Michigan music fans might not know the name Phantom Fundamental, but they soon will. Phantom Fundamental is made up of Alex Mendenall, Isaac Davis, Jon Landis and Chris Plumhoff who attended high school together in Mason, Michigan. Even though the guys were friends in high school, the band did not officially form until two years after graduation.
The band spoke about their formation, "At the end of our second college years in June 2012, we finally played together for the first time. Through the cheap amps, beat-up drum heads, and unbalanced volumes, the four of us heard something special echoing off those basement walls. We had a really good feeling about the chemistry and styles of the band and after experiencing this, we quickly joined together attention as a band," said the members of Phantom Fundamental.
Through those cheap amps and beat-up drums a unique alternative sound was created that is capturing the attention of music fans all over Michigan. "We focus a lot on eclecticism and individuality, trying to find instrumentation that most bands shy away from. We have ambitions to be all over the board: Folk, Art Rock, Indie, Pop, complex orchestrations and simple arrangements. This allows each song to stand out from the last and keeps our listeners deeply engaged."
Phantom Fundamental will be releasing their debut album, Dromedary, on May 1st, 2013. Following the release of their album the band plans to tour extensively.
I had the chance to interview Phantom Fundamental, we discussed everything from what notable musical influences the band members drew on at an early age to how the band takes on their musical process today. The entire interview is below.
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C: When did Phantom Fundamental come together?
P: The band is made up of guitarist, Chris Plumhoff, singer and guitarist, Alex Mendenall, drummer, Isaac Davis, and keyboardist and singer, Jon Landis. All four of us went to high school in Mason, MI together. Even though we were friends and musicians throughout high school, we never played music as a complete group until two years after graduation. At the end of our second college years in June 2012, we finally played together for the first time. Through the cheap amps, beat-up drum heads, and unbalanced volumes, the four of us heard
something special echoing off those basement walls. We had a really good feeling about the chemistry and styles of the band and after experiencing this, we quickly joined together as a band.
C: What would you consider to be some of your most notable music influences at a younger age?
P: The influences for our music really come from a wide range of artists. One is Pink Floyd and their album, "Dark Side of the Moon." We draw upon their ability to write dark, complex, progressive, and yet still widely liked songs. Other influences for us include the Radiohead, the pillows, Wilco, and The Beatles. One of the most influential pieces to the band's philosophy is The Beatles' album, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band." That is, a brilliant mix of
songs- a few that everyone likes instantly, and some that take years to really digest and fully appreciate. This is the journey on which we would like to take our listeners with our albums.
C: Phantom Fundamental in a few words, how would you describe the band's musical sound?
P: "A few words" is a little difficult for us. We are classified as an 'alternative' band, but we’re not quite like the big alternative acts out there. We focus a lot on eclecticism and individuality, trying to find instrumentation that most bands shy away from. We have ambitions to be all over the board: Folk, Art Rock, Indie, Pop, complex orchestrations and simple arrangements. This allows each song to stand out from the last and keeps our listeners deeply engaged. We start our
arrangements with a singer-songwriter feel- just one guy singing over his acoustic guitar. Then we layer on complex, stimulating sounds through electric guitar and synthesizer. Other times, we peel it back to some old fashioned roots, throwing down acoustic piano with a clean bass. We'd like to give a simple description, but we really aren't a simple band, which is something we're proud of.
C: What musical influences do you pull from when you are performing or writing music?
P: We pull from many of the same influences that we had at a younger
age. We are most stylistically similar to Radiohead and The Pillows, and most philosophically like The Beatles. This applies to us when we are both writing and performing. We also draw some minute inspirations from Mumford and Sons as well as Jason Mraz, particularly when writing. We feel that we have really fun personalities and we like to convey that to the crowd as bands like We Are Scientists do. We love to joke and let our fans know that we're having a great time up on stage.
C: Phantom Fundamental has gained quite a large following in the Midwest, what was the process of coming up in the industry like?
P: We really feel that we have only just started coming up in the industry. We joined in June of 2012 and we have already done so much in this time. We have played some great venues, met some amazing people, and really begun to do some incredible things musically. We
have written and are recording our first album and are already well on our way with the next. It's actually pretty mind-blowing how much we've been able to do in such a short amount of time. But we think that we're capable of doing even greater things in the future and plan
on ramping things up in 2013.
C: How would you guys as a band describe the Midwest music scene?
P: The strongest phrase we would use to describe the music scene around the Midwest and Michigan in particular is that it is full of potential. While we may not have a Memphis, there are great hotspots for music here like Chicago and Detroit. But more and more, places
like Lansing are really just starting to join in on the music scene. New venues are popping up and promotion companies like Fusion Shows are bringing in some great acts to the Lansing area. So while not all of the Midwest is well known for music, we are really proud to be a part of a new, up-and-coming scene. We would love to help put Michigan indie music back on the map.
C: How do you all as a band feel social media has helped and will continue to help your career?
P: Social media is an invaluable tool for us for many reasons. We can discover and book an opportunity on Sonicbids or Reverbnation, receive confirmation and details through the same sites, and then tell hundreds of people in our area about the show within a couple of
hours. And beyond discovery and promotion, social media gives indie bands a much easier path to prominence. No longer do bands have to pass our music around on demo CDs or put flyers across the city to let people know about us. With social media, we can get the word out with a click and give potential fans immediate access to music, photos, videos, and tour dates. We now have a huge amount of tools that allow us to get noticed on a national level rather than just locally. We really feel that social media has been a major factor in helping us grow as fast as we have. In the future, we expect even greater resources from the internet and will continue to actively participate in this area.
C: What does the future of the band hold?
P: We are currently recording our first album as we speak and we will be self-producing it as well. We are very excited to have people hear what we're about! Phantom Fundamental's debut album, Dromedary will be released on May 1st, 2013. We plan on touring much more extensively in 2013. As of now we have a date at The Loft in Lansing on April 21st, and a show at The Avenue Café in Lansing on June 7th. We will also be participating in Elbo Room's I Am Fest Battle of the Bands 2013 in Chicago on May 27th. As we find out about more shows, we will keep our fans informed.
In the larger scheme of things, we are prepared to do whatever it takes to spread our music around the world to anyone interested in an intelligent, creative, and honest new genre of music. Because of this, our future really lies wherever this path leads us. We will continue
to follow it enjoy the journey along the way.