Interview: Mr.Phylzzz

It’s a lot heavier and a lot more direct then the prior records. So far I’ve received nothing but positive messages about the record

Chicago noise rock duo Mr.Phylzzz have just brought out their third album Fat Chance on Amphetamine Reptile records and it sees the two piece follow up last years Cancel Culture Club LP with another record packed full of off the wall but focused noise laden anthems, which are even heavier this time around. Gavin Brown caught up with both members of Mr.Phylzzz in Clinton Jacob who handles vocals, bass and guitar on the new album and Danny Sein who plays drums and percussion to talk all about Fat Chance, working with Tom Hazelmyer and AmRep, their upcoming tour with the Melvins and Boris and more.

E&D: You have just brought out your latest record Fat Chance, how has it been recurved since far?

Clinton: I think for the most part great. It’s a lot heavier and a lot more direct then the prior records. So far I’ve received nothing but positive messages about the record but I’m fully aware their will always be people who don’t like what you’re doing and thats fine. Art is subjective and a asshole always looks like shit.

Danny: So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive! A lot of people have been reaching out and telling us how much they enjoy it! everyone I’ve talked with seems to have a different favourite  track which I feel is a good sign that there’s something for everyone and that each song is strong.

E&D: How did the creation of Fat Chance go and who did you work with on this record?  

Clinton: All of the songs have been in the rotation of what we play live for the past year. I come from working at comedy clubs, so I take that mindset into songwriting. test it out in front of people and refine refine refine. So these songs have been just that. When we decided to record the record we went to Electrical Audio in Chicago where we live and also it’s right down the road from our practice space. We went with house engineer Taylor Hales because he really understood we just wanted to be as weird as possible and to let us do what we wanted to do, be it right or wrong. Not many studios would record you throwing cymbals down a staircase but Electrical Audio will!

Danny: We recorded and mixed Fat Chance in 4 days at Electrical Audio here in Chicago with Taylor Hales as our Engineer. We worked 10 hour days starting at 9am. It’s a straight forward, heavy, relentless album. We’ve been playing and refining the songs live for about a year so tracking was a breeze. We moved fast which helped capture the excitement and energy of the songs. The pacing also allowed us to embellish and experiment with the songs without second guessing ourselves. I think working with Taylor was crucial for the record to turn out the way it did. He kept up with us at a breakneck pace while still encouraging us to use the studio to its full potential and do all the weird shit we wanted to do.

E&D: What equipment was used in the recording and making of Fat Chance?

Danny: On my end I used my DW Design Series 3 piece Acrylic kit which is punchy and loud as fuck but still has a really nice balanced tone. I also used my beloved Ludwig Black Beauty Snare, Zildjian A Custom Cymbals (14” hi-hats, 17” & 18” crashes, and a 20” ride), a Speed Cobra kick pedal and Vic Firth 5B sticks.

Clinton: Speaking for myself, I used mostly a 1956 vibralux EA had in studio and Taylors 60s Mustang guitar and my Epiphone Les Paul custom. Im really simple in the studio. once I find a tone I like I typically don’t change the amp but instead just flip out the guitars. My main pedal is a Death By Audio Fuzz War and that pedal can become so many different things by just a turn of a dial. Occasionally i used a fender twin they had for some scrilling feedback but thats really it. The point of this record was to be big and straight forward and i think we got that captured really well!

E&D: Can you tell us about the ‘Modern Life’ video presentation that you will shortly be bringing out?

Danny: Clinton made a wholesome sock puppet karaoke video and it’s as hilarious as it is cryptic. It’s so funny and entertaining but also equally off putting which is kinda the whole Phylzzz M.O. Clinton said when he lit his puppet on fire his whole apartment filled with smoke hahahaha! He did a fantastic job.

Clinton: Just prepare for a puppet show you will never forget!


E&D: Fat Chance features artwork by by Tom Hazelmyer. You must be pleased with what he delivered for the record?

Clinton: 100%!! Tom is an incredible artist and I fully trust him in the art world/label world. Hes been doing it for years and his portfolio is wild! I supply the music and let him get inspired from it to make the art. I give little to no direction because I want him to make what he wants to make. Plus I mean he really knocked it out of the park with this one! Truly an incredible piece of work! As long as Phylzzz is making music, Tom will be making the covers.

Danny: Tom is an amazing artist and I think I speak for us both when I say we are honoured to work with Tom. When we settled on Fat Chance as the title it was a fun waiting game to see what he’d come up with on the other side. Working with Tom is kinda like developing photos with a film camera. You capture inspiration and take a snapshot of a musical moment in time and then the anticipation builds as you wait to see the cover after it’s been interpreted by an incredible artist. We let him do what he wants because we trust him and he always delivers killer art!

