Tugboat's Phillip Hanna Talks About the Band's Breakup, Final Shows, and What Happens Next

Categories: Q&A
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Tugboat
​Phillip Hanna is recently single and on the prowl. 

After spending six years with Tempe indie outfit Tugboat, the keyboardist and his longtime collaborative partner, Wayne Jones, have decided to go their separate ways. Musically, that is. 

The duo and their band will play three final shows, one in each Arizona town that means something dear to them -- Tucson on March 23, their hometown of Yuma on March 24 and one final hoo-rah in Scottsdale on March 25 at Rogue Bar

We talked to Hanna about the past, the breakup and what's next. 

Up On the Sun: Let's get right to it. Why the breakup?

Phillip Hanna: I think there's probably many reasons. I mean, there's no hard feelings or anything like that, but Wayne writes most of the music and I do all of the other legwork, like booking shows. I think he wants to go back to school and is just busy with work and a lot of things where maybe he can't take the band as seriously. With everyone else we have in the band, it's sort of been, you know, changing out a person here or changing out a person there because their goals weren't the same as ours. I mean, I'm the kind of guy who would want to go and tour. Both Wayne and I both play in Kinch, too, and when we were doing that, it was awesome. We were able to do what we wanted to do and we wish we could do that with Tugboat. We never really got the chance because we couldn't get people to commit enough to do it. I know Wayne is going to keep playing music and I'm going to keep playing in bands, too. 

Do you have any future band plans, or is that kind of up in the air right now? 

Well, I've been kind of jamming with my little brother, [James.] He plays in Wizards of Time, so that's kind of cool. It's kind of weird. We've never gotten along and of course, now we're playing in a band together and actually talking to each other. [Laughs] Everybody is doing their own thing. I'm probably the only one... well, not the only one that feels sad about the band breaking up. It feels like, you're in something for six years. I've never even been in a relationship that long, so you know, it's kind of sudden thing. At the same time, I've come to terms with it now. We're still doing three final shows - one in Yuma, one here and one in Tucson. 

So the break up was sudden? It wasn't something you were mulling over for awhile?
 
The idea was up in the air because we kept thinking "Oh, we've been doing this for six years. How long can we keep going?" We were almost done recording a whole album. I mean, we had enough material to record a whole album. 

Are you still going to do that?

Actually, all of the songs that were going toward that, we're going to record in a live session and release it at the last show. So, I'm really happy about that. It's like, "here's where we were at the end of this."

Your song "Sixty Five" was on The Morning Infidelity's top 5 on KWSS. How does it feel to go out on top? 

Oh, well, it's nice. I feel like that would be nice when we were still a band busting our asses, but at the same time, it is good. I even told Wayne, "Hey, look. Now we're getting some attention now that we're done." 

You're ending a six-year relationship with Tugboat. What's your favorite memory from that time? 

We did a whole West Coast tour. This was basically the original incarnation of the band. The band started and it really was just a bunch of friends. Wayne knew how to play music. Our guitar and drum player both knew how to play music. I didn't even know how to play an instrument when we started. The whole thing was like "Hey, you know, Phil. You're cool. Can you learn how to play?" It started out as friends, but this guy wanted to go to school so he left, then this guy sort of went loco, but that tour we did right when we came out with Patches of Land, which "Sixty Five" is from, was just a great time. We spent, like, 20 days out. We spent a week in Oregon and toured all over Oregon. It was just a really nice time. 

I was thinking, when I was coming to meet you, like, "What am I going to say?" Then I was thinking, I got to play with my favorite bands in the world. I got to play with Jim Ward from At the Drive In. I got to play with Tim Kasher from Cursive, and all of these bands that are my favorite artists. It would be nice to go and tour and all that, but Wayne and I both got to do that with Kinch. We both got to experience everything, but it just kinda... it's like a "Now what are we supposed to do?" kind of thing. 

So the goal is to start a new band in the near future? 

Yeah. I think maybe I'm more serious on doing that than maybe Wayne is. You know, he wants to continue to write and to play music, but I'm not sure how much he's going to want to tour. I'm totally that guy who's willing to quit a job and drop everything. I've basically done that a few times. You know, I love playing music, where I think Wayne loves writing and creating music. I'm just not as good as he is at that. 

What do you hope the legacy of Tugboat will be locally? 

I'd like to say we were doing something different. It was kind of a '90s garage rock revival with a lot of jazz influence in it. A lot of interesting chords, and that's all Wayne. Wayne would come up with this stuff and it was incredible. I just feel like, as much as the music was original, I go to work at 4 a.m., he goes to work at 3 p.m. to midnight. I feel to be a successful band in town, or in any market, you can't just play cool music. You have to go out and go to other shows. It's totally a schmoozy kind of thing. We never really took advantage that. If there's a legacy, I'd just like to be remembered for doing good, honest music. We just kind of did exactly what we liked doing. 

So is it safe to say you're recently single from your band and looking for that next something special? 

Oh, yeah. I've been on the hunt already. But then, actually, Brian [Coughlin] from Kinch told me "Don't look for another band. Just start your own band." It's kind of such a foreign thing because, if you're in a relationship, you've been out of the game for six years. Like, how do you start dating again? You should put a "help wanted" sign up on your article. [Laughs]



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