Crowds were small at ﬁrst but enthusiastic. After a few lineup changes, Philly settled into a hard rocking trio, with Brian Clark on bass & vocals, drummer Brian Martini and guitarist Phil Scholling. Some people, especially some established church folk, thought the band rocked way too hard to be playing essentially Christian music. They thought rock was the devil’s music, and couldn’t be ‘redeemed’. The boys in the band disagreed, and since they were playing nearly exclusively to younger crowds, it was a familiar language to both. Philly found no music in and of itself evil, simply the intent of it; and using rock as a tool to communicate....communicate they did!
A couple of years in, a fourth member was added, Ronn Flowers on guitar. Playing a show in Mississippi, the band was spotted by a recording studio owner who quickly signed them to his label. Philly released their ﬁrst album in 1985, ‘Tell The Truth’, that spawned a Top 25 CCM hit, ‘No Compromise’. The band and outreach team had formed a close friendship with noted hard rockers Rez Band, and their community JPUSA, playing large shows with them around the region, and so were invited to play the Cornerstone festival in ’85. The show was a triumph for the band, validating their approach and gaining exposure to a much wider audience. However, at the same time, things were heating up in their Southern homeland....and not in a good way.
As they gained prominence, Philadelphia came under attack for their music. Church personalities great and small ﬁred away at the boys, saying that God could never use their music for good. Televangelist Jimmy Swaggart publicly accused them of blasphemy. In the middle of the tumult, Philly released its second album, ‘Search & Destroy’. The band’s music was even harder than before. They had learned that a majority of the kids that needed to hear the message would never listen to anything labeled Christian, so the message became subtler, and they strived to make their songs as authentic musically as the feelings and thoughts the lyrics shared.
1986 brought another fantastic show at Cornerstone north of Chicago, but the situation at home was unraveling. Religious persecution continued, causing personal problems to worsen, and ﬁnally, label issues. Philly had written and recorded demos for a new, full length third album, to be named after the title track, ‘Warlord’. Disagreement with their record label left them unable to record, and so besieged on all sides, Philadelphia broke up. There were great memories of shows across the South, lives touched and hearts and souls mended...but that was all. Memories.
Fast forward to 2011. Bassist Brian Clark was in the hospital in his hometown of Shreveport LA, awaiting aortic valve replacement and bypass surgery. To his amazement, three of the friends that came to offer support and love were the former members of Philly! Even though Brian Martini now lived in Ft. Worth TX, and Phil Scholling even further away in Round Rock TX. Complicating matters, Phil’s beloved mother was in her last days in Shreveport, and Phil had just driven ﬁve hours back home when he got the news about Brian. He turned right around and came back to be with his Philly brother. Looking around his hospital room, Brian realized their special bond was still there.
In 2014, Brian Martini proposed a ‘Philly reunion’ at his home in Ft. Worth TX, just a good time visiting with each other. And a little jam session. Playing together felt great, just like old times. The next morning, Clark had an idea that he proposed to the band. Remember ‘Warlord’? Why not record and release it on their own now? Originally, all four members were in, but time constraints forced Ronn to withdraw. So now, Philly was back to it’s power trio lineup. And ready to start work on ‘Warlord’....an album 30 years in the making!!
Brian Martini offered his home studio, and being centrally located in Ft Worth between the other 2 members, writing and recording demos began. The three decided to keep the strong title track, and write new material for the rest. A search for someone to engineer and produce the album netted young phenom Ritchie Wicander, from Austin TX’s music scene. Ritchie has his own metal band, Fire From The Gods, just signed to a major record deal and with their ﬁrst album recently recorded. A drummer raised in Germany, he shares many of the same musical inﬂuences as the members of Philly, as well as a similar rock vision.
Just recently, recording was completed in Ft. Worth, and Wicander is now in the process of mixing and mastering all tracks. Now the question is....are you ready to hear what all the fuss was about? Are you ready for some ‘Warlord’?