‘Tragic Beauty’ marks a new musical journey

Published 8:01 pm Wednesday, October 31, 2018

He’s got a following. For most of his life, Chuck Phillips has been playing popular rock tunes, live, on stages across eastern North Carolina. Now, he’s on a new musical journey, as he releases his first album, “Tragic Beauty,” today.

The album’s official launch party will be held at 8 p.m. Friday night at the Wine Crate in Washington. Phillips, accompanied by guitarist Wayne Stoeckart, will play the six tracks on the album during the event, introducing his already established fans to his original songs, recorded this spring in a New York City studio.

“I’ve been playing live, in front of people, since I was 18, so for 18 years. But all the stuff I’ve done around here has always been with cover bands. I’ve never done my original music until now,” Phillips said.

He struggles to find a genre that his original work fits: a little folk rock, indie folk rock; heavy on acoustic guitar, with some straight-up rock thrown in.

“Everybody who’s heard it says it sounds like Tom Petty. I don’t hear that, because it’s me. But I’ll take that comparison all day long,” Phillips laughed.

Phillips said he’s been working toward this moment for a while. He worked in real estate; he’s worked in yachting these past three years, earning his U.S. Coast Guard charter boat captain’s license. But when the boat he’d been working on was sold, he decided to put his newly acquired free time to good use.

“Through all of that, I keep coming back to music. I finally just thought, ‘I’m going to do it, I’m going to record my own stuff,’” Phillips said. “I guess I just got to the point— I never really had much confidence in my songs before — I reached the point where I felt the songs were good enough and I wanted to play them for people. It’s something I didn’t want to look back on and regret not doing.”

At Sound on Sound Studios, he teamed up with Robert L. Smith, who’s produced records for such musical luminaries as Lady Gaga and Aerosmith. Smith, in turn, brought in session musicians to fill the sound gaps: Larry Saltzman, touring guitarist for Simon and Garfunkel, and bassist Malcolm Gold, who’s recorded with Sheryl Crow, India Arie and many others.

“If I was going to do it, I wanted it to be a proper record. I didn’t want it to sound like something that I did in my house,” Phillips said. “That was part of the real enjoyment for me, was to play with these really great musicians. They added their own touches. It just brought it to life.”

So far, “Tragic Beauty” is getting recognition on Reverb Nation: the track “Ship Goes Down” was singled out by senior curators of the website with a nod on the Reverb Nation homepage and a spot on their “Singer Songwriters You Need To Know” playlist.

CDs will be for sale during the Wine Crate launch party. The album is also available today at Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Google Play and all other streaming apps.

For more information about Chuck Phillips, visit www.chuckphillipsmusic.com or follow him on Instagram at chuck.phillips.music.