04.23.05 See Phantom Planet - get to the Sting shows early!

One of the many highlights of the current Sting tour and the dates so far has been the chance to see Phantom Planet who have been opening the shows through to April 27. They are highly recommended and put on a high energy very entertaining set. Whatever you do, get to the upcoming shows early and see their set!

The Centre Daily Times featured the following interview with lead singer Alex Greenwald...

'The O.C.' darlings Phantom Planet move east to find new sound...

Best known for the theme song from the TV show "The O.C.," California's Phantom Planet has traded in its sunny pop sound for that of dirty rock elegance. Putting behind the old and embracing the new, Phantom Planet will turn up the volume to 11 on Tuesday when the band performs at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Opening for Sting, Phantom Planet has been making waves with its self-titled second album, released in 2004. A photogenic group (the band's original drummer was actor Jason Schwartzman), this four-piece has toured the country relentlessly during the past year promoting the record - a jarring, raw and rowdy departure from the band's previous pop sound.

Forsaking the record industry standard of "if it ain't broke don't fix it," the Planet has used the success from "California" (the title of the theme song from "The O.C.") to further propel it into the spotlight. The one-month stint as Sting's opening band (which is the band's highest profile tour ever) is a sure sign of a band on the rise.

Alex Greenwald, the band's lead singer-guitarist/Gap model and actor (he was the bully in the cult film "Donnie Darko") spoke to us from the sunny West Coast for a friendly chat about his band, its evolution and escape from the dreaded one-hit-wonder status.

CDT: Describe your sound for anyone who's unfamiliar or just curious. You can tell a lot about a band by how they describe themselves.

Greenwald: I would say we are mostly '60s British invasion filtered through 1990s Seattle.

CDT: The new album, it's quite different from your previous one. Every band has a different reason for going in a new direction. What was yours?

Greenwald: Behind this band, there is a strong sentiment of wanting to change our sound from record to record. One of our favorite bands is the Beatles, and they changed every record. If anything, this new record is the sound of a band who went on tour for two years and left California. It's chaotic and lively, which is the kind of band we wanted to be and found we were after touring.

CDT: Your new album was recorded in a studio in the woods of upstate New York. How did that differ from a more traditional New York or L.A. recording session?

Greenwald: The obvious is that you're in a rural town. We are always plagued by friends, family, drink and excess in the city. The Amish town we were in forced us to pay attention and focus on the music. It was good for us. We sort of have ADD, and we had to be kept pretty much inside a log cabin. But I think it made the music a lot better.

CDT: Your band has been around for 10 years. Were you always called Phantom Planet or were there earlier incarnations?

Greenwald: We were pretty much always Phantom Planet. Though we did once call the band Curmudgeon, which shows our grunge roots.

CDT: Phantom Planet has released several online-only bootleg albums. Why the decision to go that route instead of releasing them in record stores?

Greenwald: The biggest impetus for that is it is way easier and effective to release something online. Someone can order it and get it immediately online. It's an opportunity to run on a face-to-face basis. It's just easier and faster. To us, it almost makes more sense to do it that way.

CDT: Alright, here's the dreaded "O.C." question you knew was coming: Your best-known song is the theme song for the popular TV show. Tell me about the pros and cons of being recognized for that one song on that one show?

Greenwald: That's the best way to put it; there are definitely pros and cons. The pros are that this song that was written six years ago has its chance to shine. The con is that it is associated only with a TV show. But we don't really see it as much of a con.

CDT: This new tour hits college campuses. Is that where you guys receive your best response?

Greenwald: I think so. We're around the same age, and we tend to identify most with an audience of our age group. College kids seem to be open-minded, free-spirited and fun.

CDT: You guys are opening for Sting. How do you feel about that matchup?

Greenwald: It feels like touring with Prince or Madonna or something. It seems odd. But (Sting) is doing old Police songs, so it seems he's returning back to his rock roots. So it should be a pretty good matchup.

CDT: If you weren't in Phantom Planet, what do you think you would be doing right now?

Greenwald: Trying to get into Phantom Planet. It's either that or I don't know what. I am not really good at much else. Maybe I would be a guitar teacher or something.

© Centre Daily Times by Dennis Fallon
Let's hear it from the band: Sting is going back to his roots, stripping it all down to the basics. The onetime English teacher turned rock icon turned castle-dwelling Jaguar-shilling world-musician, whose diet and sex life and personal politics have become standard cultural knowledge, is going back to school - or so he would have us believe...