Phil Pattullo

I first met Phil Pattullo at The Liverpool Music House studio in Highfield Street. I was working there as a tape operator and we were fifteen years old. Musically precocious, Phil was the bass player in rock band Rumblefish. He was the youngest member of the band and we ‘clicked’ immediately. I invited Phil to come over to my house in Hightown to record on my Tascam 4-track recorder. His first production at Reid Studios was a heavy metal number called ‘Anger of Time’. I left him alone in my bedroom to record the vocals and I remember his insane screaming reverberating around the house and my mother telling her friends: “That’s Julian’s new friend from Maghull”.

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Our friendship grew and we became virtually inseparable. We were both in love with music and in each other’s company we could be ourselves. We bonded over music, girls, chocolate nibbles and clowning around. We rode Merseyrail trains and wandered around Liverpool. We were part of life at last and in the midst of the excitement we discovered alcohol, our love for which would soon supplant all of the aforementioned passions.

Phil was an incredible guitarist. His playing was intuitive and he would instinctively know what a song required. He listened to groups such as Nirvana, Korn, Mansun and The Blue Nile. He loved Muse, an obsession which I could never share.

There was a hardcore band from Maghull called dBh who had signed a record contract, released singles and appeared in Kerrang! Their success had inspired a generation of Maghull youngsters who added ‘forming hardcore bands’ to their usual activity of smoking spliffs and drinking MD 20/20 in Sandy Lane Park. Phil and I formed ‘Debaser’ with Nigel F on vocals and Dave L on bass. I played drums, Phil played lead guitar. Nige growled like the Honey Monster, an impressive feat for a 17 year old lad. We played a few shows and recorded a demo tape at Pinball Studios at The Picket on Hardman Street.

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In our late teens our drinking assumed more serious proportions and Phil and I began to experiment with other mind and mood-altering substances. Actually, ‘experiment’ is perhaps the wrong word, it suggests a course of action tentatively adopted. The truth is that we threw ourselves head first at oblivion and our lives started to unravel as a result.

There is no need to recount the war stories, the madness and the chaos. At the age of 21 Phil was jailed for four years. I went with my mother to visit him: “He was always such a nice boy”. Mum was right about that. He was a nice boy. He was also a lost soul. We exchanged letters and I  have kept every letter he sent me during his incarceration. In spite of his shadows, Phil was generally an optimistic, hopeful and fun-loving boy – and his letters contained doodles of guitars and logos for the potential band names.

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When Phil was released from prison we formed The Late Developers with drummer Steven Murphy and Phil’s younger brother David. On our day we were a formidable act but often rehearsals and live performances would be chaotic. Phil and I were unravelling and Ste and Dave had front row seats with hands over their eyes.

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I sobered up in 2006. I moved to Spain and then moved to Italy. Phil went back to jail but we always kept in contact.

There are so many stories that I could tell about Phil Pattullo. Some twisted, some sad, many hilarious. We laughed a great deal, the kind of laughter that provides a deep sense of belonging and helps a person to believe that all is well with the world.

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The Pattullo Brothers

The last time I saw Phil was New Years Eve 2014. We arranged to meet in Liverpool where I took him to a 12 Step meeting and afterwards gave him £20 for a taxi. My last words to him were: “Phil, it would be break my heart if one day I was to receive a phonecall from your parents telling me that  you had died. Please don’t let that happen.” We hugged, wished each other a Happy New Year and then went our separate ways. I went back to Italy and then one day in March 2015 I saw a missed call on my mobile from the Pattullo Family’s Maghull landline.

Phil

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Phil Pattullo was my best friend, my soul-mate – and the greatest guitarist I ever played with. Listen to Happy Being Quiet. The guitar playing evokes Sonic Youth and the Sound of Seattle that so enthralled us in our teens. The coda (from 2:34 onwards) is one of the most beautiful pieces of music that I have ever heard. Phil’s voice, his guitar playing, the lyric:

Go back to sleep. I love it when you’re asleep.

Go back to sleep. I love it when you’re asleep.

Go back to sleep. Go back to sleep. I love it when you’re asleep.

Go back to sleep. I love it when you’re asleep.

Why can I not sleep? I love it when I’m asleep.

I love it when you’re asleep.

The final line, a half-whisper concluded with a sigh is absolutely devastating. I can only image what kind of place Phil was in when he recorded that vocal – and I hope that he is now happy being quiet.

 

Phil Pattullo played in the following bands:

Rumblefish –  Debaser – The Kings of Infinite Space – Q (Deep End) – Steed – The Late Developers – The Neon Tears

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