Cold ham, 40’s of beer, a nervous host and 3 barking dogs. That’s how my first dinner with the band Phantods began. A day after the first snow fall four Phantods showed up at my door for dinner. In the comforts of my brightly colored festive abode it was guitarist Daniel Hagquist, who put my nerves at ease. Apparently scalloped potatoes are his favorite and so his excitement relaxed me.
Dinner Menu – Ham, Scallop Potatoes and rolls. Shes My Cherry pie for desert.
The Christmas tree was lit, candles were burning and Tori Amos entertained the crowd as I quickly got to know the Phantods over a simple dinner. Having just played the Andyman-a-thon at CD102.5, this group of serious, focused musicians joined me for dinner and conversation.
Webster’s Dictionary Definition: Usually a fantod is in a state of extreme nervousness, restlessness; the willies; the fidgets. Sometimes, display sudden outpouring of anger.
Singer Gretchen King twists on the definition:
“A Fantod is a creature that the artist Edward Gorey would do illustrations of, and he had the fantods press. We felt the word really fit the music we were writing, but we still wanted it to be unique to our band, so we changed the f to a ph and voila.”
Drummer Kenan Edler: ‘The fear of words that start with the letter p…. Not true at all.”
What is the sound of a Phantod? Their year old album “Creature” has fans all over bowing down to their sound which is hard to describe. “Dead Wave” is a term they have coined for themselves which encompasses every genre the members have individually brought to the group. A kind of mash up of punk, rock, metal, jazz and sometimes calypso. “Our sound never really had a genre that it fit into. We always seemed to be too pop for rock or too rock for pop. We definitely have our new wave influences and our Rock influences. We wanted to give the genre a name for the sound we are creating, and so Dead Wave was born.”
Soon after the 40’s began flowing and Alex popped the wine top I had to break the news that the ham which had been cooking for 1&1/2 hours was still cold, and in good nature no one seemed to care. The awesome duo of Julie Schatz and TJ Hansen (Ginger Attack productions) showed up a few minutes later to shoot some photos and dinner was ready. We filled our plates and gathered around the makeshift tables in my living room where we dove into our dinner, and into the who’s and what’s of being a Phantod.
They are passionate about the eclectic sound they have created, which has them standing out in the highly competitive Columbus music scene. “I’m pretty new to the scene up here. Even since I’ve been here there have been some great bands that have come and gone; I love how those same people form new and different projects that are still as great as my first memory of them” said Kyle Frith, the guitarist on the evolution of the Columbus music scene. Founding member Daniel chimed in, “There are so many great bands in Columbus. I feel like the scene has exploded and continues to explode in new and amazing ways. We are happy and humbled to be part of it.”
Gretchen and Daniel started the Phantods six years ago when they were both local musicians whose paths kept crossing. Until one day, along with another musician (who has since left the area), they decided to begin a band. No one knows when Kenan joined maybe 4-6 years ago, it’s a running joke. Alex the bassist became a Phantod after the group finished their latest album “Creature”. As a testament to their maturity it was impressive to hear the Phantods interact. Their cohesion and respect for each other would be hard not to notice and made them easy to like. Also, everyone’s plates were clean after dinner, so my journey into the world of ham felt semi-successful.
Since we were so close to the holidays I felt a certain requirement to ask about their “Holiday Favorites”.
Gretchen: ”The Christmas that we got a Casio Sk-1. The dog barking patch made me laugh for hours (and still does). I was easily entertained as a youngster…”
Kyle: Favorite Holiday Song – “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey
Dan: “The year I got the giant G.I. Joe aircraft carrier.”
Kenan: ”My drum set of course. My uncle brought his guitar and amp over and we played all Christmas day.“
There was a lot of laughter as we got to hear about Kenan’s love of country music and Daniel’s karaoke talents being centered on 90’s R&B. Gretchen pointed out if we moved the tables we would probably be privy to a dance party. Later I wished that we had.
