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15 minutes with Phantom Planet

Brian Foy | Wednesday, November 12, 2003

How’d you guys come up with the name Phantom Planet?

We had this CD called Neil Norman’s Greatest Hits and it was a compilation of science fiction done in the ’70s disco version. Phantom Planet was one of the songs on there we really liked, so we ended up calling our band Phantom Planet.

“California” is the theme to The OC on Fox. How’d that come about?

The creator of The OC is a fan of the band. And he loved the song “California” and thought it would be perfect for The OC since it’s in Orange County.

How has your sound changed over time?

I think our sound has become more true to ourselves rather than our influences.

What have been your musical influences?

I’m a huge fan of classic rock: Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Beach Boys. I like The Doors. I love U2, Radiohead, and The Cardigans. But my real passion in music is classical music.

What’s your favorite song you guys have written so far?

On the new record my favorite song is called “Know it All” and all-time my favorite song is “Wishing Well.”

What’s the vibe on the new album and the first single “Big Brat?”

I think where it’s similar to our old stuff is that “Big Brat” is very melodic and catchy. You can dance to it and it’s really great and a lot of fun, but different because it’s a bit more honest, a bit more raw. It’s more rock and roll.

You guys have toured with Elvis Costello and Incubus. Do you like arenas or the smaller venues better?

Both have their pros and cons. It was amazing playing with Incubus in those huge arenas. But at the same time it was amazing when we did our headlining club dates where we were playing 500 seaters.

What’s been your favorite venue you have played at so far?

My favorite venue would have to be “The Hideout” in Chicago. It’s a real kind of hole-in the-wall club. The sound system sucks. The stage is real small. But every time we’ve played there the crowd had been amazing and the energy that we get on stage is incredible.

What’s the best part about being on the road?

The part about being on the road is getting to see the world, as cheesy as that sounds.

Did you always want to be in a band that toured and made records?

Ever since I was a kid and I listened to Zeppelin and I would pretend like I was Jimmy Page. I pretended like I was Slash from Guns N’ Roses playing coliseums. It has always been something I wanted to do.

If you could have dinner with anyone you haven’t met before who would it be?

I would really like to have a sit down with Jesus.

Anything you’d ask him?

How do you do that water into wine trick?

Can you describe the song writing process? Does someone come in with a riff or a melody? Or is it we’re going to meet Tuesday at two o’clock and we’re all going to sit down together and just jam?

Usually Alex will come in with a skeletal version of the song. And then the rest of us will come in and add parts like the organ: the vital parts that make a human being.

How do you feel about file sharing?

I totally understand why artists are bummed about file sharing, but I think we should embrace it. It’s going to happen. It’s the wave of the future. We got to find a way to do it so people aren’t screwed.

Finally, what can we expect from the new album?

It’s not as slick as our last record and more on the rock and roll side. Alex is listening to different music which gives it a more rock and roll base as opposed to pop music.

Contact Brian Foy at bfoy@nd.edu.