Interview: Electro-Post-Punk band ‘Phantom Radio’ to release new single.

Teesside’s electro-post-punk pioneers, Phantom Radio, have been showcasing their unique take on alternative music in gigs around the North East for a while now. They might not be a band on your musical radar yet, but they’re definitely one to check out as they get set to release their newest single ‘Kings of the Town’ this month.  The band consists of Mike (guitar and vocals), Harry (guitarist), Lee (bass and backing vocals), and Tom (synths and production). I caught up with the band to chat about their upcoming projects.

 

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From Left to right: Lee (bass), Mike (guitar and vocals), Tom (synth). Image taken by: Mark Cartwright.

 

How would you describe your music?

Mike (M): “We call it electro post punk, it’s basically post punk but we haven’t got a drummer!”

Tom (T): “Yeah, we haven’t got a drummer but we do have a synth! That’s what makes our sound different to normal post-punk.”

 

How did you get into this?

M: “I’ve been in bands for ages. I’ve always played in rock bands, but I just got sick of it. There’s only so much heavy guitar you can do and then you just start to feel like you’ve done it all.”

Lee (L): “There’s only so many copyright Led Zeppelin riffs that you can do!”

M: “So I’m doing something else now and I’ve roped these two into it. They’ve never played in a band before.”

L: “I was just playing music in my room for about 6 years. I had no mates that would play in bands and I saw Mike was in a band. None of my friends wanted to play with me but Mike did, so I thanked him for that and now we’re in a band!”

T: “You sound like a 6 year old!”

L: “ I only knew about 3 songs but I was so eager to play! When I joined Mike he didn’t know how good or bad I was, so I just played it off like I knew everything.”

 

You played at Middlesbrough Theatre (Toft House) a few months ago, how was that?

L: “It was like a bunch of parents had come to support their teenage son at his first gig.”

M: “It was all acoustic artists but we were this one loud rock band that was on first. It was mental! Everyone there was definitely older than 40 and probably didn’t want us on! My favourite thing about this band is we fuck shit up and annoy everyone. The secret to all great art is that half the people have to love it and half the people have to hate it, and that’s definitely what we are!”

T: “It’s true, you get this sort of mixed bag.”

M: “If everyone likes it then you’re not pushing the boundaries.”

L: “Yeah, I like Iggy Pop but that sort of music is just too common. We’re something different.”

 

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Phantom Radio’s logo

 

Do you have any artists that inspire you?

T: “The Beatle Barkers.”

L: “Oh god!”

M: “Go on Tom, explain what this is! You’ve been waiting to talk about this since the start!”

T: “The Beetle Barkers are a dog cover band of The Beatles and they just bark all the music!”

There’s a parrot metal band that exists too!

M: “There is! I remember them.”

T: “Is there? See, it’s not so silly now!”

M: “I like Smashing Pumpkins, and Peter Murphy from the band Bauhaus.”

I noticed your Bauhaus T-shirt when you walked in! Great choice!

M: “Thanks, I like those sort of goth bands.”

L: “My inspiration is probably Tool, and maybe…I dunno…Scissor Sisters!”

M: “Lee has never mentioned them until now!”

L: “Well I’ve liked them for about 5 years and I don’t know why I’ve said this now but it’s out there for the world to know.”

M: “So the past 5 years have been a waste, now we’re just going to become a Scissor Sisters tribute band!”

 

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Mike (lead vocals and guitar). Photo taken by Mark Cartwright.

 

Is there anybody you’d love to perform with?

T: “Michael Jackson…post-death…”

L: “I have a few friends in bands, so I’d like to make a super-group and go on tour.”

M: “I’m not making a super-group with any of them! It would be the worst band ever…electro, metal, 70’s, punk music.”

T: “Yeah, there’d end up being emo stuff in there as well!”

M: “Yeah, sorry to crush your dream Lee but that’s not going to happen.

The problem is everyone I like I’ve probably already ripped them off, so if I played with them then they’d know! It’d be a disaster! I think we’ve got to be unrealistic and just pick the biggest possible band…”

L: “AC/DC”

M: “I think I’ll just agree with Michael Jackson. Final answer.”

T: “Final Answer? Are you locking that in?”

 

Is there anything you hope the audience takes away from your music?

T: “I just hope they enjoy it really.”

M: “I hope people see us and think that they don’t have to go and see rubbish indie bands all the time. There’s other bands they can see.”

L: “Yes, let’s just antagonise more people!”

M: “I hope they’ll go to smaller gigs where there’s more interesting stuff on.”

