Phantom Elite – Enter the WastelandSunday, 11th March 2018
Dead Rhetoric: Considering that you all have some background with other bands over the years, what is hardest about getting something like Phantom Elite off the ground and running?
van der Meer: I still think that it’s getting the group on the same page. The people define the band and what direction you can take with songs, and how technical you can be with your material. But most of all, they define the atmosphere in the band and the work ethic/speed at which you can do things. When I was asked, it was basically Sander and Marina, and Goof was just stepping in. From there to becoming a working band that wrote together, it takes a lot of time.
La Torraca: I also think that the difference between what I am doing with Phantom Elite and what I had never really done before, with other bands, is actually having a strategy. Not really ignoring the music industry and the way it works, we have social media on our side but like I said, they are still the gatekeepers, but in building our work and having Sander on our side is a huge plus. It doesn’t get us to skyrocket and sign with like Nuclear Blast or whomever, but it does open some doors to some connections. If we prove we are good enough, things might work out.
van der Meer: The Brazil release would not have happened without Sander. It’s that simple.
La Torraca: I think it’s really important to have a strategy and a budget. Bands need money and we struggle really bad [laughs], but it’s the truth. With my other bands, I never thought about paying money to do something. We are a really cheap-ass band. The amount of money we save is ridiculous. No one is willing to invest. Some bands will have steady workers as band members. They have more money to invest – buying tours and promo and things like that.
van der Meer: Nowadays, it’s still possible to buy your way into something, if you are a decent band. We got some gifts with our connections, but we did it without outside investments. We did it ourselves. That’s been really important.
Dead Rhetoric: So does that mean you are more about keeping everything ‘yours?’ Would you ever consider doing one of the crowdfunding campaigns that more bands are getting involved with?
La Torraca: We considered it for this first album and decided not to, just because of that. We thought that it was our first album – what are people going to be paying for anyway? They don’t even know us. It’s nothing against crowdfunding or those campaigns, but we decided not to do it. But we are not against growing the band. No one here is going to become Dream Theater in a day, but we don’t need to keep everything super independent for 5 albums.
van der Meer: I think it’s about control. As long as we understand what is going on and we understand what we are allowing any other party to do – booker, label, etc – as long as we know what the consequences are, and we know we are in control of the direction that it takes, and the music itself, then I’m okay. You can always talk about things.
Dead Rhetoric: To bring it up quickly, in terms of Phantom Elite’s progression, I assume that Exit Eden is something that is more on the side, something you can do when everyone’s schedules align?
La Torraca: Definitely. The other band members have other things going on as well. At the moment, we are not touring. If you have a heavy touring schedule, you have to block out time. You can always juggle with songwriting and recording, or photoshoots/videoshoots. That’s all doable. Including theater productions, that’s also doable [laughter]. I go crazy and have no time left for anything else, and I’m really fine with that. I’m just a young, greedy workaholic [laughs]!
van der Meer: Is that why you only put four days in between your six week theater tour and our two week band tour?
La Torraca: I didn’t plan that, it’s just the way it was!
Dead Rhetoric: You had mentioned that you were already beginning some material for the next album. Is it so early on that you don’t have a sense of what it would be compared to this album?
La Torraca: Funny enough, Eelco and I were just talking about some first concept ideas today. We are both super excited.
van der Meer: On album one, everything started with music. Here it could start more with a concept, story, and lyrics parts. We are searching for an atmosphere that will suit that. So no, I have no idea how it will sound. As far as I’m concerned, it could sound more extreme – more diverse – as long as we keep the groovy, modern touch to it. That’s important for me.
La Torraca: I would be really interested in making a storyline out of something. It’s just the theater in me.
Dead Rhetoric: What are you planning on accomplishing with Phantom Elite this year, outside of the album release? You mentioned some touring – some festivals perhaps?
van der Meer: Who knows – you can put us on some festivals next summer and still no one would really care. I think it might even be too early for that. We still have a small following. I think at this point, maybe to get on board with another band that shares some connections with us – something like what we did with Angel Nation – but maybe one step further. That might be a wiser idea for now than to aim for the really big festivals. I think maybe next summer it would be good to do that. But smaller festivals, like the Kraken Metal Festival we are going to do in May, with only like 8 bands in one day and the bands there are in a bit of the same style as us, those are pretty useful for us. It’s a fresh audience and a little crowd that we can convince from the stage.
La Torraca: We don’t have huge plans for this year. We want to push the album further and we want to tour, and we want to start working on the new album. There’s a lot of politics involved for the big festivals. We aren’t quite at that level yet.
van der Meer: We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. I know we’ve been working on this for a long time, but when it comes time for live shows and people seeing us, we are still a beginning band. We still have a lot of ground to cover here – the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium – we have only played two shows in Germany. Germany is huge. There’s so many places to play there before you can put 10,000 people in front of us and we can convince them. It seems too early for that.
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