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Artist of the Month, January 1999


H.E.A.R. honors Phantom Planet as our artists of the Month. We enjoy listening to their CD in the office so you know they're great!!!

Alex Greenwald (lead vocals, guitar)
Jacques Brautbar (guitar, vocals)
Darren Robinson (guitar)
Sam Farrar (bass, vocals)
Jason Schwartzman (drums)

Phantom Planet makes their recording debut with Phantom Planet Is Missing (Geffen Records), the sonic equivalent of a punch to the chest and a kiss on the cheek. The band was formed in 1994, its five members having one thing in common - they were undergoing one of the most difficult periods' in life: being a teenager.

Rock and roll was their salvation from the awkwardness of high school. Their practice room offered a place where they could channel their energy, share their excitement for music and express feelings that go beyond words. This proved to be a deeply profound discovery for the five friends. The brotherhood eventually grew into an accomplished rock band that sold out The Whisky and The Roxy as word of mouth circulated from high school to high school throughout Los Angeles.

Phantom Planet wanted to share their music with as many people as possible, so they vowed to get a record deal. The turning point toward that goal occurred in the summer of 1996 when Geffen Records A&R reps heard a demo the band had recorded with longtime friend Lee Popa (Ministry, Tool, White Zombie). Once the decision had been made to sign them, their contracts took a few weeks to clear because four out of five of the band's members had yet to reach legal age (elder statesman-bassist Sam Farrar was the exception).

Age was not an issue, however, when Phantom Planet picked up their instruments. Fueled by the opportunity to make a record, the band set about working harder than they ever had. They spent their summer vacation practicing eight hours a day, five days a week, preparing for the studio and searching for the right person to produce them. By the start of the school year, they'd decided on pop legend Paul Fox (XTC, The Sugarcubes, Grant Lee Buffalo).

Pulling a double shift of school during the day and studio sessions at night, the band maintained a grueling schedule for four months, fleshing our their songs and forging a wall of sound. The pressure of "growing up" in the spotlight of the music industry served to reinforce their collective identity strengthen their already powerful bond - as they continued to play shows up and down The Sunset Strip.

Phantom Planet then took a few months off, though they kept writing. Their homage to the 1960s, 'The Local Black and Red," which they cut on the fly with Popa, came out of that period. When they returned to the studio, it was to begin work with producer Mark Endert (Fiona Apple, Madonna). They recorded four more songs, searching for the secret spots where they could subtly tweak the music and experiment with instrumentation. These overdubs created a layered, ethereal feel. Endert's production, in fact, gave the record a dreamlike quality that hints at the band's future direction.

Phantom Planet Is Missing (released July 28, 1998) balances the explosive energy of youth with the skill and polish of experienced soundsmiths. Its songs fuse a classic, melody-driven musicality with an identifiably '90s point of view. The feel is fresh, but with the kind of holy heaviness that suggests the influence of Queen and ELO. Beach Boys-inspired harmonies and irreverent lyrics complete the picture.

The album captures the buoyant confidence of five guys on a mission to lead a new generation of L.A. rock and roll royalty. But it also reflects the ambivalence shadowing this pivotal moment in their young lives. As such, Phantom Planet Is Missing is both a landmark achievement for the quartet and a snapshot of their formative years, one that provides a mere inkling of all the places - both musical and personal - they have yet to visit.


GEFFEN HOME PAGE: www.geffen.com


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