Phil Matthews, a solo artist whom along with his buddy, Mr Hugh, are also known by their stage name; The Village, have been performing for many years and take influence from artist such as Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. The songs sound fresh and original, just listen to Lionel Strangeand Land Called Far Away. Not bad at all bad.
First up, how long have you both been together?
I’ve known Hugh for a long while; we actually played in a band together many years ago. When my current band LaF went into a state of suspended animation I released a couple of albums “Welcome to the Village” and Voodoo Skull” under the name the Village and started performing solo. Hugh came along and joined me for a few of them providing harmony vocals along with harmonica, kazoo, and percussion. Nowadays I perform the occasional solo gig and Hugh performs alongside me at the majority of the shows.
How would you describe yourselves as a duo?
I’d describe us as hunky and good looking but most people who see us would say that I really should go to Specsavers. Seriously though, I hope that the majority of audiences find us entertaining. I’ve always hated serious faced acts that refuse to communicate with audiences between songs and banter with the audience and between the two of us is a very important part of what we do. My own songs are best described as retro pop (whatever that is) and allows us to pepper our shows with pop classics from the past 60 years
….. also what music influences your music?
I’ve always been a Beatles fan, and many of the people who come to watch us remember that I used to be part of a group of friends who put Beatles Conventions on in the East Midlands. I love the classic bands from that period such as the Rolling Stones and the Who – all of which you can hear shades of in my music. My all time favourite band was an obscure West Country folk rock outfit called Stackridge who would think nothing of including self penned music hall tunes, reggae, blues rock, jazz and classical music in their stage shows, and I would like to think that I bring a little of that to what I do. I am, however, interested in the contemporary music scene. It just seems that what I write and record reflects my older influences.
As a duo, do you both find it easier when thinking about musical ideas?
You are absolutely spot on with that suggestion. The biggest frustration for me (and I suspect many other acts) is that anything you want to do has to be run past 3 or 4 other people. Purely on a logistical basis booking gigs can become a nightmare when you have to ask each member if they are available and they then have to ask their wives/girlfriends/cat etc if they are available. I’ve always loved the camaraderie of playing in bands but the number of great songs that have never made it onto set lists because one or other person has a problem with it is immense. Solo I only have me to deal with as I know if I am available or not, and I also choose songs that I personally enjoy playing. Having one other person involved brings a few of the above mentioned problems but it is easier to keep track of availability. Also having a second person to bounce musical ideas off helps to keep you focused. Also with the best will in the world it is hard to be your own critic and having one other person able to point things out solves a lot of that.
The Village, interesting name for your band, how did that come about?
I’m a huge fan of cult sixties show the Prisoner. In a nutshell the idea of the series was that people who the authorities felt to be dangerous were taken to a secret destination to be re-programmed. The place they were sent to was known simply as the Village. Knowing that the Prisoner was very much of its time and attracted a certain type of audience I thought that the name would give people something of a handle on the music. The Prisoner is a great series and I would recommend anyone who has not seen the original Patrick McGoohan show to check it out.
Out of all you gigs which has been your favourite so far?
I’ve enjoyed so many of them for different reasons and I’d hate to offend the various promoters that I have worked for but I would have to give mention to the Shed in Leicester and the bandstand in Nottingham Castle both of which I played solo and the Acoustic Rooms in Nottingham and the Rock and Blues Festival at Pentrich which we played as a duo.
….. and where would be your dream gig?
I would love to play Greenwich Village in New York as it had a bohemian atmosphere and attracted the best singer/songwriters of their era. The Cavern in Liverpool for obvious reasons and finally the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.
As a band, how’s life on the road going?
This has been a great year with over 100 gigs so far. There is no point as a writer having songs and not taking them out on the road and long may that continue.
Unless you’ve already done so would you ever play some gigs abroad?
I’d love to play abroad, not sure where although the USA does appeal. Not sure how my sense of humour would be accepted though.
Have you had much airplay at all?
With the ever increasing number of stations broadcasting via the internet I estimate my songs have been played on over 250 of them over the last couple of years. My songs have been streamed over 1,000 times, and I believe that at least one of my songs will be played somewhere in the world virtually every day.