Josh Carter of Phantogram is preparing for the duo’s round of tour dates through America with their new album Three. Having been dominating stages with Sarah Barthel since 2009 as Phantogram and certainly over the last few years alongside Big Boi as the collaborative BIG GRAMS, Carter is in a unique position of not only being a music fan living the dream, but also being able to constantly revamp and improve their live show to match up the ever-growing level of ambition he has for it.
“Our live shows are very important to us,” he says. “We take pride in being good performers and playing well. Also, the visual aspect is a very key component in what we do as a band. Hopefully we’ll have enough dough, I guess, to go to Australia and bring the full production out there. We’re not quite as big in the UK or Asia and Australia as we are in the US, but we’re working on some really fucking cool live sets for this tour; I can’t wait to work on the visuals with the team we’re working with.”
Phantogram, of course, will be out in Australia at the end of the year taking in the Falls Festival, Southbound and Field Day, as well as a select show alongside Grouplove in Sydney. For Carter, being on the road is the norm now and far from how initially felt about the idea of tour lifestyle success at the size Phantogram have achieved, is likely to afford.
“I can’t wait to go on tour,” he enthuses. “It’s funny, because I used to hate touring and now I just love being on tour with the crew that we have and our players that we have who perform with us live; everybody just works like a big family. I almost feel like I’m more at home when I’m on tour than when I’m at home or wherever I am! We’re blessed to have the talented players who’ve joined us on stage and I think that what makes us a good live band is also the fact that we’re really good friends.”
“It might sound a little weird, but I think that you have to have a good energy with people in order to create a good live performance and live show. Even though we’re a very serious band on paper, I guess, with the subject matter within our sound and our lyrics, we all have fun and goof around a lot. I’m so happy to be with everybody.”
Though they call New York City and Los Angeles home nowadays, Carter remembers the sensation of being a young music fan out in smaller towns and having your favourite artist finally tour through. Now in a position to travel for ‘work’ and connect with fans so far out from the US, he notes that the gravity of the situation definitely hasn’t passed him. This Australian trip in particular is one both he and Barthel are eagerly anticipating but given the distance and rather rare opportunities Phantogram have had to build their brand out this way over the amount of time this tour offers, it’s going to be incredibly special.
“Sarah and I grew up in a very small kind of area in Upstate New York before we moved to New York City,” he explains. “When you find a record by a band that you think is just never going to show up and they finally get to your hometown, it’s just such a good feeling. I remember growing up listening to records by guys like Guided By Voices and Dinosaur Jr and thinking, ‘They’re never going to show up around here,’ but every once in a while they would and I would be so excited.”
“I mean, my life has become so blessed. Like, how the fuck was I able to travel the world and get to do it through what I love to do the most? To get to go back to Australia, I’m just so excited. Last time we were there, we had a great response and it was awesome. I can’t wait. It sounds like I’m egging you on, but I’m so excited.”
Set to introduce Three to more people in a live, headliner capacity off the back of successful festival spots through 2016, Carter comments on the progression of the band as heard through their most recent music. While he also writes and producers for other artists as well, keeping creatively energised by working in other genres obviously bleeds into new Phantogram material and already, the duo is looking ahead to what’s coming next.
“I feel as though with the records that we make, it’s a natural progression.” Carter agrees. “I haven’t done a lot of things that I want to do and what excites me about Phantogram and music in general and creating with Sarah, is that I feel like we have a well that is full of these untapped ideas, ready to pour out. That’s what keeps me going in making music. I quite enjoy our new record, I’m very proud of it but I also create music every day so I can’t wait to come up with new ideas. I’m constantly creating.”
Phantogram tour Australia at the end of the year – see the tour dates below! Three is out now.
Falls Festival Lorne: December 28th – December 31st
Falls Festival Marion Bay: December 29th – December 31st
Southbound Festival: December 29th
Falls Festival Byron Bay: December 31st – January 2nd
Field Day, Sydney: January 1st
Enmore Theatre, Sydney: January 3rd (with Grouplove)
Falls Festival Fremantle: January 7th – January 8th