Phantom Planet

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For other uses, see Phantom Planet (disambiguation).
Phantom Planet
Phantom planet.jpg
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Alternative rock, garage rock, pop rock, power pop
Years active 1994–2008; 2011-present
Labels Fueled by Ramen, Daylight, Epic, MCA, Geffen, Interscope
Website www.phantomplanet.com
Members Alex Greenwald
Sam Farrar
Darren Robinson
Jeff Conrad
Past members Jason Schwartzman
Jacques Brautbar

Phantom Planet is an American alternative rock band from Southern California. Formed in 1994 in Los Angeles, the band consists of Alex Greenwald (vocals, rhythm guitar), Darren Robinson (lead guitar), Sam Farrar (bass guitar) and Jeff Conrad (drums). The band is best known for its track "California", which became the theme song for the Fox TV series, The O.C.. The band featured actor Jason Schwartzman on drums until 2003 and continued to release well-received albums in his absence. On November 25, 2008, the band announced in a blog entry on their website that they are going on "hiatus, and will not be playing any more live shows or making any new records, indefinitely."[1] They played their last pre-hiatus show on December 12, 2008, in Los Angeles, but have since reunited and are currently in rehearsals for an upcoming tour.

History[edit]

Early years (1994–1998)[edit]

Phantom Planet was named in 1994 after a 1961 B-movie called The Phantom Planet. They played their first show in 1994 at The Troubadour in Hollywood, California.[citation needed] Most of their friends could not attend because they were still in high school.[citation needed] Two of the songs they played are featured on the bonus material of the Chicago, Chicagogoing, Chicagogone DVD. Among the songs performed were "My Friend Liz's Dad" (misprinted as "My Friend Liz Is Dead" on the DVD) and a cover of the Beastie Boys 1994 song "Sabotage".

While still in their teens, the group played frequently in and around the Hollywood area, finally catching the eye of Geffen Records executives. Phantom Planet signed with Geffen in 1997 and released their first effort, Phantom Planet Is Missing in 1998. Phantom Planet is Missing showed musical similarities to the popular band Weezer, with influences ranging from The Beach Boys to Electric Light Orchestra, but the album failed to gain any significant ground with either critics or fans. However, as some group members started to make appearances on both the small and large screen and the group pressed on, Phantom Planet gradually built momentum.

The Guest (2002–2003)[edit]

Shortly thereafter Geffen Records folded into Universal as part of a major record industry merger, and within a few years Phantom Planet had signed with Epic Records. Charlotte Froom, the daughter of famed producer Mitchell Froom—who had worked with Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney—caught the band's show just at the time when the group was looking for a producer to record their second effort. Excited by the group's music, the young Froom approached her father to produce the group, and after meeting with Phantom Planet, he agreed. Froom also brought in engineer Tchad Blake, who had worked with Pearl Jam and Sheryl Crow, to work on the record.

The Guest was released in 2002 and showcased a solid dose of poppy vocals, solid melodies, and sing-along choruses, which helped anchor Phantom Planet as a formidable indie outfit. The group's presence was also solidified by its commitment to touring. The group toured for almost 18 months both as a headliner and an opening act, and in late 2002 the band got the opportunity to open for one of their collective idols, the legendary Elvis Costello. The Guest got an extra boost when the record's notable power ballad "California" was chosen as the theme song for the Fox Network's hit TV series The O.C. As a result, the record was reissued in late 2003 with bonus tracks and a new cover, giving Phantom Planet a whole new round of exposure.

Phantom Planet (2004)[edit]

The band's eponymous third album in 2004 marked a change in both the band's sound and lineup. Ditching their radio-friendly pop rock, the band moved towards a garage rock sound. Lead singer Alex Greenwald stated that he wants the band to continue to change its sound. "I love rock 'n' roll music," Greenwald said. "I especially loved bands, like The Beatles, that changed with every single record they made. That's been our plan from the get-go. We want our records to be like experiments. We want to have fun with the music. People can hear when you're not having fun. They discover you're bored and you're boring."[2] In the middle of recording the album, founding member and drummer Jason Schwartzman abruptly left the band to focus on his acting career. He was replaced by Jeff Conrad, who helped record the remainder of the album. Phantom Planet was released to mixed reviews from critics. Shortly after the album's release, guitarist Jacques Brautbar left the band to pursue a career in photography.

