Last In Line,
Cooking It Up
Phil Soussan is a British bass guitarist, songwriter and producer who has gained notability as a member of a host of famed Rock 'n Roll bands, including: Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, Vince Neil, Johnny Hallyday and John Waite, and Beggars & Thieves. Soussan has also played in bands featuring Jimmy Page, Steve Lukather, Edgar Winter, and Richie Kotzen.
These days, Phil is the bassist for Last in Line, an American rock band formed by former members of the original lineup of Dio.
"The whole idea of restaurants and music, they're supposed to make people feel good, to give them a little escapism from their daily life and take them somewhere else and relax, and I think the hospitality industry is the greatest industry in the world. It's very tough but so cathartic. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to see people enjoying themselves and for that reason, I think that's why creating music and cool dishes really speaks to me."
By Kreig Marks, April 2023
KM: Hi Phil. Welcome to Tru Rock Revival Magazine. Let's get this started. First, I want to congratulate you and the rest of the band with the new Last in Line album, Jericho, and the first single released, "Ghost Town."
PS: Hi Kreig. Thank you for the chat today and thank you for the congratulations. We're pretty excited for the full album to be released at the end of the month. Yeah, "Ghost Town" was the first single to be released and "Do the Work" was the second release. There will be a third soon, "House Party for the End of the World."
KM: You've been with the band now since 2016. Did it take you a while to get acclimated? Any nerves the first time getting together with them? Did you ever feel like the "new guy?"
PS: You know, I really didn't. I really never felt like the "new guy." I had known all the guys for some time and I knew Jimmy (Jimmy Bain, original bassist with Last in Line who passed away in January of 2016). They made it easy for me and knowing all the guys definitely made things a lot easier too. So, there was no reason to be nervous. I've been doing this a long time and the guys were all friends of mine so that always helps.
KM: When you were with Ozzy, you wrote "Shot in the Dark", which is a great song, great music and riffs and was a huge commercial hit. Did it take long to write?
PS: It was a terrific time for me back then. The song was very unexpected, but the producer decided that they needed one more song and asked if anyone had anything, and they threw the hat around the room and I had the riff for "Shot in the Dark."
KM: Now with Last in Line, what is the writing process like? Is there a set formula with the band?
PS: No, there really isn't. We don't bring in any completed songs or any ideas really. We just plug in and play and see what happens. That was kind of Vivian's thing [Vivian Campbell, lead guitarist for Last in Line and guitarist for Def Leppard] when I joined the band. I asked him if I should bring in some ideas because I had some pretty cool song ideas at the time. He said "Let's just do this the way we did this with Dio, and I'll explain it, we just plug in and play and we'll kind of construct things from what we like." It's very granular, very earthy. That's how we create a lot of the material. At the time I was playing a very old riff and Vivian liked it. I said, let's try something else but he said, "no, it's cool, play some more." I was quite surprised because having something in your head for such a long time, that riff, which I first played about 20 years ago and never did anything with it, he liked it. Vivian said let's play around with it.
KM: So, what did that song become?
PS: LOL. "House Party at the end of the World." I dug out the old demo tape from the early 80's and listened to it and thought, "Wow, It's such a strange thing that sometimes ideas you've had that you discarded can come back when you're writing."
KM: When does most of the creativity come to you? Could it be anywhere, anytime?
PS: You've probably seen that Seinfeld episode where he wakes up in the middle of the night and jots a joke down. LOL Things can come early in the morning when you're half awake and other times when I've written almost a complete song in my sleep and wake up and think, "Wow, that's really cool," and then an hour later it's gone, can't remember a thing. Sometimes at the gym things will come to me but there's really no particular place or time, it's more from the thoughts or emotions in my head at the time. When I'm transitioning from being a bit depressed to very euphoric, that seems to be more creative time. I think when there's a change going on in my life that's when I'm most creative. When you've been in certain place and things are changing, either for the better or for the worse, that's when I'm most creative.
KM: Interesting pattern of how creativity works. What got you interested in music? Was it something that started in your childhood?
