 views.
I started to play at the Pour House in North Carolina. I started playing acoustic, built a record, and said ‘heck, I’m going to try this.’ I was about a year in a half into it when I met Luke, who was doing the same thing just in a different state, writing songs and playing acoustic. When we had off weekends, I would play with him.
I think that the good lords always got a plan. I think there was always a reason. My mom and dad didn’t play instruments, I think there was a reason for sure.
What would you say separates you from the many other country artists out there?
My whole goal is to hit the market of who I am, just like what Luke is doing; hitting the people we are, blue collar America that grew up just like we did. We’re writing a lot of stuff, singing songs a lot of people don’t sing about, and singing about it in a way they don’t sing about them. I’m just doing it a little bit different, playing music that I’d want to hear and write.
You’ve been pinned as an artist who is unapologetically honest. Tell me more about your writing process and how you come about putting a song together?
My whole goal with any song I cut, especially on records and during live shows, is that I want you to get a feel of exactly who I am and feel like were buddies at the end of the record or show. That’s where the unapologetically honest comes from. It’s what you see is what you get.
Let’s talk about your EP Lee County? How do the five songs connect with your life and is there one in particular that you relate to most?
The EP is a collection of all the stuff I went through. “Kids That Did” is about all the stuff I went through when I was younger, including doing donuts and getting suspended my senior year. “Long Way Home” was written about my best friend who passed away about a year and a half ago; “Fixer Upper” is about my first truck that we stole; I wrote “Midnighters” with Randy Montana. It’s more about what we all went through with young love in a small town. “Fast Ride” was written with Brian Davis, which is about everyone who wants to get out of that small town and go somewhere else.
I hope people love it as much as I love it and I hope everyone relates to it just like I do.
After working with country artists such as Sam Hunt, Cole Swindell, and many others, what have you learned about the country music industry and how would you say you’ve grown as an artist? What are you looking forward to most during your tour with Luke Combs?
You learn different things from different people. The majority of the guys, I got to pick their brain and hang out with them. I’m a big question asker. Even with Luke, the basis of it all is don’t stop, keep going, hard work wins every time, and I truly believe that.
Also, I’ve learned to always be honest because the people in the crowd and the people listening on the radio, they pick up on whether or not its honest and real.
Oh man, that’s a tough one. I’m definitely looking forward to the end of tour prank. Honestly though, I’m looking forward to Charlotte, North Carolina. All the venues are great and Charlotte is kind of a home state show for us both so we’ll have family out and get the chance to see them for two nights in a row. It’s going to be incredible.
The end of tour prank is something that the openers do to the headliners. For instance, on the Brantley Gilbert tour, Luke turned Brantley’s drum risers around so his back was facing the crowd when he was playing.
What’s next for Josh Phillips? What can we expect to see from your debut album?
I’ve been working on my debut album. I think we’re going to do 12 songs and it’s obviously going to be more band stuff. The EP was kind of stripped down. It’s going to be a lot of stuff that I’m passionate about and things I’ve been through. Honest stuff. We’re also looking to have a single come out on the radio sometime in February, hopefully.