Phil Wilson may not be a household name, nor is his work in the seminal indie-pop band the June Brides familiar to most people outside of hardcore Anglophiles or twee aficionados, but his impact on the music scene still reverberates today.
"I'm really stunned and pleased that the music still works for people," Wilson says over email. "I always thought that we were a pretty good band... maybe not the Clash, the Byrds, or the Velvet Underground, but not too shabby." Seeing as how his recorded output chalks in at about a half dozen singles, an album with the June Brides, and a couple more solo singles—the last of which came in 1987—"not too shabby" is a gigantic understatement.
"The Junies," as Wilson calls them, were the basic link from post-punk bands like Television Personalities and Josef K to C86 shamblers like the Wedding Present. Their music was rough, literate, and much more structurally pop (akin to the Go-Betweens) than that of their peers, with jangly guitars, trumpet, viola, and Wilson's (often off-key) vocals—coupled with angst-ridden lyrics—adding a fullness of sound that was unrivaled in the early '80s UK indie scene. They were the best of the DIY pop bands, two styles that typically mix like oil and water (since pop is generally associated with high production values), and while that may not seem all that impressive now, it's only because we're in a post-June Brides era.
An untarnished legacy is one thing, but the question at this point has to be: Why, after 20 years of hardly playing, start up with a solo career again now?
"It just felt natural to pick up the guitar again. I also thought that I was far enough away from my time with the June Brides that people would forgive me for being on stage again and they would realize that it wasn't a desperate attempt at a comeback." Regardless of how this return to music turns out, Wilson truly is one of the giants, and we're all the better for finally having him back.