Those of you who loved wearing gel bracelets, colours that don’t exist in nature or anything John Hughes are in for a real treat.
A charismatic, energetic and plain old fun band called Unisex Salon is playing the role of standard bearer for the decade of excess in New York with their 80s inspired sound and style.
Fronting the throw-back band and epitomizing everything 80s is Kenyon Phillips. With his sleek tattooed body, big hair, quasi-androgynous look and surreal stage presence, Phillips is like Polaroid taken in 1983 come to life. With one exception.
“I’ve never had a drink in my life,” chuckles Phillips when asked if he indulges in some of what made the 80s the 80s. “No booze, no smokes, no drugs…very un-80s of me.”
Phillips, however, does have a long standing addiction, but it’s to the rush of being in front of an audience.
“I was a fat child, I was bad at sports but I loved the school play,” he says emphatically. “And I remember when I got on stage and gave my first line, I felt so good, and I’ve been chasing that amazing feeling every since.”
Watch one live clip online and you’ll know exactly what he means.
“Even if you don’t like our music, you’ll like our stage show,” says Phillips. “Our performances are at the heart of Unisex Salon, it’s what has made us stand out and for me, performing a song you’ve written is the pinnacle, it’s what makes life worth living.”
The icing on this neon-coloured cake is the talent on stage with Phillips. The backings of the stunning Autumn Ready Potter, Brian Gumbel on the keyboards, former Fun Lovin’ Criminal Stephen Borgovini on drums, Jansen Cinco on bass and Chris Comfort on guitar round out the band.
“These guys never cease to amaze me. I’ve learned over the years that if the chemistry isn’t there, regardless of talent, it’s going to be shit. Just like sex,” he says, pausing to laugh a bit. “And in our case, the sex is great.”
And as for whether Unisex Salon can survive in the ever-growing, ever-changing New York music scene, Phillips shrugs of any doubt: “Hey, the more things change, the more they stay the same. A lot of it depends on the press’ tastes if you’re going to make it, but with them you’re either great or shitty, but the one thing common to a lot of other acts out there is that no one’s dancing, and that’s the point of difference; I dance and we’ll get the audience to dance too.”