The long-time Sioux City rocker is home for the holidays.
Pete Phillips, aka Sioux City Pete, will take part in a reunion show with friends at 9 p.m. Friday (Dec. 22) at The Marquee. Phillips will perform alongside former ChickenHawks and Sioux City Sheiks bandmates; featured performances include sets by the Siouxer Rats, It Really Is and Dunning and the Barftones.
The Weekender had a chance to speak with Sioux City Pete, who now resides in Seattle playing in numerous bands in the area.
Do people still refer to you as 'Sioux City Pete' in Seattle?
Phillips: Oh yeah. People all over the world still call me Sioux City Pete. Very few people know where or even what Sioux City is. When they ask I just tell 'em it's where I'm from.
When is the last time you've been to Sioux City?
Phillips: Probably about two years ago I suppose. I try to get back every year to see my mom and play a few shows.
So you'll be reuniting with some of your old bandmates at the show, right?
Phillips: Yeah. When I come back to Sioux City I usually do a show in Omaha, Sioux City or Sioux Falls, and they're usually solo shows. This year? F*** it. Why not just see if I can get some people together and play some of the old songs because folks seem to really like 'em there. Why not.
When did you leave Sioux City?
Phillips: I started leaving there in the early '90s. Just been on the road a lot. Went back there and tried to run clubs or whatever. Finally, 10 years ago, I was like, I've had enough. I had to go. I lived in Hollywood for awhile in the '90s and just loved the West Coast. Always loved the West Coast.
Do you ever look back on the work you did in Sioux City booking and playing shows?
Phillips: I did a lot of work up there for a long, long time. The first show I put on in there was in 1985. So that's 30-whatever years ago. I'm 49 now. In the '80s it was a pretty rough shot. [...] Today, I just keep moving forward. When it was time to go, it was time to go.
Do you still consider yourself a punk rocker or anything like that?
Phillips: Yeah, always will be. Right in there with that I would also say I'm a rock 'n' roller. But yeah, of course. It's a huge, huge part of my identity years and years and years ago. It totally changed the way I looked at music and life.
Have your views in music in changed since you moved away or have gotten older?
Phillips: It's pretty steady rolling, man. One thing I like to do is I like to stay abreast with what's happening now. There's all kinds of new bands that I love. Don't want to get stuck in the past. I'll always love all the bands I grew up on and all that sh**. That's the trick. As people age, they stop listening to a lot of new music and kind of get into the trap of "music isn't as great as it used to be" or "it's not like it is back in the day." No. No, man. There is a lot of killer stuff happening now. You gotta look pretty hard. You can't just expect it to come to you.
How do you keep moving forward to find new bands and not dwell so much on what was 'great' back then?
Phillips: Well for one thing there's so many bands out here. So many bands that we play with; so many that are part of our extended family out here. I read a lot of 'zines. There's a trick to it. There's definitely a trick to it. You gotta search for it, man. But at the same time, the stuff that shaped me is always going to be with me. It's kind of like that balance. It's hard to describe really.
Why do you think there's a heavy interest in nostalgia? Especially in music.
Phillips: I think it's the way the entertainment industry is set up. You get in your car and turn on the radio and there it is! The Eagles! After f***in' 40 years we still get The Eagles. It's the way stations package things for people. Classic rock, '80s rock, '90s rock. People want to relive their younger days, their high school days, their college days. People say pop music sucks now. Pop music has always sucked. Personally, I hated Michael Jackson. Never been into that kind of sh**. That kind of stuff has never been "classic" to me. At all.
Do you look forward to reconnecting with old friends and bandmates for this show?
Phillips: Definitely! There are some really cool people that live there. It's a strange feeling. A lot of kids grew up there listening to my bands and seeing my bands. For some of those folks, it was the first live bands that they saw. Yeah, man! It's really cool!
So are you pretty much playing music full-time?
Phillips: Playing all the time, man. With a city like Seattle, you can work all the time. Especially if you're in multiple bands. A lot of people that play out here are in multiple bands. But you gotta be willing to put in the work. It's no joke out here, man. You gotta really get it happening. You can't just expect things to just come to you.