Phantom Kicks
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Phantom Kicks

San Francisco, California, United States

San Francisco, California, United States
Band Pop Alternative

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"My Best of SXSW 2010"

"Best Band Working The Street: San Francisco’s very own The Ferocious Few and Phantom Kicks. Both working the street crowd hard and making me proud. The Ferocious Few with their signature street performances and Phantom Kicks pressing demo CDs into any willing hand. Including mine. Good job!? - The OCMD


"Phantom Kicks"

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you. Ok, so this one actually is. Some very dear and talented friends of my just released their first EP, Tectonics, and I wanted to show some love. Also, it doesn’t hurt that their first single, Cut From A Different Clay was written for me. Heh.

This is the San Francisco trio’s debut release. Tectonics was crafted out of the same negative space as The xx or Low, the playing is reminiscent to the technical ecstasy of post-rock bands like Explosions In The Sky, but instead of broad, meandering arrangements, Phantom Kicks uses metered minimalism to craft lean, layered electronic guitar pop. Eerie triple-tracked vocals that harken back to Pet Sounds era Beach Boys occasionally punch through the quilt of synth beds, washed out organ tones, echoed guitar melodies and programmed 808 beats, focusing these ambitious tracks into pop clarity, if only for a refrain.

Def peep their album over at their bandcamp. It’s a winner.
- Gluttony Is The New Black


"MP3: ‘Cut From A Different Clay’ (Phantom Kicks)"

"This is one of the many side-projects that grew out of the ashes of SF band Raised By Robots. But where that band was angular, noisy and featured lots of shouting, Phantom Kicks are more controlled, using dynamics and vocal harmonies to make music that is beautiful and dramatic." - Tough Customer


"Pick up Phantom Kicks' debut EP at the Hemlock tonight!"

Phantom Kicks' debut EP, Tectonics, came out earlier this month, so tonight's show at the Hemlock is not really a record release party. Except that the band didn't ever have a proper record release party when the EP came out, so tonight's show kinda is the de facto release party.

By which I mean: You should get your ass to the Hemlock tonight and pick up a copy of Tectonics. Phantom Kicks play first, then you can stay to rock out to Radiation City (from Portland) and headliner Ash Reiter.

I had the chance to talk with Tanner from Phantom Kicks about the debut EP, the inspiration for the band, and more. As you'll see, the band claims some surprising influences given its soft, almost whispery vocal melodies, electronic drums that recall The xx more than they do thrash metal, and sparse guitar arrangements. And I can't even remember the last time I heard someone name drop Da Brat. But then again, I guess many original sounds are born out of disparate influences — and Phantom Kicks are definitely cultivating a style of their very own.

Check out the interview below and then check them out at Hemlock tonight!

WTM: What's the new album called and what's the significance of the name?

PK: It's called Tectonics EP. Tectonics is a term that refers to how building elements come together and interface with each other in construction. This concept has two parallel meanings that resonate with us. First, our influences are very eclectic and the songs represent a broad cross section of borrowed ideas all converging and working together to form something that we find to be unique.

Second, Phantom Kicks formed as a side-project over a year and a half ago and since then has gone through many phases and a few line-up changes while playing out regularly, writing and recording in various manners — all before ever officially releasing any material. It seemed fitting to make reference to the fact that now we feel like we have a solid footing with all of the elements of the band firmly in place.

WTM: Where was it recorded?

PK: We recorded these five songs on our own in bits and pieces, pretty much anywhere we could; various practice spaces and our apartments.

WTM: What was "the sound" you were trying to capture?

PK: The songwriting began very organically and we just started making music that we enjoyed making. After we realized the potential of the project, we got a little more focused and then what we were after was integrating the variety of different elements that each member brought to the table as seamlessly as possible. We wanted to incorporate intricate guitar work, washed out organs and synths, drum machine beats, and choral vocals without any of those individual elements overpowering the others and singularly becoming the identifying element of "the sound", so it was a balancing act.

WTM: You guys combine a lot of rock elements with electronic influences. What bands inspired your style?

PK: We love 80's era Metallica; And Justice For All, Ride The Lightning, and Master Of Puppets are albums I've been listening to since I was a kid when my older brother was into them. I also am a huge fan of early 90's R&B and Hip Hop — the hey day of the 808 drum machine. Classic Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg among others like Domino, Soul For Real, and Da Brat. As far as more current artists, we love the guitar interplay of Foals, the song writing simplicity and guitar tones from The xx, and the cinematic and atmospheric qualities of M83. Lastly, it has recently come to light that one of our collective guilty pleasures is that song "Lovefool" by The Cardigans. You know, from the Romeo + Juliet Soundtrack, circa 1996? That song is littered with pop hooks that become imprinted on your brain after hearing it, so it's conceivable that, unconsciously, inspiration from that song percolated into this EP.

WTM: What are some non-musical influences that go into your music?

PK: I'd say any other art form that can evoke feelings and emotions. Film, photography, dance, design etc. These are the things that inspire us to express ourselves in the way that we know best. Oh and relationships; that's a given.

