Phaser are a shining examples of an Unsigned American Band who have broken out of the ranks and ignored everything else going around them. Based in Washington they have already notched up a host of top support slots with the likes of the Super Furry Animals and Gomez and have been wowing audiences with a sound reminscent of Mercury Rev and Spiritualised. We caught up with guitarist Paul Wood to find out more.
Q: Glancing through your press cuttings its gives the impression that Phaser are a Britpop band. In fact after listening to the album "Sway", i'd actually be more inclined to say there's almost a classical edge to it but played by traditional rock & roll instruments. Would you say this is a fair assumption?
A: I think so.....we definitely try to work & think outside of the traditional guitar/bass/drums set-up, even though the core of our music comes from that tradition. Boris (vocal/bass/keys) has a classical background and our arrangements tend to be a little more advanced than verse-chorus-bridge-out...I think the britpop tag has more to do with our earlier shows and reviewers use it as an easy description...if you have melody, big reverbs and a delay pedal over here you end up as Britpop.
Q: Listening to Phaser is a really emotional experience. Would you go along with the thinking that anyone can write songs, but it takes a great songwriter to really effect people. Is it important for you to move people with your music or simply entertain them?
A: It is important to have an effect on people...there is a lot of 'entertainment' out there, and while at the end of the day any band is essentially just that, I think we tend to appeal to the type of listener that takes their music seriously and is looking for more than just a your standard commercial radio stuff. My favorite albums have always been ones that you can really lose yourself in...we like things with a definite beginning, middle and end. You hope to give people some sort of listening experience.
Q: Your gigs can often be 40 minute sets filled with only four songs. Do you see the live gigs as separate from the recording process?
A: Live shows really are a different process...its impossible for four people to recreate a 24 track recording and we don't attempt to...just because something is on tape or disc doesn't mean its the defintive version...we enjoy re-arranging, stripping down, using additional musicians....at our most recent show there were between 4 and 8 people on stage at various points and it felt great...the songs really get to open up in that situation and you end up taking it in directions that hadn't been considered before.
Q: Amongst the support slots you've played are ones to the British acts such as Gomex and the Super Furry Animals. How much are British acts respected over in the States and who's really making roads into the American market?
A: It seems like every three years or so, there's one British band that gets the big push in America and everyone else gets over-looked...in '94 it was Oasis, '97 it was Radiohead, 2000 we got Travis...for some reason America really refuses to give the proper promotion to smaller British bands that could potentially do very well here...By the same token, there are a lot of independent American bands that get ignored as well...its really an untapped market...I saw Doves last year at the 9:30 Club and it was sold-out--I don't think I have ever heard a Doves song on radio or seen a Doves video on TV or read a Doves interview in an American magazine...but people were there and people were really into it. I heard that the Elbow/South tour has sold out New York and is expected to do the same in Washington...You might hear Coldplay or Starsailor on the radio occasionally, but radio and MTV still haven't really opened up to British music on a large scale.
Q: Is there a healthy music scene in Washington and if so what bands would you recommend to readers of Designer Magazine?
A: There's actually serveral 'scenes' in Washington, which is surprising becasue its a pretty conservative city. There's the Fugazi/Dishord scene, there's DeSoto Records, the ESL/Theivery Corporation crowd...there's bands like the Dismemberment Plan and Trans AM. Canyon is a great DC band...Pretty diverse, but people usually stick to their own specific group, so there not a lot of cross-over.
Q: Finally what is next for Phaser in 2002 and can we expect you to come over to the Uk in the near future?
A: We're currently looking for a UK distributor so once that happens, the chances of playing overseas will be much greater. We'll be touring through parts of the US for most of the Spring/Summer and should be back in the studio in the fall.
The album "Sway" is out now
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