Feature Stories

Wilson Phillips holds on

Wilson Phillips, perhaps best known for three No. 1 singles and six Top 20 hits before 1993, are still holding on; in addition to a new album, they are the subject of a reality TV series on TV Guide Network. They’re about to kick-off a nationwide tour, including a stop at the Utah State Fair on Sep. 7.  Tickets are $20 and available at utahstatefair.com.

QSaltLake chatted with Carnie Phillips, talented singer, talk show host and reality TV star, to preview their upcoming performance. She shared her love for Utah and her personal message for young gay teens in Utah.

Your new CD, Dedicated, is comprised of The Beach Boys and The Mamas & the Papas covers. Since you grew up around that music, it must have been hard to choose the 12 tracks that made the CD — how did you decide?

Well it wasn’t easy. It was actually really hard. There were so many great songs to choose from. The Mamas & the Papas had a smaller catalog so that was just a little bit easier. But we tried to focus on who would sound good singing what. It wouldn’t really suit us to do “409,” and we stayed away from the surf songs that were more male driven. We were thinking about the songs that we sound good singing and that were meaningful to us.

Are you happy with the outcome?

Oh my god, yes. It’s a beautiful record. It is so well made and I think Rob, my husband, did a magnificent job. He kept the songs so true to the original vibes. But the delivery of the feelings and emotions was taken to the next level.

How has it been, being back in the recording studio and how has the industry changed?

Well you don’t do it to make money anymore. Seriously, good luck making money with an album. But the financials come from other opportunities.

We’re grateful to be on the road and back in the studio. We want to keep the music as the focus.

Do you feel like momentum is building for Wilson Phillips, with the album, TV show and tour?

Oh, yes, absolutely.  Our guest spot in Bridesmaids took it to another level and made it possible to increase the money coming in. Touring is so expensive. We’ve got an eight-piece band and traveling with everyone costs a fortune, so we need fans to show up to keep the tour going.

We’ve been getting a lot of feedback from the fans and it’s been unbelievable. I think it’s an exciting time and there seems to be a sparkle on the horizon for Wilson Phillips.

What can we expect to see at your show? Our favorites mixed with the last album?

We’re going to be doing all the hits, some from our last album and some of our favorite covers from bands that we love so much. We have two dedicated records and we love paying tribute to our inspirations.

But the show really is a mixture of a lot of things. We seem to add songs about every six months. We have to add stuff because we get bored with the status quo. It’s part music act, part comedy act, but it’s completely wacky and fun.

You’ve been to Utah before. Do you remember much about your previous visits?

Absolutely. It is always really great to visit. We love Utah. My daughter Lola just loves it there. She always tells me she wants to go back.

Our last show had about 2,500 people and there’s always a party atmosphere.

Why do you think you’ve developed a large gay following?

I don’t know. I feel like there’s sort of a connection between strong women and gay men. I don’t think we’re considered divas, but I think that gay men are able to connect to women that have a lot of chutzpa and that are gregarious. I think gay men love women with balls, you know?

I’ve always loved gay men and I feel like I’m a gay man inside. I just love being around gay men.

I have to ask, are you familiar with the YouTube video, Chow Down at Chick-fil-A which parodies your big hit, ‘Hold on’?

Of course! We saw it the minute it came out. We loved it!

I just wish the overweight one realized that I’m a lot thinner now. She didn’t have to take it so far.

I think that it is really funny and a little out there. When she said, “Is there mayo in this? Fuck!” I was in hysterics. It’s awesome and I love any impersonation of us, especially by fabulous drag queens.

What’s in the future for Wilson Phillips?

Oh my goodness, more records, tour dates, TV — and there’s a big iron in the fire that we can’t talk about just yet. But overall, I hope and pray we can stay together forever.

I’m also working on some projects of my own and I’ll be co-hosting a show on CBS and working on a show for the Food Network.

Do you have any last words for young gay fans growing up in a conservative area?

I would just say be true to who you are. And never be ashamed of who you love. Fuck everyone else’s opinion.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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