By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Guitarist Jacques Brautbar and Farrar connected with the then-trio in the time-honored method: over a conversation at a record store. After much persuasion, they went along to a rehearsal, and the rest has been Phantom Planet history since the personnel were in their midteens.
"This is what we're all about," Farrar continues. "I mean, the whole acting thing happened at a time when the band was in limbo because our old label got swallowed up in a merger, and all the people we'd worked with left. But they were still productive years for us as a band, because we were getting into different kinds of music, like Jacques started studying classical music, and Jason and Alex were getting into bands like Radiohead and Flaming Lips, and we all started listening--I mean, really listening, to the Beatles--and when things started coming together again, we were bringing so much more into our sound. And, like, we were growing up, too," he concludes with a laugh.
The new and improved Phantom Planet sound soon scored the band a deal with Epic and landed them in the studio with megawatt producers Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake. The session was quick--two weeks--essentially just polishing poptastic ditties like "Anthem" and "Lonely Day" into high-gloss hit material.
"I think the record is actually a lot poppier than how we sound now that we've taken these songs on the road," Farrar asserts. "We've become harder-sounding on the road--more of a real rock-and-roll band, and that's definitely the direction we're continuing to go in. Like 'Nobody's Fault' and 'All Over Again'--we're just killing those live, it's just fun, really high-energy, with Jason and Alex going totally crazy. I think people at our shows have been a little surprised."
And judging from the Irving Plaza crowd's response, however, pleasantly surprised. Concluding their set with an epic treatment of "All Over Again," Greenwald body surfs and belts the final chorus hanging upside down from the mixing deck on the balcony (as his girlfriend looks on from the VIP, vaguely concerned), Schwartzman banging his drum kit with an intensity worthy of, well, Max Fischer. Everyone goes wild--and not just the girls, but everyone in the capacity audience of NYU students. The encore, with the men of OK Go in tow, is even more raucous and rousing.
As Farrar says, the band's "just loving playing live right now," and it shows. In fact, the only hesitation he notes about that night's show is that, because it's an NYU-sponsored gig, there's no alcohol being served.
"Man, I just can't believe they wouldn't even let us have beer in our rider!"
Told you they had problems.