WTM: If you could go on tour with any other band/musician, alive or dead, who would it be? Why?

PK: My first reaction is to say someone like Parliament Funkadelic because it would just be fucking fun. But in all seriousness, I would love to tour with Phantogram. Aside from the similarities in the name, I think they are an immediate example for a band like us to look up to. They started by winning over their local scene in Saratoga Springs, NY. They are very DIY, self-producing their music, and have continued to hone their live show into something incredible. I sort of befriended them in 2009 right after they self released their EP and were just a tiny blip on the indie radar. Since then, their stock has skyrocketed. I mean, they were just on Jimmy Kimmel Live last week. I'd love to be around a band like that on it's ascent from obscurity to glean as much as I could about the techniques that they've employed to take their music to the next level. And then shamelessly steal their ideas for our own gain, of course.

WTM: How long has the band been together? Where are y'all going from here?

PK: We've been playing as Phantom Kicks for over a year and a half. We have a back log of songs that have a lot of potential so we plan to keep writing, recording, and playing shows to build upon what we've started with this EP as long as we have fun doing it and we have some fans who want to hear us.

WTM: Anything else you want to add?

PK: Keep up the good work. - Wiretap Music


"Phantom Kicks [Better Days Of, Glass Box Records]"

San Francisco's Phantom Kicks have recently completed their EP titled Tectonics due out April 5th on Glass Box Records (label of band member Tanner). Phantom Kicks specialize in speedy guitar riffs and electro-beats with wonderfully sounding vocals which combine to form the melodies that characterize this band. The buzz around this band here in SF has been made strictly through their live shows. Always enthusiastic and eager to play, this will be the band's first physical release, one in which I'm sure many of their enduring fans will embrace whole heartedly.
- See The Leaves


"Phantom Kicks remix “Sophia in Gold” by Letting Up Despite Great Faults"

Phantom Kicks have remixed “Sophia in Gold,” originally a song by Letting Up Despite Great Faults. Here’s a little insight on how this collaboration came about, straight from Phantom Kicks’ guitarist Tanner Pikop:

We have been in touch with LA’s Letting Up Despite Great Faults ever since we played The Rumble with them in February and as they were preparing to release their EP, Paper Crush at the beginning of August, they asked if we were interested in remixing one of the tracks. Once I finally got around to it, I took their upbeat, keyboard driven indie pop song, “Sophia In Gold,” and turned it into a sultry jam overflowing with sparkling guitars, fit for the boudoir. - The Bay Bridged


"Phantom Kicks – “Cut From A Different Clay”"

"Phantom Kicks, despite not having an official release under their belts, have not been shy about playing live shows, sharing local bills with the likes of The Dont’s, My First Earthquake, Skeletal System and Sunbeam Rd. For future outings, however, the trio will be able to boast their debut EP, entitled Tectonics, which comes out in April.

“Cut From A Different Clay” is the first track off the EP, with a thumping backbeat, electronic hooks, and dreamy, layered vocals." - The Bay Bridged


"Sophia in Gold (Phantom Kicks Remix)"

"Well North and South came together for this fantastic remix. Tanner Pikop of San Francisco’s Phantom Kicks gives LA’s Letting Up Despite Great Faults the sexy, blissed out guitar treatment that Phantom Kicks have come to be known for. Sounds like 'a thousand tongues licking your body.' I’ll take two." - Gluttony Is The New Black


"Phantom Kicks, the Actors, and Sunbeam Rd. at Rickshaw Stop"

"Phantom Kicks wasted little time plugging in and getting to work. Formed last year by remnants of Oakland post-indie nervous-norvuses Raised By Robots, the Kicks retain some of that act's distinctiveness in the skittering drumming of Mike Rieger and Tanner Pikop's spookhouse guitar. Theirs is forceful and melodic stuff and, by the end, they'd shaken the crowd out of its picture-taking torpor and set it to dancing out whatever was left of its Wednesday night doldrums. How sitting at home with "Cougar Town" beats this is mysterious." - SF Weekly


"Live Review: Phantom Kicks, The Actors, Sunbeam Rd @ The Rickshaw"

"By the time the Phantom Kicks took to the stage the crowd had finally fleshed out a bit, though to what I would expect for such an interesting line-up. Featuring a brand new member, the Phantom Kicks kept the energy high delivering their loop heavy synth-pop with a new-found depth. The new member on the synth allowed the other two to focus on building the signature guitar lines that define the Phantom Kicks. Received with much enthusiasm by the crowd (to the point where someone took it upon themselves to spin off the edge of the stage), this was by far the best set I’ve seen by the Phantom Kicks." - The Deli Magazine


"Phantom Kicks"

San Fransisco’s Phantom Kicks create minimalist electro-pop, with shades of post-rock thrown in to even things out. Minimalist and post-rock in the same sound? I thought it was impossible once, too. But after listening to more and more “genrefied” music, the lines have been blended and barriers taken down.

