Player Spotlight – Phil X

Toronto, Ontario, Canada epically famous for the Niagara Falls 🌊 However, more importantly on the 10th of March 1966 the man who literally broke YouTube was born…

Theofilos Xenidis is probably not a name that will ring too many bells immediately but this man single-handedly carved the term “YouTube personality”.

This chapter brings us to a story that goes full circle and perfectly captures the ideology of the ‘modern day guitar hero’ from online sensation to full time rockstar. We can only be talking about one man the outrageous Phil X 🤘🤘🤘

Guitar God As If By Magic

Looking into how it all began is always the interesting part of every great guitarist’s background, but after much research and hunting around there really isn’t much to find on the mysterious Phil X. You can, however, find out everything you need to know about Phil going forward as a superstar but going backwards it’s as if he just mystically appeared and was born a guitar hero.

The snippets of knowledge available only highlight his formative years as a guitar player is somewhat atypical and predictably standard for era.

“Born in 1966, Philip Xenidis started playing the guitar at the age of five, when his father brought home an electric guitar for him. Barely able to hold the guitar, he kept at it, and today we know him simply as Phil X!

Inspired by the great guitar heroes like Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix among others”

Phil x – Bio – https://www.tcelectronic.com/artists/artist.html?artistId=phil-x

As with all these great great players we understand Phil X started around the age of 5 and has been an unstoppable powerhouse ever since. 🎸 

In regards to his incredible degree of technique, natural ability and sheer presence on guitar a lot of this theatricality is owed to a key heavy influence.

“I still listen to old Van Halen all the time. Because I’m older right? So I got to see Van Halen, I saw them 4 times before Dave left, between 81 and 84, and I was 14 at the time and it changed my life. It seemed to me like this was the most bionic rock & roll band. It wasn’t just about the party tunes, it was about the performance level that these guys brought to the stage. That’s what I think about when I go on stage, there’s this guy and he’s the best guitar player in the world but he’s also sprinting around the stage putting on a show and that was just like soooo…….”

Rockflesh.com – Jo Crosby

Understanding his adolescent affection for Van Halen, you begin to build a picture of how Phil X put together this highly energetic and ‘in your face’ online personality so naturally.

A serious hunger and devotion for guitar playing led Phil X down the classic path of chasing the band, the band to be the one, ☝️ the band to make the break.

Becoming active on the scene a key band would be one formed and aptly named Sidinex, a great name for a heavy rock outfit and also his surname spelt backwards in true rock ‘n’ roll fashion.


Phil X – Photography credit – gibson.com

Developing fast and integrating himself into the rock ‘n’ roll scene, Phil X showed relentless dedication and he’s always cited the importance of learning as many covers as possible to expand your knowledge and experience as a guitar player.

This key detail would be fundamental down the line as the soon to be online personality broke the Internet!

“I think the big part of that is you learn a lot about chord structures and harmonic overtones, melody. You learn all that stuff, and I think that is a great way to train your ear for when you want to be able to put music together, or even write music. Anything like that really helps develop your own style as well, as it’s great to have a repertoire of covers any time you wanna get up and jam somewhere.

“My [learning] experience was back before YouTube! [Laughs]… Way before YouTube! And even before tablature. I mean, I was just learning stuff so I could go out and play in a cover band and make some money. Where I grew up in Toronto, Canada, you basically played in a cover band to be able to make money to then do an original band, so you would be doing covers and writing at the same time.”

musicradar.com –  Jonathan Horsley 

Image Credit – https://goldenrobotrecords.com/golden-robot-records/phil-x–the-drills/

Plugging away at the band scene night after night opportunity started to present itself and the path opened up as it does with any truly dedicated muso. 👌

“An opportunity in Xenidis’ career came when he was asked in 1990 to tour with Randy Coven, whom he met through Aldo Nova; in 1991, he toured the US with Aldo Nova.
From 1992 to 1993 he played with Triumph, recording Edge of Excess and touring with them.”