PS: Yeah, I played instruments since before I can remember and have always been drawn to music. My mom bought me a record player when I was about 2 years old, and I was always listening to music. She and other people would buy me records and I would sit there in front of my record player just listening. I did other things, too. After graduating high school and starting college I was on my way to medical school. I was pre-med and taking all the classes; chemistry, biology, physics, math. I loved that stuff, I love chemistry. I had a chemistry set when I was about 7. Can you imagine getting a kid a chemistry set in this day and age? LOL, I don't even know if it would be considered to be dangerous now. It's funny when I look back. As kids then, we were trusted with a great deal of responsibility and we got to make a lot of mistakes and that's where we developed our experiences and learned, "Well, I better not do that again." LOL
KM: You make a good point there. A lot of parents are just very content having their kids do the usual day to day things and don't think out of the box, maybe a bit afraid to let their kids do something different.
PS: That's correct. I agree with that. If you go on the internet and look up photos of playgrounds from the 60's and 70's and see what the kids were doing then, the safety, people would be horribly shocked. No helmets on bicycles. Not using seatbelts in cars. But, we got through it, right? There's a lot of that "freedom" missing these days with kids.
KM: When you were first approached by Last in Line to take over the bass duties after Jimmy Bain (original bassist with Last in Line) passed away, was it a difficult decision for you to stop some other projects you had going on and join the band?
PS: No, not at all. Jimmy and I were friends, and after he passed, and the guys approached me to join the band. I didn't really hesitate. I felt it was a new era and the band really had the opportunity to truly establish themselves.
KM: So you felt this was a great opportunity for you?
PS: You know, we get the opportunity to participate in a lot of opportunities. We're probably one of the few businesses in the world where you can do everything absolutely 100% right but the outcome is not certain. So, you tend to follow these things and do them for the reason that you love them, not because the reason is that they may do well and that you can detect some elements of success that you can perceive. But, when some of these things begin to work, you run with the ball. So, I don't know what we've done right with this band but it seems to resonate within people and people are encouraging about it and it excites us. And, then it becomes a priority. From day one with the band when we went out on our very first show, that first show was just phenomenal, it was great. It was fun and I loved it and it wasn't a difficult decision at all to join the band and I felt it was a great opportunity.
KM: I'm excited for you guys. Tell me about your family life. Wife and kids?
PS: Yep. Married for about 18 years, but no kids, to my knowledge. LOL I think we both would have liked to have kids but it didn't work out in that way. I have a lot of cousins and relatives who have children.
KM: Off the music topic. Rumor has it you are a chef. Is that true?
PS: LOL Yeah, a little bit.
KM: Are you formally trained?
PS: Man, you've done your homework! LOL Well, in a sense. I'm not formally trained. You know, part of the background from that comes from the chemistry set we were talking about. I love the idea of, you know. I see a connection from the chemistry set and cooking. There's the chemistry of it all, balancing of the seasonings. It's every bit as creative as painting, doing music. I love the food music. I've been on TV doing some cooking and I owned a restaurant, a traditional Japanese restaurant, very traditional. It won a bunch of awards and I miss it terribly. But, I believe there is a connection between music and food. They're both hospitality industries. The whole idea of restaurants and music, they're supposed to make people feel good, to give them a little escapism from their daily life and take them somewhere else and relax, and I think the hospitality industry is the greatest industry in the world. It's very tough but so cathartic. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to see people enjoying themselves and for that reason, I think that's why creating music and cool dishes really speaks to me.
KM: Let's say I walked into a restaurant and you're the chef. What would you recommend I order from the menu?
PS: Probably a fish dish I make. A Moroccan style fish dish. I'm good at soups. I'm great at complicated soups. I'm really good at roasts and steaks. There's a lot of fusion. I'll throw in some Asian ideas as well, into some other things. Basically, my stronger points are Mediterranean type of fish dishes, Northern Moroccan. Maybe a bit of Italian.
KM: Sounds great. So, what came first for you, the love of food or the love of music?
