Paul Phillips of Puddle of Mudd
by Deb Rao
Puddle Of Mudd is gearing up for the release of their covers album re:(disc)overed on Aug. 30. The album features songs that inspired the band to become musicians. Puddle Of Mudd dig deep into the classic repertoire with a collection of ’70s hits plus ’80s hit “Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” staying true to original versions of the songs but also adding their signature flair. “Gimme Shelter” is the first single of re:(disc)overed and already impacted radio with a great response.
In this exclusive interview for Hardrock Haven guitarist Paul Phillips discusses the making of re:(disc)overed, and upcoming Rock Allegiance Tour slated to kick off on Aug. 24 in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Hardrock Haven: Paul, thank you so much for checking in with Hardrock Haven. What inspired Puddle Of Mudd to release a covers album?
Paul: It was a crazy idea that we come up with. We took some time off after our fourth record came out all of our management agreements and record label; we were out of all contracts. So we took some time off to kind of get our business in order. We kind of toyed around with doing “TNT” and “The Joker” which we have been doing live forever. We wanted something on the radio to tie us over on the radio. We kind of got the crazy idea to keep going with it and bringing in some extra musicians, piano players and back-up singers just doing this crazy record of ’70s songs. It is something that people wouldn’t expect to hear from us. That is kind of the reason we did it. It gave us the opportunity to do things that we could not do on a Puddle record. We couldn’t do on a Puddle record because it would freak people out. It allowed us to do songs that are driven by piano opposed to guitar and bring in back-up singers and do a duet with a girl. It was a lot of fun and inspiring for us. A lot of the songs that we choose for selfish reasons. It allowed us to do things that we can’t do and allowed me to sit on the couch and practice again like I haven’t since I was like 15 or 16 years old. It was a whole lot of fun to make and really just something cool thing for the band. The cool thing about it is if you don’t like the record it is not necessarily that you don’t like Puddle it is maybe you don’t like that song or you don’t like Puddle doing that song. If you do great that is what it is for. We are starting a new Puddle record in January. So there you go, that was the reason behind it. One long story but that is it.
Hardrock Haven: That is awesome. I am a musician myself and I find sometimes myself that after playing cover tunes I am in the mood to start writing original material. Do you find that as a musician yourself that this album inspires you and the band to take it to the next level and start writing again?
Paul: For sure! It was definitely very inspirational. It opened my in a lot of different ways of writing different instrumentation and different ways of recording. It inspired us to start writing. We hadn’t written anything in a long time. We were so burned. We had so much business to take care of that we weren’t writing. Now it really just inspired us to pick up the guitars and play again. We have been writing a lot of stuff. In November and December, we are going to start demoing stuff and edge out a record. Hopefully, we will start recording in January.
Hardrock Haven: Puddle Of Mudd has been touring nonstop this year. I know the band just got down playing the East Coast re: (disc)overed tour. How did the fans respond to the cover songs? I know you did one set live of Puddle songs and one set of covers.
Paul: It was great. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it. We got a lot of good responses from people. For us it was cool, we are a five piece now we added another guitarist. To have so many musicians onstage throwing out this huge sound and hearing all the instruments the harmonica, the piano, the slide, and all that stuff for me it was amazing to be able to pull it off. It was so not what we do at all. It was really self-rewarding for me. It was like wow we could actually do that. It was so much fun to do it.
Hardrock Haven: Also, I have to mention too that with the return of your guitar playing on the last album it was phenomenal. How did the band go about selecting the songs for re:(disc)overed? “Gimme Shelter” is the new single, the song “Old Man” is a classic. Was it challenging playing acoustic?
Paul: No, not really. We have acoustic driven songs on all of our records. As far as choosing the songs, we kind of just narrowed in on the ’70s era. We wanted to songs that were fans of. We didn’t want to choose some stupid song that we weren’t a fan of that we could make a rock song. We wanted to do songs that were already rock songs and timeless rock songs. We compiled this huge list of 30 songs. When we looked at them, we went OK, what song means something? We connected to some lyrically. Also, we wanted to do songs that were just going to be fun that we tried to tackle. That is why there is an Elton John song on there. People are like really Paul, Elton John. I am like Hell Yeah! I love Elton John and to be able to take that song into rehearsal the first time and hear it come to life was like Wow! I can’t believe we are able to pull that off. That was the whole reason for doing it. We brought in extra musicians and they all were completely pro. So the record was just super easy to make. It was so much more relaxed than doing a Puddle record.
