St. Phillip's Escalator
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St. Phillip's Escalator

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City Newspaper Archives - 9/2006Going up, getting down
St. Phillip's Escalator rises above garage rock
Published on Sep 06, 2006
St. Phillip's Escalator plays Thursday, September 21, at The Penny Arcade, 4758 Lake Avenue, 621-ROCK, at 7 p.m. www.stphillipsescalator.com.

Get on St. Phillip's Escalator, Rochester's garage-busting rock trio
With a sonic level that could be rivaled only on an airport runway, St. Phillip's Escalator is not only loud, but huge. The band churns out heavy blues-tinged rock 'n' roll with doses of swirling psychedelia and a savage beat. Within the Rochester garage scene this young threesome is undoubtedly the heaviest. With a new record and smoldering shows around town, the band is rapidly outgrowing the genre and its suburban namesake.

"I've always thought we were more than a garage band," says bassist Noel Wilfeard.

It's 2006 and at this point there are definitely more garage bands than garages. Hell, even the basements are getting crowded. And yet when a band cops a classic look and sound, that's precisely where it gets parked.

At first glance, at first listen, St. Phillip's Escalator is a garage band --- albeit a heavy garage band. The members look and play the part: the hair's shaggy, the boots Beatle-y, and the pants tight. Their music comes from the tail end of classic '60s garage rock 'n' roll, when post-British invasion bands set their sights on bigger sounds, bigger venues, and bigger drugs.

At least the first two apply to St. Phillip's Escalator. The band's volume and intensity seem to always register a couple clicks over the limits of whatever venue they play. It's a no-frills show; the band feels and expresses the music physically, but is too busy playing to go out of its way to kick in the freak out.

St. Phillip's Escalator attacks this 40-year-old sound with a 20-year-old's freshness and perspective. Traditionalists dig all the Amboy Dukes, Blue Cheer, Band Of Gypsies largesse. Kids with no clue where the music came from lap up its irresistible power and unrelenting, in-your-face-sound. Listening to a musician play his face off never gets old.

The band's just-released debut disc, Endless Trip, oughta further the band's voyage out of the garage and into its own.

"I think we've actually kind of broken away," says guitarist and vocalist Ryan Moore. "You don't really listen to the record and [think], like, 'Oh, it's a garage band.'"

The Irondequoit trio's endless trip started seven years ago with the band of teens as a quartet. Creative differences popped up when the band's singer had other ideas. The other three gave him the boot."We were heading this way, where we are now," says Wilfeard. "And he was going into, like, jam band shit."

"We were doing, like, Hendrix and he wanted to be a Rastafarian," Moore adds.

All three credit their parents' records as their introduction into rock music, but it was The Chesterfield Kings' Greg Prevost and Andy Babiuk who turned them on and turned them out when Moore and Wilfeard worked with them at The House of Guitars.

"It really got serious when we hooked up with Andy and Greg around 11th grade," drummer Zachary Koch says. With all these psychedelic/garage influences the band adopted its name by mashing up two Amboy Dukes tunes.

Babiuk and Prevost taunted, tested, and teased them to see what they were made of.

"They would bust our balls all the time," says Moore. "When we first started working there we were just a coupla creeps they didn't give a shit about. After a while they started to notice we were actually pretty good, halfways decent, that we could do something."

That something, along with the Babiuk and Prevost's something legendary, resulted in Endless Trip being released on Babiuk and Prevost's own Living Eye Records. The band already had a great sound, but the producing duo's experience, attention to detail, and production skills were the goose the band needed to make such a fantastic, cohesive recording.

Babiuk and Prevost's fingerprints are all over the project. St. Phillip's Escalator's sound was right up their alley. In fact, this album could be a page ripped out of Chesterfield Kings history --- except the band never really went quite this heavy, or ventured quite this far out of bounds.

Even though the band professes to measure beyond the standard garage-rock yardstick, some of the songs outside that bailiwick got the axe during pre-recording.

"We have fairly complicated music," says Koch. "It's not just your straight Standells' 'Dirty Water.'"

"We've had countless songs we've had to drop because they just didn't work," Moore says.

Still, Moore says they don't aim to stick to garage rules.

"No," he says. "We write what we write."

"Music comes first," Koch says. "Not in importance, but that's our easiest way to write music."

