The Phantom Band are an act I’ve shouted a lot about recently. I’ve felt that the UK music scene has become a bit folkie, a bit too quiet and acoustic. What the UK needs is a band that’s not afraid to make a NOISE. The Phantom Band are that band.
Their debut album Checkmate Savage, released on the 26th Jan, is a thrilling, jarring, complex mesh of influences. From the opening track ‘Howling’ with it’s LCD Soundsystem styled clipped beats intro and baritone vocals through to the quietly melodic closer ‘Whole Is On My Side’, which is truely anthemic, this band is closing in on greatness.
Hailing from Glasgow, the initial comparisons will be made with The Twilight Sad. But The Phantom Band’s song writing is less aggressive and more melodic. Songs are giving more time to breath and take on a life of their own. It’s just a refreshing listen. For once, hearing a band reach for the stars and almost grasping them, is something to not be afraid of.
Andy Wake & Rick Anthony answered our questions, to find out a bit more about the phantom menace…
For people out there that have never heard of you. Give us three reasons why they should…
RICK: There is no reason why anyone should have heard of us… If you mean reasons why people should give us a listen then: 1- It is always worth checking out new music if only to make up your own mind about it. 2- We kick ass. 3- You will be able to make up your own mind about the veracity of number 2.
ANDY: a) If you are reading this then you have heard of us already. b) You’re still reading. c) Hello!
Can you recall the moment when you first decided you wanted to become a musician?
RICK: Not really but my parents always had guitars lying around and I think I started picking them up when I was maybe 10-11. I was in a couple of bands when I was really young and it is something I have always enjoyed and something that makes sense to me as opposed to maths for instance. It’s like writing-you either do it or you don’t- it’s not like deciding to become an accountant or an orthodontist or something.
ANDY: I’m not a musician. When I heard ‘Let there be Rock’ as a kid I always wanted to be Angus Young, so I took up the keyboards.
Where do your songs come from? What’s your inspiration?
RICK: As a band we tend to work in a pretty fluid organic manner meaning that songs are written by the six of us all playing together and pulling tracks in different directions. We stick parts in here and there and after a while it generally turns into something we can use. Our inspiration probably comes from all the music we have ever individually been into combined with the constant desire to try and become a better band.
ANDY: Like us, our songs come from Scotland, which is convenient. We first meet the songs at Berkeley Studios in Glasgow on a Friday, where we rehearse together. They emerge from improvising together – we record long jam sessions then chop the recordings down to the best bits and arrange them into more managable structures. So I suppose our inspiration is each other, the smell of that stuff they spray into mics to stop them smelling of rock-breath and Steve, a nice little guy with a great big car.
Name your Top 5 records.
RICK: Thats kind of an impossible question and obviously everyone in the band would have different answers but fuck it, it’s fun to make lists isn’t it? Here are five records I personally have enjoyed and consistently returned to over the years. There are many others I could choose but these will do today-
Tom Waits- Mule Variatons
Faith No More- Angel Dust
Slayer- Seasons in the Abyss
Marquis Du Tren & Bonnie Billy- Get on Jolly
Susumu Yokota- Sakura
ANDY: Led Zeppelin 3… Can we all put something? Otherwise I’d be happy to only list Led Zep 3 and The Stooges’ The Stooges and nothing else.
What was the first gig you ever played and was it a success?
RICK: In the 13th Note in Glasgow years ago. The promoter charged all our friends £4 to get in and didn’t give us any money for our troubles. There were no stage monitors and we were all pretty pished. Needless to say it hasn’t changed as much as we might have imagined.
ANDY: Our first gig as a six piece, after Andy joined, was in Nice’n'Sleazy in Glasgow, with our pals Killerstreet playing too. It was a great success – one of the busiest shows we’ve ever done and we had a Stairmaster on stage for people to work out on – it’s all been downhill since then. We didn’t have any songs then, we just made stuff up.
What one piece of criticism has stuck in your mind and was it justified?
RICK: Someone once told us that we sounded like a wardrobe full of coathangers rolling down a hill. That was both deserved and greatly appreciated.
ANDY: We’ve never been criticised. But we have been likened to REM. No it wasn’t justified. We’ve been described as sounding like someone rolling a wardrobe full of coathangers, but we took that as a compliment.
What one thing has caused you to waste your free time in the past 6 months?
RICK: The Wire
If you weren’t making music, what do you think you’d be doing?
RICK: I wish music were the only thing I have to do for money, but sadly that’s not the case yet. I’d like to be an inventor but I’m no use at science. Maybe a farmer. A painter. An actor. A writer. An estate agent. A flimmaker. Ninja. Who’d win in a fight- a ninja or a pirate?
ANDY: Maybe shaving, eating, looking at internet porn, going out on Friday nights, not being broke all the time. We have two artists, a librarian, two people who work with young people, one who works for a power company, and a solicitor in our ranks so I suppose we’d just be doing those things and wishing we were doing music.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
ANDY: I had a proper job in a proper office working for a Government quango type thing. I couldn’t handle the stress and the office politics so I went back to art school before I got sacked or committed a terrible atrocity. I’ve done some pretty tough manual jobs, like stacking pallets in a cash’n'carry but the office job still gives me nightmares.
We’d like you to make us a mix-tape. Pick five tracks with a theme of your choice.
The Nightingale- Angelo Badlamenti
The Magpies Nest- Alasdair Roberts
Old Black Hen- Magnolia Electric Company
When Doves Cry- Prince
Blood Red Bird- Smog
I hope you enjoy it!
ANDY: Nourishment at the Phantom Supper Club:
1. The Oh Sees – Kings Meat (Peanut Butter Oven)
2. Tom Waits – nighthawks at the diner
3. Messer Chups – Leathercake
4. The Stooges – Greedy Awful People
5. Old Time Relijun – Belly Belly