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The best kept secret in music


"Top Contenders"

Bands in the running for No. 1 spot in contest

By Andrea Blum

They're part of a university that most college bands are dying to join. Local music makers OttO Vector and Philo are among the top 25 bands vying for the No. 1 spot in MTV University's "Best Music on Campus" competition.

MtvU, an offshoot of the music channel geared toward college students, is holding its nationwide battle of the bands contest on campuses around the country.

Bands are required to submit three songs, photos and a biography to enter.

MtvU and Drive-Thru Records narrowed the choices down to 50, then each band was given its own web page and voting began.

The five bands with the most votes head to the final round where judges will measure each band's creativity, songwriting ability, and overall proficiency to choose a winner.

The winning group earns a record deal with Drive-Thru, which includes the production and distribution of an EP along with a music video.
All three members of rockers Philo hail from Trenton.

Bassist Michael Boettner, guitarist/vocalist Ralph Mangeno, and drummer Tim Cooper joined in 2003 to put together an eclectic pop rock sound that delves into styles from reggae to swing.

They site 311, Weezer and Queens of the Stone Age as their influences.

Michigan State University in East Lansing serves as the band's home base, where they deliver funky bass lines and versatile drumming.

The trio's sound is well honed, having grown up together before forming the band.

Sharing the creative process is important to the group as it strives to create new sounds.

With a combination of original songs and new tunes in the making, the band will release a CD single this year and hopes to record its first album soon.

To vote for either band, visit and click on OttO Vector or Philo. Voting in the current round of competition ends today. - The News-Herald - April 14, 2006


The members: Philo is Amanda Valvano on vocals and keyboards, Ralph Mangeno on guitar and vocals, Mike Boettner on bass and drummer Tim Cooper. Aside from Valvano, who is from Warren, all members hail from Trenton.

The history: It was a common bond that initially brought Mangeno, Boettner and Cooper together. Not only were they friends since middle school, but each member of the trio also began as percussionists in the school concert, jazz and marching bands. During that phase, Cooper drummed for rap-core group Objects of Wrath. Following its disbanding, he and Mangeno formed the short-lived metal act Evry.

Upon Evry’s break-up in summer 2003, Boettner and Mangeno began writing songs and jamming together, eventually adding Cooper on drums and naming the then-instrumental threesome Philo. With the quest to find a suitable vocalist and fourth member in their sights, the group played its first show as a three-piece in February 2004. Its voice finally arrived in summer 2004 when Valvano, a trained pianist and vocalist with a music therapy degree, answered the group’s “vocalist needed” classified ad.

“After a couple of auditions and jam sessions with her, it became clear that we had found our missing member,” said Boettner.”

What's up with the name: As far as the foursome’s catchy title, the reasoning is seemingly classified.

“The band has gone through various name ideas and changes,” Boettner said. “We eventually settled on Philo for reasons unknown to the public.”

The style: Philo prides itself on having a sound with wide-ranging influences, a result of each member having unique taste in music. Mentioned styles include rock, reggae, funk, jazz, swing, drum and bass and hip-hop — pretty much everything, but all circle around creating pop sensible songs.

“Philo strives to make a sound all our own,” Boettner added. “There are countless artists that we draw inspiration from, but we’re calling on the listeners to make their own assumptions on that.”

Got anything recorded? This past August saw Philo lay down a demo for Firetrap Records, but the tracks are not for sale and instead will be used for promotional purposes. However, all of these tunes — a list that’s constantly expanding — are available for download at Philo’s official Web site,

Tell us your future? The group says it is looking forward to recording a full-length LP sometime soon, but for now will take the Philo show on the road and reach new audiences via live performance.

“The future of Philo is looking brighter than ever,” said Boettner. “Local shows are the next thing on our to-do list, and we will be taking it one step at a time from there.” - Go and Do Michigan - February 2005


"Two a Gallon" Philo Single
released: January 2006

"Self Titled" Philo E.P.
released: March 2005

Firetrap Recording Sessions
released: November 2004


Feeling a bit camera shy


Philo (fye-low) emerges from suburban Detroit playing an eclectic style of pop rock. The members of Philo may have very diverse influences but they come together to create danceable songs in genres such as rock, pop, reggae, funk, surf, drum and bass, jazz, and swing. Although the band strives to create its own sound, there remains a sense of familiarity among those who have experienced their music. With funky basslines and versatile drumming forming the foundation, quirky guitar licks and soaring harmonies cap off the sound that is redefining Detroit Rock.

Forming out of life-long friendships, members of Philo have now become committed musicians as well. Growing up together, bassist Mike Boettner, guitarist Ralph Mangeno, and drummer Tim Cooper have witnessed each other’s progression first hand. After seeing little success with other bands, these three joined forces in the summer of 2003 with the goal of making enjoyable music. From a few experimental shows, Philo realized their potential and began to expand on their catalog of songs.

Creating, learning, and performing together, Philo is constantly pushing themselves and crafting new sounds. With a solid set of original songs completed and an abundance of new material in the making, the band is now looking to take their show on the road to bigger and better things.

Philo will be releasing their first full length album titled "Songs for Us" in the fall of 2006.