Interview: Phantom Party to Release ‘The Beach Cult Sessions’ [Exclusive MP3 Stream]
Interview and Exclusive Beach Cult Sessions MP3 Stream with Phantom Party
In July, we featured Phoenix-based Phantom Party with a “What I Learned at Bandcamp” interview. Since then, the surf rock band has transitioned from a four piece to a three piece and has recorded a reimagined version of its debut, Stellar, titled The Beach Cult Sessions. In addition to the re-recorded mp3s, The Beach Cult Sessions features newly recorded tracks, “Sex Wax” and “Thrash the Gnar.”
The Stellar EP was released in May 2015 and focused on simply showcasing the new band’s sound. It was tracked with a single mic in the middle of a bedroom after only two practices. “The Beach Cult Sessions is more focused on the live sound; all of the instrumentals were tracked live in a living room, the guitar is fuzzy at times, and there are no instrumental overdubs or ‘studio magic,'” says drummer Austin Cooper.
The Beach Cult Sessions will be released on cassette in January and only available to purchase during Phantom Party’s upcoming tour. However, The Spec has an exclusive stream of the reimagined track “Twenty.”
Listen to the MP3 below and catch the band live at 51 West on Jan. 14 with SWMRS, Melissa Brooks and Aquadolls.
What has been the biggest change with the band since we last spoke in July?
Matt: We’ve gone through a lot of changes since July actually, most notably losing our rhythm guitar player and cementing us into a three piece where we are likely to stay. The three of us who remain were always the most in line with each other as is, so we figure we may as well stay this way.
Austin: I cut my hair and regretted it, so it’s growing back out and that’s the biggest change of this band. Oh, yeah, and the whole losing our guitarist thing. It has been a drag finding a guitarist that’s super committed. Slash never emailed us back when we asked him to jam.
Do you have an official release date for The Beach Cult Sessions?
Joshua: January 21.
Matt: It will be on cassette with an MP3 download code but are limited to 50 copies so once they’re gone, they’re gone for good.
The new EP will be released in January, can you tell me about the band’s process for creating the album?
Matt: We met with our good friend Matt Aldawood (of Troubled Minds) who we knew had experience with recording live–a technique we had yet to try but were very interested in.
Joshua: To us, it’s not an album or an EP. It was just a cool process we got to try out and put on cassette.
Austin: It started with the tour we started planning a couple of months ago, and our friend Jenna was (and still is) setting it all up. When we got the email for this set of dates and venues, we started to really consider pushing something more than just the Stellar EP. We pushed Stellar last time we were in California, and that’s still an EP we’re pushing, but I think it was Matt Slusser who proposed we do something a little special this time around, and then he brought up the cassette idea. We came to a consensus that this was something we really wanted to do. It didn’t seem fully real until we met Matt Aldawood, who had experience in recording bands live as opposed to multitracking, which we had done for the Stellar EP. We recorded the whole thing in about six hours. Tracking live obviously cut down the time it took to complete the songs. The only element we had to add afterwards was the vocals and the tambourine in one of the songs.
What made you decide to re-record and reimagine the Stellar EP?
Matt: There has always been quite the dichotomy between our live sound and our studio sound and we thought we’d try and capture that as best we can. The songs also have changed and grown in ways and we thought we’d try and illustrate that as well. When we recorded Stellar in May, we had known the songs for maybe a month at most, so for the sessions we were able to approach them with much more confidence.
Austin: I joined a little after Josh and Matt had already been working, so I knew the songs for maybe a week before we recorded that EP. For this cassette, we just chose the Stellar songs because we didn’t want new music to show up on a limited release. The Stellar EP was practically our only collection of songs to record, since they were already out. The reimagining came after we had been playing live for a bit. We started to deviate from playing the songs exactly how they sounded on the EP, so when it came closer to the date of our session, we decided that we might as well play these songs as they would sound live to at least offer something new to the people interested in buying it.
Joshua: It was supposed to capture our live vibes.
Can you tell me about the new tracks you’ve recorded for the album? Have you changed your sound at all?
Austin: I don’t think the sounds have really changed because I think we have two different sounds. The live sound has been a secret between us and the people who have seen us; we have always been pretty dirty when we play live. The only people who might be a little shocked by this are the people who haven’t seen our set, but we’re only selling the cassette on tour so people pretty much have to see us, so they’ll almost be warned what they’ll hear before they buy the cassette. In contrast, the people who hear the cassette but haven’t heard our real recordings might also be taken back. For the essential Phantom Party sound, I implore people listen to the Stellar EP. It has a really full sound without the fuzzy guitars or screaming. The Beach Cult Sessions is the Stellar EP as we would play it to an audience.
