Phinius Gage

By paul

PAUL: “So, although I’ve known about the band for quiet a while now, can you give us a quick history and discuss the line-up changes and their significance please?”
ADE: “Right….. We got together in late 2000, with Matt on drums, Mcfly on bass, Ade on guitar and backing vox and Damo up front. We wrote a few songs and went straight to a studio and recorded the “Econ” EP. We did this because as anyone in a band knows, it’s a bitch trying to get shows when you don’t have anything recorded so we saved as much as we could and did the ep. We then used this to get us shows all over the place. We never aimed to stick to local shows, its very easy to mistake the support of friends for genuine support so we just played anywhere that would have us, as well as playing some wicked home shows with our friends of course. This went well for a while then Damo got the travelling bug and basically really needed to go away so we said a fond goodbye and parted company (still best mates though). After auditioning a few people for singer we ended up get in a good mate of ours to play second guitar and I took on the vocal duties. I think this was a major change for us, we had talked about getting in another guitar but never knew how much scope it would give us, it was really good. We sort of re-worked all the current tunes and wrote a few more and we were really happy. I think it gave us so much more room to play about with harmonies and melody. Also Matt took on backing vox, this was a good move because it gave him more of an influence on the melody (no drummer jokes ha ha). Then we just took this line up out on the road and got a really good response it was great, obviously we were concerned people might not like it, but thankfully they did. From there we went up to Corby to record with Ian Wetherall, we were really pleased with what we came out with and to cut a long story short so did Deck Cheese, they then came along to see us and here we are today……very happy bunnies indeed. More recently we have sadly lost our bass player Mcfly, this was really down to financial reasons really, we felt we needed to go pro, or at least work less and be on the road a lot more. Mcfly unfortunately has a mortgage and really couldn’t do it. We lost a good man there, but we are still good mates. We have a couple of people we are talking to but keep an eye out for the new line up very soon.”

PAUL: “Who exactly was Phineas Gage and who chose this inspirational character as a potential band name? Have PG gone under any other guises in previous incarnations?
PIE: “As far as I know Phineas Gage was the guy who had the first frontal lobotomy; he worked on the rail lines last century and an explosion blew some metal rod into his head, the operation to remove it removed some of his brain which changed his personality and he became foul-mouthed and abusive! An American student friend of McFly’s suggested it as a name when the band was in its infancy before I joined – he was quite a intellectual bloke and I guess the story behind the name sounded pretty cool to us. We had to change the spelling to Phinius Gage because there is an American band called Phineas Gage, but we are used to some fairly bizarre and interesting spelling variations!”

PAUL: “You’ve been bracketed in by many as one of the leading lights in the UK skate punk scene (and yes I’m guilty of doing that!), do you see yourselves as a skate-punk band? Which bands act as big influences on the band?”
ADE: “Wooh, big question. Ermmm We have talked about this on a number of occasions and we are not really sure what skate punk is, I mean to me its always been the So-cal type stuff we all got into first. So yeah I reckon we are skate punk, two of us skate, Matt is too big and we don’t know who will join us next so not sure if they will skate or not. Seriously though we are a punk band its as simple as that, we like the skate style and attitude so I’ll leave it up to you. As far as influences go, we all have so many different ones its hard to get into it. There are a load of bands, however, that we all agree on. NOFX, Pennywise, Ten Foot Pole, Lagwagon, generally loads of So-Cal bands that got us into punk years ago. We love them all, but there are a load of newer bands we love too, Good Riddance, Strike Anywhere, Rise Against, Consumed, 4ft fingers, Red Lights Flash, shit there is just too many. We love loads of stuff, we love loads of old metal, I love Killswitch Engage, we love Dire Straits, I could go on forever.”

PAUL: “You’ve now put out two releases. How did the recording of them differ?”
ADE:The first one (Econ) as I said earlier was done on a budget and done before we had gigged, so looking back I think we had a lot to learn. It was ok and at the time we were stoked, but over time you notice things you would do differently. ‘MHMS’ was done using what we had learnt when doing ‘Econ’ and all the stuff we had learnt from doing a lot of gigging. We practiced playing the songs without vocals and also wrote down loads of stuff we wanted to do in terms of production and sound. So by the time we got up to Corby we were really focused. The fact the Ian is a legend also helped a lot. Unlike the first producer, he knows more about punk and he was also a lot more chilled out so we were not afraid to say we did not like something rather than just lump it. We also spent more money on it and therefore had more time. Saying that though, we could have done with a few more days, but I’m sure most bands would say that.”

