From the moment Philip Sayce first put his hands on a guitar neck, he never let go. Malcolm Gladwell theorized that “greatness” requires 10,000 hours of practical training. A teenage Sayce had easily surpassed this threshold when his hometown hero, legendary guitarist and multi-platinum artist Jeff Healey, caught Sayce playing a ferocious set in downtown Toronto.
Within a year, Sayce was touring internationally with Jeff Healey’s band and performing at the world’s most prestigious festivals. Since that time, Sayce has put in multiples of that 10,000 hours, recording and touring for four years with musical icon Melissa Etheridge, then launching a solo career and establishing a rabid fan base in Europe and beyond, opening shows for the likes of ZZ Top and Deep Purple. Sayce is a rare artist, a combination of outstanding songwriter, unparalleled guitarist, soulful singer, and electrifying performer.
Sayce’s highly anticipated release, The Wolves Are Coming, was recorded at Station House Studios in Los Angeles with Grammy-award-winning engineer Mark Rains. The sessions were produced by Sayce, mixed by Brian Moncarz (Toronto) and Mark Rains (Los Angeles), and released on Sayce’s label, Atomic Gemini, with exclusive license to Forty Below Records. Sayce contacted his long-time collaborators, drummers Michael Leasure, Aaron Sterling and Fritz Lewak, Fred Mandel on piano and organ, and vocalist Bernie Barlow.
Songs like “Oh! That Bitches Brew” and “Backstabber” hit like hurricanes, capturing the intensity and heaviness of the pandemic era during which this album was conceived. Sayce sings, “Lion locked in a cage, hostage filled up with rage, hunted for the jewels in my crown, I’ve been tortured, tied up underground”, his vocals as fierce as the thunderous guitar riffs. “Lady Love Divine” explores the light in contrast to darkness with an uplifting, foot-stomping, up-tempo funk groove and memorable songwriting that delivers hooks in all the right places. Ballads like “It’s Over Now” and the magical instrumental “Intuition” round out Sayce’s signature fuzz tones and sledgehammer mountain-sized drum grooves with delicate, intimate, and dynamic performances. The Wolves Are Coming is a career highlight, exemplifying Sayce’s commitment to his craft and using the power of music as a uniting force to welcome in the light during incredibly turbulent times.
Sayce effuses, “I am so excited about this record and where I am at this time. These new songs represent my personal journey since the release of Spirit Rising and my commitment to growing as a musician and a human being. I am grateful to have realized my vision for this record by incorporating these stellar musicians, songs carefully penned, and my determination around the overall creative process.”
Born in Wales, raised in Toronto, and Los Angeles-based, Sayce’s love of the guitar started at an early age when his parents introduced him to many of the influential greats – notably, Albert King, Freddie King, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins, Jeff Healey, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck. Sayce performed on Uncle Kracker’s album No Stranger to Shame, which featured the single “Drift Away,” a song that topped the Billboard charts for 28 weeks. He toured and recorded with Melissa Etheridge, and during this time, Sayce found time to record his first solo album, Peace Machine, with co-producer Michael Nielsen.
In 2015, Sayce made his major label debut with Influence (Warner Music). Recorded with Grammy award-winning producer Dave Cobb, the album spawned strong press notices, a top 20 radio track, and expanded his global audience. The release was followed in 2016 by Scorched Earth, Volume 1 (Warner Music), a captivating live performance documented at Toronto’s Silver Dollar Room. Sayce’s electrifying live performances leave fans awestruck — a devastating house-shaking appearance at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival in New York City was heralded as one of the top performances of the event.
In 2020, during the global pandemic, Sayce released his seventh full-length album, Spirit Rising (Warner Music). The self-produced recording quickly became his most successful album without the support of tour dates or traditional promotion. Undaunted, Sayce turned his attention to social media and saw his fanbase grow over 300% — Spirit Rising has now eclipsed 131 million streams on Spotify.
Philip Sayce has set the bar higher than ever with The Wolves Are Coming. This body of work is more powerful, unique, and brash than anything Sayce has written or recorded to date. Be ready, be warned. You can run, but you can’t hide… The Wolves Are Coming.
“These songs and stories came into focus during my darkest times. The Wolves Are Coming represents a bridge — a connection between despair and hope — that invites broken spirits to be transformed and healed.“ – Philip Sayce.
Photo: Matt Barnes