PS: Um, I don't know. It's probably music. You know, the kitchen was off limits to us when we were kids. My mom would say, "Get out of my kitchen." So, when she wasn't home, I'd delve into the kitchen and start creating things. It was a fascinating process to me. I'd make something and then eat it and see if it's any good. And then as a young kid growing up in London, my family didn't have much money and neither did my friends. We soon discovered if we sort of pulled what little money we didn't have together, we could go out and get a bunch of food. We'd go to somebody's apartment, and we'd have a great night. There were two or three of us and we'd take turns trying to outdo each other and that was part of the training as well.
KM: Have you ever had to cater the meals for the band before shows?
PS: No. LOL Nope, haven't had to do that. But, there have been times when we got to the end of the show and we'd be like, "Man, there's no food." I'd look at all the ingredients around the room and think, "Hmm, I can probably make something pretty bizarre here," and I've created some cool stuff. So, I'm like the emergency chef.
KM: Let's hear about one of the craziest or most memorable stories you can share about Rock 'n Roll life.
PS: Well, one of the most memorable was when I was sitting in a room with Chris Slade in 1984 or 1985, waiting to play with this guy who wanted to put a band together, finding ourselves in that position and Jimmy Page walking in the door and really that was the first time I met Jimmy. I was a huge fan of his. He had been out of the public eye for some time and had just decided he wanted to put something together.
KM: So, you had no idea the guy who wanted to put the band together was Jimmy Page?
PS: Not the slightest bit. One of my closest friends in the world was Zeppelin's manager, at the end of the band's career, Phil Carlo. He is the one who set this up. He spoke to Jimmy and Jimmy knew who I was, and he asked him if he'd like to have a jam together. So, we went to a rehearsal studio and Jimmy came in and we began to work together for several months. It gave me this little window into who Jimmy Page is and it was remarkable, and he's a wonderful human being, a wonderful person, an incredible artist and one of my favorite people I've ever met.
KM: Were you nervous when he first walked in?
PS: Oh, hell yeah! LOL I mean I don't get nervous but more fearful because there's this little nagging voice saying "What if this doesn't work out, it will be over before it started, you know?" So, I had no idea what we were going to do or what to expect and at some point, we just started playing and playing stuff we liked and it was a lot of fun and we thought, "Well, that was great, let's do that again tomorrow." And, that's kind of how it all began and we did this for several months.
KM: Any regrets in life?
PS: Uh, not really. I do believe it's better to regret the things you did do than things you didn't do. I don't think so. I mean, I take a lot of chances but at times I feel I wish I'd taken more chances. One of my heroes is David Bowie. I never had the opportunity to work with him but when you look at what he did, he would just get up and go live in another country. He wasn't tied down with baggage, houses, cars or things like that. He'd just pick up and go live in Berlin for a few years at a time to just stir it up a little bit. I always thought that was just an incredible commitment to his freedom of surroundings. I'd love to be able to do something like that. There's so much that has to go along with that.
KM: I think in some sense, that's what makes life interesting. But, not everyone can do that.
PS: I've had some times when I've had to do that on a much smaller level, for work, where I'd be away for several months, but to just pick up and go live somewhere else for a while and just take it all in without any work responsibilities, that's something I've never done and don't see myself ever doing.
KM: So, wha'ts on the schedule for the band? When are you coming to Asheville?
PS: Well, we do have a challenge this year and something to work around because Vivian has his commitments with the Def Leppard tour. But we definitely get a lot of traction from that relationship with Def Leppard. We get a lot of benefit from that and a lot of new ears listening to our music because of Vivian's involvement with both bands. It's really a terrific thing but for us to do shows, we have to work around Def Leppard's schedule so kudos to our manager for being as creative as possible. So, it will be sooner or later. We don't have too many shows scheduled yet after April but our new agent is going to fill as many dates as possible, but we really pick it up in September.
KM: Phil, this has been great speaking with you today. Thank you for the time. I know we went a bit over time.
PS: No worries at all. Thank you Kreig. It's been fantastic speaking with you. Stay in touch and it would be cool to get together.
Kreig Marks, Publisher / Founder TRR
Kreig Marks is the Founder/Publisher of Tru Rock Revival Magazine.
Rock music has always been his passion, and promoting musicians. In is spare time he is an internationally recognized neuro-fitness trainer/ kinesiologist.