Phil, Ty, and Mike Reunite to Create “I’m Your Rock Star”
Three Arnold graduates have released a new album that is now available on all streaming and downloading platforms. Titled “Phil Koubek Project – I’m Your Rock Star,” the 12 track album is being played on 12 different radio and Internet radio programs in 140 countries around the globe. The release of the album is a dream come true for Phil Koubek, Ty Phillips, and Mike Purcell, who started their journey to eventually record this album decades ago.
Back in the 80s, there were several budding musicians in Arnold, forming bands and practicing in their parents’ basements and garages. Phil was one of them. He started at the young age of 8 by playing a tennis racket in front of the mirror at the rural farm home of his parents, Mary Jane and John Koubek.
Phil continued to find new guitar look-a-like items until fellow Arnold High students Scott Cool and Mike Davenport asked him to buy a guitar so the three of them could start a band. He was 14 or 15 at the time.
“We had always talked about starting our own rock band, and Scott and Mike both were playing drums and the bass in the high school band. So, I worked all summer long to save up enough money to buy me a guitar. However, Mike had bought a guitar and amp that was a little better than the one I had, so he let me play it until I got a decent guitar the following year,” said Phil.
The group started their band, XLR8, in 1986, practicing in Ron and Nancy Cool’s house in the basement. It was Scott on drums, Mike on bass, and Phil on the guitar and vocals. Scott and Phil wrote the songs. They ended up adding Alan Suhr (keyboards) and Brian Yarrington (lead vocals) to the band after a few months because Phil said he wasn’t very good at playing and singing at the same time – yet. They had five or six songs including “Faith In Dreams,” which they sang at their graduation in 1988.
They played one or two gigs with those members. When they graduated, everyone went off in different directions, but a couple years later, Scott, Mike and Phil got back together to jam and recorded a couple songs that they wrote together at Phil’s house.
“Every time Scott came back to visit me, he would bring his drums to set up and record music. The last song we did together was “Panic in Paradise.” I still have the 4 track recording we did of it,” said Phil.
In 1991 Phil and Ty Phillips started jamming together.
“I remember hearing that Ty was playing the trap set in the high school band and I needed someone to jam with, and since I always jammed with Scott, I wanted a drummer. So, I asked Ty if he would be interested in getting together to jam on some Kiss songs and that began our life-long friendship and partners in crime,” said Phil.
“I always wanted to be in a band, but no one my age played anything. But then towards the end of my senior year, Phil moved back and asked if I’d like to get together and jam. He wrote songs, so I could just make up whatever I wanted to play! I always kind of took for granted that Phil was such a good songwriter and so creative,” said Ty.
That same year, Scott, Mike and Phil booked a gig at the old country club in Arnold under the band name Phil Koubek and the Duct Tape Band. Scott had to back out of the gig due to a ski trip, so Ty was asked to sit in on drums.
In 1993 Ty and Phil started jamming with Arnold teachers Mike McDaniel (guitar) and Jim Krohn (bass/vocals). This started the Silly Billy band. Ty and Phil practiced in Ty’s grandparent’s garage.
“Francis and Marion were so supportive of Ty, and by extension the rest of us,” said Phil. They ended up playing a gig out at the country club again as the Silly Billy band. This time it was McDaniel, Krohn, Ty, and Phil. That band would break up when Ty moved to Colorado.
In 1994 Phil started working on putting together a new band while living in Broken Bow at the request of a couple of his friends, Bob Bowles and Dave Birnie, who asked him to play at the first Rock and Blues BBQ in Arnold, which became the Bluesfest a year later. The band was Sinister’s Grace. Phil auditioned a lot of people for that band. The drummer quit the band one month before the July 16, 1994, gig, but Ty came to the rescue. He moved back, rehearsed the songs and was show ready in just under a month. Arnold School Principal Mike Harvey let the band practice in his quonset the night before the show.
Phil continued playing in the 90’s, and in 2001 the band Quasi Mojo was put together, reuniting Phil and Ty. This is where Mike Purcell, another A.H.S. graduate who had played in a band with Phil’s cousins, Steve and Jim Koubek, entered the picture.
“Patty (Mike’s sister) told us Mike was back in town. Ty and I went up to see if Mike would join our band as the other guitar player, but Mike said he would join but wanted to play bass and he didn’t want to sing. He ended up singing two-thirds of the set because he was so good,” said Phil.