Raise the Dead (2007–2008)[edit]

Early on in the recording process Phantom Planet's contract with Epic Records expired, which left them searching for a new record label. Soon after this, they signed to Fueled by Ramen, which produces bands such as Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Panic at the Disco, The Hush Sound and The Academy Is...

On January 20, 2008, Phantom Planet posted a bulletin on their Myspace page that stated that the album will officially be finished by the January 24, and that the official release date would be April 15, 2008. Fueled By Ramen re-released a teaser trailer and stated that the first single from the album will be a reworking of "Do the Panic".

In an interview with RaggedMag, Alex stated that "all bands are kind of their own cult, you know, but we want to take it to a new level. We really like the show Lost, and even though it's totally fiction, there's this air of mystery that's lacking in a lot entertainment these days. I really like mystery in things, and what a little bit of enigma brings out of people and their imaginations... a band is about community, and within itself it is a brotherhood; it's companionship. But a band can't be anything without the people to love it. Our goal will be to recruit and befriend as many people as possible with our message."

When describing the new record, Alex said that "the next record is a concept record. If The Beatles had Sgt. Pepper's and The Rolling Stones had Their Satanic Majesties Request, we have our 'Leader.' We're concocting it, but at the same time we're following it."

In the same interview, bassist Sam Farrar described the new logo. Which is a circular graphic of piano keys that seem to morph into a shirt sleeve with a hand emerging from the cuff. He said, "The idea is that we're going to sell a lot of these sweatshirts and all the kids will show up in them so the entire audience looks just like us." Alex followed this up by saying that "The "Leader" is the hand. He is the hand that plays the notes we sing to. It's in the beginning stages still; we're just chipping away at the stone."

The song "Leader" is about Alex's fictional or metaphorical experience with a cult. For the definitive recording of the song, Phantom Planet brought in children from Kenter Canyon Elementary School to sing the chorus, the video for which can be seen on their YouTube site.

The album, titled Raise the Dead, was released as scheduled on April 15, 2008.

Phantom Planet announced that they would be playing their last show ever December 12, 2008 at The Troubadour in Los Angeles. The group performed this first live all ages show in the same place in 1994. The band issued a statement about their hiatus:

This could be the most difficult piece of news we have ever had to post. Sadly, Phantom Planet will be playing our last show, December 12, at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the same venue that we played our very first live all ages gig, back in 1994. We have had an amazing time playing together for 15 years, but we have officially decided to go on hiatus, and will not be playing any more live shows or making any new records, indefinitely. There is so much more to write, but at this time, we just want to say thank you, to everyone, for their support, friendship, inspiration, attendance, and love.

-alex, darren, jeff and sam.[3]

Indefinite hiatus (2008)[edit]

On November 25, 2008, the band announced in a blog entry on their website that they are going on "hiatus, and will not be playing any more live shows or making any new records, indefinitely."[1] They played their last show on December 12, 2008, in Los Angeles. Alex mentioned numerous times during their last show that the band was, in fact, going on a hiatus, not breaking up.

Former drummer Jason Schwartzman makes a cheeky reference to this hiatus in his song "Drummer" from the Coconut Records album Davy (released January 2009). The lyrics state "I was a drummer in a band that you've heard of / I was a drummer in a band that just broke up / Isn't that the way it goes?"

Guitarist Darren Robinson posted this message on his personal Myspace page telling fans that they are not broken up: "We have NOT broken up. We are on an indefinite hiatus. That means we don't know when we'll regroup. But we are NOT broken up. I swear to you it's not just a polite way of saying we have broken up. Got it?"

