By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
There's an open bottle of Veuve Clicquot next to us as we sip champs to the tune of the Shakira and Alejandro Sanz duet "La Tortura," deep in the bowels of Phase 54 (www.phase54.com), this dope spot out near I-10 and Elliot Road that's blowin' up like George Clooney's waistline in Syriana. Right now, the Michelle Rodriguez of the PHX and I are gettin' our bubbles on at the bar in the VIP section of da club, a chill space accented with onyx and cherry hardwood, and featuring a granite Jacuzzi that looks like someone swiped it from Hef's mansion in Bel Air. Sadly, there are no fly females in wet tees bouncing around in their bikini underwear, unless you count the ones in Jett's head.
"I'm gonna be climbin' in there with some fine bitches before the night ends, Kreme," the Jettster informs me, her eyes glazed over as some perved-out fantasy unfolds in her cerebellum. "Just you watch."
"As long as I don't have to clean the thing out afterwards," I snark, guzzling a bit more VC. "But hey, maybe the water gets hot enough to kill off the bacteria."
According to Phase 54 owner Jon Harris, the Jacuzzi has been there for a while, part of the many amenities that accompany his Phase Four recording studios, a swank, hidden-away musical laboratory that's played host to clients such as Vince Neil, DMX, Patti LaBelle, LeAnn Rimes, Sheryl Crow, Megadeth, and even the Insane Clown Posse, though I'm doing my Christian best to forgive Harris for the ICP. One thing that makes up for it: the news that Phase Four supposedly helped produce a track off Jamie Foxx's debut album, Unpredictable.
Phase Four's been around for 15 years, a well-kept secret to all but those in the music biz, seeing that Harris' hidden fortress of aural delights has won plaudits from industry rags, and lays claim to being one of the 25 best studios in the world. Harris built the whole thing with the help of business partners and his family, including the impressive Studio A, with its walnut paneling and its massive Solid State Logic console, used for audio mixing.
"Everybody always asks why people want to record here," states the hip, affable Harris, a Cali native who reminds me a little of comic Pauly Shore. "It's like finding that really nice Italian restaurant where the food is incredible, and the atmosphere is unbelievable. But it's family owned and built, and they put a whole lot of love into it. It's not just a product, it's who they are. That's why people come here. We create an environment that creates beautiful music, and people feel it."
Part of creating that environment in Phase Four are elements that make the studio feel like a home, such as a full kitchen, a lounge area, and so on. All of this is downstairs, near the actual studios, not far from the newly designed VIP room. Upstairs is a compact bar, and a wall of framed gold records. And outside is a huge, new deck, with a long bar, heat lamps and a big dance area, all overlooking trees strung with blue lights. These blue lights are the first signs of life when you're driving through a commercial area that's deserted at night. The second is the thump of hip-hop blasting, which Harris can crank louder than most, considering the lack of residential real estate nearby.
Surprisingly, there's nothing forlorn about the joint, which is usually bumpin' from about 11 p.m. on, like some weird reverse Bermuda Triangle where a patch of Scottsdale chic pops up out of nowhere when the time's ripe. Essentially, the outside deck and inside smaller bar serve as Phase 54, the club. Only the chillest of playas and playettes are allowed to descend to Phase Four, the studio, and through a long hallway to the VIP room in which the Jettster and I are currently conversatin' with Harris after he's given us the grand tour.
"So why'd you decide to add on the club to the studio, Big Daddy?" queries the J-unit.
"To be honest, a lot of people wanted to come here and hang out with the recording artists, even before we had a bar," says Harris. "So I figured, 'Hey this seems like a cool fit, why don't I just put this together?' Folks seem to like it. This month is Phase 54's one-year anniversary."
"But do the celebs really want to party with the hoi polloi?" I wonder.
"The recording artists who come through here really will just walk through the club and hang out," claims Harris. "It's a positive vibe. Like when Vince Neil was here recently, he would be down in the lounge area, and then he'd come up with his wife for a little while and talk with people. We've got pics of him up on the Web site."
"Too bad there are no celebs here tonight," sighs the J-girl.
"Whaddayamean?" I spout. "I ain't exactly chopped liver, you know."
"Yeah, Kreme, but most people have already seen the Goodyear blimp," she jibes.