Phil Smith is an educator and performer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He teaches Applied Percussion and Percussion Methods at Talladega College as well as Applied Percussion, Jazz History, and Music, Society, and Culture at Georgia State University. Phil is also an active performing, recording, and touring musician as well as an active publisher. He has had numerous pedagogical articles and papers published in several different magazines and journals. He is also the host of the popular podcast, Drummer's Weekly Groovecast.
Rhythm! Scene: If you weren't a percussionist and educator, what career could you see yourself having pursued?
Phil Smith: I would most likely pursue pharmacology. I believe there's a great blend of objectivity and creativity when compounding different types of medicines.
R!S: As a freelance artist, what's one of the weirdest gigs you've taken or oddest jobs you've had outside the industry?
PS: When I was in graduate school, I took a gig playing for a rodeo. It was absolutely the strangest job I've had! The most prolonged period of time you'd play was eight seconds—the time of a full bull ride. Plus, your eyes had to be glued to the conductor as well as the cowboy in case the ride ended abruptly.
R!S: What's one thing most people don't know about you?
PS: Most people don't know that I'm a cinephile. In particular, I like art movies. I have an affinity for Russian films by Tarkovsky.
R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
PS: I love the drum set. It's the first percussion instrument I learned, and I continually find infinite fascination and enjoyment in all of its aspects. However, the vibraphone is a close second!
R!S: Where did you grow up, and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?
PS: I grew up in Athens, Tennessee, in the foothills of Appalachia. I had a very typical, if uneventful, childhood that did not include music; no one in my family was interested in music. However, I was a great student, especially in Language Arts, and I won several spelling bees.