L: “Raw talent!”

M: “Yeah, people need to go see some original stuff rather than all these Oasis and Arctic Monkey tribute bands that play all the big gigs round here.”

 

What are your upcoming projects?

M: “We have a single coming out!”

T: “Yes, lets get a massive hype train going for this!”

M: “Well then, it’s going to be the best song ever! Keep an eye on our Facebook page. We’re making this ridiculously ambitious music video. We thought it was going to be doable but it turns out we don’t have as much free time as we planned, but we’ll get it done! These things just take time.

We have this upcoming Goth City Festival this October in Leeds too. It’ll just be a load of gigs in a row and I think we’re playing on the first day. There’s a lot of industrial type bands playing there.”

 

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What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

L: “Working with Tom!”

M: “Organising everything! The music is the fun part, but then it’s trying to find time for everyone to practice together and getting everyone to the gigs. Also, you get constant rejection from promoters. I’ll be sending out about 40 messages and only 20 people will reply. You kind of pay the price being a niche band because promoters don’t know what to do with you.”

 

 Is there anything you want to change about the music industry?

T: “Make us huge!”

M: “You have to be making pop music to get anywhere in this industry really. Promoters used to sign people just for liking their music, but now you have to already have an established following.”

L: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

M: “You pretty much have to do everything yourself now.”

 

Do you have any plans or hopes for the future?

T: “I think we’ll be recording more.”

M: “The traditional way of being in a band was to play a ton of gigs and then eventually you’d get noticed, but it doesn’t work like that anymore. People just stay inside, so you need to have more recordings, music videos and work on promoting your social media. Then you’ll get better gigs off the back of that.

So we’ll be working on more music videos and then if that works out we should hopefully get bigger and better gigs.”

 

Phantom Radio’s single ‘Kings of the Town’ is set to release this month (23rd August). To keep up to date with their music and find out more about their upcoming gigs, you can follow their Facebook at Facebook.com/PhantomRadio. 

My Response to: “Women can’t sing rock”. (20 Best Female Rock Singers)

So recently in my hometown, Middlesbrough, a pub called Doctor Browns banned female-fronted bands, with the excuse that ‘women can’t sing rock’. You can read more about the incident here.

I personally thought this was a sexist and unjustified complaint. Fair enough, if you don’t want your business to fail then you only hire the best musicians. But saying ‘women can’t sing rock’ and therefore aren’t welcome to perform there is discriminating.

They claimed customers ‘didn’t like’ previous female rock singers they hired – I don’t think this justifies an outright ban on female rock singers. This simply suggests they didn’t hire a good enough singer.

Banning all other female singers based on someone else’s less-than-impressive performance is incredibly unfair. People shouldn’t be refused a chance based on their gender.

I found it appalling that gender discrimination is still happening in my area. I personally believe women can be incredible rock artists, so I thought I’d respond to this by listing some of the best female rock artists I know.

I realise genre of music is rather debated, but I’ll just say these are the artists that are loosely described as rock. Obviously their music may incorporate other genres, but in my opinion they deserve a place on my best female rock artist list. So here it is, my favourite 20 female rock artists in no particular order:

#1 Siouxsie Sioux:

Siouxsie was an obvious choice for me to mention on this list. As the lead singer of one of my favourite British bands, Siouxsie and the Banshees, I think she represents the best of female gothic rock. Siouxsie has been adored since the 70’s with her iconic look and haunting music – and all but invented goth.

#2 Stevie Nicks:

Stevie Nicks is an American singer best known for her work with Fleetwood Mac. She had a chart topping career and is often referred to as the ‘Queen of Rock and Roll’, so she definitely earned her place on my list of the best female rock artists.

#3 Lzzy Hale:

Lzzy Hale is the lead singer from the band Halestorm. Lzzy pretty much sparked my interest in rock music. She has one of the most powerful female vocals I’ve heard. I’ve seen Lzzy sing live and at the time she had a bad throat, but powered through and I can honestly say she still sounded better live and I couldn’t even tell she had been ill.

#4: Amy Lee:

Amy Lee is the lead vocalist of Evanescence. Critics vary on whether Evanescence should be classed as a rock or a metal band. Personally I refer to them as symphonic metal, but I think Amy Lee still deserves a place on this list. If you check out other symphonic metal bands you will see the majority are female fronted, such as Epica, Nightwish, Within Temptation, Delain and so on… all which deserve a mention as they are amazing bands, but I’ll try to keep this list to strictly rock.

