Honiton's Sweet Black Angel
PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 May 2017 | UPDATED: 09:06 08 May 2017
Scott Phillips is a professional musician who has shared the stage with some famous names. Steve Jennings spoke to him about his career and hopes for the future.
2017 will be a busy year for Scott Phillips.
The professional musician will be dividing his time between his solo career and being the front man for Honiton’s ever-popular four-piece unit The Sweet Black Angels, with at least two CDs in the pipeline for release later in the year.
Scott has a busy live schedule with a number of shows in place to satisfy his ever growing audience in the region, with invitations to appear at various festivals also coming in thick and fast.
For the young Scott, it was always music that was his chosen career path. But the first realisation that he wanted to perform was not necessarily the makings of rock legend: “It was at a school concert actually and I was watching the school band of that time play. It was great. They were so into what they were doing and having such great fun, and when I saw the crowd response I knew I had to do that so I joined the school band when I could. Ian Browne, our music teacher, was brilliant and a massive influence. He put us all together.”
Scott formed his first band at school and performed under various names, including The Twisted Rogues and Aspire, before settling for The Sweet Black Angels. The band’s name also highlighting Scott’s musical influences: “There is a Rolling Stones track called Sweet Black Angel, and I have always been a fan. I liked the sound of that.
“But my parents were a massive influence too as they were always listening to music: at home, in the car and on holiday. My Mum liked the sweet, melodic stuff like Simon & Garfunkel and Bowie, whereas Dad was into darker stuff like Pink Floyd, Free, Hendrix and Black Sabbath. So the name The Sweet Black Angels seemed very apt as we are rocky with a melodic feel. And the name has stuck.”
The Sweet Back Angels sound was very much influenced by the clash of this old school music meeting new, with Scott’s music of choice being the likes of Blur, The Levellers and Arrested Development: “I really like the classic rock sound of Free and AC/DC, even though it was a bit too rock for me. A lot of the indie stuff didn’t really have great guitar – apart from John Squire in the Stone Roses who was full on – so we tried to combine the two. We had indie-style writing with a proper rock lead guitar on top and it worked well. I guess our sound borders on Indie Folk.”
And it proved very popular as the band acquired and maintained a loyal following.
Scott and the band have managed to share the billing with some musical heavyweights over the years, including The Levellers and members of Cast and The Bluetones. But an obvious high was supporting The Pogues in Brixton a few years back, even though the end result caused some disharmony in the camp: “That was back in 2010. We had just supported Mark Chadwick of the Levellers at Lewisham when we got the call asking of we wanted to support The Pogues in London on December 21. We rehearsed for months for that show.
“But that was the year we had all that snow and there were some doubts that we would get there and back so in the end ‘Smoo’ (band member Andrew Wall) and I went up as a duo. We took a minibus with fifty people from Honiton and managed to travel there and back fine. The band did fall out about it actually.
“Shane MacGowan was walking round before the show and looked ill – almost dead at times. We met him and had our photo taken with him. They performed Fairytale Of New York and he got most of the words right. It got us all in the mood for Christmas!”
But meeting your idols is not always a success as Scott recalls: “Mark Morris, of The Bluetones, was terrible. We had supported John Power’s Cast just before and he was brilliant. We went to his sound check and he came off stage and met us and talked to us then invited us for a drink after – he was amazing. But Mark Morris didn’t want to know. He did about 45 minutes in total with two Bluetones songs. He came off the stage and was gone – he didn’t hang around.”
Scott has supported Mark Chadwick of the Levellers twice, including the concert at The Beehive last February, and the band also played at the after-show party of a Noel Gallagher gig at the O2.
This year Scott will mix his recording duties with performing in his regular haunts in the region as well as in Honiton. The band will be back at the Beautiful Days festival too. Scott hopes more people will take time to see him ‘live’: “Those (followers) that followed us down to The Beehive after all those gigs at the Motel and the British Legion have all said that they had a great night out, so I hope more follow us in the future. It would be nice to see some new faces too!”
Scott has successfully managed to carve a living out of making music. Far from being financially rich from his exploits his wealth is based on doing something he loves day in and day out: “I don’t have big targets these days. I am happy to keep writing, getting the music out there and having a loyal fanbase really, which we have.
“I make a living writing and performing music and that will do for me. I think I have all but given up on the dream of a huge selling album or headlining at the O2 but you never know, this is the industry of dreams after all!”
See Scott Phillips play live at:
• The Globe Inn, Lympstone (June 9)
• The Famous Old Barrel, Exmouth (June 18).
See The Sweet Black Angels play live at:
• Weirfest, Porlock (July 1)
• Uffculme Real Ale Festival (July 7)
• The Anchor Inn, Sidmouth (August 2nd, part of the Folk Week).