Joshua: The newer tracks are actually old songs I’ve written and recorded for an old side project that Matt and I were going to get started on before this band. This band technically arose from that side project. Our sound hasn’t really changed. We’ve always been a little grittier at heart I guess.
Matt: “Sex Wax” we’ve been playing live since the beginning, but “Thrash the Gnar” is brand new to us as a band and Austin had probably only played it like three times previous to the recording. The dude is an animal.
Any reason for the release on cassette instead of vinyl or a digital stream?
Joshua: Cassette is hip. Vinyl isn’t cheap.
Matt: I got the idea to do the cassette release after finding an exclusive session Misfits did that was bootlegged onto cassette on our last tour. We wanted the recordings to sound raw and dirty, and there is something so delightfully lo-fi about cassette that we all thought would really do something interesting to our sound.
Austin: Another thing is that we kinda just don’t want it to be downloadable. A stream might be in the works, but a download is something we are staying away from, at least for right now. I think we just wanted to make it really hard for people to listen to this session.
What are the next steps for the band? Any future plans to tour out of state (besides California)?
Josh: We plan on touring extensively throughout this coming summer. We have plans to play in Seattle and Oregon, and even Canada.
Matt: Touring is our mutual passion and we plan on going out there and hitting it as much as possible.
Austin: Also, we haven’t really talked much about it, but I think we might have new music out in 2016. I can’t imagine going 366 days with only the Stellar EP available to everyone.
If you could play any venue in the United States, which venue would it be and why?
Austin: The set of Boy Meets World if that still exists.
Joshua: 924 Gilman in Berkeley, Calif.. It has a rich history
Matt: The 9:30 Club in DC. There’s just so much history involving so many of my heroes and inspirations. I remember reading “Get In The Van” by Henry Rollins and seeing the name of that club all over the pages and not being able to imagine a cooler goal. I can’t imagine the energy in that place.
Who do you think is the smartest member in the band?
Joshua: Not me.
Matt: The second practice with Austin was also the first day of recording the Stellar EP during which he managed to trick Josh into drinking his lukewarm fermented piss from a perspiring Polar Pop.
Austin: Oh yeah, I made Josh drink my piss once and he was throwing up and gagging everywhere. I thought he was going to die. Anyway, I think we’re all intelligent in different ways. There’s actually a psychologist named Howard Gardner who came up with the theory of multiple intelligences, basically stating that intelligence isn’t composed of a single factor, but eight factors. Even though there wasn’t a whole lot to support his theory, I think he was onto something. All three of us have had our moments under different circumstances.
What band(s) do you currently play on repeat?
Matt: Right now I’ve been listening almost exclusively to ’60’s and ’70’s soul and R&B. My Spotify right now is littered with Wilson Pickett, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, The Supremes, The Crystals, Otis Redding, Bobby Womack, stuff like that. I’m also really into the new Frank Turner album.
Austin: I’ve been listening to a lot of Silversun Pickups; Carnavas is a great album. They’re one of those bands I kind of stayed away from for a while, but I’m finally getting into them. A friend got me into The Orwells, so I’ve been giving them a lot of attention. I’ve been getting back into Nada Surf, and Matt Aldawood sent me the new Troubled Minds EP so I’ve listened to that on repeat a few times, and I’ve been listening to a lot of Merit, too. The last two are local bands, only proving that awesome music can even be heard a few miles away.
Joshua: Beach Boys’ album Pet Sounds. It’s my bible.
Anything additional that you’d like readers to know that we haven’t asked you about?
Matt: Austin likes the new Adele album.
Austin: It’s easy to diss R. Kelly’s Trapped In the Closet, but your opinion holds no weight unless you’ve actually listened to all 33 chapters. Only those who have heard the whole thing will notice that it’s actually a marvelous rap-opera. It had me hyped the whole time. I was flailing my arms screaming “WOOOAH” in my room at five in the morning with every twist and turn. I highly recommend it. Adele’s album is okay, but if it were her versus R. Kelly, we both know who would prevail. R. Kelly, of course!
The Beach Cult Tour
January 14 – Tempe, AZ – 51 West
January 21 – Riverside, CA – The Vibe
January 22 – Pomona, CA – Characters
January 23 – Anaheim, CA – The Doll Hut
January 24 – TBA
January 25 – Fullerton, CA – The Programme
January 26 – TBA