A picturesque sound is apparently what Phantom Kicks is going for – I wouldn’t be surprised if they scored a film sometime soon. They’ve also toured with KR buddies Letting Up Despite Great Faults, so they’re already a step ahead ’round these parts. The five-song Tectonics EP marks the group’s debut. Check out two of my favorite tracks below and download the rest for free on Bandcamp. - Knox Road


"New Music: Phantom Kicks"

San Francisco’s Phantom Kicks is in the works on their debut EP set for release this summer and it sounds like it could be a local gem.

Formed from two members of the eerie apocalyptic indie rock band Raised By Robots along with the help of a mutual friend and guitar player extraordinaire, this trio is slated to make some waves in the next year.

At its core, the music is powered by an arsenal of beats, waves and cloud soft atmospherics. Against that light lo-fi background, every song sounds dense and interesting. But it’s their skill with experimentation into solidly structured and appealing tunes that makes the Phantom Kicks special.


- Kata Rokkar


"EP Review: Phantom Kicks"

Short, to the point, and swimming in reverb, the Phantom Kicks' first EP concisely demonstrates the promises of their sound. Fusing electronic concepts with the looped and layered melodic tendencies of post-rock, the Phantom Kicks have created a soothing and fascinatingly intricate soundscape.

“Cut From a Different Clay” opens the album with a hypnotic driving high-octave guitar melody - a feature of each song on the album – supported by an unobtrusive electronic drum track and omnipresent synthetic bass tone. As the layers of the song build it’s almost two minutes before any vocals are heard. Distant and charming, it’s as if the singer is calling from another plane, perhaps the one the music is building towards. Crescendoing and abruptly ending this ascension, the song makes an abrupt change to a brief and more abrasive rock sound, before dwindling out in delicate vocal harmonies.

Rapidly building back out of the brief lull, “Eyes Familiar” bursts open with a second wind of energy. Powerful syncopated guitar strikes bolster the melody lines as the song takes a sharp turn dragging the listener on its ride. As with the song before, and the one after, the Phantom Kicks’ music is defined by its dynamic richness. Tempos and environments change rapidly and there is a rich texture to each of the song’s compositions.

Lyrically the songs on this EP live in a space of blissful innocence with amenable differences, late nights transforming into tender mornings and peaceful inquiries into another’s patience become song topics. Juxtaposed against the complexities of the music, this functions as a welcome foil. The vocals serve as an additional instrumental layer instead of a competing distraction, and with such awe-inspiring harmonies their function is well served.

“Coming Home” closes out the EP building yet another hypnotic set of melodies. For a song built around the patience of waiting for someone’s return, it is fitting that with a little patience comes the most stunning portion of the album. The song reaches its peak and with a temperate reverence; a beautiful set of harmonies float the ears out of the album.

All in all as debuts go, Phantom Kicks’ EP illustrates a great amount potential. It ebbs and flows in intricate and captivating motions that maintain attention throughout. It will be interesting to see how they develop their electronic-infused muted post-rock sound in what I’m sure will be a successful full-length release.



-Ada Lann
Published on October 08, 2010 - The Deli Magazine


Discography

Demo 1 - March 2010
Tectonics EP - April 2011 - Glass Box Records

Photos

Bio

Like their namesake, Phantom Kicks might be best defined by what's missing than what's present.

The band garnered buzz in the Bay Area without a proper release, playing local festivals and shows; they formed around a band member who promptly quit and moved to Portland, and their songs were written at scattered locations around San Francisco as they figured out their lineup and final arrangements.

But most importantly, they strip away all that is inessential in their songs. Crafted out of the same negative space as The xx or Low, the playing is reminiscent to the technical ecstasy of post-rock bands like Explosions In The Sky, but instead of broad, meandering arrangements, Phantom Kicks uses metered minimalism to craft lean, layered electronic guitar pop. Eerie triple-tracked vocals that nod to Pet Sounds era Beach Boys occasionally punch through the quilt of synth beds, washed out organ tones, echoed guitar melodies and programmed 808 beats, focusing these ambitious tracks into pop clarity, if only for a refrain.

Based in San Francisco, the band took its roots from disbanded local favorites Raised By Robots, incubating what would become their debut EP in practice spaces, lofts and bedrooms (and the occasional live show) as ideas were traded on hard drives and in sketches as their final lineup came together. Tanner Pikop and Phil Pristia share guitar and vocal duties, with Mike Rieger on drums, Debbie Neigher on keys, and Nate Munger on Bass.

The band quickly became a local favorite, even before a released record, as word of mouth spread about their knack for spacious arrangements and minimalist, haunting pop. And now that "Tectonics" has been release, the EP that they honed over 2010, their command of hummable yet ambitious songwriting is on full display. From the glassy half-time verses of "Eyes Familiar" to the final cathartic release of "Cut From A Different Clay," the songs feel pared down to essential elements, with spare hi-hat tracks counterbalancing delicate guitar interplay.