“One of rock’s best-kept secrets.” London Daily Star, UK
It starts with the question, “Who is Philip Sayce and why didn’t I know who he was?” Read on – it turns out that he’s been hiding in plain sight the whole time.
“Clapton, Page, Hendrix…Philip Sayce. The young guitarist reviving blues-rock.”
– London Metro, UK
Born in Wales and raised in Toronto, Canada, Philip Sayce’s love of the guitar started at an early age when his parents introduced him to all of the classics, notably, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jeff Beck. “I have such distinct memories listening to these incredible musicians,” Sayce says. “Their music had a huge effect on me.”
His first live music experience was an Eric Clapton gig at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. “This groovy version of ‘Crossroads’ had such an impact on me,” he recalls. “It was that musicianship that laid the foundation for me. What Clapton did was very different from what many younger artists do today. It was about spilling your heart out.”
With that inspiration ingrained, Philip asked his parents for a guitar, which became his constant companion. “It was this acoustic guitar from Sears with strings about four feet off the fret board,” he laughs. “I broke every CD player, DVD player, and tape player in the house pushing pause and rewind trying to figure out how to play.”
From the age of sixteen, Philip started showing up and playing at blues jam nights at Grossman’s Tavern in downtown Toronto. It wasn’t long before he was winning over admirers, including the legendary guitarist Jeff Healey, who invited Philip to join his band. Over the next few years, Philip had his first international tour experience with Healey, playing prestigious festivals and stages worldwide. “I learned so much from Jeff. His playing was off the charts. He would simply put people in a trance when he performed. It was otherworldly.”
After a move to Los Angeles, Philip was invited to join Melissa Etheridge’s band following an introduction by producer John Shanks. For the next several years, Philip performed on Melissa Etheridge’s albums and was featured during her live concerts where his cosmic performances left audiences stunned. On one such occasion, Melissa and her band were honoring Bon Jovi at a Grammy Awards event. Following the performance, Jon Bon Jovi told the audience “I want to give a special nod to Philip, who I immediately opened the program and said ‘Who the fuck is that guitar player?’ Pretty fabulous Philip.”
In 2009, Philip released Peace Machine, the first of three solo albums that established him as one of the leading lights in a new generation of blues-rock guitarists. With each subsequent release (Ruby Electric and Steamroller) his reputation continued to grow. With the European release of his fourth solo album, Influence, in the summer of 2014, Philip received some of the best reviews of his career. Produced by Dave Cobb, Influence features songs by artists that have inspired Philip over the years, as well as several original compositions. In January 2015, Philip signed with Warner Music Canada. Two new recordings, produced by Michael Nielsen at Revolution Studios in Toronto, are included on the Canadian version of Influence.
“Influence is powerful enough to turn him in to Canada’s next homegrown guitar hero.”
– Toronto Sun
“Influence is a culmination of sounds, colors, emotions, and artists who have directly helped to shape my approach and love of music,” said Philip. “The intention of my own music is to continue the message, power, love, and inspiration that I experience in every artist that has influenced me.”
The album’s first single, Ten Years After’s “I’d Love To Change The World” is a full illustration of what Philip is talking about. “It’s such an impactful song with a significant message,” says Sayce. “It is a chance to acknowledge Alvin Lee as one of the great guitarists of the past 100 years. We didn’t want to attempt to just re-create the original track. Our intention is to honor its influence and to infuse the music with the energy of 2015.”
Other covers on Influence included obscure gems like Little Richard’s funky “Green Power”, Graham Nash’s gorgeous “Better Days” and The Sonics’ raucous “I’m Going Home”. “There are already some great covers out there of songs that might be more obvious,” recalls Philip. “Dave and I wanted to find songs that maybe not everybody knew, but spoke to where I was coming from musically.”
Among the original songs on the album is the sonic masterpiece “Out Of My Mind” which is a clear tip of the hat to the man who changed modern blues guitar, Jimi Hendrix. “The track is an homage to the master,” admits Sayce. “Hendrix really moved me at an early age.”
The moody “Fade Into You” captures Philip’s raw emotion. “This could be the heaviest song on the album,” he mentions quietly. “It comes from a very hurt, sad, dark place. It’s about being screwed over in the music business.” Conversely, the rocker “Light ‘Em Up” is Philip encouraging people to empower themselves over the darkness and to keep pushing through.
“…a career-best record. Influence is worth the wait.”
– Classic Rock Magazine, UK
Philip’s musical life hit a high point in 2013 with his unforgettable performance at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival at New York’s Madison Square Garden. “It was a special experience that reinforced my love of music and commitment to honour the musical integrity of my heroes,” Sayce says. “I’m going out there in the studio and onstage to do my best and perform from my heart every time.”