E&D: What are your favourite pieces of HAZE XXL art?

Danny: I truly love every piece of Tom’s art – and the music it adorns. His art seems to have a multitude of influences pulled from different eras (Raymond Pettibon, old school comic books, and Ren and Stimpy-esque cartoons come to mind) that he blends in a way that is 100% uniquely Tom. It’s smart-assed, fun, deranged and dark while being incredibly detailed and impressive in execution. I love the way he uses colour and texture as well. The first Tom art I ever saw was introduced to me from my friend Allen— he had a ton of the Dope-Guns & Fucking in the Streets comps which I subsequently began to hound down in record stores ever since. Phylzzz is featured in volume 14!

Clinton: Pinkus Abortion Technician because I love fucked up Clowns and Melvins 1983 cover is just awesome as hell. There’s so many I like to be honest and Naturally every cover he has done for us I love and any poster. Haze work is like looking at a really fucked up comic book I could flip thru for hours. I can honestly say I like it all. Sue me if you don’t like that answer

E&D: How is life on Amphetamine Reptile records and how did you come to sign to the label in the first place?

Clinton: The AmRep life is a good life because Tom is extremely honest and fair and thats what you really need in your corner in the music biz. He will shoot you straight and not sugar coat anything. That’s the kinda people I wanna work with, We are here for the art and the music but also to construct a smart and realistic business end for the band to keep growing and developing. Tom lets us do whatever we want because he wants phylzzz to just be phylzzz. I’m very pleased with AmRep and all that Tom does. I don’t trust many people but I trust tom with everything phylzzz. From what I remember we got picked up by AmRep via email from tom that said “do you have any physicals of anything” and I first thought it was a joke and couldn’t believe it was actually him. Then we started talking and he put us on a Dope Guns and Fucking In The Streets comp and the rest is history! We get asked this question a lot and really the answer is if you focus on making cool art the right people will always show up and the right person for Phylzzz just happen to be Tom from AmRep and we couldn’t be more pleased!

Danny: Clinton answer is probably best! I joined Phylzzz after the punk rock contractual hand shake so all I can say is I’m very fortunate and honoured to be an AmRep artist of course. Tom gives us everything you could want in a label for a niche band, especially nowadays. He really believes in what we do, is straight to the point, and lets us express ourselves with full support. 

E&D: What are your all time favourite AmRep releases? 

Clinton: All day long its the Melvins Shit Sandwich release for me. a blank 45 with sick art. Incredible. Boss Hog Girl+ is another favourite  too.

Danny: I really love all the Melvins releases and the re-issues with Toms art editions. The new Throbbing Jazz Gristle Funk Hits Melvins cover album w/ Void Manes is incredible. Hammerheads Into the Vortex, All Dope Guns & Fucking comps. Cherubs Heroin Man re-issue. Cows Stunning Cunts. Crystal Fairy S/T. Teenage Jesus & the Jerks re-issue. So many favourites.

E&D: What are your plans for new music in the future?

Clinton: As soon as something is out in the world I’m ready to start the next thing. Who knows maybe we will do a country album to keep everyone on their toes! I don’t believe in genres. we make what we wanna make.

Danny: First things first— enjoying this incredible tour and getting these songs out there and then writing for another album!

E&D: Have you been pleased with the reaction to last year’s Cancel Culture Club album?

Danny: Yes! The reception for CCC set the bar very high for Fat Chance! There’s not many records you can listen to everyday and not get sick of— and CCC never wears out. Nov-Dec 2021 (when I tracked drums) it was my little secret world to get to live in that album. I could feel that there was something really special about what Clinton made. I think the reception it got reflects that hunch.

Clinton: Yes, absolutely. I think the eclectic mix of musicians and the self produced weirdness really pulled some people in. It’s definitely a rollercoaster ride I’m very proud of.

E&D: Buzz Osborne, Kevin Rutmanis and Tom Hazelmyer all feature on the Cancel Culture Club track ‘Mr. Entertainer’. How was the experience of having all three of these greats on a Mr.Phylzzz song?

Clinton: So the record was tracked at my house over the course of a few months. I was really lucky to have them all on the album. I would send tracks back and fourth with Kevin and let him just do his thing. Again no direction needed because I trust these guys to do what they do best. Be like telling a dentist how to do a root canal, you just trust the dentist. Tom and Buzzo came down in person to record their parts. Tom did a bunch of insane guitar noise on a lot of the tracks. And Buzzo ripped a solo on ‘Mr. Entertainer’. Tracking with them was great because it took longer for us to order food at the cafe down the street then it was to record and thats the way i like to work. Fast and to the point.

