Interview Exclusive: Unmasking The Phantom Planet

The Phantom Planet are strapped with good looks, vibrant energy, and long lasting talent which will help the Los Angeles based band ultimately take over our world. The twenty-something's forthcoming album, The Guest, will be released on Epic Records on February 26. The first single "California" has already infiltrated specialty shows across the country, and also appears on the Orange County movie soundtrack. The band's drummer / actor Jason Schwartzman, is best known for playing Max Fisher in Rushmore. The Guest is a fantastic record packed with a Beach Boys-esque pop simplicity, an early Radiohead similarity, and a bright L.A. flare that screams "Rock Stars In The Making" . I got on the phone with guitarist Jacques Brautbar to find out more about this amazing band, and the early contender for "Record of the Year".

The Tripwire - Where are you calling from a bathroom?

Jacques - We're in a hotel and there's always a party in my room

The Tripwire- I'm here in Chicago. Before Christmas I saw you open for Remy Zero and Pete Yorn and you guys seriously blew them both off the stage - it was just an awesome show.

Jacques - Wow thanks a lot.

The Tripwire- Didn't you take off from that show and perform another gig to shoot the video for "California"?

Jacques - Yeah at the Hideout. It was incredible, it was insanity. It was sweaty, and it was packed, and we were delirious and rocking as hard as ever it was great.

The Tripwire- How does a video shoot like that go down, do you just play "California" for 14 hours straight?

Jacques - The video isn't going to be synched so it's just a bunch of tour footage.

The Tripwire - Roman Coppola (Strokes "Last Nite" and Air "Playground Love" video director) was in the director's chair right?

Jacques - Yes he did (road manager Pete Lewis interrupts by making obscene noises with his mouth). Roman and his crew toured with us and filmed for about a week and he was at that Chicago show that you spoke of. It was the first show that he filmed.

The Tripwire - When I saw you, it looked like you were having so much fun, and you had this great camaraderie on stage with each other, how long have you been together?

Jacques- Oh thanks. We have been together for a little over 7 years. We have been on the road for four months and this year has been our first real tour. Our stage show changed dramatically. I mean we always thought we had a lot of energy on stage until we played like every night or every other night for four months and I don't know how to explain it, it was like an evolution.
We will never be sloppy, that is one thing that we've promised ourselves is to always kick ass.

The Tripwire- Your current single "California" is blowing up on specialty radio, I was curious how you felt about the difference between your new album The Guest (out February 26) and the Phantom Planet Is Missing album -

Jacques - Most of the songs written for Phantom Planet Is Missing we wrote when we were extremely young, and in high school. The band formed and I was 15, Jason was 14. We are still in our early 20's, and at that time we hadn't had any life experiences beyond high school and we were still ingesting a lot of music and so we listened to a lot of Weezer and a lot of Queen and we were still recycling through those things and trying to figure out where we stood in those genres. We were like oh we like Weezer and we like Queen so what do we do with ourselves. So there is a lot of Weezer on that record and a lot of influences. Basically this record (The Guest) is us at the tail end of puberty where as the first record was us going into it.

The Tripwire - With everyone acting (drummer Jason Schwartzman stars in Slackers, singer Alex Greenwald can be seen in Donnie Darko) how is everything prioritized as far as the band and the tour are concerned? At the end of the year will everyone in Phantom Planet be in a movie?

Jacques - (laughs) No no no. The band is everybody's priority. Sam produces and I go to school. We've all got our own thing and right now this is the most important thing in our lives.

The Tripwire - What's the 2002 master plan?

Jacques - Tour tour tour and more touring with a capitol T. I know that we have some yet to be confirmed dates in March with this band Guided By Voices.

The Tripwire- Oh yeah THIS band...I think we all know Guided By Voices.

Jacques - A few shows with them which I think will be a West Coast thing...oh and we are going to be on David Letterman on January 31.

The Tripwire - Yeah that's soon, are you stoked?

Jacques - I'm so excited. I'm actually nervous.

The Tripwire - Really?

Jacques - It's our first live televised spot and it's Letterman.

The Tripwire - Do you have a pre-game attack? Do you need to buy special clothes? What is the mission?

Jacques - It's just lets go out there and kick ass. I like to watch late night television like Leno, Conan and Letterman...and I just watch all of the bands and say well I don't like that or that's not good, or hey that's good.

The Tripwire - We'd like to ask you a couple personal questions if we can.

Jacques - Ok let's see if I answer them.

The Tripwire - These are fan letters to you that have somehow come through our box. Please don't ask how we have your fan mail or why we opened it. This one comes from Matt Dufour of Long Island - dear Jacques how do you do it?

Jacques - I don't know what he means.

The Tripwire - It just says how do you do it. There is a smiley face next to his name if that helps.

Jacques- By letting to and being instinctual.

The Tripwire - Very Zen. This one is from a female, her name is Melissa. Melissa wants to know - if you had to make that decision what would that decision be?

Jacques - Why are these so vague?

The Tripwire - I'm just the messenger.

Jacques - Well if I had to make that decision, wouldn't that decision only be itself?

The Tripwire - You got me. I guess I will attempt to explain it to her in my response. Finally - who if anybody can really see the phantom planet?

Jacques - Everyone who wants to rock.

The Guest will be released on Epic Record February 26. For tour dates and more info on this spectacular band, please check out:

Source: Jason Anfinsen

Interview Exclusive: Unmasking The Phantom Planet