Read Part One of our interview with Phil here.
If there's one aspect of his role on Radio One which Phil Taggart is happy not to play down, it's the platform he can provide for emerging bands and artists. As a new music programme his show is generally the biggest break to date for the artists he plays, and the ability to provide an opportunity for new musicians is one he takes great pride in. He can relate to it very strongly. Talking about his days as part of the band Colenso Parade
, Phil says, ‘I’ve a great memory of us being down at Cranny Bridge football pitch in Omagh, playing an eleven a-side match. At half time, around eight o’clock, we went over to a Vauxhall Astra, got all the doors open and blared Radio One from the speakers, because we knew our song was about to be played. I think it was Colin Murray that was playing us. It was an amazing moment, and because I know what that feels like it’s amazing to do it for other bands.’
With great moments like this to remember, Phil makes no secret of the fact that it was hard to leave Colenso Parade
when he did. ‘I was living in Belfast at the time, but I was doing the odd show on Radio One and having to fly over for each one. My lease was up in my apartment and I just had to say to the guys, “look, I have to do this”. There were different sides to it, it was nice to be making a bit of money, so naturally doing more radio work was appealing, and if I’m being honest there was probably a side to it where I was thinking, “I don’t just want to be a bass player in band, I want independence, I want to follow my personal ambitions.”’
I’m not looking for a comfort zone or any feeling of “I’m here now, this is me”. I think I’m too ambitious for that, I want to do different things.
Now that he is where he is, following his ambitions and his passions is still Phil’s priority. He makes it clear that he isn’t lured too far into any celebrity world, and says, ‘I still feel like I’m blagging everything, and I think that’ll continue. I don’t really want it to stop, if that feeling ends it might all blow up, I could get complacent. I’m not looking for a comfort zone or any feeling of “I’m here now, this is me”. I think I’m too ambitious for that, I want to do different things.’One such thing was a documentary on youth unemployment, a topic Phil has always been passionate about. ‘I’m lucky that I never felt any pressure to drop everything and get a real job. My Mum always said you have to do something that makes you happy, and if anything I probably took that too literally. I worked in places like McDonalds and ASDA and Pizza restaurants, but would always eventually think “this isn’t making me happy,” and leave. There’s no traditional path in life, why should there be a traditional path in work? That was always important and obvious to me.’
‘Of course that attitude can brings problems too. I’ve sympathy with anyone in the position of being unemployed, because it’s so easy to feel down. There’s media stigma and pressure nowadays that isn’t right; people shouldn’t face that just because they’ve taken a different path to the norm. Some of the best people I know are doing things very different to the norm, they’re just following their ambitions in a different way and staying loyal to them.’
Following his passions has certainly worked out for Phil, but he explains that it’s through no shortage of hard work. ‘There’s two sides to it. I don’t think anyone should be pressured into feeling they have to do anything conventional, but you have to work hard at whatever it is you’re doing. For anyone who knows what they want to do, or even doesn’t know, you have to stick to what you’re passionate about and hope that doing that will bring opportunities. You have to do everything yourself, be fearless, work hard and fight.’
As for himself, Phil says he has no plans to start thinking or acting any differently. ‘I’ve got my little record label now. Of course it’s totally bonkers to have started a record label in 2016, but I love it, and I’m only really interested in doing what I really want to do. As long as I’m doing that I’m not too worried where it takes me. I’ll probably end up playing in a wee bar band when I’m forty or fifty, just because I’ll love it. I was talking about that idea with a few friends recently, and I can definitely see it happening. To be honest…it sounds pretty damn great.’