More than one of my guy friends encouraged me to be-friend female lead singer Phantod, Gretchen King. In the kitchen where traditional female bonding takes place, post dinner while making tea and coffee I was able to spend some alone time with Gretchen. Away from the boys and cameras we talked and found we had a lot in common. We both had a small town upbringing, moved to Columbus with friends, and she lives in the neighborhood I started out in.
Being the sole female in a male band Gretchen is regularly the center of attention. Cool and confident she handles it just like the rest of the band. She embraces the attention and is humbled by it because that is just who she seems to be, a gentle, quirky and caring character.
Sitting between Kenan and Daniel they kept me laughing throughout the dinner. It seems this is the role they play in the group as well. Knowing Kenan’s love of country, the moustache wearing drummer reminded me of Eddie Spaghetti from the “Supersuckers”. With Daniels taste for my cooking these two went right to the top of my “nice” list. Alex adds a good mix of serious and silly to the pack. The laid back bassist helped me facilitate the dinner. His focus on the band and where they are headed solidified my respect for him as a musician and businessman.
So what is it about music that they love playing so much and have dedicated their lives too?
Gretchen: “It is so rewarding to have someone express emotion based on something you’ve written, so I would have to say that connection with others. I’ve also grown a lot through the challenges I’ve faced as an artist and pushing outside my comfort zone. Playing live and traveling with friends is pretty great, too.”
Kyle: “Drink discounts!”
Dan: ”It’s great to see a rough idea blossom into a polished song, and then sharing that song with an audience. It’s great when a song resonates with someone.”
Kenan: “All of my friendships seem to start with music and I have met some wonderful people. Current company included. I am grateful.”
Phantods current favorite “Creature” remains in its infancy. This album will be consuming most of the bands attention for some time to come. Rather than trying to make another album just for the sake of churning out material, these Phantods are proud of the quality of “Creature” and will be looking to promote it as much as possible in the upcoming year. Over coffee, tea and dessert I brought up what my friend Raad begged me to ask. Are the Phantods leaving the 614 anytime soon? In returned my question was met with laughter as they remarked aside from heavy regional touring in 2012 they wouldn’t be leaving for good anytime soon.
Gretchen: “I’ve been a part of the Columbus music scene for less than ten years, so my insight is only on what I’ve seen and when I moved here I tended to go to the shows of the bands that I had friends in. When we first started playing, we’d feel bummed because we couldn’t even get our friends out to shows. But slowly we’d see more and more people out and there were more and more variety of bands to play with. Over the last 5 years, I’ve really noticed a new level of production value locally for playing live and the records that were being put out. The support for music here, local and beyond is huge. That support definitely makes you want to push yourself and release even better music, recordings and performances than before.”
Like so many other local bands have informed me, Columbus’s 6-8 hour touring radius unseen in other markets, and their love of the city, makes Columbus an easy choice as a home-base. They told me about how much the scene has changed over the past five years. The city is now rich, flourishing with deep seeded talent, most of which are all working together. Yes, inevitably there are groups — “cliques” — but overall everyone seems to be on the same team.
And as for my question, who are these particular Phantods, The answer is that Phantods are a group of concentrated, confident, creative musicians with a clear direction on where are going, how they will get there and where music is taking them. A better question may be where they will be taking their music. A group with enough confidence to name a new genre after their sound is a group who will undoubtedly be paving the way for more innovation.
The great part of interviewing people at home is that it provides an atmosphere which everyone can relax and let their guard down so their true characters unfold. Fact is after getting to know this Dead Wave band their intense love both musically and personally was inspiring. My only wish is that I did not ask them to sing or move the tables to spark a dance party. Cause really what’s dinner with a band without getting treated to a live performance in your own living room? Weak on my part, and lessons learned. Catch the Phantods at Skully’s February the 18th and see for yourself what the dead wave delivers.
• Sat Feb 18th @ Skully’s – 9PM – Columbus, OH
• Fri Feb 24th @ Blind Bob’s – 9PM – Dayton, OH
• Sat Mar 10th @ TBA – 9PM – Youngstown, OH
• Thu Mar 15th @ Thirsty Nickel – 9PM – Austin, TX