PHIL X – Wikipedia

Such a dedicated player was always going to reap bigger rewards in the industry, just hearing Phil X talk about his appreciation of the guitar and discipline in regards to practising and development definitely makes you understand why he plays at the level he does and is a jukebox of riffs. 🎸

“I learned early on, when I was 16-17, I was constantly playing guitar and even when I was doing three 45-minute sets of covers with my band, they would go and party and I would go to my room and would woodshed on my guitar until 5am, and then I’d sleep a little bit, then I’d get up and play all day and do the three 45-minute sets again. What came out of that was inventing my own licks. I kept on coming up with licks that I didn’t think I had heard before and that developed my own style.”

musicradar.com –  Jonathan Horsley 

Image Credit – https://www.tcelectronic.com/artists/artist.html?artistId=phil-x

As with many upcoming guitar players and musicians on the scene certain locations start to call and have a magnetic pull. One of these places is of course L. A. After making the jump to Los Angeles Phil X really started to become the ‘larger-than-life’ character he now portrays.

“He decided to try his luck in Los Angeles where he quickly became a sought after session guitarist, putting his touch on records by artists like Tommy Lee, Alice Cooper, Chris Cornell and Rob Zombie to mention a few.

From the early 2000s to 2010, Phil X also played guitar in the turbo-pop band, Powder, where they were a staple of the club scene in LA. Since 2003, he has also fronted his own power-rock trio, The Drills, singing and handling guitars. So far, the Drills have released three records with a fourth on the way.”

Phil x – Bio – https://www.tcelectronic.com/artists/artist.html?artistId=phil-x

Phil X is a prolific session guitarist, having played on albums by Tommy Lee, Methods of Mayhem, Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, Orianthi, Rob Zombie, Chris Daughtry, Alice Cooper, Thousand Foot Krutch and many others.

First Man On The YouTube Moon 📺 

So here is where it gets really interesting in regards to the career of Phil X.

For me personally I strongly lean towards the opinion that Phil X was at the forefront of the YouTube Guitar generation we know today.

I recall watching these grainy, fuzzy-looking, low resolution videos demoing every extravagant and beautiful vintage guitar you’ve ever wanted to see and hear.

I believe it was around 12 years ago that the first video was posted on YouTube, Fretted Americana was of course a well-established vintage guitar shop with a great reputation for extremely rare vintage finds and collections.

But this was, of course only relative to a local market and some basic internet promotion via the website. The vintage guitar market was brought back to life by this creative but seemingly innocent move to begin promoting guitars filmed basically on what looks like a camera phone.

The charm and the energy of these videos was captivating so much so that over a fairly short period of time (circa. 2008) Fretted Americana in combination with the super energetic and enthusiastic ‘guitar hero’-style playing from Phil X led to a true internet phenomenon!

Racking up over 30 million views across their videos, the simple idea of getting Phil X to play their stock guitars had all of a sudden gone worldwide.

This brings us back to Phil’s overview of learning as many covers as possible and absorbing as many riffs as you can for future development and also being able to jump in with a jam at any time.

Phil X was effortlessly a jukebox of guitar heroism. It was relentless and so entertaining to watch as a guitar player and enthusiast.

We are now spoilt for choice for guitar-based content along with Vintage Guitars but I do believe the true king 👑 of social media personality will be Phil X.

Whether you were into guitars or whether you weren’t, this was entertaining stuff and pretty much groundbreaking in terms of content we see nowadays.

Phil’s playing was unmatched and unrivalled, his confidence rocketed and some of the videos where he demoed guitars he almost displays superhuman ability in playing two guitar parts at once! 💥 

Social Media Star To Rockstar ⭐️

The level of success that Phil X and Fretted Americana had built via YouTube was monumental.

This of course led to much exposure in the industry and did not go unnoticed for very long.

“In 2008, Phil X was hired by the vintage guitar dealer Fretted Americana, to host demonstrations of their most prized guitars on their YouTube channel. As Phil X poured all of his energy and charisma into the videos, showcasing his amazing abilities, the demonstrations turned into something more, with people tuning in to watch Phil X more than the guitars!”