Danny: I’m obviously very pleased and honoured to have been a part of Cancel Culture Club alongside such incredible artists.

E&D: What are your feelings on the whole cancel culture phenomenon?

Danny: I’m literally just a drummer! Rule of thumb is to be good to people and use your common sense!

Clinton: The internet has turned everyones brains into a bowl of stupid soup and I don’t like soup.

E&D: How much are you looking forward to the Twins Of Evil tour with Boris and the Melvins that starts next month?

Clinton: Very much! Cant think of two better bands to hit such a long tour with! Melvins have been nothing but supportive to us and I’m very excited to meet Boris! Very grateful to be apart of it!

Danny: Very, very, much. The Melvins have always been kind and generous to us and we are very excited to meet Boris. We are very grateful!

E&D: What other bands have you loved touring it playing with and who would you love to tour with in the future?

Danny: I love touring and playing with the Venus Twins! They are insanely talented musicians and entertainers while being the nicest most genuine people with NO EGO. They are always on tour and work 10x harder than you. Charming fellas! I also love playing with our local pals in Urine Hell, Unmanned Ship, Forget Basement and Heet Deth. We feel right at home when we share a bill with any of them. I also dig Anatomy of Habit, Mute Duo, and Rash which are my friend Skylar Rowe’s projects. I’ve been itching to play with Click Bait, FACS and No Men. The latter of which both came out with incredible records this year. I’d really like to make that happen at some point.

Clinton: We usually tour with ourselves mostly. We did do a short run with a band from New York called Venus Twins that rule…but if I had to name some bands ive liked playing with would be Heet Deth from chicago, ACCESSTOGOD from cincinnati are rippers all day. And nice people. You can rip but if you are an asshole I really dont give a shit how great you are.

E&D: Who are some of the best bands you have ever seen live?

Danny: The Jesus Lizard, Melvins, Lightning Bolt, Unwound, Black Midi, Venus Twins, Unmanned Ship, Melissa, Oozing Wound, The Stools, Forget Basement, Mute Duo, Anatomy of Habit, Urine Hell, Ape Not Kill Ape

Clinton: Well for sure the Melvins, everytime they blow me away. Pure force of heavy. I first saw them in 2009 and it felt like I was being ran over by a train and I couldn’t hear for about 3 days. Worth it! The Yeah Yeah Yeahs in a small venue called the metro in Chicago. Karen O is a powerhouse live. They ripped the room apart for an hour and walked off. Thats the way its done! I recently saw Cherubs live and they are exactly what I wanted from a band i been listening to for years! All killers no fillers and incredibly nice dudes

E&D: What have been the most memorable Mr.Phylzzz live performances that you have ever played?

Danny: Opening for Melvins in Memphis, TN last year is the most memorable show for me! We had a show fall through on tour and the Melvins were nice enough to offer us an opening slot for them instead of us having a reluctant day off! The crowd was super excited and it felt like a very affirming and powerful moment as a musician.

Clinton: The great ones everyone talks about but no one ever talks about the rough ones so i rather do that! The one that sticks in my head is an odd one. We played a day matinee show at Third Man Records in Detroit for absolutely no one but the three employee and everything that could go wrong went wrong! Imagine that, playing this incredible space not many people at the time could or where aloud to play and the guitars are breaking, the amps are blowing, just an absolute mess of a show. We also where SO loud that the few people that walked in left ha haha. But the shining note was I made two great friends from that show that I talk to still everyday. Plus if I remember correctly we smelled so bad from wearing the same nasty outfits everyday they had to air out the ENTIRE space. It’s the little victories that keep you going ya know?

E&D: Who are the biggest influences on the sound of Mr.Phylzzz?

Clinton: Anything that sounds like a chainsaw and Andy Kaufman.

Danny: We definitely don’t think of other bands when we are writing songs but we like loud and weird! I think a combination of musical personalities and the unexpected juxtapositions Phylzzz has cultivated so far is what makes it sound distinct.

E&D: Which artists/bands are you currently listening to the most?

Clinton: I listen to Elton John’s ‘The Bitch Is Back’ probably 20 times a day and I’m really into the Presidents Of The United States Of America again along with a band called Grandaddy and Sharon Van Etten and Death Cab for Cutie’s new record is excellent.

Danny: I’ve been obsessed with the album Good by Morphine. One of those bands that had been in my radar for a while but it took a while to click.  Also had the CD Neu! 2 in my van for like 2 months straight and that album is seeped into my DNA at this point. I listen to all types of music but gravitate toward late 60’s, 70’s & 80’s era music because so many genres were being discovered and further explored. It was a very fresh and exciting renaissance period for music I think and I’m still learning about new bands all the time.

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