Phil Ayoub follows his Heart
THE BASICS: Ayoub finds inspiration in simple things.
He has a fan club and an MBA, which might not make all that much sense. But if you listen to Phil Ayoub, you can hear the two opposing qualities in his music: It’s keen and endearing, witty as well as likable. Ayoub, a product of Cumberland now living in Seekonk, quit his job in a big investment bank in Boston to concentrate on a career in music. While you might not call that a “smart” move, Phil is definitely following his heart, and his heart is taking him to all the right places. His most recent album, Schoolbus Window Paper Heart, is produced by Tim Bradshaw, a former member of Dog’s Eye View who has worked with David Gray, Liz Phair, and Josh Ritter, and now boasts a spot in John Mayer’s touring band. When Ayoub teamed up with Bradshaw, he had just finished work on Gray’s Life In Slow Motion.
“I thought for sure I was out of my league and that he wouldn’t want to work with someone like myself who wasn’t quite as advanced,” says Ayoub, “but I sent him my demos and he liked them a lot.” They met at a Hope Street coffee place and talked some shop. They agreed on an MO, and shook on it. They recorded most of Phil’s disc in Providence; the drums were done in Boston. Ed Toth, who was with the band Vertical Horizon at the time and now tours with the Doobies, played those drums.
So far Schoolbus Window Paper Heart has been embraced affectionately by radio and press. Ayoub writes empathically, with sensitivity and intelligence. “I find inspiration in things that I go through,” he explains, “often really simple things, but things I think are powerful. So I write about things I hope other people find some kind of connection with. And so far they seem to have.”
Ayoub also employs a sort of discipline to his work that many in music find elusive. Perhaps this comes from his fairly orthodox business background, which, ironically, often vibes with the more unpredictable nature of art and inspiration. “Above all, I think what influences me most is timing,” he says. “What I mean by that is that if there’s a certain evening that I have blocked out and intend to write music, if I hear an interesting song that grabs my attention earlier in the day, that song style will be in my head later that evening and probably seep through into my writing. So in some ways the timing of that kind of stuff is what influences my work the most.”
Thanks in part to this technique, Phil has won a few songwriter awards, so he must be doing something right. And remember, he has a fan club and an MBA. Perhaps we should just leave it at that.
Phil Ayoub | March 10 | Snookers Pool Lounge, 145 Clifford St, Providence | 401.351.7665
: New England Music News
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