Columbus new-wavers Phantods visit Blind Bob’s
By Tim Anderl
In 2009, a female-fronted, new-wave quintet comprised of local music veterans emerged in Columbus and their kooky and campy self-titled debut was released to rave reviews in the blogosphere and national indie music press. Almost immediately the band found themselves on the College Music Journal Top 200 chart and reaching fans from across the country.
“We didn’t know what that meant at the time,” Gretchen King, Phantods’ enigmatic frontwoman, explained. “We were still so new to things like that and didn’t understand how great it was to have a debut album in (CMJ’s) Top 200. We were definitely proud of that and excited to have reached new fans all over the country.”
With their debut receiving such a warm reception from fans and critics, Phantods began writing their follow-up effort, feeling incredible pressure to steer clear of a sophomore slump.
“Writing can be really stressful, because you feel really vulnerable,” King said. “It’s as equally exciting as it is terrifying. One day you’ve written something that you are super excited about, and the next it feels like everything you’ve got is crap.”
“We had a lot of different approaches with writing Creature. Dan (Hagquist) and I usually started by writing demos together, then taking it to the rest of the band to shape and complete. When writing lyrics, I didn’t intend to have a unifying concept throughout, but looking back on it, I guess you could say that I was going through a period of discovering my own strengths and giving a voice to them,” King added
Creature became a fitting moniker for the album as zombies and werewolves provide King with a platform for some of the album’s lyrical content and metaphors.
“I have a huge amount of love for classic movie monsters and the music we were writing had such a creepy vibe,” King said. “Creature seemed fitting as an album title, because I was singing about how I am responsible for my own creation of self, and that I expected that from the people I care about too. The album as a whole was a new creation for us and to not stray too far from our roots, a creature was born.”
Additionally, King said Phantods made a conscious effort to curb their genre hopping and settle on a more focused direction, changes that resulted in a more cohesive band. The payoff for their attention to detail has resulted in pleased fans and critics.
“(The songs) have been received better than we could’ve ever imagined,” King said. “It’s intimidating to release something that is different than what you’ve done before, but we knew that this direction was right for us. To have people singing along at shows, great reviews in the paper and blogs, and hearing it on air reaffirmed that we could trust our gut.”
In 2010, the band tracked their sophomore record over a two-month period with Andrew Dodson and mailed the record to Kennie Takahashi in California for mixing. The finished product was in the band’s hands by late 2010, jumpstarting 12 big months for the band.
In 2011, Creature landed the band on CMJ’s Top 100 chart, Phantods received steady airplay on Columbus’ modern rock radio station, CD101, and their songs were featured on MTV’s The Real World and The Challenge. The band also performed at some of their biggest shows to date, including a show with Fitz and the Tantrums at Columbus’ Newport Music Hall.
“It was intimidating until we stepped on stage and played that first song,” King recalled. “Then it just felt right. There is a level of professionalism that happens at a show and venue that size that you don’t get in the bar scene. I remember singing and thinking, ‘This is how it should be every night.’ There are different challenges for a show that size, but there is such a thrill in it.”
In addition, the band used 2011 to shoot and release a music video for their song, “Time and Teresa,” with friend Shawn Tegtmeier.
“We have always trusted Shawn with our artwork — he is responsible for our Revival and Creature artwork — as well as our Creature music video,” King explained. “I just had to pick up confetti, silly string, bed sheets and makeup. It’s always fun to see Shawn’s vision come to life.”
While the band have resolved to use 2012 to become a national indie rock fixture and to write another record, they’re also planning to spend much of it on the road. According to King they’re also anxious for a return trip to the Gem City in December. “We love Dayton and we love the people there. Dayton has been really great to us with each visit and we want that to grow.”
Phantods will perform at Blind Bob’s on Saturday, December 3. For more information about the band, visit their website at www.phantods.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@DaytonCityPaper.com.