Hear PHNTMS tackle expectations versus reality in dynamic “Towers”
As they get ready to drop their self-titled EP, PHNTMS are teaming up with AltPress to debut the second track off the upcoming release with the relatable “Towers.” The track serves as the band’s way to reflect on life and how our realities may not always match our expectations.
Influenced by film soundtracks and groups such as Kings Of Leon and Deaf Havana, the Philadelphia-based band combine dynamic riffs, upbeat tempos and soul-filled vocals to create an eclectic sound. Taking inspiration from their own lives, the quartet produce passionate rock tracks that they hope their listeners can relate to on a deeper level.
With powerful singing from Alyssa Gambino, backed by driving rhythms from guitarists Mikal Smith and Adam Jessamine, and a steady beat from drummer Gene Murphy, PHNTMS explore the idea of perfection in an anthem filled with eccentric riffs and personal lyrics. Jessamine and Murphy break down the meaning of the track and their hopes of what their fans will take away from the EP.
“Towers” immediately begins with crashing cymbals and moving guitar melodies, which backs down a bit when Gambino starts singing. What are some of the influences behind the song both lyrically and sonically?
ADAM JESSAMINE: We really love the idea of dynamics and like to take the approach that each song is like a sonic landscape with peaks and valleys. “Towers” starts out on top of a mountain then goes into a valley, then climbs back up to the top again.
As far as lyrically, a lot of what Alyssa sings about is extremely personal. “Towers” is all about expectations. We are all force-fed dreams of great jobs, nice houses, new cars and perfect lives. We each have our own definition of “perfect” revolving around these things. When things get hard, if you aren’t happy with yourself and the situation you're in, no one can change that but you. At the end of the day, as humans, our expectations are the reason why we feel disappointed. Having your own personal goals is the reason you keep on pushing.
What were the most pleasant and most difficult aspects of creating the track?
JESSAMINE: We had done preproduction on the record ourselves, but hearing the song become massive-sounding at a big studio was a great experience. Getting the verses sound just right was so much fun, with “Towers” especially. We could spend hours just getting the right tone. Recording this EP was an amazing experience of being in the studio for a few weeks. We captured the whole thing on film, too.
“Towers” serves as the second single off your upcoming self-titled EP, the first being “Back Burner,” and both are as relatable as they are energetic. Is that concept consistent in the other four tracks on the EP?
JESSAMINE: We definitely mix it up a bit. Going back to the dynamic idea, the EP is like a sonic landscape as well with peaks and valleys. There’s a heavy song coming, and then the record is finished with a really beautiful acoustic song that we are really proud of.
With previous releases, PHNTMS have said they want their fans to know that no matter what, their feelings and identities are valid. What are you hoping listeners will take away from the rest of the EP when it’s released?
GENE MURPHY: With half the band identifying as queer, we support the LGBTQA community, and we want to continue raising the voices of the queer community through our music. We hope that everyone, whether you identify as queer or not, can take our experiences in the lyrics of our songs and relate to them in some way, whether it’s a bad breakup, you’ve been cheated on or you’re not feeling supported by a loved one. When someone can relate to a song, we’d like to think it helps them feel heard and seen.
The current state of the world has put artists in a weird spot when it comes to live performance. Do you have any other plans, such as livestreams, laid out for the rest of the year? What else can fans expect from you in 2020?
JESSAMINE: As far as live performances go, as soon as all this is over, we absolutely can’t wait to play again. We miss it so much. Currently, livestreaming is tough for us. Our singer Alyssa works at a hospital, so she’s out there every day putting herself at risk, and she’s amazing for doing that. Thank you to her and everyone that she works with.
As far as the rest of the EP goes, there are a few surprises where we have some guest vocals from a band we shared the stage with and really look up to. That’s coming out next month. And as [far as] 2020 goes, we are working on the follow-up to this EP and already have songs finished and ready to go that we are really excited about.