INTERVIEW: Phantom Funk

1) Can you talk to us more about your song “Mediphorical”?

A) “Mediphorical” was written by our drummer Nick. It’s very much in his style in that it’s upbeat and kind of quirky. He explained the lyrics to us, and it’s about his experience at a walk-in clinic. The song jokes around a bit about the fast-paced ways some of these places do check-ups, or sometimes jump to the worst case scenario; and also, about the anxiety that comes with all that. Not trying to down talk clinics, they’re really important, but sometimes it can be a nerve wracking experience sometimes.

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

A) Yeah, it started with our drummer Nick telling us about this time he went to a walk-in clinic, and just what an awful time he had… You know, with all the waiting and worrying, and then the amount you pay for it you almost wish there was something wrong with you. Fortunately there wasn’t, but we all could relate to what he was talking about.

3) Any plans to release a video for the track?

A) We did a little diy clip for this track just for social media and stuff, but nothing too serious that we are using to promote. We are storyboarding video ideas for other songs though.

4) The single comes off your new album Struggle With Me – what’s the story behind the title?

A) Well, we actually sat down with each other to figure out an album title, but we sort of accidentally stumbled upon it. We were throwing ideas around, and nothing was sticking, so we started getting a bit tired and frustrated, you know, about ready to give up. After a while it was just one person throwing out bad ideas that nobody was digging, until finally they were like, “come on dudes, struggle with me…!” Then the phrase just stuck.

5) How was the recording and writing process?

A) Making the record actually went along pretty smoothly. Not to say there weren’t a couple spots we got stuck in, like trying to finish lyrics on a couple songs. But we wrote this record as we were transitioning our vocalists into the group, so we typically had the music already written and just let Wayne and Alexa do their things. Like on “Cheap Thrills”, we remixed a new version of one of our old songs, but didn’t know what to do next, so we invited Wayne to give it a shot and he came up with a really great verse and some ad libs. It wasn’t enough material to complete the song though so we asked Alexa to try to do something with it. It was the first song she recorded with us, and she had no lyrics or anything, she just improvised and the first thing that came off the top of her head was “Shake iiiittt!” and it was just cool. It was one of those things that was perfectly simple but still brilliant, and it was all spontaneous. “Mediphorical” and “Something Certain People Say” were pretty well plotted out from the beginning so they were relatively smooth productions. “Every Where You Go” was a bit of a headache at times because we had the riff down, just not the structure, so we had to change the structure a bit as the lyrics became developed. And then finding the right sonic textures took some time too, but it was worth it in the end.

6) How Gorillaz and The Strokes has influence your writing?

A) Well both those bands really resonate with us musically, and stylistically there’s things we like to borrow from both. Like Phantom Phunk has sort of this grunge, rock ‘n roll side since the only instruments in the band are guitar and drums we just turn up and play hard. That’s kind of the Strokes part of us, and plus, we really love their melodic layering, and try to do some of that ourselves. The other side of us tries to explore a little more, searching for different sounds and effects and that’s the kind of diversity we find from groups like the Gorillaz.

7) What role does Tampa play in your music?

A) Tampa is a little bit like Gotham city to Batman. It’s by no means a perfect place for music, but it’s our home base, you know? There’s a lot of people working hard to build the music scene in Tampa, and working through the challenges of building that up is something that’s worth it to us, and it’s something we are proud to be a part of. Plus there’s a lot of great talent in this city, and it’s a great network that is growing.

8) Known for playing with different genres – how do you go on balancing together?

A) Yeah, well, we’re kind of like a family in that regard. We don’t always get each other but we still find ways to work it out. Part of that though is what makes the music great. Even though we all have very different personalities, we make a good team. It’s not really just one unified style. Instead, it’s four different styles that all come together and it’s very different than what see from other bands.

9) Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

A) Some of the lyrics on this record were inspired by the thoughts we had on the medical industry and mental health… So aside from “Mediphorical”, “Every Where You Go” also plays on the concept of mental instability and anxiety. Wayne’s lyrics tend to come from a very personal place and often use darker imagery to convey the struggles happening in his life at the time. As for the music, well when inspiration comes, it comes and you got to make the most of it when it’s happening. You’re not always in control of the musical direction. You have to let it take its own path.

10) Any plans to hit the road?

A) We do indeed have plans. We are doing a run through North Carolina in January, and then another run along the gulf coast to Texas in March in time for SXSW. We are also hoping to do a run along the either the East or West coast for June.

11) What else is happening next in Phantom Phunk’s world?

A) Well, we are already working on new music that we will be releasing as singles. Songs that we hope will up the ante a little bit.

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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