Phantogram talks family and new record, Three
Phantogram is inescapable. Turn on a TV, a video game, or a radio, and it’s probably familiar.
With tunes like “Fall in Love,” and “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,” it’s one of those bands that just seems to keep on getting more recognizable. Somewhere between the heavy synth, ghostly falsetto, and over driven guitar fuzz, is Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, a pair of friends who stuck together since junior high.
“When Phantogram started, I was just working on my solo stuff,” says Carter. “She and I would hang out a lot and so I had this idea for what I wanted to do musically. I asked her. I think she had a good voice and I asked her if she’d sing on top of some songs that I was working on.”
The duo’s latest album, Three, released in 2016, hit number nine on Billboard charts.
Long-touring and hardworking performers, the band has worked with the likes of The Flaming Lips, Miley Cyrus, and The Alchemist and Oh No. There’s more collaboration still on the way. Carter says fans can expect a follow up to Phantogram’s 2015 project Big Grams, with rapper Big Boi.
“We’re definitely gonna do it, we just don’t know really when,” says Carter. “You know we have this pretty short tour coming up with Arcade Fire, then just a bunch of one-offs and stuff. And we’re in the process of working on some new Phantogram material, but I would say hopefully within the next year or like in 2018 we’ll probably start working on the Big Grams record.”
Carter and Barthel have known each other since preschool. Starting out in New York, the pair would record their early stuff and burn cheap CDs to hand out on street corners.
Signing to a label in 2009, the band began to hit their stride and made various late-night television appearances. They opened for alt-J at Madison Square Garden.
It hasn’t been a career of just roses though. Barthel’s sister Becky took her own life in January of 2016 as the band was working on Three.
“Yeah, I think Sarah’s just recently starting to be able to open up about it publicly,” says Carter. “We’ve been able to talk more about it publicly. But it took a long time to heal and it’s something that’s never gonna’ go away. You know Becky was one of my best friends and it’s not like … I mean you’re always gonna miss her but it gets a little easier over time.”
Despite the still recent loss, Phantogram presses on. With a still rapidly rising career trajectory, Carter isn’t taken aback by the group’s success.
“When I got into music, I definitely felt a powerful calling to just be a musician and it’s something I became obsessed with. There was no way around it.”
Wed., Oct. 11 (7 pm)
Arcade Fire w/ Phantogram
$35 and up at ticketmaster.com