David Philp was lead singer and songwriter for The Automatics, the English Punk/Powerpop band that headlined London’s Marquee Club in the late 1970s. His hit record of that period, When the Tanks Roll (Over Poland Again), was produced by his then-roommate Steve Lillywhite and featured guitars by Johnny Thunders . It became one of the first Number Ones in the early days of the Punk/New Wave charts and has remained a favorite of punk rock devotees leading to a recent revival of interest in the band.
Born in Ripon, Yorkshire, Philp attended school in Cheltenham since his father was in the military and the family was stationed abroad. He was at Keel University when he decided to move to London and form a punk rock band. The era’s hippest DJ, John Peel promoted it to the top of the alternative charts. As a singer/songwriter, David Philp combined brilliant lyrics and musicianship with a relentless punk beat.
Living in Los Angeles, California since 1987, David Philp has been vigorously writing and recording over the past two decades. In 2000 David Philp recorded The Automatics “2” album with top L.A. producer Jim Wirt . ” 2 ” was released in Japan by Base Records in 2001 and promoted by a series of Japanese dates. Another album of “Rarities” from their early days was issued by Base Records the same year.
In 2002, Swedish label Diapazam Records coupled together 2 early tracks and released the 7″ vinyl single Wild One / Like a Moth into a Flame .
2003 saw the band release the Forty Virgins in the Afterlife album. The album was released on Base Records in Japan and also had a release in Germany on Trash 2001 Records.
In 2005 David Philp’s Britannia was released. The album reflects on the nature of being English, viewing his native land from afar and the conflicted feelings of an ex-patriot. The album is a more musically varied album than the regular Automatics sound. Britannia is currently being released by RCEG in the US. Guests on Britannia album include Steve Jones (Sex Pistols ), Ian McCallum ( Stiff Little Fingers ), Mick Rossi ( Slaughter & the Dogs ), Michael Des Barres ( Silverhead, Detective, Power Station ), Jim Wirt and others.
As one of the most played albums on Big L London Radio, Britannia features the tracks Who Died and Made You Brian Jones , spotlighted on the Jonathon L show on KUPD radio Phoenix, and also British Beat and England Expects expected to be added to specialty radio Summer 2007 and in January 2006 “Old River Thames” went to number one on the Big L Capital Radio charts.
After devoting himself to the theme of Britannia, Philp returned to writing individual songs, including Monsters, Cardboard Kingdom and The Jukebox of Human Sorrow, which became the title song. It was released in 2008 with the theatrical art of Marnie Weber on the cover and produced by Jim Wirt. It sold well and Philp was writing songs again when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He hadn’t smoked for 25 years so it was a devastating discovery. Early detection and surgery prevailed but the experience led Philp to consider mortality at close quarters. While recovering from the surgery, more often than not in his pajamas and dressing gown, he wrote a number of songs that he recorded under his own name. The Dressing Gown Sessions, as the record is titled, offers a dark, profound yet ultimately spiritual response to his experience with cancer. It was the first time that he had released a record as David Philp, a decision that reflects the intensely personal and meditative nature of the music.
In 2010, without a band, Philp went on the road to perform these songs at SXSW and at radio stations throughout the northeast and the west. The response was positive but these gigs took a physical toll. Philp began working with a singing teacher to re-learn singing without straining his lungs and throat.
In 2011, his punk rock songs received fresh attention when his 1977 hit Moth Into the Flame was featured in the critically acclaimed movie Kill the Irishman. The following year, his 1977 hit When the Tanks Roll Over Poland was re-released on vinyl as a single in Spain by Paramecium Records.
That year, Philp wrote a song cycle based on the circus freak show that was produced by Tom Morse and melding classical musicians with rock themes.