10 Q’s with PHIL SOUSSAN (OZZY/BEGGERS & THIEVES)
Bass player Phil Soussan has just released a very enjoyable solo album ‘Vibrate’ that feaures members of Toto amongst others. Previously he has played with Ozzy Osbourne, Beggers & Thieves, French rock ‘n’ roll legend Johnny Hallyday and he started out with Wildlife the UK band that featured ex-Bad Company drummer and future members of FM.
1. What are you currently up to? (E.g. touring/studio, etc.)
I am currently preparing for some solo gigs, writing/producing Trev Lukather’s album, getting ready to go to Nashville to start a very hush hush “supergroup” (I HATE that word!), hum… waiting here at home for my new guitar to show up from MusicMan and typing.
2. Could you take us through the songs (e.g. ideas behind the songs) on your solo album, ‘Vibrate’ please…
Human Race – one of the last songs that I wrote on the album. It is about being patronized and propagandad (is that a word?) and having people manipulate the truth and thinking that they can pull the wool over your eyes. I am not going to share my politics here, but it is not what you might expect!
Open Your Eyes – This is about trying to help a friend out of depression.
Friend By My Side – Funky, funky funk! This is about funk! I like funk an’ funky thangs. I like songs that sound like you have a room full of relatives in the background singin’ along. I mean, I used to listen to a lot of 70’s funk and so this was a little taste – a hitcherino if you will. I also had much fun playing recently with Richie Kotzen – who is the bomb when it comes to funk/rock and I wanted to include this aspect to my playing – Richie is also playing on this. (Oh…. lyrically it is about trusting your instincts!)
Elderberry Trees – This is a love song (no shit!). It’s about the feeling you get when you meet your soul mate! It is also about gardening.
In America – America; land of hope and the Ancient Greeks (sorry TH !). Everyone rags on this place yet everyone wants to live here. A good place to come to if you want to find opportunity. Even when you don’t find what you want there is always another stone to turn over.
No Regrets – This is a Petty type storyteller ballad about people compromising themselves. It is about accountability.
Smile – Trying to help out a friend who had more than their share of shit shoveled upon them.
Killing Time – I was pissed off at a girlfriend who was extremely negative. This goes out to all the negative people out there – you know who you aren’t!
Long As You Live – This is a positive song written with my friend Joe Brucato, one of the most beautiful souls out there although he has the tact of a mountain! (Sorry joe!). Written a long time ago I wanted to include it as I love the message that it presents.
Haunted – This is a reflection on how your experiences carry forward into the rest of your life – there is a lesson that I had to learn here and that was to enter each new experience innocently and as new…
She Couldn’t Cry – Another storyteller about a girl who reached the lowest low.
Water’s Edge – This has nothing to do with Roger Waters! Although it is a tribute to one of my favorite artists ever… I wrote this for someone who was very lonely.
3. How did you get some top draw musicians on your album such as the Toto guys? Any plans to play some gigs on the back of the album’s release in Europe?
I have been fortunate enough to work regularly with these musicians for quite some time. When it became time for me to do this they contacted me and wanted to be involved. If things go well with this album I would love to come to europe to tour.
4. Beggers & Thieves were a very underated band – was there ever a second studio album made by the band? Any chance the band would get back together again?
They made a second album after I left. There is no reason that we wouldn’t get together again. We would need it to be financially viable .. and Louis would need to return the guitar he took!
5. You’ve appeared on many albums by the French legend musical Johnny Hallyday. How did you hook-up with him and why do you think he’s never really has success here in the UK and even the US?
I played on the demo of a track that he covered on his Rough Town” album and his producer – my long time friend Chris Kimsey – fell in love with the part. Chris asked me to come and play it on the actual record and we all hit it off from that point. Johnny called me up and asked me to be in his band; what a band! Shane Fontayne, Jim Prime, Ian Wallace, Tim Moore and Robin Le Mesurier. I think that the French market has always been very intrinsic – nothing comes in and nothing goes out and that is why he has never been heard of in many other countries. Despite that, he remains the 4th biggest selling artist in music history for the world!! Fuckin’ unbelievable, huh. We call him the Grand Fromage!
6. You played on Ozzy’s ‘Ultimate Sin’ album. What was it like at the time working with Ozzy who wasn’t at his most sober during this album! Why did you leave the band?
It was an amazing time. Metal had never been so big, Ozzy’s gigs had never been so well attended and I had major success with a song that I wrote. My closest friend was in the band with me and I liked Ozzy very much and we became good friends even out of the workplace. I think that Ozzy drinks because he is bored but I never liked people making fun of that. Ultimately (!) I had business disagreements with Sharon regarding future publishing arrangements and I decided to move on. I think that she took that really personally and she has certainly never forgiven me for that. I was close with her at the time and I have no hard feelings. I had a great time with them. It seems that they either really like people or they really dislike people and there is no ground inbetween. Maybe one day we will all just get along again.
7. Apart from your new solo album ,what album(s) that you have appeared on are you most proud of musically and why?
That has to be Steve Lukather’s “Luke” album. I consider Steve to be one of the greats and we have a great friendship and writing relationship. I wrote half of this record and of that I was an incredibly proud. The tour that followed became the most fun I have ever had on the road in terms of musical quality and just fun. Gregg and Brett were fantastic and every night we would take all those songs and see how far we could improvise and “stretch” them, completely pushing the limits of our musical ability. I grew as a musician and as a bass player.
8. How did you get your first break into the music business? What piece of advice would you pass onto budding musicians?
I answered every bass player wanted ad in the back of the Melody Maker! Learn as much as you can about your instrument and other instruments and learn to be tasteful!! Don’t give up and realize that the first project that you leave marks the beginning of your musical journey!
9. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I like to ride motorcycles, take photographs, drink with friends. I like to have sex and honk at pedestrians. If you honk twice and really short they will think that you know them and it will leave them wondering the rest of the day.
10. Message to your fans…
Thanks for being there and being interested, thanks for letting someone else into your head. Write me and tell me what you think – I try to respond to all of my fans!