Drifting Along With Liverpool’s, The Raft

Float down the river with two new releases, ‘Coming Up For Air’ EP and ‘A Lullaby’ EP, by Liverpool’s, The Raft. The gifted Phil Wilson is the mastermind behind this project bringing somewhat of a ‘revolving door policy’ to creating new music. Since 2003, many different talented artists have added their expertise to The Raft’s 8 releases with Phil always at the core. “My idea of it has always been that I’m on this raft thing steering it down stream as best I can and people jump on and off as they please. Over the years I’ve had various different musician friends and singers helping me out on albums and playing live with me.”

This idea suits them well as I find myself suddenly drifting down beautiful tranquil melodies much like The Sunday’s or Cocteau Twins. The Raft’s carefully crafted songs evoke fantastic memories of those youthful warm Summer days floating down The Merced River through The Yosemite Valley or just spending those lazy days out on the lake with family and friends.

Photo By Andy Smalls

Torched Magazine is pleased to have had the opportunity to talk with Phil Wilson about the idea behind The Raft, working with Portsmouth based producer, JPedro, and hobbies outside of music..plus more!

TM – What was it like working with J. Pedro on your new E.P’s ‘Coming Up For Air’ and ‘A Lullaby’?

Phil – Working with JP has been a unique experience because we have never actually met in person! We do everything over the Internet. So I’ll work on guitars and vocals and whatever else at home, send it over to him and he puts his glimmer and shine all over it. He’ll then send it back to me and we’ll bat it around until we’re both happy with it. It’s worked really well so far and has been a lot of fun. As a person he’s great to work with, very musical, very easy going and not ego driven at all. I can be a bit of a control freak when it comes to my music but he’s not once lost patience with me. Not that I’m aware of anyway!

TM – I see more and more bands having somewhat of an ‘open door policy’ these days. Can you explain your idea behind ‘The Raft’?

Phil – The Raft has always had a revolving door policy never mind an open door one. My idea of it has always been that I’m on this raft thing steering it down stream as best I can and people jump on and off as they please. Over the years I’ve had various different musician friends and singers helping me out on albums and playing live with me. At the moment the people who seem to be on board with me are JP and my friend Claire O’Neill who’s done some amazing vocals on some stuff I’ve got coming out soon. It’s never really had a strict line up and I’m sure things will change again in the future. It keeps things fresh.

TM – Who or what are some of your creative influences?

Phil – Influences? Well I’m totally obsessed with music so listing all my influences would take forever. I guess the main ones would be The Beatles, The Stone Roses, The Beta Band, My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, The Sundays, Shack…. honestly, I could go on and on.

TM – How would you explain your sound to a new audience?

Phil – My sound has changed a lot in recent years, I think because I’ve been taking myself more seriously as a guitarist. I still can’t play the thing very well but I seem to have settled into my own style and it suits the more recent songs I’ve written. Before that I was a bit all over the place!….. Earlier this year a journalist described my sound as ‘like Cocteau Twins doing The Sundays with Beach Boy harmonies’. I don’t know how true that is but I was well happy with it!

TM – Do you have any hobbies outside of music that help to rejuvenate your creativity?

Phil – I do a lot of gardening and I always find myself singing little songs in my head as I’m weeding or pruning away. It must be some kind of Zen state or something! ‘Anarchy In Our Guitars’ off ‘Coming Up For Air’ was written that way. I remember thinking it must be someone else’s song but when I went in and found the chords I realised I’d made the whole thing up while cutting hedges!

TM – You recorded your first album as The Raft in 2003. When and where did it all start for you?

Phil – I was in a few bands in high school but when I was about eighteen me and some mates formed a band called The Rigbies and really went for it. We were great but never quite broke out of the small Liverpool scene that was happening around that time. We changed our name a few times over the years and for a short period before we split up we were called The Raft. I just kept the name and carried on. I’m still friends with the other three Rigbies and from time to time they contribute to my albums. The bass player, Chris Thomas still does all my artwork.

TM – What kind of advice would you give to a newer musician who is just starting out?

Phil – I’ve got no advice on how someone would be ‘successful’ in the music business because that’s never really been important to me. All I’d say to people having a go at writing or trying to be a band is make the music you want to make. Don’t write to try and please other people.

Keep up with The Raft
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