INTERVIEW WITH THE MANUALIST

About three weeks ago, we were sitting around watching videos on youtube.  We came across THIS VIDEO...go ahead click it.  Yea, that's some pretty weird shit, huh?  But I saw it before and I said "Fuck this shit, let's look up whoever is doing that song in the background" and we came across this gem by Gerry Phillips.  We were hooked and we watched video after video!

I don't know what got us so drawn to his videos!  Maybe it's how amazing it was to see a man cover over 150 songs with just his two hands and some air in between them, the sheer ability to get every note down and nail every solo was impressive.  Maybe it was the hilarity of it all.  Or maybe it was how he played with the slightest grin, which made him look so content and happy at performing his amazing talent.  Nevertheless, we had to interview him and so we did.  I tracked him down, called him up and he agreed to do a little interview for us.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is Gerry Phillips.  Believe in him.

Rob:  Gerry, introduce yourself and tell us exactly how you discovered your amazing talent.
Gerry:  I was 9 years old at a party when the photographer made a noise with his hands and told us kids to go away and try to do it. (to shut us up!) When I got home I was messing around and realized I could get notes and started to play simple songs.  Now I can play anything. I thought I invented it until 5 years later when I saw John Twomey on The Tonight Show play Stars and Stripes Forever.

Rob:  Your obviously most well known for your youtube videos that have gotten over 22 million views but what do you do for a living?  What's the everyday life of Gerry Phillips like?
Gerry:  I own a gun shop. That is where the gunecologist name (his youtube username) comes from.

Rob:  What do your friends and family think about your talent?
Gerry:  Everybody loves it. I don't know anyone who isn't completely amazed that I can do what I do.

Rob: I know if I was driving in my car with you I'd want you to play along to the tunes on the radio.  Do you get requests all the time from people and does it ever get to be annoying?  Are you ever recognized in public and asked to do a tune?
Gerry:  I am recognized and I will play any song anyone wants.

Rob: I've also noticed that you haven't posted any videos in about a year.  Any reason for the lull in new manualist covers?  Also, how do you choose what songs you cover?
Gerry:  Most songs are repetitive and boring. When I find a song that is technically hard to play and has great lead solo or I just have too many people requesting it, only then will I do it.  I feel I have done just about everything I set out to play. I always thought that when I could play The Green Hornet Theme or the full Fur Elise that I would be as good as I could get. That is why I haven't made any new videos lately. Also I moved into a new house and have been spending all my free time working on it.

Rob:  My friend Genevieve, a musician herself, finds it very hard to believe that you could play all these songs with just your two hands.  I told her that her lack of faith is disturbing (I got your back, Gerry) but what would you say to people who simply can't believe it's real?
Gerry:  First of all I'm not the only one who can do this. I'm just the only one to take it to the next level. To be asked by the california guitar trio to play their biggest hit live with them was the biggest compliment to what I do. To have Brian May of Queen post my video and give me such praise on brianmay.com is mind blowing.  To travel the world, make commercials, play live is more than I ever dreamed. If it all ended tomorrow I would be totally satisfied today.

Rob:   There's no doubt that you're a master hand musician but are there any other instruments you also enjoy playing?
Gerry:  I used to play the trumpet , baritone, french horn and tuba. I also messed around on a bass guitar. When I could play music on my hands better than I could play the instruments, I got rid of the instruments.

Rob:  Its safe to say that youtube plays a huge part in how people discover you and your talent.  It's easy to forget that youtube is only a few years old and I often wonder how much talent went undiscovered before it's inception.  How has youtube changed your life personally and what opportunities have you gained from it?
Gerry:  I had been promised the world since I was young. Always lied to. I decided to take matters in my own hands and put some videos on youtube. I never thought I would have 21 million views on one site, but I do. It has totally changed my life and I thank youtube for it all!

Rob:  You were on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE, how surreal was that?!  Tell us about that experience and what it was like for you.
Gerry:  I was asked to be on both Leno once and Letterman twice. Never happened! I did an interview with Kevin and Bean in California. When we were done they told me I would be getting a call in 45 minutes from the Jimmy Kimmel show. Jimmy used to write for them when he started in radio. They called and booked me on the spot, gave me a date, airline and hotel confirmations. They treated me like a star and I'll always remember how nice they were.

Rob:  You are undeniably a youtube star!  Are there any other big youtubers out there that you're a fan of?
Gerry:  Steve Riks is a musical  impersonator. We did a video together called Freddy Mercury: It's 1975. Which is hilarious. He is the best!

Rob:  I got one last question.  When you attend a birthday party and they bring out the cake and everyone sings "Happy Birthday"...do you sing along vocally or play it with your hands?
Gerry:  I always play happy birthday!

Rob:  Gerry Phillips, you're a very talented man and a great sport!  I just want to thank you for your time and wish you well in your future.  Is there anything you'd like to add?
Gerry:  Thank you!