Phillip Fox Band serves up ‘country-fried rock ‘n’ roll’ in Central Ohio

January 22, 2014
The Phillip Fox Band is scheduled to perform 9 p.m. Jan. 24 at Hollywood Casino Columbus.  Credit: Courtesy of the Phillip Fox Band

The Phillip Fox Band is scheduled to perform 9 p.m. Jan. 24 at Hollywood Casino Columbus.
Credit: Courtesy of the Phillip Fox Band

In an attempt to shine light on local music, The Lantern’s “Columbus’ Own” is a weekly series that will profile a new Columbus band every week.

The Phillip Fox Band graces audiences with a blend of rock, Americana, bluegrass, country and as the band has dubbed, “country-fried rock ‘n’ roll.”

Formed in 2011, the band released its first EP “Motor City Blood” in September 2012 and is currently in the process of compiling a complete studio album.

Guitarist, lead vocalist and harmonica player Phillip Fox  grew up in the Detroit area during the height of grunge music. Fox said he developed an affinity for country music when his family left the city for a life in the country.

“(The town) was super hillbilly so growing up from 13 to 18 in an environment like that, it gets in your blood,” Fox said.

When Fox was in high school, he met bass player Jonathan Kampfe through a mutual friend, but it would be several years before the two would officially form the Phillip Fox Band.

Kampfe said he was always involved in the school orchestra and began taking private cello lessons in junior high. In seventh grade, Kampfe taught himself how to play the string bass and bass guitar.

“We had a bass guitar lying around the house and I literally picked it up, listened to the radio and I would just play along,” Kampfe said.

After high school, Fox and Kampfe lost touch for nine years until Kampfe reached out to Fox through Facebook.

“I was doing the solo thing just under my own name around Columbus for a couple years and realized that I really wanted to do more of a full-band thing,” Fox said.

Kampfe said that when learned Fox was active in Columbus’ music scene, he chose to return to Ohio from Williamsburg, Va., and form the Phillip Fox Band in 2011.

Lead guitarist David Morckel was acquainted with the band’s former drummer and joined the band after a successful audition in 2012.

Morckel’s interest in music was ignited when he received a guitar for his birthday at age 12. He had taken piano lessons throughout his childhood, which made it easy for him to learn how to play guitar.

“I took (guitar) lessons for a month and just learned some basic chords and taught everything to myself after that,” Morckel said.

Drummer Austin Nill got involved in the school band in sixth grade and began refining his drumming skills. After graduating from Capital University in 2012, a friend told him there was a local band looking for a full-time drummer. Nill turned out to be the perfect fit.

“I had a beer with (Fox) and then I had two rehearsals and then I played my first gig with them in September 2012,” Nill said.

Since the band’s inception, Fox has been the sole songwriter.

“I write the songs and then I bring them in a shell to the band and as a group, we work out the arrangement,” Fox said.

While selecting which original songs to include on the upcoming record, Fox said the band enlisted the help of fans.

“We picked the best 20 (original songs) and we did four shows back in the summer (of 2013) and had the audiences vote on the songs,” Fox said. The band plans to use 11 to 12 of these songs on its new album.

In 2014, the band plans to continue broadening its horizons by performing at fairs in neighboring states like Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky.

The group performed 175 shows in 2013, which “were all in Ohio and Michigan and we’ve found that our style of music goes over really well at county fairs and festivals,” Fox said.

The Phillip Fox Band is scheduled to perform 9 p.m. Friday at Hollywood Casino Columbus, located at 200 Georgesville Road.

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