Phil X – Bio – https://www.tcelectronic.com/artists/artist.html?artistId=phil-x

The overwhelming response they had received had drawn extensive attention to Phil X and along with his incredible portfolio of previous (and current) session work in the industry, the big time beckoned.

“In 2011, he got a call from Jon Bon Jovi, asking him to fill in for Richie Sambora for 13 shows on the Circle tour. A daunting task to say the least but Phil X stepped in and did the job so well that in 2016, he got the gig permanently.”

Phil x – Bio – https://www.tcelectronic.com/artists/artist.html?artistId=phil-x

Image credit: Simone Joyner / Getty

In an incredible, almost fairytale life story, Phil X had gone from a unique and gifted guitar player to YouTube superstar and finally being integrated into one of the biggest bands in the world 🤘

This is a monumental journey that dreams are made of and I do hope they make some sort of film about Phil X in the near future… surely this has got Hollywood written all over it!

Keeping Your Tone Clear 🎼 

So such a prolific guitarist has to have top drawer strings to perform to the enduring levels he does.

Phil X hits the guitar hard! Every part of his technique is full on!! The bending is extreme, the picking extreme and the playing is furious… matching his outrageous personality. 😎

Very much set on one ideal and that one ideal has long been Cleartone strings.

In this video for Cleartone we see Phil X discussing the principle of the coated string, how he sees a clear difference with Cleartone.

Highlighting the want for the everlasting string is something that many guitar players will really resonate with, also the fact that the coating is almost undetectable is a real selling point to most players. Long-life, stability, performance and a natural feel is what most players seek in the ultimate string.

So we understand now that Phil X is Cleartone for life and this is also supported by Fretted Americana.

Incredibly, to top off his now rockstar status Phil has a signature set of strings being produced by Cleartone. 🤘

These are in limited supply so we have requested to have some sent to us, so stay tuned as these are coming soon to Strings Direct – How cool 😎 is that packaging design!

“I was using 10-46’s and playing in Eb a LOT, so my left hand grew accustomed to that slinkiness, but when I tuned up to A=440Hz, my left hand said “FUCK YOU!”. So to keep the peace, I tried 9’s, but they were too light. Then I heard i could try 9 1/2’s. Now, me and my left hand have a great relationship.”

Phil X – https://www.cleartonestrings.com/philx

Be sure to check out Phil X on YouTube (be warned it’s highly addictive) 🙌 

Such a great player to cover such a modern icon and such a fairytale rock ‘n’ roll story.

We’re going to leave you with a really interesting technique here something you don’t see everyday 🤔 But you gotta trust Phil X he knows 🤘 Definitely got to give this a try!

“Phil X :: Quick Tip on How To Break Less Guitar Strings”

References 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_X
https://goldenrobotrecords.com/golden-robot-records/phil-x–the-drills/
https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/25450-rig-rundown-bon-jovi
https://www.musicradar.com/news/phil-xs-five-top-tips-for-guitarists-your-favourite-guitarist-already-exists-you-need-to-be-yourself
https://www.rockflesh.com/interviews/interview-with-phil-x-and-the-drills
https://www.aroundthesound.com.au/phil-x-the-right-on-the-money-interview/
https://www.tcelectronic.com/artists/artist.html?artistId=phil-x
https://www.youtube.com/user/frettedamericana/videos
https://www.guitarworld.com/news/bon-jovi-guitarist-phil-x-joins-gibson
https://www.cleartonestrings.com/philx



2 Comments

  • Andy Freeman

    I got to know about Phil through Fretted Americana, apart from being a powerhouse guitarist he is so entertaining. I met Phil last year at the Birmingham guitar show and had a great chat with him, so I got him to sign my new white Strat I had just bought. I asked him about doing more Fretted Americana but he said it was a time thing as he was so busy.

    • stringsdirect

      Hi Andy,
      Thanks for the comment. That’s great you were able to meet him. We’ve heard several stories from our customers after meeting Phil X and how much of a nice guy (and monster player) he is.

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