The Phantom Cowboys
Credit: The Phantom Cowboys
Learn more about me
Credit: The Phantom Cowboys
Tell us a bit about yourself?
The Phantom Cowboys are a rockabilly-styled engine of doom with a distinctive 'dark' signature sound. We were formed in Norwich, UK in 1994. We deliberately sought to set ourselves apart from other bands of the day, which wasn't terribly difficult as they all wanted to be Nirvana and looked terrible. We insisted on smart attire, dark humour and originality. We had diverse musical influences which we blended to create a smorgasbord of rockabilly, goth rock and speakeasy swing. We have been compared at various times to artists as diverse as The Cramps , The Stray Cats, The Damned, The Meteors, Nick Cave and Echo & The Bunnymen. However we prefer this quote from our favourite ever review which summed us up perfectly: "Dark, clever, melodious and urbane as f*ck."
There are a lot of emerging artists in the UK right now. What sets you apart from the rest?
Firstly wearing socks is a requirement to be in The Phantom Cowboys, as is shaving. We take a violent, sinful pride in looking like a band instead of a bunch of hairy hipsters who have stumbled onto the stage by accident. We also write songs, good ones that bear a second listen, and a third. If you can get past the sometimes deliberate silliness of some of the subject matter, you can often find a terrible truth lurking below the surface of our lyrics. Ignotum per ignotius...
What’s your back-story?
We're an unlikely rock and roll band in that we don't extoll the virtues of driving cadillacs or dancing with girls. Our milieu is generally feelings of indescribable horror and shadowy fears that wake you up at 3am and won't go away. There's not nearly enough songs written about this sort of thing given that it's pretty much a universal human experience. For this reason, Victorian novels are traditionally one of our favourite resources for song titles and subject matter, as are Hammer Horror films.
What are you working on at the moment?
In 2017 we've been promoting our recent EP Dead Men's Clothes and writing material for a new album. We hope to record this in early 2018 for release sometime in the Autumn. Next year is also the twentieth anniversary of our first album, Down & Out At The Club Cruella. so we are doing a limited, re-mastered vinyl release shall be doing some shows to promote it.
What's the first song you remember hearing? Memory is inherently untruthful- studies show that accessing the memories actively changes them, so any answer to this question would undoubtably be a lie.
You're in a Karaoke Bar - What's your go to song?
In such circumstances, one does not sing. One merely leaves.
What was the first gig you went to?
Which song do you wish you'd written? If we wish we had written a song, we write it. Making the imagined tangible is the essence of songwriting. If you mean what song best reflects the level of craft we aspire to as songwriters, then the answer could be 'Walk On By' by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Except if we'd written it, it would have sounded more like The Stranglers version.
Which song changed your life?
Robbing Graves by The Phantom Cowboys. When we recorded this in 1996 we had no expectation that anyone would ever like us. This was the first song we recorded that got an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the people whose opinions were important to us. This gave us the self-belief to continue on our merry little way, despite the utter indifference of the popular music scene to anything we did then or since.
Which song would you like played at your funeral?
All Black And Hairy by Screaming Lord Sutch and The Savages
What song is stuck in your head right now?
Nothing can survive that long in here, to be honest.
What was the first Album you bought?
These questions were certainly written for individual artists not bands, weren't they? The album which was most important to our formation was probably 'London Calling' by The Clash, but if you ask one of the other, they'll probably tell you something different. Other potential candidates are certainly lies but include B52s - Cosmic Thing, Machine Gun Etiquette by The Damned, This Ole House by Shakin' Stevens or Electric by The Cult.
Which song made you want to play music?
Fats Waller - Hold Tight (I Want Seafood, Mama)