Since 2004, Brandon Phillips has fronted the Architects, the rock band he started with his brothers, Zach and Adam, after the breakup of their punk/ska band the Gadjits.
The Architects have since been stalwarts in the Kansas City music scene, touring relentlessly, opening for major-label bands and headlining their own tours, and releasing several full-length records.
In August, they will release the latest installment of “Border Wars,” an EP series.
Thursday night at the Riot Room, the Phillips brothers will perform for the first time as part a new music project, Brandon Phillips and the Condition. The band comprises Brandon on vocals, Adam on drums, Zach on bass, former Gadjit member Ehren Starks on keyboard, Rachel Mallin (of Rachel Mallin & the Wild Type) on guitar, and Julia Haile (Hi-Lux and the Buhs) and Julie Berndsen (formerly of the Latenight Callers) on backup vocals.
Brandon Phillips recently answered questions about the band’s inception, its sound and inspirations.
Q: When was the last time you fronted a band other than the Architects?
A: The day before we became the Architects when I was fronting the Gadjits.
Q: Where did the band’s name come from?
A: Since the band kind of arose as a way to (a) realize some songwriting dreams that were not really Architects-appropriate and (b) realize the dream of simply wearing a suit onstage and singing without playing guitar, it felt OK to let it be a “Brandon Phillips and the _______”-type name. “The Condition” felt like an apt description since there is a specific personality/voice to the kind of music we wanted to play.
Q: When did this project get off the ground?
A: We started working on the first batch of songs a year ago with a vague idea about what we wanted. Once the idea got a little more focused, Adam and Zach and I started pulling in other people to play on the record, and once the record was in the bag, we started pulling in musicians who we knew would bring some style, personality and ability.
Honestly though, (the band) officially gets off the ground when we walk on stage this Thursday. Somewhere between the first songs and the last song, we will sweat all over each other and our combined sweat will gelatinize and we will be, at that moment, a legit group. These are all seasoned pros — and some of my favorite pros to be sure — but we open for business on Thursday night, and I want to embrace the excitement of that.
Q: How does the songwriting go?
A: It feels a little indulgent, but this is where I get to write outside the Architects parameters. Early Elvis Costello- and Motown-type writing is where it’s focused so I have to play a game like, “If Edwin Starr called you for a song, what would you write for him?”
Q: Describe the band’s sound.
A: It’s not a period piece but the sound comes from two periods. One being the ’60s soul and pop records I’ve already talked about. The other is a moment in the ’80s when there were all these young pop stars like Elvis Costello, Paul Weller, the Bangles, etc., who were all making these records that were overtly worshipful of ’60s pop and soul. It’s when Elvis Costello made “Get Happy” and the Bangles made “In Your Room,” etc.
Those songs and albums have always landed with me, so that was a goalpost for sure. I lay all this out, but it’s not holy writ — everybody in the band brings their bag of tricks and whatever my vision for a song was initially morphs and takes on the colors that everyone brings to it. Basically, the band has been taking my hare-brained bull—- and classing it up.
Q: How grand are the aspirations for this band?
A: Well, if I’m going to put on a suit and get onstage surrounded by some truly badass players and perform songs written like love letters to Elvis Costello and the Motown writers/band, and people are supposed to pay a cover to see that, well, then, I must be serious. Mostly, I just want us to be an excellent band and there is no ceiling for what an excellent band can accomplish.
Q: Are there or will there be recordings?
A: There is a three-song EP recorded that Adam and I are arguing about putting out. There will definitely be more recordings since a couple of the newer songs we’ll be playing Thursday are really lovely and I want to print them while they’re hot.
Brandon Phillips and the Condition perform 8p.m. Thursday night at the Riot Room, 4048 Broadway. Esmé Patterson headlines. Tickets are $12.