History - Phil's Founding...
2000: Early Years | 2005: Phil is Born | 2007: Growing Pains | 2008: Phil Retires
2009: Born Again | 2010: Growth-spurt
2009: Born Again | 2010: Growth-spurt
2000: Early Years
As we suspect is the case with most Bands, Phil 'n the Void began as a few guys making music together for simple fun and personal pleasure. It was the late 1990's; a bass, a couple of guitars and a drum machine in the basement proved to be all that was needed for what was essentially an occasional, music-inspired friendly get-together. They even got out of the basement on one occasion, organizing and performing a small “coffee-house” gig as a charitable gift to their community in the Fall of 2000. They may not have had a name yet, but they were certainly coming together as a Band.
The next few years included a random assortment of gigging activity — enough to keep the guys satisfied, although Anthony started thinking about what more was possible. He saw the potential this loose-knit group had yet to realize. Talented musicians making great music is something to be shared, and Anthony recognized an opportunity to take the group to the next level. In late 2004, Anthony asked his cousin Mike to join in the fun one night and as expected, things clicked instantly. Mike brought an excitement and an energy to the group that set the wheels in Anthony's head turning...
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2005: Phil is Born
Mike jammed with the guys a few times over the first half of 2005, and the group continued to gel. A key moment came on June 21, 2005, when Anthony invited his two guitar-player buddies to dinner at Milano's in Vernon, NJ, for a serious discussion. Over a meal of Italian food and red wine they decided that with Mike on-board, they could get out of the basement a bit more often and share some great music with the community on a regular basis. They still didn't have a name yet, but now they had a mission: To be ready for increased opportunities to make some great music in front of a live crowd.
An opportunity presented itself later that year in the form of St. Jude's Picnic, an annual community affair held in Hamburg, NJ. The guys offered to provide the musical entertainment for free and St. Jude's was happy to have them. And on September 18, 2005, Phil 'n the Void was officially presented to the public for the very first time.
With the first “official” Phil 'n the Void gig behind them, the guys began pursuing other opportunities and gradually began adding songs to their catalog. The plan for their niche-gig was simple: outdoor community events with a family-fun focus and timeless music with broad appeal — music for everyone, ages eight to eighty. Song selection was critical, and often the effort to find “the right songs” was extremely painful for the guys.
In keeping with their target gig, the Band developed a natural working calendar. March through May was time to make ready, adding and refining new music; June through September was time to gig, about once per month; October and November was time to evaluate the past year and plan for the next and December through February was their off-season.
It worked for a while, but over time each of the four members began looking for something a bit different. More gigs, less gigs, bar gigs, charity gigs, harder music, softer music, older music, newer music — it seemed they could do anything they wanted, but they couldn't all agree on just what they all should be doing...
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2007: Growing Pains
It was early 2007, and keeping all four guys satisfied within the context of the Band was getting tougher all the time. In fact, the only member consistently happy with everything was Phil!
It was about this same time that Mike began moon-lighting with a local bar band (to get his bar gig fix) and Anthony began rebelling against the drum machine. Anthony wanted to find a live drummer to bring more versatility to the group and to free himself from the burdens of programming and coordinating the group's digital percussion, all while handling his regular job of laying down the bass lines and providing backing vocals.
The prospect of a live drummer was something that some of the guys weren't at all excited about, especially considering that a fifth member of the group would bring with it a fifth opinion (and it appeared they already had too many of those). Besides that, a drummer meant a whole new level of Band commitment and it was already getting tough to have the four of them to commit to the same level of effort, dedication and direction for the Band.
By the end of 2007, things were looking bleak for Phil 'n the Void. Mike had decided he was through and Anthony couldn't blame him — nor let him go. Following some soul-searching and much discussion, Anthony and Mike agreed there was too much potential to let Phil 'n the Void simply fall apart. Recognizing that they had much common ground to stand on (not to mention common blood, which helps!), Anthony and Mike decided they would collectively establish the clear and decisive direction for the group going forward...
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2008: Phil Retires
With that new direction came the demand for a live drummer. Anthony and Mike felt this was absolutely necessary to support the wider variety of music they were considering. In addition, they wanted the opportunity for some spontaneity in their live performance that would only be possible with a live body providing the back-beat. And so in early 2008, it was decided that Phil, one of the group's founding members, had to go.
The group had jammed with a number of drummers over the years, and they tried a few more looking for a fit but finding the right talent at the right time with the same musical interests was proving to be a challenge. It was beginning to feel hopeless and Anthony and Mike weren't sure where to turn. Mike had always considered reuniting with a talented drummer pal from years back to get the job done, but he thought getting him on board was a long-shot at best.
Joe was a twenty-plus year friend of Mike's and a great drummer. They'd played together before and Mike knew the fit would work for PNTV. The problem was that Joe lived in Staten Island, NY, which is a serious commute to support a North Jersey-based band. Be that as it may, an excited Joe joined the group with the simple promise to “be anywhere, anytime to play drums for the Band — no problem.” The guys were extremely pleased to have Joe join the group and he made his Phil 'n the Void debut at a private-party gig on May 31, 2008.
