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Kurt Deimer and Phil X - Q&A

Interview by Krishta Abruzzini-McGroovy 

Singer-songwriter Kurt Deimer seemed to have come onto the music scene abruptly in 2021, lassoing one of the world’s top guitarists and engineers, Phil X (Phil X and the Drills, Bon Jovi) into his band. Who is this guy? Where did he come from?

It was a turning point in his life that led to this collaboration. After accidentally landing a role in the horror film Halloween in 2018, he says that getting killed by Michael Myers put things into motion, basically. He says many people contacted him and tried to take advantage of him after that, which led him to getting hooked up with Chris Lord-Alge, who helped him remix a demo and the meeting and joining of Phil X from that. Releasing the album, “Work Hard, Rock Hard”, was the start of this musical journey for the duo. He also has a horror movie franchise himself. I recently interviewed the Kurt and Phil X who shared the story:


Krishta: Kurt, being somewhat of a newcomer, you’ve kind of come in by storm. Who are you? Where did you come from?

Deimer: Well, my name is Kurt Deimer, and I left the local music business here in Cincinnati, which is where I’m from and where I’m calling you from. This was back when I was 20. I just wasn’t ready, wasn’t mature enough. I wasn’t feeling it, I knew I would fail and create my demise prematurely if I continued. So, I went and had 3-beautiful sons, finished my college degree, actually a couple of degrees; I got my masters as well. Worked in the oil business and worked for other people and in ‘99, I decided I’m not a corporate kiss ass guy, my father worked in the oil business his whole life and was a corporate guy. I got the full support of my family, except for maybe one person, my kids’ mother. Anyway, I went out on my own and started my own distribution company in ‘99 called Coolants Plus. Then I created my own oil brand, Starfire, which still is growing to this day.

Back in 2017, we were placing our products in movies, and I got a cameo role in a movie called, Trading Pain, about dirt track racing with John Travolta, Shania Twain, and Toby Sebastian. I went down to do my cameo, where I was just going to be in the winner’s circle presenting a check, and they started taking pictures of me, and they offered me a speaking role. They wanted me to be a track announcer. So that was kind of the light in the dark room that went on. That was my sign. I said of course I’ll take a speaking role, and I’m learning my lines quickly and the next thing you know, I’m planning out a scene with John Travolta, and doing dialog with Toby Sebastian from Game of Thrones, and that was my sign. I said, I think maybe I should get back into my creative side and let the companies run themselves. A couple months later, I got offered a role in Halloween, the real reboot of the original with Jamie Lee Curtis and got killed by Michael Myers, and I had a speaking role as well. On the set of that, I decided that I wanted to do my own horror franchise while I’m sitting there all day with the prosthetic on my face. About the end of 2019, I was working on some other film projects in Alabama, I was hooked up with a singer-songwriter out of Birmingham called Ben Trexel, and he had 3-tunes, and I said, “Let me try my voice on that.” I haven’t sung since I was 20, but I told him I have a unique voice and his was very bland on those songs. So, we created a demo, and we kept writing together, and took it up to the Northeast to one mix engineer and didn’t like the way it came out.

So, I said I was going to go to L.A. and see if I could continue my dream of fronting a rock band and doing movies. Right as Covid hit in 2020, my manager and I decided to remix this demo, which was under my former name, ‘Bald Man’. Chris Lord-Alge was on the short list, but it didn’t seem like a realistic list, like, this will never happen. And sure enough, he said, “Oh, I’ll give this a look.” That's when he discovered me, and my voice and we became friends, and he took me under his wing. One of our demos was [Pink Floyd’s] ‘Have a Cigar’, and I wasn’t really feeling the vibe on it. I just wasn’t feeling it. I love Pink Floyd, but me doing Pink Floyd? But Chris says that it could be cool, but you’re going to be you. He sent it out the CLA Project people, and he had this guitar player that he would give a lot of his projects to, and the guitar solo blew me away. I got chills, hair rose on my arms. I finally found out it was Phil X. If you’ve seen the video for ‘Have a Cigar’, that’s the first day Phil and I met, and the rest is history. So that’s the nutshell version of how I got back here.

Krishta: So, after the video, the two of you decided to form a band?

Phil X: For me personally, it was one of those things where I heard Kurt’s voice, and I was like, wow, this is very different than anything I’ve ever done. At first, I was just playing guitar, I was playing crazy guitar. When Kurt sent me lyrics, he goes, “Hey man, why don’t you put some music to these lyrics.” Then I got more involved, then your passion starts to get involved. It’s like, wow, if we’re going to write together, it changes everything. We just kept going. We’re still writing. It just clicked.

Krishta: You guys are about to go on tour with Tesla? Phil, I know you said this is a better fit for you, are you talking about in comparison to touring with Yngwie or Geoff Tate? Both?