Hardrock Haven: Whom did you bring in for the girl vocals for “Stop Dragging My Heart Around?” That is one of my favorite tunes.
Paul: A lot of people say that. It’s a girl named BC Jean. She belongs to Clive Davis’ label. She was great. She came in and I tried to keep the spirit and the vibe of the record the same as the ’70s records doing a lot of live stuff. So we actually had those two in the vocal booth together. Which was feeding off of each other and singing together.
Hardrock Haven: It is hard to believe it has been ten years since the release of Come Clean. How do you think the band has evolved as a unit since then?
Paul: What happens when you have success so quickly it changes you. Money and fame changes you. We started kind of fraying towards the end. Not getting along. Also, when it happens that quickly you don’t have time to appreciate what is going on. It is such a whirlwind. As you get past that, I left the band a while for those reasons and came back. I think we are so much mellower now. We can appreciate things. We know how to deal with each other better with moods and when to leave people alone. I think we are functioning better now then we did back then because it was such a whirlwind. As much as we knew each other when you are slammed on a bus together, you have to figure out everybody’s little bad habit. It was just a crazy time. I think now we are much more functional than we used to be.
Hardrock Haven: Are you looking forward to the Rock Of Allegiance Tour with Buckcherry that kicks off Aug. 24 in Grand Prairie, Texas?
Paul: Yes, it going to be great. I am excited about it. A lot of friends that we have known forever. It is a great bill for the price of the ticket. It will be a whole day of bands and a lot of hit songs that you have heard on the radio from us. It’s going to be a great month.
Hardrock Haven: Will the band be performing songs off of the new CD?
Paul: Yes, we will probably throw in “Gimme Shelter” and probably “Old Man” as well.
Hardrock Haven: The trek continues to England in October.
Paul: Yes, that is another thing of being out of all of our contracts; we are setting Europe back up. We went really hard in the beginning and did very well. Then some over the scene things didn’t allow us to go back over and capitalize on the success we had. Now we are making a point to go back over and rebuild that. Probably next year before our record comes out most of our time will be concentrated on Europe, South America. We are setting up South Africa right now. Going to places that we haven’t been in a long time and reconnecting and trying to rebuild that global worldwide audience.
Hardrock Haven: In closing the music industry has lost so many great performers this month including Amy Winehouse and Jani Lane. Were you influenced by the ’80s at all?
Paul: I grew up in a musical household. My dad played guitar. When I went to college, I was always around it. He never really pushed the guitar on me. When my town first got MTV, I gravitated to the rock and metal stuff. A lot of that was the hair metal stuff. One of the first records that I actually bought with my own money was Motley Crue, Shout At The Devil. I was influenced by a lot of that stuff. You look back now at the clothes and hair and it was cheesy as hell. But back then it was cool. There were good songs. I think that if they didn’t look that those songs would be a lot more timeless than they are. Jani had some great songs with “Heaven” and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” “Cherry Pie” is their “She Hates Me.” (Laughter) It’s not their best song that they wrote but it was a huge hit. I think that is true for a lot of the bands back then. If they weren’t such a clown circus show and lumped into this period of time. I think they would be a lot more timeless than they are.
Hardrock Haven: re:(disc)covered is in stores Aug. 30. Do you have a favorite song off of the album?
Paul: For me probably “Old Man.” For me the original version wouldn’t be my favorite. But on our record it is my favorite because it was such a stripped down acoustic song that we kind of added stuff to it. It took on this whole other life. The original song is there but we added to the top of it. I really liked the way that song came out. We made it our own thing. I am really proud of that one
Hardrock Haven: Great. Paul, Thank you so much for the support at the magazine. We wish you the best with the covers release and Rock Allegiance Tour. Anything else that you would like to add?
Paul: My goal was to make a ’70s record with modern gear. We approached it like a ’70s record. A lot of the songs were live takes. Just two guitars, one hard left one, one hard right, opposed to stacking gazillion guitars. As far as tones, I went somewhere in the middle somewhere between the original tones and our tones. It is definitely not as heavy as our records. That was part of my version too. To keep it really true because they are such timeless great songs. There is not much room for improvement. We took a few liberties here and there. “Old Man”, we kind of did our own thing with. Most of the stuff is represented there in its truest form. It is kind of paying tributes to great songs. Kind of recording them in a more modern sense.
For tour dates visit: www.facebook.com/puddleofmudd