Music > Interviews

Interview with The Phantom Band


Glasgow has hardly disappeared from our musical radar over the last decade – has your locality played any part in your music, or did the music scene there help or hinder you?

I suppose you can't help but be influenced by your surroundings and Glasgow was the primal tar pit The Phantom Band crawled out of, like any stick insect we are a reflection of our environment. One of Glasgow's merits is the musical diversity as people are usually pursuing their own thing. We like lots of Glasgow bands but we probably aren't directly influenced by many of them.


There seemed to be an animalistic tone to your first album – is this accurate at all, and do you view us as creatures?

I'd think human beings are animals. I'm glad the animalism came across on Checkmate Savage; maybe The Wants is a less civilized beast.

Is there a concept, or through-line to the second album?

No not really. Although I think the album reflects the band at the time it was made so all of our then obsessions are present in some way. What those obsessions might be is hard to pinpoint but hopefully that allows room for the listener to interpret things themselves.

You’ve played under various monikers before The Phantom Band, and despite phantoms being transient, this name seems to have stuck. Are you all in it for the long-haul as The Phantom Band?

Yes I think so’ it seems the most apt name we've come up with so far. Who knows what will become of us though.

Tell us about this proto-robofolk, yo’.

Proto-robo-folk was a description someone once gave us, I don't know what it is but I hope it’s useful to someone.

I read in an interview that all six of you write together. Does this always produce creative harmony, or are there moments of tension?

It’s the only way we can write, we've never been able to work on a song that someone has brought in fully formed, it doesn't seem to work for us. So we write together and it does create harmony and tension - in musical and social senses.

I imagine with the first album, your influences come from your surroundings, but once you become a touring band, does your songwriting change?

We have less time to muck about and play together now as we can't get into the practice studio that often, so you find yourself noodling more during soundchecks. It's hard to hear new music too, we're out of touch!

You’re ensconced in a full-on European tour at the moment. Can you tell us about your adventures so far?

Winter sports; ice-skating, fondue. Iain was attacked by a flaming oil drum in Christiania and Greg's hair just froze to his face in Gotheborg.

Are you better or worse behaved abroad? What happens in Denmark stays in Denmark…

Touring definitely causes you to regress but then I have witnessed some Phantoms at their most charming, elegant and gracious whilst abroad.

Your second album hasn’t long been out, but when and how do you approach creating new material?

We've already begun and there are songs that didn't make it onto the Wants that we'd like to revisit. We have an ongoing archive of practice recordings to plunder. We're never fully satisfied with what we make so as soon as something is done you're mind turns how it could be improved, or we've listened to it so many times that you want to make something else radically different.

Local promoters Twee Off are bringing you to Norwich. How important do you see the role of independent promoters on the touring circuit?

It's great to be invited and we really appreciate it as it takes a lot of effort to put on a show, so hats off.

I’ve been enjoying your Tweets – you’re an amusing bunch of Twatters – do you feel an obligation to tweet, or do you enjoy the social networking banter?

Not personally I find social networking sites fairly insidious but maybe I'm a Luddite. I suppose not do it would be daft, and it is good to be speaking to people who like your music.

Have you been to Norwich before?

Rick has relations there so there should be someone at the gig. Iain has played there with another one of his many bands - think he got stuck there in a broken van that could only turn left.

What’s on your rider? Are you divas?

A decent single malt whiskey, Sharpie markers and unicorn shit. Divas to a man.

Emma Roberts

The Phantom Band are brought to Norwich by TweeOFF and will come to the Norwich Arts Centre on Tuesday 8th March. For tickets, go to