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.


DIY Musicians Meetup – MailChimp and How to set up your mailing list

meetup_logoIf you were at the last meetup, you know how much I believe in the power of the Email.

Email is your #1 currency as a musician and business.

Thursday November 13th 2014
6:30 – 8:30pm
344 Candler Park Drive, Atlanta, GA

At this meetup, I’ll be covering

  • What is MailChimp?
  • How to create a list and set up the right options
  • How to send emails to your list
  • Get an email sign up form on your website, Facebook, phone, and more

More details: http://www.meetup.com/Atlanta-DIY-Musicians-Group/events/215373462/

Spread the word and see you

Ear Worms – Free Moral Agents – Live at Low End Theory


Today, Tuesday October 14th 2014 we found out that Isaiah “Ikey” Owens past away. He was 38 years old.

In homage today’s Ear Worms is his band Free Moral Agents.

I first heard of Ikey through Long Beach Dub Allstars but was really introduced to him as a musician through The Mars Volta. His work on De-Loused in the Comatorium is incredible.

Around July of 2010 I received a booking email with this at the top.

[1] DEAD PREZ ($$$$)
[2] BEANIE SIGEL ($$$)
[3] JUNIOR REID ($$$)
[5] CYMARSHALL LAW ($): door deal ok
[7] FAT JOE ($$$$$)

I immediately contacted the booking agent and started working on a show. It worked out and that show was the first time I got to meet Ikey and Free Moral Agents in person.

He was extremely polite and down to earth, we brought him a goodie bag and hung out.

Here is an interview we did with the band after the show.

The rest of FMA crew was just as awesome and their music and show was fantastic. Unfortunately they only came through town one more time after that, snatching up our good friends Odist and taking them across country on a tour and producing their final record, which I was also lucky enough to do some mixing and mastering on.

I kept in touch as he went into a ‘producer’ role and eventually playing with Jack White. Ikey invited us out to the first show in Atlanta with Jack White, at which he did not even play because Jack was also touring with an all female band. The guys and girls rotated nights.

Later that night we met up with him and took the crew to the Clermont Lounge for karaoke and had a wild late night.

Though we stayed in touch through phone and internet, that would ultimately be the last time I saw him.

Below is a live show from Low End Theory. I highly recommend digging up any FMA music and diving in. It’s all worth it.