Thursday, December 10, 2009

WRAPPING UP 2009 with The Phantom Band

As we wind up the year, I asked a few bands who have made an impression of me and on this year to share their thoughts on the last 12 months. So here's the first of four interviews as part of the countdown to posting my Top Ten Albums of 2009 next Monday.

One of those albums is “Checkmate Savage” from Glasgow’s The Phantom Band. Released in January on Chemikal Underground and finishing the year as number one in the Piccadilly Records Best of 2009 chart, “Checkmate Savage” is a thrillingly potent mix of motorik rhythms and voodoo-swamp-blues-rock - with a touch of psychedelic jamming. "Proto-robofolk" in their words. I only got to see them live twice this year, first at the Deaf Institute in March and then at Green Man Festival in August, but the album has been on constant rotation since the beginning of the year.

Duncan Marquiss (guitar) and Andy Wake (keyboards) shared their thoughts separately but as you see they agree on many things: the highlights of 2009 are also the things they want to forget; and that 2010 for The Phantom Band will be a year of bespoke merchandise as well as a new (third?!) album.

What I will remember most about 2009 is...
Duncan The release of “Checkmate Savage”
Andy Sitting naked round a fire in the middle of a Norwegian Festival arena

What should be forgotten about 2009…
Duncan “Checkmate Savage”
Andy Sitting naked round a fire in the middle of a Norwegian Festival arena

The best gig we played was...
Duncan ...hard to say as there were quite few belters for us, for many different reasons - nudity in Norway, stage invasion in Inverness, sublime execution in St. Gallen. Maybe, our first show in Paris, I've never seen French people so enthusiastic and it was really nice that it was our fault.
Andy In terms of our performance I think the show in an old cinema in St.Gallan, Switzerland is up there as one of our best ever. It was either that or Belladrum Festival. Or maybe Storas Festival in Norway. Can't decide... let's go with Green Man Festival.

The best gig I saw was...
Duncan Chromehoof and Cluster at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green.
Andy Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at T in the Park.

A record from 2009 that will be still be played in 10 years time?
Duncan “Spoils” by Alasdair Roberts, even though he doesn't like it himself apparently.
Andy Alasdair Roberts “Spoils

Overlooked in 2009?
Duncan Climate change.
Andy Gnod - Gnod LP01

And what can we look forward to in 2010 from The Phantom Band?
Duncan Another album, tour videos and bespoke phantom knitwear.
Andy Hopefully our as yet untitled third album (we're going to release our third album before our second - we'll probably release our second album fourth or fifth) if we can get it recorded in time. Other than that, more tours etc - the usual stuff, but as well as that we are thinking of releasing a line of custom pedals and effects that we've been tinkering on as well... maybe by this time next year people will be twiddling with their own Phantomators. We're also planning to give away a lot more free stuff. And open a bank, a radio station, a mechanics workshop and launch a line of designer suits. Aftershave?

Final words from Piccadilly Records:
“Checkmate Savage” is otherworldly, and hard to pin down, with a freeform spaciousness that band’s only usually discover on their third or fourth albums, and in that respect The Phantom Band are most certainly way ahead of the game, one can only wonder what their next album will bring. They’ve been compared to the Beta Band, krautrock legends Neu! and Can, as well the likes of Nick Cave, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, the Violent Femmes and Captain Beefheart, but The Phantom Band are truly out on their own. A quite fitting, and truly exceptional album of the year.

BURIAL SOUNDS [Spotify] []
The Phantom Band
Checkmate Savage [BUY]

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