Phil The Tremolo King
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Phil The Tremolo King

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter




"'An unassuming little masterpiece'"

The many arduous travails and pertinacious tribulations of the lo-fi, Tropicana, blues rocking, Phil The Tremolo King, are etched across every song from his last concomitant collection, 11.

Originally released in 2011 (hence its numeral title), the album has thankfully resurfaced, prompted by Phil’s recent spring tour: a kickstarter funded project that saw the troubadour catch the ‘Amtrek Sunset Ltd.’ train ride from New Orleans to L.A, stopping off on-route to play impromptu gigs wherever he could find them.

A grizzled self-determine guides Phil’s quirky musings and observational ditties, the artist following an unconventional route towards his musical goals. Calling ‘Orleans’ his home, the Belgium born and raised, self-styled, Tremolo King has at one time or another been a house painter, bookseller, gallery guard, recycler, street busker and film maker. Imbued by those Louisiana surroundings, his twilight hour barroom songs never shy away from the thoughtful issues of the day, despite the sunnier dispositions found suffused throughout the LP.

The soliloquy lamented, anti-war, warning, The Torturers Song; weary down-tempo tale of woe, Downtown Taste (“Little uptown girl wants a downtown taste”); and French Quarter flavoured, mortuary saga, St. James Infirmary Blues, all take a darker tone. However, the cost-price recording techniques favoured by Phil (who records his vocals through the headphones and mixes on a boombox) add a child-like and whimsical suggestion to proceedings.

Like a breath of ‘Blue Hawaii’ era Beach Boys, Afternoon Sun is a sweet, Brian Wilson on a budget, Casio keyboard shuffler (and potential single in my eyes), whilst its bookend of sentiment, Who Let The Sunshine In, sounds like John Cale on his uppers.

Phil’s solution to the world’s ills and everyday drudgery of life is inaugurated on the, cut-yourself-some-slack, Don’t Carry The Weight On Your Shoulders (“Don’t be like that Greek guy/ pushing a boulder up the mountain/ only to have it roll back”), and on the scuzzy, worn, rocker, Follow Your Dreams. Both cut an earnest swathe through the pragmatist’s cynicism, and chime with the albums general theme of buoyant cheeriness.

Amusingly there’s a tongue-in-cheek, T-Rex strutting, ode to the musician’s present plight on The Starving Artist Syndrome, and a rather odd but curiously uplifting paean to the Lord that sounds like a lost Sun Records Recording or bout of Glen Campbell gospel country, on the exalted Don’t Thank Me Thank Jesus (which I’m sure is some kind of cover version).

11 ends on the poignant intrusion and tranquil soundscape, Burnett Road On A Sunday Afternoon: a broken synth melody weaves in-and-out as echoes of conversation and movement waft around the sun-dappled descriptive atmospherics. Covering not only ambient site-specific narratives, Phil The Tremolo King stitches together child megaphone Dada, reverent bayou blues and quivering Chris Isaak presence, to produce an unassuming little masterpiece.
- God Is In The TV ( UK) (written by Dominic Valvona)

"Phil is scheming up a UK tour, so I recommend grabbing a ticket, buying a CD after the gig, and waiting for this puppy to explode."

Phil the Tremolo King – 11
Norman Records, April 2011

Phil the Tremolo King is a self-proclaimed ‘DIY lo-fi’ artist. Lo-fi is, perhaps, an understatement: the production quality is pretty low, but what’s lost through dodgy recording is more than made up for with a simple yet considered sound. It’s the kind of music I’d like to listen to in a bar in New Orleans, dewy bottle of Abita beer in one hand, the other free to click along with the laid back tunes.

“Downtown Taste” is more chilled than a penguin’s posterior, rolling with a melancholy folk vibe that occasionally segues into something that would bring a tear to Ennio Morricone’s eye. It’s soft and melodic, heartfelt and sincere, and deserves a place on your finest folk playlist.

However this track definitely does not set the tone for the rest of the album. “St James Infirmary Blues” is punchier, with a more complex arrangement of instruments to back up strong vocals that warble in a particularly pleasing fashion. The brass, heavy bass and jazzy construction leave the track slick with a Southern gloss that could crack even the hardest nuts, and the funeral march at the track’s close is an excellent touch.

