Never miss a party if you can help it!

sambernsLast year I watched a documentary on Sampson Gordon “Sam” Berns.

Sam suffered from Progeria and helped raise awareness about the disease before he passed away.

Though I do have my own struggles every day, I will never know what it is like to live a life like Sam did.

I did however take away a few things that he said.

Don’t waste energy feeling sorry for yourself.

Sam was diagnosed with progeria when he was 2 years old.

This disease is an extremely rare genetic disorder wherein symptoms resembling aspects of aging are manifested at a very early age. There is no cure. Most people that have this do not live past 13 years of age.


Sam lived to be 18 years old.

His entire life he was ‘different’. His mind worked just as good as anyone, but his appearance was not normal.

I’m sure some of you grew up feeling ‘outcast’ based on your looks. I can tell you it wasn’t as bad as Sam.

The best part? Sam had an amazing outlook on life. He didn’t let his physical features, and disease, keep him from being happy and participating in life as fully as he possible could.

Whatever you are going through right now that makes you feel sorry for yourself isn’t that big of a deal.

All you have to is change your outlook and get back to whatever it is that you want out of life.

Spend some time focusing on yourself, what you want, and go make that happen.

Use that negative energy and self doubt at motivation to take your life to the next level.

Surround yourself with people you want to be with.

This is something that comes up often in the ‘self help’ world.

Any successful people that speak, write books, or tell their story always mention that one of the keys to success is to surround yourself with positive people. People who not only want the best for themselves, but also want the best for you.

If you surround yourself with people that are constantly saying or doing negative things, you are more likely to do the same.

You do not HAVE to be friends with, or associate with anyone that you do not want to.

Sure you may have to tolerate some people in your work environment, but in your ‘real’ life, you need a solid support system if you plan on living a happy healthy life.

Sam could have ‘tried to fit in’ with the cool crowd, instead he did his own thing and became the cool crowd. He didn’t let what anyone thought or said about him get to him. He let it go and allowed the positive people to come in and make his life better.

On one of the morning shows here in Atlanta, the host constantly talks about Energy Vampires. These are the people in your life that suck that positive energy right out.

You know what? When they suck that energy out, it doesn’t have a positive affect on them, it just disappears. Don’t let people suck up your positive energy, let them be stinky all on their own.

Keep moving forward

Everyone looks back on their life and wishes they had done something different. You are not alone in this.

Many of the most successful people wish they had done MANY things different, I know I do often.

You know what though? Without having made the choices I made, and gone through what I’ve gone through, I would not have the wisdom today to make better decisions.

Being able to take what you’ve learned from the past, and apply it to your future, is a HUGE step towards success.

Never forget your mistakes, instead use them as stepping stones towards your future.

If you don’t, you’ll be stuck in the past forever and never fully satisfied with your life. You want to be satisfied don’t you?

When you get knocked down you are always allowed to take some time and digest what happened. It’s OK to feel bad about something, it’s not OK to dwell on it so long that it keeps you from moving forward.

Get back up, get out there, and live your real life.

Bonus: Never miss a part if you can help it!

Sam was certainly not someone that could stay out late getting wild and crazy…but that didn’t keep him from having a good time.

Through all the unnecessary life drama, physical ailments, and awful situations he had to deal with, he kept an extremely positive outlook on life. That is so powerful to see and moved me.

Life is serious and you should take it seriously, but not so seriously that you miss out on the good times.

I hope this helps you all as much as it helped me.

Have a kick ass week!

We Are Surrogates – I Made You Something

a0941298515_10 Last year We Are Surrogates approached me to help them record and produce their debut EP to put out on Blood Drunk Records. I really enjoy their music and was definitely in.

I helped them with their first single and a holiday song before, so we had a good head start on how to work through it.

For these songs, we recorded everyone individually to make sure we got the best performance from every musician and I think it really paid off.

Over the course of several months, we tracked what we could when we could. They spent a lot of time crafting this and I’m proud of the outcome.

Their live show is just as intense as this record, so if you get a chance definitely catch them.


For many years I’ve been trying to put out a collaborative Christmas album to no avail.

Not this time though!

This year instead of asking bands to learn a song and come record with me, I invited individuals over to collaborate and create…and it worked!

24 people gave up their time to contribute in a matter of 3 weeks to make this happen.

