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. 

24 Common Goth Problems

I really enjoyed writing my ‘What Not To Say To Goths’ post, so I thought I would do another humorous list of things goths go through. Here’s my 24 goth problems:

 

  • Getting a tan when you want to look like death himself.

 

  • Not being able to wear fishnet in the sun in case you get tan lines

 

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  • Introducing your music to people and they find it ‘scary’.

 

  • When you have to use touch alone to find a specific t-shirt because everything is in your wardrobe is black.

 

  • When you think its black, but it turns out to be navy.

 

  • Getting mistaken for an emo.

 

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Toxic Tears (YouTuber)
  • Spilling white powder on your black clothes.

 

  • Black lipstick never staying put.

 

  • When your shades of black don’t match.

 

  • When goth becomes a mainstream trend and people who picked on you for dressing this way start wearing it because its cool.

 

  • When people think you are wearing a costume and ask what the occasion is.

 

  • Not knowing where the other goths are hiding at.

 

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  • When people assume you are confident because the way you dress draws attention.

 

  • When you try to have big hair but it just wants to stay flat.

 

  • Trying to DIY your fave band shirt without ruining it.

 

  • Summer being too hot to wear black.

 

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  • Having brown roots until you re-dye your hair.

 

  • People thinking you are morbid for wanting to walk through the graveyard.

 

  • When you buy something colourful and you spend the day having everyone point it out.

 

  • Goth brands being too expensive.

 

  • People looking shocked if you do something nice like holding a door for them.

 

  • Security following you around a store.

 

  • Black dye transferring from your clothes onto your skin.

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  • Feeling bald without your eyeliner.

 

Let me know any others you have below!

What Not To Say To Goths

So I thought I’d do something a bit fun and light-hearted based on the daft comments I receive regularly for being a goth. Over the years I’ve learnt not to take things people say too seriously, usually people don’t mean any harm by it.

Here’s some of the regular comments I receive and my thoughts on them:

“Oh, I went through a Goth phase. You’ll grow out of that.”

It’s not a phase, it’s a way of life. Do not try to tell me what I will or won’t be interested in. Goth is not just for teens, there are plenty of Elder Goths out there!

“When are you going to stop dyeing your hair?”

Also anything along the lines of changing my hair can be annoying. I often get comments like “If you keep dying it then it will fall out…Your natural hair was such a lovely colour…don’t get it cut like that it will look ridiculous.” It’s my hair so I’ll do what I want with it, the way I look has no impact on anyone else. If I decide to shave my head tomorrow then why is it anyone else’s concern? It will grow back, if not I’ll buy a wig…

“Don’t get that pierced/tattooed.”

I find these types of comments usually come from concerned family members. I’m a girl with 7 ear piercings and I’ve been told if I get more piercings then I’m going to ‘overdo it’. In the past I was going to get a septum piercing to which I was told it would look like a ‘bull ring’ in my nose.

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Old photo of me with a fake septum ring

I also have a few tattoo ideas lined up, to which I’ve been told “You’ll look common” or “People won’t want to hire you for a job”. Sometimes they are worried for my safety, and try to talk me out of it by telling me all the possible infections I could get. But usually their reasons are just superficial. But as most goths know, we don’t look like this to please other people. We choose to look like this because it makes us happy.

“Don’t wear that, it looks boyish”

I’m sure goth guys also get the opposite with people telling them they look ‘too feminine’. I’ve personally been told not to wear certain things because they don’t look flattering enough. One time I was told not to wear a pair of my favourite shoes to a family event because they were ‘too boyish’. News flash: I don’t want to look girly! I don’t care about which gender my clothes were ‘meant’ for, I wear them because I love them.

“You’d look so much prettier without all that makeup”

I think this applies to everyone, not just goths in particular. I don’t wear makeup to look pretty. I wear it because I feel it completes my outfit, I like being creative, and most importantly I enjoy wearing it and the way it makes me feel. It also annoys me when people assume you are wearing it to impress someone. Just no! I’m not going to change who I am for other people, so why would I put makeup on for the sake of them? I wear it because once again it’s a thing that makes me happy!

“Are you into BDSM?”

Please, please, please stop asking us this! First of all, I’m not going to answer that. Secondly, a person being goth doesn’t determine whether they are ‘kinky’ in the bedroom or not.

“It’s not Halloween yet”

Well, Ministry would seem to disagree with you there…

This one is just a classic. For some reason people seem to think they are being funny and have thought up a really clever original phrase to say to us. Nope, I’ve heard this one tonnes of times before. If anyone knows when Halloween is then it’s me.

“Who’s funeral is it?”

Yours…

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There was a brilliant quote being spread round the internet: “If you can dress like this without going to a yoga class, I can dress like this without going to a funeral.” That pretty much sums up my thoughts on this comment.

“Are those your real eyes?”

This may sound like common sense, but honestly some people genuinely believe that bright red contact lenses are my normal eye colour…

“You look so scary”

Sometimes I will actually take this as a compliment, makes me feel like I’ve reached full goth potential!

 

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“You look dead”

Well I am a future corpse…

“You should get a tan, you look so pale and sickly”

Believe it or not I don’t want to risk skin cancer or to end up looking like an oompa loompa, so thanks but I think I’ll stick to my ghostly complexion.

“GOTH!”

I’ve never understood why people feel the need to shout this at me. Yes, I know I am a goth, well done for noticing 👏. I don’t take the word as an insult, it was my intention.

“Look its a vampire!”

I wish I was that awesome!

*Insert sarcastic voice* “Where did you get your coat from?”

Questions are fine so long as you are genuinely interested. But otherwise I don’t see the point in asking. This seems to be a thing chavvy teens love to do. Best one I’ve heard yet was: “Where’d you get your bag from? Toys R us?”. Personally I wish Toys R Us sold goth accessories, it’d be a lot easier to shop!

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My coffin bag

“There’s holes in your jeans”

Thanks for pointing that out, I never noticed that when I bought them…

“Do you worship the devil?”

This is unfortunately a stereotype that comes with being a goth. I’ve had people genuinely ask me if goth is a satanic thing out of pure curiosity. Just to clarify, not all goths are Satan worshippers! Goths can be any religion, just like anyone else.

“Do you cut yourself?”

Hold your horses! Firstly, you should never ask something this personal to anyone, mental health is no joke! Secondly, the stereotype that all goths are depressed is so wrong. We don’t dress in black and listen to this sort of music because we are all mopey. Honestly, if I were to stop being goth I’d be even more miserable, expressing myself in this way makes me happy.

“You have terrible music taste”

I could say the same to you. Everyone has their own taste, just because we don’t listen to mainstream tunes on the radio doesn’t mean my music is any less enjoyable than yours.

I hope you enjoyed these and maybe got a laugh out of some of my experiences. If you have any others, please share them in the comments!

 

 

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