11 is an inter-genre album, with certain tracks (such as “Don’t Thank Me Thank Jesus”) leaning heavily on the Johnny-Cash-country side of the fence, with others meandering somewhere between pop and folk. The country tracks are, I think, a little less memorable than the rest as they’re so firmly planted within the conventions of the genre. The more exciting tunes are the ones that strive to transcend traditional genre conventions, and blend multiple influences to create something original, unique and memorable.

“Follow Your Dreams” strums where “Downtown Taste” simmers: I can hear the Velvet Underground, I can hear The Beatles circa 1968, and I can hear a strong songwriter who needs to up his production to maximise the power of his versatility. Some tracks sound as though you’re listening with cotton wool in your ears. The good news is that all the album needs is a little money thrown at it. Phil the Tremolo King is scheming up a UK tour, so I recommend grabbing a ticket, buying a CD after the gig, and waiting for this puppy to explode.

BY ALICE SLATER - Drunken Werewolf

"With a voice that is rough, yet as smooth as cigarette smoke in the moonlight, Phil brings a stripped down sort of folk pop"

With a voice that is rough, yet as smooth as cigarette smoke in the moonlight, Phil The Tremolo King brings a stripped down sort of folk pop that is truly hard to come by these days. His preferred genre of music is truly unknown. In fact, the only real common quality in a Tremolo recording is the stripped down and raw sound he consistently uses in contrast to the squeaky clean and polished high definition sound most artists yearn for. Whether he is pulsating his finger tips to nearly bleeding with a little surf rock ditty, or he’s plucking away softly on a folk tune about trains, he keeps it simple, strong, and utterly fascinating. - Sergeant Sparrow featured artist of the week

"“ An eclectic disc…JP Sloan meets Johnny Cash “"

“ An eclectic disc…JP Sloan meets Johnny Cash “ - Cool&Strange Music

"“Some very interesting sounds…enticing”"

Phil The Tremolo King has created some very interesting sounds on this CD-R. From the perspective of lounge, this is enticing. Some of the instro work almost works as surf, and the all of it is interestingly arranged. Four instros and five vocals, "That Ol' Feelin'," "Summer In New Orleans," "Christmas Day," and "Build More Jails," all in a piano bar vein. If you're looking for rippin' surf,m this isn't it. On the other hand,m if you want to glide through a soft evening, you might consider A Man..A Mood..A Guitar.
Picks: Stir-crazy!, Blues For Laika, The Trap Pt. 2, Meditation - Phil Dirt ( Reverb Central)

"“ It sounds wrong but it isn't. It weirdly works”"

Aw man I'm sooo tired.... I really need more sleep! I'll see if my namesake can keep me awake! It's a quirky one this one alright. It's packaged in one of those arigato packs with a silk screened cover. Inside you get a little booklet with some info with some drawings and words in. Musically it's very different to the kind of music which normally arrives in arigato packs (drone....) Here you've got lo-fi recordings straddling genres such as country and pop and some croonery-ness. It's a weird mix! The opener and a handful of other tracks really remind me of some of the early Baby Bird recordings what with the Bontempi sounding organ etc. The sound is similar to that of Dave Cloud with a bit more of a country rock feel. It sounds wrong but it isn't. It weirdly works. And there's a song called 'St. James Infirmary' which makes me think of all of those years I spent in hospital as a poorly child. Ah thems were the days and yes this has done the job of keeping me awake! - Phil, Norman Records


1. 'Semi-Unplugged' ( Planet B, 2012) A compilation of mostly acoustic songs pulled from different CD's as well as some unreleased tracks
2.‘11’ ( 2011, Planet B /Norman )
airplay on KYRS ( Spokane), WTUL ( New Orleans ), KLSU ( Baton Rouge) , the Blend ( NE Iowa), Phonic FM ( Exeter, UK), various podcasts and internet stations in the UK and Spain
3. '2 Americas' ( Planet B, 2011) airplay on WTUL, New Orleans
4.A Man…A Mood…A Guitar ( 2000, Planet B )
airplay on Reverb Central KFJC, An Afternoon Bizarre WAIF 88.3, Tegentonen ( Netherlands) and more...

