Glaswegian sextet The Phantom Band will join Vic Galloway in Rennes next weekend for the Trans Musicales Festival. Dear Scotland spoke with the band’s keyboard player Andy Wake this week who revealed the band’s healthy obsession with outdoor swimming as well as their plans for SXSW 2010.

Dear Scotland: Where are you now and what did you do last night?
Andy Wake, The Phantom Band: I’m in bed. I was in bed last night.

DS: Paul McCartney said he got into music to avoid a job – and get lots of girls. What made you get into music?
Andy Wake, The Phantom Band: Apart from Paul McCartney… It’s odd that anyone makes a conscious decision to ‘get into’ music, or anything for that matter. Where I grew up there wasn’t much else to get into. My brother was into a lot of Metal and used to buy me records, even though I didn’t have a record player, so I would listen obsessively to the cassettes he would give me of them, on a little boombox thing. I got record decks and started DJing because I wanted to listen to the music I liked in a more participatory way. I suppose eventually I wanted to participate more and more, so I started making electronic music using samples and synths.

DS: Your song “The Howling” is one of the best songs of 2009 in our opinion but what is your favourite song of yours to play right now?
Andy Wake, The Phantom Band: I enjoy playing Crocodile because it’s one where I pretty much get to play whatever I like throughout it. Apart from a few cues I can mostly improvise, so it’s good fun.

Phantom Band – The Howling

DS: You’re playing at the Trans Musicales Festival in France on December 4, are there any other places outside the UK that you look forward to playing?
Andy Wake, The Phantom Band: Tuva, Mongolia, Japan, Easter Island, Jupiter.

DS: Do you feel more Scottish when you are abroad, or do you adapt well to new places? Anything you miss about Scotland?
Andy Wake, The Phantom Band: When away from home, I miss people much more than places. In terms of amplified Scottishness, I think it’s only natural for people to consider themselves statesmen of their home country. For instance, I wouldn’t be surprised if the people of Norway suspect The Phantom Band of being sponsored by a certain brand of Scotch Whisky (sponsorship offers welcome!) as, having taken gallons of it with us, because of how much alcohol costs there, we were seen pouring masses the stuff from the stage into raised cups and lots of open mouths in the front couple of rows. Somehow we felt obliged to spread the word of the golden nectar like missionaries.

Also, we have a little tradition that we try and swim outdoors whenever we are away anywhere – it’s an invigorating pre-cursor to a gig, or a way of unwinding afterward. I do think, however, we might be guilty of sometimes over-doing our Scottish brazenness… the water on a couple of occasions has been bloomin freezing – to the point where ones muscles can hardly function – but to accept defeat would have been letting the side down! “cold?! that’s not cold!”

DS: What will be your first words on stage in Rennes at the Festival?
Andy Wake, The Phantom Band: Apart from “one, two, check, check, one-two”, it will likely be something like “Bonjour, notre nom est la bande fantôme… nous habitons en Ecosse, joyeux anniversaire…” or just “hiya”

DS: Vic Galloway will be at the festival too. Any plans to meet up?
Andy Wake, The Phantom Band: Yes. He’s working as our roadie as it’s the only way they’d give him a free ticket.

DS: Are there any Scottish musicians, past or present, that have influenced you?
Andy Wake, The Phantom Band: Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, The Wets.

AC/DC – Let There Be Rock

DS: Any plans for more international shows next year? Perhaps South by Southwest in Austin?
Andy Wake, The Phantom Band: Yes we are planning a trip to SxSW, and hope to fit some other US dates either side of it. That’s all we have confirmed so far for 2010 as we are putting a lot of effort into getting our next album out.

DS: What should the Scottish national anthem be?
Andy Wake, The Phantom Band: I think it could be anything but Flower of Scotland. How about “Goodnight Girl” by the Wets? I think “Would I…Bounce Back” by The Associates might be fitting, or maybe “The Affectionate Punch” is better suited!

The Associates – The Affectionate Punch

DS: What is the best after-show experience you’ve had?
Andy Wake, The Phantom Band: Shows where the after-show isn’t you humphing all your own gear about are always good. After we played a gig in Norway (where we had lent a guitar to Bjorn Again so that they could do a Metallica cover) some of us were sat naked around a fire in the middle of the festival, then we sat up all night at our hotel, which was a series of old sawmill sheds, drinking moonshine and playing Nordic battle games (mostly involved hitting each other with sticks) before going swimming in a mountain loch. I’d say that was a pretty good after-show.

DS: And finally, many many years from now, when you finish your farewell world tour, is there one place to where you would like to retire?

Andy Wake, The Phantom Band: Farewell tour, as if. But if I was forced, maybe either a little cottage in Wester Ross, or perhaps Zurich, Copenhagen or Montreal, where we could guarantee we are the
ugliest people in town. Those places are very easy on the eye.

The Phantom Band – Throwing Bones (Live)


Photo Credit: Phantom.Band