A love of Bob Dylan and basketball brought Patrick Phillips to New York — but it was the scene at Bushwick’s Shea Stadium that lead him to form a band with Tyson Moore, Josh Wehle and Paul Lizarraga. Initially formed as Honduras, the New York-based indie act now known as Namesake, experienced some early success with their free-spirited full-length debut, 2015’s Rituals, including opening for Interpol. But a wrench was thrown into their plans when frontman Patrick Phillips was arrested at work. As Phillips recalls it, the night cops swarmed on the venue where he was bartender ring at the time was his worst nightmare. However, with the passing of time, Phillips now sees the ordeal and the night he spent in jail as a sort of dark stroke of serendipity that forced him to reevaluate the coping mechanisms in his lie that were simply not working: He saw it was time to embrace his bisexuality, confront the abuse he had experienced in the past and address his addictions and anger.
“Without hitting that rock bottom, I feel like I could have kind of kept simmering on low and just kept going about my life,” Phillips says. “I needed therapy, and I needed something to happen to get me there. It was a pretty scary experience, and it could have gotten a lot worse, but I really was able to make the most out of a really crappy situation.”
Tyson Moore left the band last year, and a name change just felt necessary to the remaining band members — perhaps offering a fresh, new start. Namesake’s first album as Namesake, Redeeming Features manages to benefit from Philips’ shift in perspective. Released earlier this month, the album manages to tackle heavy themes but while being fun. “There’s just something beautiful about attacking really heavy lyrical matter, but at the same time, you can tap your foot along to it,” says Phillips. “You’re able to acknowledge things about yourself and to be truthful. But you have to tell your story with a smirk, because we all have our own stuff to go through. It can’t be too self-serious! You definitely have to be truthful with yourself.”
Redeeming Features‘ latest single “Population” is a breakneck ripper that’s one part surf rock, one part post punk centered around wiry guitar blasts, a propulsive motorik-like groove, Phillips snarl vocals delivering incisive observations about our current socioeconomic climate of rampant greed and inequity, the desperation and frustration of Joe and Jane Public trying to get by in New York — or anyplace else.
Directed, shot, edited by Namesake’s Josh Wehle, the video for “Population” begins with `the band’s Phillips presumably passed out on the street after a night of wild debauchery. Waking up, he walks down a quiet city street when he comes across an ad that reads “It’s not too late to save yourself call 212-555-HELP.” Phillips calls the line and expresses every bit of rage within his soul before hanging up the phone. Two other working women in gray suits call on the same phone and do the same. Life is infuriating and unfair