Featured Student: Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips

“I was born and raised in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Growing up, I played in my school’s orchestra, jazz band, and pit bands. From age 14 to 16, I enrolled in the Princeton School of Rock, which gave me the opportunity to play a lot of really cool shows around New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey. From that program, I formed my first original band and started gigging around in my junior and senior years of high school. Currently, I’m playing with the alternative rock band Solar Plexus, the blues-rock band 27Plus, and I have been doing a lot of session work with various songwriters.”

“My father is a professor of music theory at Westminster Choir College so I was introduced to music at a young age. I played piano through elementary school and switched to drums when I was ten. I played percussion and drum set for years, until I finally picked up the bass at 14. I distinctly remember hearing the bass line to the song ‘Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)’ when I was jamming with friends and I became obsessed. I loved the bass because it took the rhythmic aspect of the drums and added concepts of melody on top of it. Although I enjoyed playing other instruments, the bass felt more in tune with who I am as a person and I haven’t looked back since.”

“For me, Berklee was the only option. I knew I wanted to study bass after high school and it was the only college with a dedicated electric bass department. Berklee has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and tackle genres and styles that used to intimidate me, like jazz and R&B. Thanks to the help of many teachers in the bass department, I have been able to develop confidence in my playing and have overcome a lot of holes in my playing. Over the past three years, it has been really rewarding to see the progress I’ve made on my instrument and to hear how my sound has improved. When I hear myself now and think back to how I played when I entered the college, it really is amazing. Although I still have a lifetime of work left, having the opportunity to spend four entire years focusing on what I love most has been incredible.”

“As a performance major, I would like to be out on the road a lot after I graduate, especially while I’m still young. Wherever I end up, I would like to be a part of the studio scene. I have found that working in sessions can be one of the most rewarding aspects of playing. Eventually, when it comes time to settle down, I think I would like to go into teaching, either privately or in a group setting.”

“The song ‘Fire Escape’ is the single from my band Solar Plexus' EP, Nerves, which was released this past June. Currently, it’s being featured on the seasonal playlist for the Boston Bruins.

Hear Tom Phillips play bass with Solar Plexus on “Fire Escape" here.