Post-Phantom Planet projects (2009–2011)[edit]

In September 2009, Alex Greenwald officially announced the tracks for his solo record. He posted the track listing and a CD mockup to his Twitter account.[4] Meanwhile, Sam Farrar joined a band called Operation Aloha with members of Gomez, Maroon 5.[5] Operation Aloha's self-titled, fourth full-length album was released on May 12, 2009.[6] It was recorded over a period of 30 days in Maui, Hawaii.[7]

Darren went tour with the band Miniature Tigers in January, February and March 2009.[8] He is now a member of Southern California surf band The Californian,[disambiguation needed] whose current lineup was formed in Summer of 2009 by singer/songwriter John Graney. The band includes John Graney (vocals), himself (guitar and vocals), Jonathan Price (guitar Keys and vocals), Wendy Wang (bass and vocals), Mike Hopkins (drums).

Greenwald has recently co-produced and appeared on ex - Panic! At The Disco members, Ryan Ross and Jon Walker's new band, The Young Veins debut record, Take A Vacation!.[9] He has also produced a few tracks on the band The Like's new album.

More recently, Greenwald recorded with Mark Ronson & the Business Intl, playing guitar, keyboards, and singing on the album.

Reunion (2011–present)[edit]

On November 4, 2011, an official Phantom Planet reunion Twitter account was created which stated they would be reuniting in 2012. Since then, they have held their first practice in 3 years. In late January 2012, Phantom Planet announced their first reunion show, June 13, at The Troubadour in Los Angeles. On January 31, they announced the addition of a second Troub show to be played June 14, 2012. Also on January 31, guitarist Darren Robinson hinted at a Phantom Planet tour with the following Facebook status update: "Preparing for June shows for 5 months, in a huge positive way."

Current side projects[edit]

Alex Greenwald is currently with JJAMZ.[10] He is also helping fellow Band Member Darren Robinson in his side project Twin Terrors.[11] Darren Robinson is currently uploading his new Twin Terrors's songs on Soundcloud.[12] Sam Farrar is currently a touring member of Maroon 5. He obtained that job through his close friendship with the band (He knew them when they were Kara's Flowers). Jeff Conrad does not have a current side project.

The band, under Alex Greenwald & Phriends, made a new song titled Balisong.[13] This new song did not have bassist Sam Farrar because he was touring with Maroon 5. He was replaced by Jamiroquai bassist Stuart Zender.

In popular culture[edit]

The band has opened for many well-known artists, including Guns N' Roses, Sting,[14] Elvis Costello, Incubus, Guided by Voices, blink-182, The Zombies, The Hives, Sloan, American Hi-Fi, Maroon 5, Ludacris, Panic at the Disco, The Rocket Summer and Paramore.

Phantom Planet has appeared on the television programs Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, performing "So I Fall Again", and they have also appeared on American Dreams, playing British rock band The Zombies. They have appeared in the 2005 remake Bad News Bears, playing a band called The Bloodfarts. In 2005, they covered the CSNY track "Our House" for the movie The Chumscrubber. Phantom Planet also performed a cover of Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby" for Not Another Teen Movie. "Big Brat" was also introduced in the soundtrack to the video game Driv3r and featured as a "Hip Clipz" on the website of Curly Grrlz Skateboards. Alex Greenwald, the band's vocalist, sang a fusion jazz cover of Radiohead's "Just" for the 2006 compilation Exit Music: Songs with Radio Heads. Sam Farrar also contributed to the Hanson album, Underneath, on the song Lost Without Each Other. In 2008, Raise the Dead was featured in an episode of the second season of Gossip Girl. In 2009, Phantom Planet will be featured on Josh Schwartz new show 'Rockville, CA.'[15] Their music has been heard frequently on television, most notably "California," as the theme song for the popular TV show "The OC," and the songs "Do the Panic" and "Dropped" in various commercials. Greenwald made an impact on the British music scene in early 2008 by featuring on Mark Ronson's cover of the Radiohead song "Just".

Band members[edit]

Timeline[edit]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums

References[edit]

External links[edit]