Q&A with Phandrom

We have conducted an interview with the lead singer of Phandrom, Terje Storvig. They will release their debut album on Friday, titled ‘Victims of the Sea’. Read on to find out what Terje had to say about the new album, the history of the band name, and more.

Who is Phandrom, and what is the story behind your band name?

Phandrom consists of; guitar player Hallgeir Pedersen, bass player Odd-Erling Simensen, drummer Bjoern Ivar Aslaksen and singer Terje Storvig. We play our own material, exclusively. We needed an original band name. We found that no one is called Phandrom, and the name derives from the story of a successful salesman from Finnmark, whose name we dare not to mention, because we don’t want to be haunted by a ghost. He lived 150 years ago, and several people have witnessed his ghost.

Your album is titled ‘Victims of the Sea’ and consists of six tracks. In short, give a presentation of each track: how it came about, lyrics etc.

‘Victims Of The Sea’ is the title track of the album, and also the first one. What you hear at the beginning is the sound of real, heavy rain weather, recorded outside by Severin Lyngstad. Then comes a smooth Bach-inspired intro, before the whole band breaks into a heavy, middle-tempo energetic groove. The story is about getting lost at sea, caught between huge waves and a halestorm. Who or what is that dark shadow mentioned? It might be metaphoric, if you want.

The second track ‘Stay’ is a bit faster, with an aggressive, yet melodic guitar-riff and a pumping groove that builds up to the verse. The melody is low and calm, but builds slowly up to an aggressive shout when that guitar-riff returns. It’s a song about people who don’t dare to follow their own dreams, but instead; they are stuck to a strong and unfair leader or system for the rest of their lives, only because they don’t dare to run away. The only light in their lives is the light at the other side of the tunnel, and we all know what that means.

‘Spark In The Dark’ is the third track, and it’s loaded with a lot of positive energy. When you have chaos in your life, and everything seems dark – suddenly the sun begins to shine, and everything’s fine. That is a real spark in the dark. It’s a fast song, with a lot of different modes in it. Some people say this song sounds a bit like a cross between Van Halen and Iron Maiden.

The fourth song is ‘The Gift’. The groove is slow, dark and vicious. The lyrics: Some people are born with a special gift, thus they are in the position to use it in a good or bad way against other people. If you’re supersticious, it could be dangerous, or not.

‘The Enlightenment’ is the fastest song on the album, and when we play it live it’s sometimes extremely fast. It’s a song about the infinite universe. Will someone write to us from a different world? Maybe we are not alone? Could there be forms of life like ours on other planets? – Some big questions in the song. A bit inspired by the late Steven Hawking.

‘They All Had (Something From You)’ is the last and the longest song on the album. It’s almost like a heavy metal psalm. In this song we pay homage to the late great Ronnie James Dio, but it could as well be a homage to God himself; judge for yourself. It depends what you believe in. It’s also in homage to the ones who don’t reach for the greatest commercial goals, but they follow what they believe in. Their achievement could be groundbreaking and crucial for the lives and works of those who come after. But again; The listener has to judge for himself or herself.

Rainbow Studio has mixed and mastered your album. What is the story behind it?

Jan Erik Kongshaug from Rainbow Studio has a worldwide recognition for his musical productions, all the way back to the late sixties, and is considered to be one of the best studio engineers in the world. He has produced A-ha, Bertine Zetlitz, Terje Rypdal, Jan Garbarek, Hallgeir Pedersen Trio, Keith Jarret and many, many more during the years. We wanted an open, natural, vintage, big sounding album, and Hallgeir was convinced that Jan Erik Kongshaug would be the right one to achieve that, and in our opinions, he was right. Jan Erik is also a great guitar player, so he knows how to get the best out of the guitar, and all of the other instruments. Great balance and dynamic between instruments. We are very satisfied. He has done a fantastic job.

Tell us about the cover art? Who is Vegard Laupstad?

He is a great designing artist from Andøya, and according to himself, he was at his hitherto artistical peak, making the artwork design for us. It’s very easy to agree upon that. Each one of us in the band has the picture as background on our cell phones, iPads, computer screens etc. That shows how satisfied we are. We didn’t give him any restrictions. He heard the music, and got inspired to make this majestic picture, which shows a cross-section of the sea with a sinking fishing boat in it. We liked it immediately, and found it to fit the music perfectly. We have been communicating a lot, though. The picture was made surprisingly quick. He did a great job with the text part, too.

What’s in store for Phandrom the coming year? Any tours planned? New album in the horizon?

We have gig at Bankers Bar in Lakselv, Norway, Friday the 25th of May, actually the same as the release date of our album. Then we will do a private event at Fun Pub in Tromso, 23rd of June. We’re also in the planning of new tour dates for the autumn 2018. We got enough songs for a new album, and we’re playing many of them live already, so it’s gonna be exciting to do recording next time around. When or where, we don’t know yet. Possibly in 2019.

Can you tell us about your influences, bands you like?

I can refer to the mixtape, but there’s a lot more. We are very inspired by classical music, like Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. When it comes to song structures, a lot of it comes from listening and playing through Bach pieces. Hallgeir has composed a lot of the material, and he often refers to Bach. There’s also the interacting of jazz in our music. We often surprise each other on stage with new spontaneous lines, words or breaks without losing the texture of the song. It’s very much fun. Bjoern Ivar is a huge fan of Elvis Presley, and can often be seen or heard playing Elvis-songs on his car-stereo, very loudly. He’s a very musical and tasteful drummer, with perfect pitch! He plays very loose and steadily at the same time, and any tempo is perfect for him. He is a big fan of Queensryche, but listens to all kinds of music, both new and old.

Odd-Erling and I have a side-project in Tromso, in witch we jam on A-ha- and Led Zeppelin-tunes. I get some vocal training from this. And in between that we come up with song ideas that sound very different from the two bands just mentioned. All of a sudden we play a couple of Bach-pieces together or a jazz-tune. He grooves all the time with very strong, great-sounding, melodic bass lines. We also play together in an artpop-band called Heimen. But our main interest is hard rock and heavy metal from the seventies and eighties, like Zeppelin, Sabbath, Dio, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Whitesnake etc. Most of those bands are a common denominator or all of us.

Hallgeir is the gathering force in Phandrom. He is an internationally acclaimed jazz-guitarist, but he is an even better heavy-metal-guitar player. As a player, he seems to have no limits. He is a real virtuoso on his instrument, with a very personal sound. He listens a lot to Kiss, Gary Moore, TNT, Dio, Wes Montgomery, Ritchie Blackmore, Mark Knopfler and many others. He has a great musical oversight and energy – which makes it very inspiring for us to work together. It’s not work, really, it’s just fun. Even though it takes all of our spare time. It’s our lives.

That’s about it! Remember to check out this new groovy album on Friday! If you want to get your hands on the LP, go here!

Photo by Fredrik Ludvig Larsen

Visit Phandrom here.

At last, listen to Phandrom’s mixtape directly from the window below, or just find it yourself on Spotify! You choose, as long as you rock hard to Phandrom’s favourite songs!

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