PAUL: “Although you were unsigned at the time of recording ‘More Haste More Speed’, were you under any pressure to make the cd a record that would attract label interest, or did you merely set out to make the best album that you could?”
PIE: “I think that whilst the ‘Econ’ EP was great for introducing us to the scene’s promoters and for getting gigs, we were under no illusions that it alone would get us signed. Deck Cheese had heard it and said that they wanted to hear our future stuff, so the possibility of a label wanting to put the record out was certainly in our minds when we recorded. Saying that, of course we wanted it to be as good as we could make it given the time and budget, but we were still prepared to press it ourselves if necessary – so the pressure and our main concern at the time was simply to do the best we could, and think about the pressing later.”

PAUL: “You actually wrote a studio diary for Punktastic when you recorded the album. Is there anything that sticks out in the mind that you can remember about the few days you spent with Mr Wetherell?”
PIE: “We had a pretty good few days, despite the slight panics about getting everything finished on time. McFly’s mate Dom came with us to film odd bits and it was cool to have another person there. He also provided the guest belching at the end of Sick Mick! A few things that still stick out are: tea – and Iain’s persistent but polite declines for a cup, snack foods of little or no nutritional value eg pot noodles, doodling and reading other band’s entries in the guestbook, a fire in the local Scout hut – which seemed to draw more of a crowd than a circus would, and getting increasingly pissed off with fucking up Fire’s Burning.”

PAUL: “How did the Deck Cheese deal come about? Were there any other labels that showed any interest?”
ADE: “When we had finished recording we sent it straight to DC as they had said they wanted to hear the next thing we recorde, and we had also sent it off to various other labels in the following days, then DC got back pretty quickly and said they wanted to come and check us out. So we hooked up a show at the verge in Camden. Eug and Miles came along but we had only spoke on the phone so we didn’t actually know what they looked like. It was a good show and we really went for it, as you would. Then the guys introduced themselves in the band room and the rest, as they say, is history!”

PAUL: “What has it been like working with Miles and Eugene and what are the major differences you have noticed since you’ve become part of the DC roster?”
ADE: “It’s been really cool they have been so supportive, they have helped us book tours and generally given straight advice and been good mates. Also all the other bands have been really cool, at the risk of being cheesy its like joining a family. As far as differences its massive, we always booked all our own gigs as far and wide as we could but with DC’s support we are getting on full on tours which is nice and obviously getting the record in Virgin, HMV etc is a pretty big change. Just generally having the support of people you can ring up whenever you need to and ask anything is amazing, also promotion wise they help in hitting loads of areas at once with flyers and the DC website. It’s really great, thanks guys.”

PAUL: “I suppose your biggest tour to date was earlier this year with the Not Katies lads. How did you find that tour and was it significant to note any change in the crowds from say 3-4 months earlier?”
PIE: “Yeah it was the most dates we had done on one tour. I think we did about 19 shows in 28 days or something. It was hard doing it while we were working full time, I think its fair to say we were pretty fucked. It was great fun though NK are such good mates now it really seemed weird doing shows without them. Yeah we did notice a difference in the crowds, I think before we weren’t very well known and people didn’t have anything to go on before they had seen us. But once we were on the tour people kind of excpected something which was cool and sad as it is to say some people take you more seriously when you have a label on your flyer, that ain’t right but it’s how it is sometimes, not everyone is like that thankfully.”

PAUL: “How was the tour in general and how did you get on with the Katies? Any funny stories to tell? I heard there was some kind of emo animal stroking incident…”
ADE: “The tour was wicked we could not have got on any better with NK really, it got to the point where we were borrowing so much of each others kit we weren’t even changing heads or cables. It was a good contrast in music too I think people that came to the shows got something good whatever they were into. There was a lot of stupid shit going on, Emo became quite a big joke. It’s not that we don’t like it, but some of the emo people can get a little intense and it was suggested that the most emo animal would be a cat, so we kept trying to put everyone off by stroking pretend cats at the side of the stage and washing like cats all the time, sounds pretty stupid to be fair. We had a great night watching Josie and the pussy cats at NK towers and boozing a lot. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm josie!”

