Indie-rock outfit, Phin, have soared to the top of Nashville’s independent music scene. Forming in 2013, the band released its debut EP, Those Killers, a sound that combines the stylings of Sam Cooke and MGMT. Recently, frontman Toby Haydel opened up about he and the band’s journey together, and how much has happened since Phin’s beginning.
The release of Those Killers – EP was the beginning of a journey that we never expected. It was and still is like hanging on for dear life as an angry bull… no… a great white shark is trying to shake you off so he can chomp you up. Okay, maybe it hasn’t been that crazy, but it has been an unbelievable journey. Even though Phin was something I’d been working on for a while, I never thought I’d now be working towards making it a career.
I always loved music growing up, but I never loved it from the perspective of a musician. I tried playing the drums when I was about ten, but quickly realized that wasn’t going to work out. I never really took the time to learn how to play any other instruments. Then one day a couple years ago, my brother introduced me to Apple’s GarageBand. I quickly learned the basics and started messing around for hours on end, using a MIDI controller to make rap beats and silly instrumentals. It was amazing to me that I could essentially “build” music by simulating a guitar, bass, or even a trumpet without actually knowing how to play them. Eventually I decided I wanted to do something more than just play around with music; I wanted to write an album. Sure, I wasn’t a songwriter (yet), I’d never actually written a song before, but I had stories to tell, and everyone has to start somewhere, right? I would sit down and put sounds together like I was playing with Legos, building the music brick by brick. A couple months later, I had written my first handful of songs. After showing them to some friends (now bandmates) Preston, Graham, Cobey, and Cody, they were extremely supportive and suggested we take the songs to a real studio and record them with real instruments. Lightbulbs were going off in all of our heads and we decided that this project was going to be the birth of a band called Phin.
We released Those Killers – EP online for free and began playing shows. We had played a handful of dates including a gig opening for Lord Huron at Lightning 100’s Nashville Sunday Night at 3rd and Lindsley in the fall of 2013, which was an amazing experience for such a young band. One of the DJs for Lightning 100 saw us play again at one of their showcases and suggested we compete in their annual Music City Mayhem competition. Competing in this battle of the bands was a no-brainer. Lightning 100 had been spinning our single, ‘Those Killers’ for a while, so we thought we had a decent chance. That is until after we sent in the application and learned that we were one of nearly 400 other bands in the competition. Sure enough, when we were chosen to move forward into the voting rounds, we were all in disbelief. We moved forward into each round thinking there was no way we were going to advance again, but with the help of tons of friends, family, and supporters (THANK YOU), we were proven wrong over and over and ended up advancing to the Final Four showcase.
The Final Four was absolutely insane. The venue was awesome, the crowd was awesome, and just as we feared, the bands we were competing against were AWESOME. We immediately told ourselves that it didn’t matter whether we won or lost because playing that show was such an incredible opportunity…and because we were sure to lose to the bands who played before us. Each band had a bigger and wilder crowd as the night continued and we were loving each band just as much as the crowd was. As we got up on stage, we had a feeling we had already lost. Accepting this soon-to-be defeat, we played a show without any pressure of the outcome of the competition. It was by far the loudest, sweatiest, greatest, most energetic show we had played. Following our set, everyone went to cast their vote. We stood in the crowded venue as the votes were tallied and the DJs took the stage to begin what seemed to be a filibuster (it was excruciating) before finally announcing the winner. When they read our name, we were shocked. We had taken first place in the 2014 Music City Mayhem competition. Saying it was unbelievable would be an understatement. Thank you to everyone who made it possible!
Phin will be performing at Live On The Green, Saturday, September 6th at 1:45 p.m., closing out the festival’s fall 2014 run.