"When I write words it usually doesn't mean shit at all," Moore says. "It doesn't mean anything. I can't speak for the othe - City Newspaper


I can easily say this early out of the gates in the year that St. Phillip's Escalator are the best new band of 2007. That's how impressed i was with this their debut album on the Chesterfield Kings' record label, Living Eye. No filler tracks. You can hear that band's influence in the groove here but, also with flashes of Blue Cheer, Amboy Dukes and Cream. The whole album is wonderful and very hard in their own style. These guys really know how to jam and aren't afraid to do so. Lead guitar/vocalist, Ryan Moore is on fire with leads throughout the whole album. Vocally sounding almost exactly like Greg Prevost of the Chesterfield Kings. Bassist, Noel Wilfeard and drummer Zachary Koch equally thrust, drive and pulsate the music to a psychedelic cresendo. The three deliver a swaggering, trippy, magic carpet ride into the sunshine. What's even more remarkable is the young age (18, 19, 20) of the group itself and how together they all sound here in both songs and musicianship. Stand out tracks include: the very contagious swagger of 'catching your back', fierce snarly snotty stomping of 'don't stop me anymore', melodic brilliant rocker 'in through my head', chocolate watchband-like 'shadows' and the very catchy 'beneath my eyes'. Catch this band live when you can. I know i will. Grab a copy of this great album now!
Steve Elliot - Misty Lane magazine


Christened after an Amboy Dukes song, St. Phillip's Escalator performs a blazing brand of rock and roll that's toasted on top, fried in the middle and charbroiled around the edges. Composed of lead singer and guitarist Ryan Moore, bassist Noel Wilfeard and drummer and vocalist Zachary Koch, the New York trio obviously owes a debt to the hard-wired sounds of the late sixties and early seventies. "Endless Trip" marks the band's first album, and firmly illustrates what crafty tunesmiths they are. The record contains all original material, which swaggers, bristles and shakes with seizing arrangements and whirling melodies. Armed with an attitude screaming with fire and purpose, St. Phillip's Escalator may play music that's brash and hairy, but their execution is concise and nary a note is wasted.

Guided by a taunting snarl similar to that of Dave Aguilar of the Chocolate Watchband, cuts like "Tell me More", "Catching your Back", "Leave Your Colors Behind", "Cross the line", "Don't Stop Me Anymore" and "Beneath My Eyes" are matched by burning guitar chords and throbbing drum beats galore. Riveting rhythms that bend and pull with exuberance are also part of the scenario, and the final track on the disc, "Shadows" is designed of a tribal pyschedelic scent. Greg Prevost and Andy Babiuk of the Chesterfield Kings manned the boards on "Endless Trip", so not surprisingly, their tough and tattered touch is visible throughout the album. Powerful and intense, St. Phillip's Escalator has gotten off to a great start and I look forward to hearing from them in the very near future.

Beverly Paterson - lance Monthly


Being a revivalist is a difficult task. How do you stay true to the past yet make it relevant to the present? The simple answer is... you rock! St. Phillip's Escalator does just that.

There is no question where the heart of this Rochester, NY trio lies. St. Phillip's Escalator brings 60's garage rock to you in a way that's authentic and fresh at the same time. From start to finish, Endless Trip is a nonstop assault of fuzzy guitars, loose rhythms and ghost-of-keith-moon drumming that captures both the naivety of the 60s and the headlong dash into losing its virginity. This is no small acheivement for a band with 40 years of history and analysis between itself and those hacyon days they're recapturing. They take the sweet pop sense of the British Invasion on a dark walk through the psychedelic blues.

Produced and engineered by Chesterfield Kings Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost, who know a thing or two about the garage rock revival, help St. Phillip's Escalator create the most vivid picture of the past since Redd Kross recorded 'Teen Babes from Monsanto'. With neo-garage bands popping up everywhere over the last few years, St. Phillip's Escalator is one of the few that present the format undistilled. Endless Trip isn't just a snapshot though, it's more like a time machine.

Rating 8/10

bob lange - RNR Nonsense


Missed El Destructo and the Grinders open for St. Phillip's Escalator at the Bug Jar later the same night, but got their in time to watch as SPE's set careened to a close with plenty of fall-to-your-knees pathos and summertime blue cheer. They fuckin' rock.

-Frank De Blase - City Magazine


Discography

Debut Album- Endless Trip...

"catching your back" debuted in Italy's L'Altraradio top twenty

Album "Endless Trip" debuted at number one on L'altraradio

Heavy radio support locally with 96.5WCMF, 98.9 WBZA and WITR

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Culling their sound from the rock n’ roll greats of yesteryear, St. Phillip’s Escalator have forged a trail all their own. Using the talents and power they honed in on during their years growing up together, the band came to fruition the past few years playing the club circuit extensively in Rochester, and opening for both national and international acts. Working closely with the Chesterfield Kings, the group brought their brash stage show into the studio to complete a full length LP that was released in August of 2006. Get ready; these three fuzz-laden killers are prepared to escalate the music world as we know it!

No bands at this age play garage/pyschedelic rock n' roll with such feverish ferocity.