With Joe on board and the Band's song catalog growing to include a wider variety of music, Phil 'n the Void was on a roll. A highlight for the year was their performance for the Hardyston Township Concert in the Park series on July 21, 2008; a live community concert that was also taped for broadcast by SecTV cable. This concert became a critical turning point for the Band, as it demonstrated their new approach and musical direction. Unfortunately, all of the Band members at that time weren't comfortable with this new direction and some tough choices needed to be made.
The following week on July 28, 2008, the original founding members of the Band played their last gig together; an enormously successful private party in Whitehouse Station, NJ. Despite their success, one of the Band's original guitarists had decided that this was no longer an ideal situation for him and he and the Band parted ways immediately following that gig. Everyone understood, and the split was completely amicable with no hard feelings.
Shortly there after, Anthony, Mike and Joe came to the tough realization that they needed to replace the remaining PNTV guitarist. There were fundamental differences between he and the rest of the guys in terms of Band's philosophy and direction, and as hard as they tried there was no way around the issue. This second parting of the ways left the group with a strong and solidified core but without a much needed lead guitarist.
With a vacancy to fill, Anthony figured there'd be no harm in posting on craigslist in an attempt to find the Band's next lead guitarist. Given the Band's experience in past years with disparate personalities and varied interests, Anthony was hoping to find more than just a talented lead guitarist — he wanted the right talent and the right fit for the Band.
More than looking for just a guitar player, Anthony was looking for the right personality; someone with similar musical interests, personal and professional values, goals and desires. Someone who wanted in a Band what Phil 'n the Void was planning to offer. In other words, he wanted the complete package, a perfect fit — he wanted it all.
Not willing to settle, Anthony was prepared for a long, hard search. But just how long would it take to find that perfect, perhaps impossible combination? Well as fate would have it, not long at all! As one of the very first guys to answer the ad, Patrick immediately fell in favor with the Band.
Patrick, it turns out, was more than just an extraordinary lead guitarist; he was a complete package of everything the Band was hoping to find in their fourth and critical piece of this musical puzzle. He wasted no time at all getting up to speed and on September 21, 2008, Patrick joined Anthony, Mike and Joe as they played they're first gig together, a charitable outdoor concert for St. Joseph's Carnival in Hillsborough, NJ. On that wonderful Sunday the new and improved Phil 'n the Void was born...
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2009: Born Again
With Patrick on-board, the Band's sound and personality began to further develop. Pat's unmistakable style, the perfect blend of Texas-blues and syncopatic-funk, wove itself throughout the Band's catalog and helped to further enhance the overall musical personality of the group that is unmistakably Phil 'n the Void.
Throughout 2009, the Band matured professionally at an accelerated pace. During this period the group took a much more serious approach to the business of the Band, officially incorporating as “Phil 'n the Void, LLC” and putting the structure in place to ensure it could meet the demands of larger venues and more frequent gigs. The Band developed a professional promo-kit (their first), and they recorded their first demo CD as the marketing of Phil 'n the Void became a high priority.
2009 also saw the Band investing heavily in physical infrastructure with the purchase of new high-end sound-reinforcement PA gear and a large equipment trailer. Phil was getting ready for the bigger opportunities that were sure to come...
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During the Spring of 2010, Joe decided to leave PNTV to pursue alternate opportunities. The split was amicable and understandable, given Joe's increasing desire to play on a significantly more frequent basis than the Band could commit to at the time. With an active calendar and little time to spare, Anthony turned once again to craigslist in the hopes of finding another perfect fit for the Band.
The requirements were simple enough: local drummer with phenomenal skills, lead and backing vocals, tons of energy and personality, and electronic drum-kit preferred. Craigslist to the rescue again! After over a dozen interviews and auditions, Phil 'n the Void had their man and once again got exactly what they were looking for.
Albert's talents — including lead-vocal ability and high-harmony vocal support — were welcome additions to the Band. And after an intensive few weeks of rehearsals to bring him up to speed, Al played his first gig with Phil 'n the Void on Friday, June 25, 2010, rocking the 23 Lounge in Stockholm, NJ, all night long.
Over the next few years, PNTV continued to enhance their professional performance resume. They were regularly playing bigger stages and venues and with it, playing to much larger audiences. This included headlining the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ, in 2012, delivering multiple successful performances for Jefferson Day with crowds of 5,000+ in attendance in Jefferson, NJ, and multiple, repeat performances for the Warrior Dash in NY, PA and NJ, with crowds in excess of 7,000 in attendance.
The business side of things continued to mature during this period, with PNTV standardizing their management processes, entering into more formal entertainment contracts, and securing trademark rights to their name. The Band also increased their attention to marketing and promotions efforts which quickly began to pay dividends — The public demand for the Band grew exponentially during this period and their 2013 and 2014 calendars were booked solid by early February of each year!
All was good in PNTV-land. Then in early July, 2014, Albert abruptly announced that he had decided to relocate out-of-state and that he would be leaving the Band. With significant commitments in queue and only a couple of weeks to spare before PNTV's busiest time of year, the mad scramble began to find a drummer to "fill the void". And the search to find the right drummer was on again!
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