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INTERVIEW: Phantom Electric

-Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey there! We’re great, thank you. We appreciate the opportunity to chat with you. We’ve been very busy with the release of our debut Double-A, “Friends,” which features two tracks, “Friends” and, “Feels”.

-Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Feels”?

Yeah, “Feels” is a super dreamy bluesy tune sprinkled with some pop. “Feels” kinda came out of a weird rainy day blues, my mind on long sunny coastal drives and pretty eyes. It really started off as a simple song on an acoustic guitar. When I decided to get the band together and record the Double-A, “Friends,” I wanted to record it live, and leave a lot of room for spontaneity. We had never actually all played together as a group when we had the session, it somehow created this really cool spacey vibe, everyone was really creatively sensitive and open with each other and the song itself, which you can hear in the gentle nature of the sounds. That open vibe in the room quickly gave new life and direction to the song. When we hit the third and final take, we played through the end and just kept going it felt so good – really spontaneous through the last couple turns of the song. Moments like that don’t happen often and work, and I think we all have a deep appreciation for those special moments in music with good friends.

-Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I think part of that sound may have been inspired by all the old blues and soul records Matthew Pendrick used to spin at our old house. We used to work together on so many friends’ records, so there was a lot of writing as much as possible, writing songs outside your usual wheelhouse. So to do a track like, “Feels,” was very different for myself and some of the other guys. On the flipside, it’s fun to change things up and challenge yourself, you know, trying things outside your comfort zone can teach you a lot and be fun.

-Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes, there is a music video that will be premiering soon in the next couple of weeks, part of the “Friends,” Double-A release. We had blast shooting it. The video turned out way better than we had expected, much like the song itself, the “Feels” video is really dreamy.

-The single comes off your new album Friends – what’s the story behind the title?

The song is a take on one’s character, looking in the mirror, recognizing and accepting your own responsibility and truth. I wanted to call out solipsism, and take time to address overcoming your own mind to become aware of all things around you and your impact and influence on others in life. I really changed and grew a lot, on a personal and spiritual level at that time in my life, 2014. I had made lots of poor decisions against my better judgment, and had to leave a lot of people and places behind. It was a lot of ‘taking back my life,’ and posturing. I was in need of reorienting myself and finding a new direction to lead. As far, as when the song was written it was the end of Summer 2014, I was alone in a basement with my acoustic guitar, everything was weighing heavily on me, a lot of opportunities weren’t working out and a lot of plans were falling apart. I was also thinking a lot about my relationships with my close friends, everyone at the time was cool with me and glad I was back – I had moved away for some time, stopped working with certain people, disassociated myself – but everyone had a chip on their shoulder about it, or had issues to sort out amongst themselves. That’s where the chorus of “Friends” really stemmed from… ‘Oh my friend, what troubles you?’ There was a lot of backbiting going on at the time: Pride, arrogance, deceit, manipulation, greed, self righteousness—you can kind of pick up where I talk about those little ‘sins’ in the verses. In my mind I was kind of calling everyone out. When I first started showing to people, it was a simple song then, but it always really resonated with whoever was listening. I think there is a real spirit in the soul of that song “Friends” that people really identify with, maybe it’s the story of the human struggle and the things we’re willing to do to get by, and the beauty of being able to still love the people you struggle with.

-How was the recording and writing process?

The writing process is always ongoing, and the two songs on the release were written at very different times in my life, I would say it’s pretty reflective in the songs. Deciding to record the two tracks in the same event live, pretty much unrehearsed, I really believe, allowed the songs to grow into something more spectacular than I imagined, the sounds. That was really the beauty of the process for, “Friends,” it really was about all of us together, coming together to enjoy the creative process and make something that we were all proud of, that we enjoyed working on, where it didn’t feel like work, it was fun and full of freedom, we were all enjoying ourselves and each other.

-Would you call this a departure from your previous musical projects?

Yes, it’s very creatively open, we really try to nurture each other’s creativity, kind of like a safe place to explore. You don’t always have that with everyone or every project you work on. First time for me to sing front and center, which has become really liberating in that it’s a new form of expression I’ve always felt within and never really explored, which is exciting, like picking up a new instrument. We’ve all written a lot of different music for a lot of different people and having an open door kinda feel makes it feel fun and youthful, like when you start your first band or the first time you pick up a guitar.

-What aspect of friendship did you get to explore on this record?

I would say it was less of an exploration and more realization. Confronting the issues at hand, being honest with each other. Sometimes it’s a struggle to really level with the people closest to you, and call certain things out. We can all get defensive really quickly and maybe that can prevent us from really speaking our mind or letting someone know how their coming off or how the way they are living their lives is affecting people around them. I’ve learned, as I think we all have, to really push through the walls that can get built up around each other, and grow together.

-Any plans to hit the road?

Yes, we’re looking into that, you may see us pop in and out on shows towards the end of the year, and definitely next year in 2018.

-What else is happening next in Phantom Electric’s world?

Well, we are recording an album with Kris Sampson (Dead Confederate, The Coathangers), shooting several new music videos. Also working on another Double-A with producer Bill Zimmerman (Delta Spirit, Coldplay). Looking at doing a couple split 7s with some of our other favorite bands based in Atlanta, we have a lot of friends and we all really enjoy working with each other. Matthew Pendrick, who did a lot of the dreamy guitar work on “Friends” has another solo album coming soon under the name Slow Parade. Sean Michelsen, who plays bass, has a new project releasing soon Reptile Room, with his sister Sami Michelsen, who was a guest vocal on “Feels”. Peter Norman, does great work in Spectralux, they have a new release coming in January. November and December tend to slow down a bit, so we’ll be hitting the studios hard with everyone. – Something people might not know about the Atlanta music scene, everyone is a real collaborator and enjoys working with each other.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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