Compilation CD’s:
1.Summer Campfire Songs ( 2002, Dare to Care Records)
2.Children of Mercy ( 2011, Beechfield Records)
3. Songs from the Basement Vol 11 ( 2013, yearly compilation for New Orleans radio station WTUL)



In an old shotgun house in uptown New Orleans Phil the Tremolo King, the mad scientist of indie pop, crafts his ‘Tremophonic pop’ in a sound laboratory/homestudio known as SnoballStudio.
Filled with obsolete recording gear and pawnshop instruments, this is where John Cage meets the Velvets and Kerouac drinks a beer with Steinbeck, while a one man band plays out of tune ditties on a Casio.

Born from humble beginnings in Belgium, Phil crossed the Big Pond to even more humble ongoings in the Land of Opportunity. Years were spent wandering through the seedy underbelly of the US of A, fraternizing with squatters, street musicians, hobos, alcoholic poets, Jesus freaks and petty criminals. His first full length ‘A Man…a Mood…A Guitar’, was inspired by his vast collection of $2 thriftstore records and featured Vic Ruggiero and Dave Hillyard from legendary NYC ska band the Slackers.

After a move from the Big Apple to the Big Easy Phil released ‘11’ in 2012, available from Norman Records in the UK, recorded in New Orleans and Austin, TX. Echoes of  Os Mutantes, Cornelius, Air, George Jones, Burt Bacharach and Eddie and the Hot Rods. Phil talks about his adventures as a street musician, a house painter and a Katrina evacuee. And of course there are the love songs… Various muses are seen as an addiction, a would be temptress, or the bringer of sunshine and happiness. Final words of advice? “Follow your dreams”.

'11' received a wonderful review in Drunken Werewolf (UK) and God Is In The TV (UK). The song 'Afternoon Sun' was featured on Children of Mercy, a compilation CD/book project by writer Ron Trembath ( Fensepost, Trainwreck'd Society)with indie artists from all over the world to benefit the fight against cystic fibrosis. Filmmaker Miceal O'Donnel directed a video for the song 'Downtown Taste'. Phil did a cameo in O'Donnel's upcoming feature film 'Simple', performing his song 'You Ain't No Hobo'. He also played jazz guitar in the house band for 'the Victory Lounge', another O'Donnel feature, backing up the lead actresses singnig various jazz standards in a David Lynch-like setting.

In January ’12 Phil performed at Tipitina’s Homegrown Night with Josh Wexler on keys, Mark LaMaire on upright bass and Chris Owen on drums.

In April '12 Phil did his Tremolo Train Tour. Financed by a successful kickstarter campaign, this was a tour by train from New Orleans to Los Angeles. Phil played a Mexican-American cultural center, a Texas honky tonk and a punkrock vegetarian bodega in LA. The tour was filmed and will be edited into a documentary.

In 2013 Videographer Brett Davey , known from his work for singer-songwriter and Newport festival alumnus Joe Fletcher, directed a video for Phil's song "Night Bus" which garnered over 1,300 views in less than two weeks. The same year Phil contributed the song "Ride Grim Reaper Ride" to the annual WTUL "Songs from the Basement" compilation and played at the CD release party at Circle Bar. The same year Phil also completed the soundtrack for Miceal O'Donnel's feature film "Simple", a dark comedy about punk rock outcasts and petty criminals in the Big Easy. Phil also recorded a version of David Bowie's "It's no Game" for Ashes to Ashes, a compilation of Bowie covers by various US and UK artists for the well-respected UK website God Is In the TV.

Phil has played New Orleans venues like Circle Bar, HiHo Lounge, the "All Star Covered dish Country Jamboree" at the AllWays Lounge, Buskers Happy Hour at FringeFest, Banks Street Bar, Neutral Ground, and more. Plans for '14 include recording a new EP using only analog gear, 'old school' style, with all the musicians in one room.

Phil the Tremolo King performs solo with Spanish guitar and with a trio of piano, upright bass and drums.

Band Members