“Since Mike and Phil are older than me, I grew up always thinking those guys were pretty cool – especially Mike because I knew he had gone to Chicago and was playing in bands out there. I would see him around town when I was a kid and I’d think to myself, ‘That guy’s a real rock star!’ I made Phil call him because I was too scared to call because he was so cool. I didn’t want him to think I was a dork!” said Ty. “I always really looked up to Scott Cool as well. He was such a great drummer and when he was in wrestling he’d let me look through his cassette tapes so I could find out what music I should be listening to.”
Quasi Mojo was a good cover band, but would break up a couple years later. Mike, Ty, John (another band member), and Phil became very close friends from then forth.
Starting in 2003, Phil took a break from playing in bands for six years, but continued to write music.
“I decided to focus on my career and raising my kids,” said Phil. “In 2009 I was asked to join the worship team at our church, Bethel in North Platte. It was a great honor to lead worship and to use the talents the Lord had given me. I played on the worship team for 3-plus years before deciding I wanted to start playing in bands again.”
Phil played with several bands in the years that followed, but his dream became making his own solo album. By this time, Phil was in North Platte, Ty was in Kearney, and Mike was in Omaha, building their careers. With a little persuasion, Ty agreed to work on the album, and with a lot of persuasion, Mike also agreed.
“I asked Ty first, because I knew it would be easier to get Mike to agree if Ty was doing it. Ty hadn’t been playing for a few years. He didn’t think he would be able to get his chops back in three months. Mike was a no out of the gate. I had to use a two prong attack. Mike gave in and agreed to do the album. Honestly, I think once Mike understood how important it was to me that the three of us did this together, he realized he needed to do it,” said Phil.
Ty and Phil started working drums and demos at both their places. Once they had a decent arrangement idea and drum track, they would send it to Mike over the Internet or send him a CD. In the month before they hit the studio, they got together at Ty’s house and finalized the arrangements. They recorded at Fuse Recording in Lincoln, and by referrals, hired a producer, Michael Beck, from SoundVision Studios in Mesa, Arizona.
On the album, Phil is lead and backing vocals, lead and rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, and bass. Mike is lead and rhythm guitar, slide guitar, bass, and backing vocals. Ty is drums, percussion, and backing vocals. Phil wrote all of the songs, except 4 of the tracks, where he did have a co-writer who contributed a little.
The title of the album goes back to when Phil’s kids were at home.
“Whenever I was leaving to go play a gig my wife Jen and my kids, Dalon and Josie, would almost always say, “There goes Dad off to play rockstar.” So it was an inside family joke. I decided to write the song “I’m your Rock Star” based on the joking around.”
PKP plays straightforward good-time rock and roll, but normally expresses themselves in the hard rock/metal genre. Their music has been described by most people as having a classic rock feel to it. The album cover was shot in Omaha, Nebraska, at Phil’s niece’s (Morgan Koubek’s) place of business. Phil used his nieces and nephews as paparazzi on the album cover, and Ty is the “rockstar.” Photography for the album was by Sherri Monfee Photography. The graphic design work is by JJ Alan at Geko Jam Graphics.
The Phil Koubek Project band is now: Phil, vocals/guitars; Ty, drums/vocals; and Adam Eschliman, guitars/vocals.
Since the album’s release, Ty and Phil were interviewed by the Metal Bob Live podcast’s host Metal Bob and were given a 10/10 on his album review. The group has been approached by Rock magazines in the UK and France to do interviews. Gigs are coming up on February 5 for the Metal Manifesto’s KZUM radio benefit concert, and the album release party is being planned for March 11 at The Otherside in Kearney. The group will also be playing a heavy metal music festival next September in Kearney.
“(My music teacher) kicked me out of band and sent me to study hall, saying ‘Phil, you just don’t have any musical ability.’ That and Scott Cool playing Kiss’ Love Gun album for me when I was staying at his house lit a fire and passion to make music – my own music. But my mom was the one who put the love of music in my heart by playing old country and mainstream pop music for us kids every day. I can’t begin to thank her enough,” said Phil.
“There are so many people who have helped us along the way. There just too many to mention. I dedicated the album in memory of my Mom, Scott (Cool) and Mike (Davenport), as well as my Dad. Without them, this dream wouldn’t have come true. I am so proud to have been born and raised in Arnold. I hope what your three wayward sons have achieved makes you proud.”
The album released digitally on December 17, 2021, and CDs will become available the first week of January 2022 on Phil’s website: Philkoubekproject.com or may be purchased by contacting Phil on Facebook. Four County Boutique in Arnold has offered to sell the CD locally. The band plans on releasing “I’m Your Rock Star” on vinyl late fall of 2022.
Article by: Janet Larreau
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