Phil X: Yeah, I think both. How about to date. It’s the best to date. [Laughs]

Krishta: Are you talking about genre, or, okay, let me just cut to it. Was Yngwie nice to you guys? [Laughs]

Deimer: He was nice to us in the fact that we didn’t have any interaction with him. I did at the end of the tour, I mean I take the high road on everything I do, and he was standing in the last place we played with him in Ft. Lauderdale, and I thanked him for having us out and he was very nice to me and did a couple pictures. I thought, as a representative and a leader and front man of the band, it was best to take the high road and thank him for the opportunity. We did convert a lot of fans on that tour. Other than that, we never talked to him the whole time.

Krishta: That’s not surprising. The tour with Tesla, you have like 6-shows planned, what’s next after that?

Deimer: Yeah, with Tesla it’s just the 6, but we have some other stuff that we can’t announce yet.

Krishta: Just do it. Announce it. Now. [Laughing]

Deimer: It takes a while for some of these things to come together. It’ll be soon. (the band is now on tour with Drowning Pool. Tour dates here: https://bnds.us/tq1tcp)

Krishta: Fine. Shameless friends plug here, I met you Phil through my dear friend Stephen McSwain who makes the most ridiculous guitars and now skull rings. Phil X: I love Stephen McSwain. We talk every week. Even with builders of guitars, they’re coming out of the woodwork. Ehhhhh, I said that, yes. [laughing at his terrible dad joke], he continues to do stuff that nobody else does, which I think is pretty amazing. I tip my hat to him all the time.

Krishta: Do you have one of his skull rings?

Phil X: I don’t. I can’t wear rings when I play guitar.

Krishta: His rings are really heavy. Phil X: Hendrix could, Stevie Ray Vaughan could, Keith Richards, all these guys can wear rings. I can’t wear rings. Deimer: I wear all the rings for all the guys on my fingers. [laughing]

Krishta: You might have to connect him with Stephen, Phil. You guys have a full-length album coming out?

Deimer: We were shooting for this year, but we kind of changed our production mode. We decided to take a step back and revisit the songs. We’ve got 30-40 tunes already in the pipeline. We want to make our debut full length album one that people will never forget. We’re in no rush. I think we’ll put a target date of February, [2023] right after the holidays to give us time to really put our best foot forward on that project.

Krishta: Are you guys writing and rehearsing through the internet, or getting together? I’m pretty blown away by the technology and how great things sound now with rehearsals. It seems like it could be a trainwreck, but listening in on an online session, I was blown away at how it sounded like everyone was in the same room. Crazy that everyone could be in a different corner of the world and making this happen.

Phil X: It’s totally changed the game. I’ll do like a ghost drum track and build on top of that, and then by the time I get it to Chris, there’s a real drummer on it the next day and then I record all the guitars and the bass and my background vocals and that gives a guide melody for Kurt, and then he does it with Chris. It’s just an amazing way to do stuff. Back in the day, you all had to be in the same room. You had to get your schedules together. Now I can just do stuff when I can, and I send it to Chris and he does stuff when he can, and it’s just really changed the game. It’s become a really great way to create. I really loved the whole thing where like; nobody was breathing down my neck. [laughs] In this project, I keep saying, we have 3-different brains, but we’re all on the same page. We always hit the mark. It’s a really important thing to have in a project for sure.

Deimer: Work Hard, Rock Hard was basically all online sessions. The difference now is that I actually flew out to L.A. last week, we all had a little window. Chris and I spent a couple of days in the studio. It really makes a difference of refining the song to what you want it to be, and we really enjoyed being around each other and working together. So now we’re shifting more to when we create the song, we’ll do it remotely, but we’ll spend time in the studio with our producer.

Krishta: Tell me about the other guys in the band.

Phil X: Michael V is a guy I go way back with into Toronto, Canada. I knew when we were doing this project, I needed a guy that could play anything on a guitar and sing better than me, so I called him, and he jumped onboard. I think the music is one thing but knowing that you’ve got a bro that you can hang out with is always a cool thing too. We all hit it off too. Dango is our drummer. He’s a national resident. Plays with a lot of people. Does a lot of touring, but he’s always there for us, which is amazing. Kurt and I always talk about consistency. We have Brendan on bass. How he came into the picture is that he was our merch guy on the Yngwie tour. So, he’s a merch guy, photographer that plays bass guitar. Our original bass player, Christian had to quarantine from Covid for 7-10 days and Brendan learned our set in a day, and we did our rehearsal, and he did 4-shows. So, when we were talking about another bass player, it was a no brainer. He was our guy.

Deimer: Yeah, I called Phil, and I said Brendan kicked ass when he played with us and we’ve already been on a bus with him across the country, we all like him, and Phil was like, yeah.

