Phantods
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Phantods

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"Halloween in May"

For Phantods fans wondering why it took the band nearly seven years to put out an album, the Columbus quartet explains it took them that long to find the ideal musicians for their unusual brand of rock.

And that is?

"We all kind of share a passion for spookier music," guitarist Daniel Hagquist said.

"Spooky" is one word for it. "Campy," "inventive" and "schizophrenic" also apply. But given the gargantuan scope of styles Phantods cover on their self-titled debut, limiting the record to one descriptor would be selling it short.

Few musical groups can jump from genre to genre and still sound like the same band. Phantods pull off this feat several times within each song, cherry-picking sounds from metal to punk to polka to surf rock to cabaret to circus music and back. Had the phrase "dark carnival" not already been hijacked by certain clown-faced rappers, it might be an ideal summation of the Phantods sound.

The debut, set for release Saturday at a Skully's show that also features Pirate and 333, is the culmination of half a decade developing that sound.

Don't blame laziness for the wait. When Hagquist and singer Gretchen King started Phantods in 2002, they had a very specific idea of what they wanted the band to sound like.

They aimed to create music at once accessible and willfully weird, drawing heavily on the creepy, campy world of horror flicks and the exotic sounds of harmonic minor scales and Eastern European music. That vision started to come into focus when the rhythm section of bassist Nathan Jacobs and drummer Kenan Edler solidified about two years ago. Only then did they build up enough creative momentum for an album.

"I don't think it could have come any sooner," Hagquist said.

Atop the complex arrangements, King belts out stories about zombies, ghosts, vampires and the like. But like most good horror and sci-fi tales, these grotesque ditties are all allegories with much more universal themes.

"I enjoy stuff that maybe you assume it's one thing, then when you focus in on what I'm actually talking about, you see other stuff's hidden in there," King said.

Phantods are one of many bands taking advantage of the increased accessibility of technology to lend a professional sheen to an essentially do-it-yourself production. The album, recorded over the winter in Hagquist's basement, looks and sounds as good as any you'll find. Some friends of theirs even shot a fun, freaky video for "Lone Highway" for the cost of "practically zero dollars," Jacobs said.

Plans are in the works for more videos, some touring and lots of shows on the home front, where the band will continue to hone their sound to match the tongue-in-cheek creep show they envision.

"With each new song," Hagquist said, "we're getting closer." - Columbus Alive


"Phantods avoid labels, pitfalls"

For as much diversity as there is in Columbus music, there are still trends and cliques and the scene politik, the social forces that keep bands in their categories. Such is life, but there are exceptions to the rule, if the Phantods' self-titled debut full-length is any indication.

Within seconds of the first track, "Orpheus," two obvious truths come to light. The first is that, as a band jumps from two seconds of Painkiller grindcore into nerve-y math rock, it is going to keep you off gaurd. The second is that vocalist Gretchen King may have the finest singing voice in town.

Underground rock isn't exactly a breeding ground for versatile, technically talented vocalists, but somehow King clicked with Phantods, elevating the quartet past it's genre-skipping peers.

And for a band like Phantods, genre skipping is the name of the game. Phantods could be easily, and most obviously, compared to boundary-free acts like Mr. Bungle and Estradasphere, but with a heavy dollop of Rasputina's Victorian leanings and a certain ethereal ambience that hacks like Evanescence would love to get their hands on.

There is danger in working outside of the traditional playbook, as bands like Tub Ring and Dog Fashion Disco have poisoned the well that Mr. Bungle dug, turning the world of sonic irregularity on it's ear with moronic efforts at grafting carnival music onto metal that would make Insane Clown Posse cringe.

For the most point, Phantods avoid such a fate, instead delivering a collection that may be a bit varied for your average Joe but is still a good listen.

The centerpiece of the album is "Lone Highway," a video for which popped up last year. The song is as slick and professional as the video, a clever pastiche of cool exotica, driving punk rock and Dr. Demento faux-horror silliness, anchored by King's Mike Patton-esque atmospheric vocals and Eartha Kitt-like vamps.

It is an enjoyable pop song, even if one side of your brain will be overheating trying to pinpoint all of the band's influences.

Phantods walks that fine line between ingeniousness and idiocy that such sonic exploration calls for, without ever veering too far off the mark. It's a thoroughly enjoyable little album of well-crafted, multi-genre pop whose only drawbacks is that it leaves you scratching your head as to where it should be filed. - The Other Paper (Columbus, OH)


Discography

Phantods - Creature (release date: FALL 2010)
Phantods - Revival EP (July 3rd, 2009)
Phantods - Self-titled (May 24, 2008)

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Bio

If one chooses to wander from the beaten path, they will be drawn to the sounds of Phantods, drifting over from the dark side of the hill. Phantods' haunting melodies, driving guitars, and masterful songwriting conjure a dynamic, unique brand of music that is palatable to the widest ranges of listeners.

In 2009, Phantods' debut self-titled LP charted in the CMJ Top 200. Later that year, the four song EP, Revival, was released to rave reviews. In 2010, Phantods hit the ground running. Almost half of Phantods' debut LP has been used in shows on MTV, including The Real World and The Challenge. Phantods is currently writing and recording their sophomore LP, Creature, due out in October 2010.

FEATURED IN:
• MTVs The Real World: DC
• MTVs The Challenge
• the Hot 17
• Columbus Alive
• (614) Magazine
• The Other Paper
• Donewaiting.com
• thesixtyone.com

CONTESTS:
• Rockers and Ruggers at Crew Stadium - 1st place - 2010
• Pick the Band - 3rd place Rock category - 2009
• 48 hour film project - Best original song in 2008 from "Patent Pending"

FESTIVALS:
• Comfest - 2010
• Pabst Blue Rendezvous - 2009
• Independent's Day - 2008

COVERS:
• Columbus Alive - June 2010

AFFILIATION:
• SESAC

PRESS:

"Fantods: n.pl. Nervous movements caused by tension. An outburst of emotion. A fit.
That's what Webster has to say about it. Columbus would say dynamic, melodic, mysterious, creative. And they would spell it Phantods."
-The Hot 17

"Each track is painted in dark shades, sewn together with nimble rhythmic tricks and led by King's doe-eyed siren call."
-Columbus Alive

"The Phantods were the highlight of what was caught on Sunday evening, playing a set of tight, eclective, penny-dreadful pop with enough teeth and theatrical elan to overcome the inherent limitations of the space and showcase its potential."
-The Other Paper

"I basically went to see Phantods because they're rad... I really can't stress enough how tight Phantods are live and how awesome Gretchen King's voice is."
-Donewaiting.com