Scottish group The Phantom Band don’t tend to have a traditional end-point. Their songs lurch on into unimaginable, oddball territory, treading over any object that dares to stand in the way. On new album ‘Strange Friend, this time round the six-piece made their grand ideas a little more concise. They didn’t go ‘pop’, so to speak (although they’ve always stretched the definition of pop, in a sense), but they’re kicking up a fuss in a shorter time-frame. If their end-point is hard to gauge, their beginnings are of even more interest. In Upbringing, we ask some of our favourite bands to recall their formative moments. It can be anything from a life-changing gig to a packet of crisps - doesn’t matter. Conversations span from before the formation of a group right up to the point where they are today.
Alongside answers from the band’s Rich Anthony, we’ve got an exclusive first play of the new video for ‘The Wind That Cried The World’.
“The video was given to us by our strangest of friends the artist Rory Middleton,” says Rich. “We don’t know where the video was shot and we don’t know who the people that he has filmed are. But it seems like glimpses into a succession of lost weekends, or misfiring memories. Maybe the video has a memory disorder. (If anyone knows the people in the video, please get in touch.)”
What’s the first gig you can ever remember going to? Describe the experience.
The first real gig was probably Sepultura in the Barrowlands in 1996 when they were touring that Roots record. It was a pretty intense introduction. I remember them coming on and starting to play and suddenly being off my feet getting carried about by the crowd’s mass. Arms and legs and hair and flying about like I was drowning in some manky teenage metaller soup.
Was there a good supply of venues to go to in your hometown or was the scene ‘dead’, so to speak?
I was in bands at school but I only really started going to gigs when I left the wilds and moved into Aberdeen. The main place was The Lemon Tree (this was before the Tunnels opened). There were a few smaller places like the old Dr Drakes on Castlegate (which had this really narrow steep staircase and made load-ins hellish) or Drummonds when it was all wooden. It was okay- there were a couple of small venues and there was still the Aberdeen Students Union at that time as well so the infrastructure was there if you wanted to play. I’m not sure what it’s like now for bands just starting out.
“Sepultura was a pretty intense introduction.”
Can you remember the first song you ever developed an obsession over?
It was probably ‘Princes of the Universe’ by Queen when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I watched Highlander and it was in the opening scene and i just got transfixed. I was all about Transformers and Star Wars up to then. My mum took me out to the Inverurie Music Centre and I bought the tape of A Kind of Magic and pretty much wore it out over the next few months.
As a band so far, what’s the best and worst show you’ve ever played?
Certainly one of the best shows we ever played was the first show we did in The Old Blue Last in London and the worst was the second show we played in the Old Blue Last. It was probably not as good as we remember but we still think of it highly - it was the first time we’d played outside Glasgow and I think our natural exuberance carried us through. The second show there was terrible. Gerry broke a string on his bass with practically the first note and knocked over a drum, one of Greg’s pedals broke, my voice gave out on the first song because I’d been smoking all day and Duncan nearly fell out of a window. Total shite. It was probably worse than we remember it, as fun as it sounds now…
What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s ever given you?
You don’t need a special occasion to buy someone flowers.
If you could be any band from the past two decades, who would you be and why?
1994 onwards? That’s tough. I reckon the Wu-Tang Clan would’ve had a fair old time. Mr Bungle could’ve been fun. Sugababes? Destiny’s Child? There are so many…
The band are heading out on a UK tour this week, as follows.
03 Glasgow, The Art School
04 London, Hoxton Bar & Grill
05 Manchester, The Deaf Institute
06 Aberdeen The Tunnels
The Phantom Band’s new album ‘Strange Friend’ is out now.