The Phantom Band are an enigmatic bunch, and this video, for the single ‘Everybody Knows It’s True’, does nothing to dispute that statement. Directed by Glasgow-based artist Rachel MacLean, the sequence shows a disorientating world inhabited by the Phantom Band and virtually anything else you can thing of. The visuals work together with the band’s harmonies to create a sinister ubiquity – almost like a nightmarish Beatles video. We caught up with one of the Phantoms (Duncan Marquiss) to find out how the whole thing came about and to see how the reception to their second album, ‘The Wants’, had been.
Dazed Digital: How did the video come about?
Duncan Marquiss: Andy Phantom knew Rachel the director from an exhibition they both showed at in Edinburgh last year, she had already done some other videos and suggested doing one for us. She put a lot of effort in which is much appreciated.
DD: Can you explain the concept?
Duncan Marquiss: No, although it looks like some sort of alchemical sci-fi microcosm. Rachel cited Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights and Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain - all the symmetry and esoteric tinsel. It reminds me of Terry Gilliam animations in Monty Python too, only done with green-screen and after effects.
DD: How was it made?
Duncan Marquiss: She painted our faces, dressed us in tights and swimming caps then made us dance about like idiots in a freezing studio for hours. She took that material and wove it into the occult pipe world collage.
DD: How important would you say art is to the identity of the Phantom Band? How much input do you have with band artwork/ video concepts for example?
Duncan Marquiss: I'd separate the band's artwork and designs from art as such, not in a pejorative sense but because it has a different function and context from art practice. However, the band's aesthetics is important to us and we do most of it ourselves; album covers, webshite, etc. It can be difficult to maintain that though and there are lots of stages where you lose control of how the band is portrayed. But then you have to accept that loss of control sometimes and it’s good to hand over a project like the video to someone else. It’s enjoyable to see what other people make of the band and we often don't have enough time to do these things justice ourselves.
DD: How have you found reception to the album?
Duncan Marquiss: Great, we've been really pleased with the reviews and it’s interesting to hear the trade offs between ‘Checkmate Savage’ and ‘The Wants’. I always think we can't really hear our own music anyway so we need feedback.
DD: Plans for 2011?
Duncan Marquiss: Building a new base and trying to write more economically built music.
The Phanton Band Tour:
07 Mar London Dingwalls
08 Mar Norwich Arts Centre
09 Mar Leicester The Musician
10 Mar Manchester Sound Control
11 Mar Liverpool Kazimier
12 Mar Clitheroe The Grand
13 Mar Newcastle The Riverside
15 Mar Invernesss Hootananny
16 Mar Aberdeen Tunnels
17 Mar Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire
18 Mar Dundee Doghouse