Did I say my mind is blown, because it is.

During this process, I was fortunate enough to meet and work with some new and old friends. I’ve learned more about music, became a better musician, and plopped out 12 deliciously festive songs.

It’s been an incredible experience and these songs have turned out better than I could have imagined, and certainly better than I could have done myself.

Thank you to everyone that participated and I hope these songs bring a little bit of that Christmas spirit to everyone that hears them!

Click here to Download <-- Use Buy Now button to pay what you want.


Produced, Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered by Bret Phillips

These folks are all fantastic humans and I look forward to working with them again in the future.

Christmas Time Is Here
Afua Richardson – Vocals, Flute
Alexa Lima – Piano
Matthew Klem – Drums
Kace Brennan – Backup Vocals, Bells
Bret Phillips – Bass

Winter Wonderland
Kayla Garcia – Vocals
Randy Garcia – Guitar
Jason Monseur – Drums, Bells
Ben Baldwin – Piano
Bret Phillips – Bass

Carol of the Bells
Jason Craig – Bass, Guitar, Drums, Trumpet, Vocals
Bret Phillips – Bells

Oh Holy Night
Kace Brennan – Vocals, Percussion
Frank Mills – Piano

Baby It’s Cold Outside
Christina Belknap – Vocals
Adam Patterson – Vocals, Guitar
Bret Phillips – Bells

Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis
Ethan Gabriel Jack – Vocals
Andres Miller – Piano
Sam Harrison – Keyboard
Bret Phillips – Bells

Christmas Don’t Be Late
Homer Crowbar – Lead Vocals
Prisca Strother – Backup Vocals
Bret Phillips – Bells, Backup Vocals

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
Brittany Bosco – Vocals
David Carter – Vocals, Guitar
Frank Mills – Bass, Bass, Bass, Mandolin
Jared Slyman – Drums
Bret Phillips – Bells

I’ll Have a Blue Christmas
Nick Bach – Vocals
Rachel Rarick – Vocals
Ben Baldwin – Guitar, Piano
Jason Monsuer – Drums, Bells
Bret Phillips – Bass

Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel
Gabrielle Mirville – Vocals
Bret Phillips – Bass, Bells

Little Drummer Boy
Siraaj Rhett – Trumpet, French Horn
Ben Baldwin – Guitar
Jason Monsuer – Drums, Bells
Bret Phillips – Bass

Silent Night
Prisca Strother – Vocals
Bret Phillips – Bells

Pomplamoose Tour Profits from 28 day tour.


When I read this, it was very real.

It’s inspiring on one end, and a little disheartening on the other.

Pomplamoose has posted a breakdown of their spending and their profits from a recent tour.

Though I will continue making and performing music until the final, I’m certainly interested in making it my main source of income.

Until now, the playing field for being a successful musician meant getting signed to a Major label and getting sucked into the machine.

Fortunately, new technology and mass internet consumption have changed the game.

What happened?

Pomplamoose is a band that has a large internet following, and they’ve been touring to build their fan base for a long time. This enabled them to sell around $100,000 in tickets over a 28 day tour.

New bands cannot do this and require time to build that audience.

The final breakdown, after paying for Band Members, Van rental, Sleeping Arrangements, and more, they ended up making $135,983.

To make the round trip, they spent $147,802.

That’s $11,819 loss for a very successful tour to sold out shows.

Kind of scary right?

What would I do?

Fortunately, I have a job that I can do while traveling, so that saves me from losing money on the road.

We also have our own van, we have our own equipment, and we do not necessarily need to ‘pay’ ourselves yet as long as the ‘band’ is making money.

I think it’s important as a DIY musician to realize that more often than not, it’s a slow growth to success. Most businesses are this way, and a band being a business is no different.

Keep building your audience, keep playing shows to people, and keep your money right.

Face The Music 2014 – Keynote Address: Steve Albini

Steve Albini was the man behind the machine on so many of my favorite records. The first one I really noticed as the “Albini” sound was Don Caballero’s album Don Cab 2. The drums on that album sound incredible.

As a musician, it would be a dream to record an album with him.

As an engineer, I’ve learned a ton from reading his posts on forums, interviews in videos, etc.

This keynote has nothing to do with either, but has everything to do with the current state of the music industry, and how he feels about it.

I agree with much of what he is saying, and I am excited to be in the thick of it.