PAUL: “Obviously ‘More Haste More Speed’ has done very well for itself and has gathered a lot of praise from the UK press. How happy are you as a band with the album and how much room for improvement do you think there is?”
ADE: “I think if you ask that of any band that didn’t have thousands to spend over a few months they would say there would be loads of things they could improve. The same can be said for us, we are really proud of it but I think given more time we could have paid a lot more attention to production and making it completely perfect. But on the whole we were and still are really pleased with it.”

PAUL: “Please can someone tell me the story about ‘Timmy’. I (wrongly) assumed it was straight-edge bashing but I gather this is not the case…”
ADE: “First off it’s totally not an anti straight edge tune, we have straight edge mates and we totally respect it. BUT some people we have met actually have a go at people for drinking etc. It also refers to certain religious groups and people that go around ramming things down your throat. Timmy on the other hand is completely random. He was a local at Winchester’s Railway Inn, he was kind of special if you know what I mean, and totally loved all the bands that came through. So we had just written the song, didn’t have a name for it and it seemed to be a good idea at the time. Actually has nothing to do with South Park but what the hell aye?”

PAUL: “Who on Earth is ‘Sick Mick’ and how did he get his nickname?”
PIE: “Mick is a old work mate of Ade’s, a proper leather jacket wearing Motorhead fan in his forties. The tune pretty much tells the story; Mick enjoys his booze and had boasted that he hadn’t puked for 10 years whilst still drinking shit-loads. This changed quite dramatically the night England beat Germany 5-1 in Munich, when Mick nailed two bottles of wine then ran out from his garden and puked up in the gutter, haha! Apparently his reputation was destroyed at work for a while, and he didn’t speak to anyone for ages. He likes the song though, which is a bonus.”

PAUL: “Do you all really swear too much?”
PIE: “What the fuck? Haha!!… hmmm… I guess we tend to swear quite a bit, but not too much in our opinion! We’ve had a band before that slated us during their set for our swearing when we were on before them, which was ridiculous. Obviously everyone’s entitled to their opinion but that was taking the point a bit far – and what do you expect at a punk gig? I just hope they play with Sick on the Bus at some point!”

PAUL: “I hear there’s a video on the horizon for ‘Fire’s Burning’ too, any news on that?”
PIE: “Yeah we recorded that a couple of months back and it has just been edited and mastered a bit. We’re pretty happy with it considering the small budget and the fact that our mate Dom filmed it with a couple of his mates. We spent an overnight session at this freezing warehouse in Eastbourne filming. It was not too glamorous to say the least. We also did a bit of filming around Brighton. Hopefully a smaller music channel might want to show it, who knows?”

PAUL: “Looking to the future, what can we expect from Phinius Gage for the rest of this year? Are any more new releases planned?”
PIE: “Our plan is to gig and tour as much as we can. July is packed with gigs; we have a tour with Gash and My Deaf Audio, another tour with the Katies, and Holidays in the Sun, then there’s more touring planned for August. It’s all down to gigging to promote the album around as much of the country as possible. No plans to record anything as of yet, but if the chance crops up we will.”

PAUL: “Have any new songs been written yet? If they have, what kind of form are they taking?”
PIE: “We’ve written a couple of new songs recently, I reckon they are more in the style of the newer songs we wrote on the album, like ‘Think for Yourself’ and ‘Fire’s Burning’. Still pretty hard and gravitating away from the poppier ones, but not super-quick. Lyrically, a new one called ‘Understand’ is about people that are not in a band or into music failing to comprehend our way of life and motives. Another one is about media exploitation and how hard it is to know what we can truly believe.”

PAUL: “In 5 years time, what do you want people to think about when they mention the name ‘Phinius Gage‘?”
PIE: “Well for a start I hope we’re still together and gigging, and we have some goals as a band, for example to play Reading festival would be amazing, and it would be great to tour Europe and the US. Hopefully a couple more albums under our belts and maybe an EP or two to boot, would also love to do a split if the right band came along at the right time.”

PAUL: “Cheers for you time guys, anything to ad?”
ADE: “I think we have said it all really. Maybe just to say keep supporting the UK scene, and keep it diverse. Keep starting bands and getting out there but remember you don’t have to play what everyone else does, go your own way. Hope to see you all over the summer at the many shows we are doing, and it would be great to see loads of you for some mayhem at Reading this year. We can all play Alan! it’s a great game, See Poindexter for more about that, we have to make it a national Punk Rock sport!”

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]