#5 Patricia Morrison: 

Patricia Morrison is probably most known for her backup vocals in The Sisters of Mercy, and although Andrew Eldritch takes main stage as the lead vocalist, I think Patricia Morrison still deserves a mention for her musical talent and contribution to goth rock.

#6 Taylor Momsen:

From the sweet little actress who played Cindy Lou in The Grinch to the lead singer of the American rock band The Pretty Reckless, Taylor Momsen has come very far. Taylor Momsen is a talented actress and model, but the music she produces is worth some recognition for her contribution to female-rock.

#7 Hayley Williams:

Hayley Williams is known as the lead vocalist for Paramore. Their music has vastly evolved over time. I started listening to them back in what I like to refer to as my ’emo’ days, but I still have lots of appreciation for the music they are creating today.

#8 Avril Lavigne: 

Often referred to as the ‘Pop Punk Queen’, but releasing many tracks I would consider punk rock and alternative rock, Avril Lavigne has been massively successful. The Canadian singer is known for presenting a ‘rebellious’ attitude and looking eternally like a teenager, how does she do it? I grew up listening to Avril Lavigne and she has always been one of my favourite artists.

#9 P!nk: 

P!nk has released some incredible pop rock tracks and is an all around badass. She definitely represents the best of a girl-power attitude, just check out her motivational speech to her daughter here. I personally find her inspirational as an artist so I had to include her in this list.

#10 Emelie Autumn:

Emelie Autumn’s music is very different from any other music I have heard. Sometimes describes as ‘fantasy rock’, her creative and unique music alone earns her a place on my list. This quirky style of music is not for everyone, but I adore it and her work and talent is still to be admired.

#11 Dolores O’Riordan:

Dolores O’Riordan is an Irish musician known for leading the rock band The Cranberries. They have had worldwide success and produced some iconic tracks such as ‘Zombie’.

#12 Courtney Love:

Courtney love gained a notable presence in the punk and grunge scene in the 1990’s and rose to prominence as front-woman for the alternative rock band Hole. She had a highly publicised life after her marriage to Kurt Cobain (lead from Nirvana).

#13 Chelsea Wolfe:

I hadn’t known about Chelsea Wolfe long, but I fell in love with her haunting music. She is continuing the evolution of goth rock with her modern experimental sounds. If you are looking for a modern gothic artist then she is worth a listen.

#14 Ellie Rowsell:

Ellie Rowsell is part of a four-piece band called Wolf Alice who have been going since 2010. Their early work sounds folk-tinged but has evolved to a more rock-orientated sound.

#15 Natalie Bassingthwaighte:

Natalie Bassingthwaighte is known as the lead singer of electronic rock band Rogue Traders. I listen to their most popular song ‘Voodoo Child’ on repeat. For me it is a song that never gets old and will always be a favourite. I also come across a lot of fellow Whovians in the comments of this music video from when this song was featured in a Doctor Who episode.

#16 Debbie Harry:

I couldn’t miss Debbie Harry off this list. Most known for being part of the rock band Blondie. They pioneered early American new wave and punk scenes from the mid-late 70’s.

#17 Tina Root:

Tina Root is the vocalist of the band Switchblade Symphony who were prominent in the goth scene throughout the 90’s. As this is mostly an Alternative/Goth based blog I think it’s important to mention female vocalists who have had impact on the goth rock scene. Again, this is something that might not appeal to everyone, however, as this is the type of rock music I prefer to listen to, it’s worth a mention.

 

#18 Johnette Napolotano:

Johnette Napolotano is best known as the lead singer from American alternative rock band Concrete Blonde. Concrete Blonde built up their popularity in the 90’s with their top 20 singe ‘Joey’.

#19 Chibi:

Chibi is the lead singer of The Birthday Massacre, a band well known in the Goth scene. The Birthday Massacre’s musical style has been described as new wave revival, electronic rock, gothic rock, and dark wave. As an ongoing goth band and one with an amazing sound, Chibi deserved to be mentioned on my list.

#20 Theresa Jeane:

Last but definitely not least, Theresa Jeane is the lead sing from The Nearly Deads. I found this band a few months ago and have loved their music ever since. They appealed to me when I found their song lyrics relatable and was pleased to find they are rather interactive with their fans on social media. They quickly became one of my favourite alternative rock bands and I’m looking forward to seeing what their future in music will involve.

I think this list proves my point that women are totally capable of being successful rock singers. If you want to share your opinion on this debate or if I missed any of your favourite female rock singers off the list, then feel free to leave a comment. I’m open to discussions and hearing new music.

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