Krishta: So Christian, who got Covid, did you guys boot him, or?

Phil X: No. He has a baby at home.

Krishta: How did you connect with Geoff Tate? Deimer: That was through my management, Andy Gould. He’s got quite a resume. Our tour manager, Kyle has been with me a couple of years now. He’s really excelled my career; he introduced me to Andy, and he decided to take a chance on somebody who hadn’t really played a show. With Andy, I got a bonus side manager along with them, Paul Gargano, Paul is really good friends with the Tate’s, and we were looking for our first tour, even though I hadn’t even played in any venues yet. We had a meeting with the Tates, and we all sat down for dinner for a couple of nights and had dinner together and decided he was going to sing on my song, ‘Burn Together’. I thought that would be a good way to showcase my voice vs. his. He agreed to do the music video, and graciously be direct support for his upcoming tour. It all came together quickly. It was the first run together for Phil and I. I’ll never forget what Geoff did for me. He gave me that chance and it was very kind of him.

Krishta: Phil, what’s happening with Phil X and the Drills? What makes this band unique from all the others you play with?

Phil X: It’s funny how everything just happens with the calendar puzzle, that is my life. I’m not doing anything with Bon Jovi until next year. The Drills, we’re still doing stuff, it’s just none of it is frequent. It’s a hard time to get into a situation where you can…well, I have to really pick the time I’m away from the family. I have small kids, so I try to keep it not too frequent. If I was to play all the time, I’d miss important dates, and school and stuff like that. I’m constantly writing, but I feel like not writing for The Drills is a nice break. When I get lyrics from Kurt, and I connect to a lyric, that kind of thing hasn’t really happened in a long time. So, I’m really getting off on the way we’re creating. Which is really a great way to do it for me. I always want to connect. It must be honest. It’s funny, I’ll hear things like, “Wow, why didn’t you make that a Drills song?” I go, “Because if Kurt didn’t send me the lyric, I wouldn’t have written it.”

Krishta: I’m sure you have a unique connection to each of your projects/bands.

Phil X: I have a different vibe when I’m fronting a band. In Bon Jovi, I’m kind of in the backseat. In Kurt Deimer, I’m kind of like, shotgun, I guess. [laughs]

Krishta: You have more artistic freedom with Kurt then.

Phil X: I don’t feel any borders. I’m a kind of out-of-the-box kind of player anyway, so it’s nice. I think Kurt feels the same. It’s funny, even opening up for a bunch of shredder fans with Yngwie Malmsteen, we have the songs that turned people around. They go, “Wow, you guys were done so quick.” Yeah, but that’s its man, we get in and we punch you in the face and leave. [Laughing]

Deimer: We hopefully leave you wanting more.

Krishta: Phil, as far as Bon Jovi goes, I know he’s taken a pretty big hit this last year with his vocal performances. Struggling. Has that had an impact with touring or your future with Bon Jovi?

Phil X: I think he’s taking the rest of the year off to work on that. In 2023 it’ll the 40th Anniversary of the band. So he wants to be back in his prime condition. He’s working on that.

Krishta: The fans and critics can be so rough at times.

Phil X: He’s an amazing man.

Krishta: As far as your movies go, Kurt, are you going to have your music intertwined with this horror franchise?

Deimer: Oh yeah, Hellbilly Hollow is in post-production. I’m already getting invited to different horror conventions. We’re looking for our big distribution partner right now, my management is. It actually features 7 of our songs on the soundtrack. 4 of which are already getting play, 3 are introduced in the movie and will be part of the soundtrack. We’ve got a couple other bands on there; Drowning Pool is one. We’re really stoked about that. But yes, we’re intertwining our vibe into that production. I think people will get to see another side of me other than what they see onstage. People will actually get to see 3-sides of me. My stage guy, this crazy psychopathic whatever the fuck I am in my movie, and then the nice laid back, quiet Kurt Deimer when you meet me at the shows. It’s kind of nice to have all of those. It’s good therapy for my brain. I don’t keep it inside me.

Krishta: I’m going to assume you’re a big fan of Rob Zombie.

Deimer: Oh yeah. I’m a big fan of how he did things his way, which is what Phil, and I are doing in this band and how I’m doing my movies. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see Phil X in one of my movies.

Krishta: Big question, is Phil going to be a victim or a villain? Can he scream like a girl?

Phil X: Right?

Deimer: It depends on how much he likes to be in front of the camera. Right now, I’m envisioning him as the victim.

Krishta: You’re going to DIE Phil! [All laughing]


Kurt Deimer - Have a Cigar (Official Music Video)

Kurt Deimer - Burn Together Feat. Geoff Tate (Official Lyric Video)




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