Made from amateur photography collected over the years from old 35mm slides, “Phantom Twin”, the newest video from Seattle based DIY indie rock band THE FIGURANTS, comes as equal parts empowering and calming offering, making for an extremely easy-going yet rewarding listening experience. Looking for gaining a more widespread attention that they deserve, we are pleased to give you the first listen of “Phantom Twin”, along with the band’s commentary about their story, their work, and special Top 10 Lockdown Comforts list they did for us.
“Phantom Twin” comes out on August 27th, and marks the band’s first new music since last year’s “Indoor Words”, which was entirely recorded at their respective home studios.
Asked about the content behind the lyrics, the band offered: ““Phantom Twin” is about an impossible bond between two identical twin sisters born continents apart to different sets of parents. They have that thing that twins have where they can feel each other’s emotions and they unknowingly share thoughts that make them both act erratically at times. Both feel vaguely incomplete being so far from one another, as one could imagine, and the story doesn’t end well. This song, like most of The Figurants’ work is part of a much larger narrative that I’ve been working on for many years.”
THE FIGURANTS are: Matt McClure: Guitar, Vocals, Erik Sahd: Drums, Backing Guitar, Bass, Keyboards\
Erik and Matt used to play in a band together just out of high school called “Lighto”.
“We went our separate ways when I moved from Lancaster, PA to Pittsburgh to experience “city life”.” – says Matt. “Erik went on to enjoy a successful stint as a solo artist as well as a great run as a stand-up comic. I continued to make lofi DIY music (playing all the instruments) under the band name Red Kitchen which released one album, “The Second Person” which is somehow still available on Spotify.
20 years later, I was working on the follow-up to the Red Kitchen album when I read an interview with Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse about how he records all of his songs before adding the drums at the very end when he receives them piece mail from his drummer over the internet. I was inspired by this approach to reach out to my old buddy Erik.
Now, I had spent years learning how to play the drums myself (like a seasoned introvert) but never really got “it”, I could keep a beat (largely) but my drums never sounded “good”. Erik Sahd has not been one my all-time favorite humans, but also my favorite drummer. He’s insane yet incredibly tasteful AND has unfettered access to a studio. I asked him if he wanted to put this Sparklehorse model to the test and he was in.
We went to work late in 2017 and cranked out about 30 songs in 6 months or so that made up our debut album “Relative Distance”.”
THE FIGURANTS are currently working on their next album with a TBD release date and are working on a remix EP.
For tour dates, none are planned, however, Matt is doing some live performances remotely (for YouTube and Instagram – see below). “When they present themselves and I never say no to a gig!” – he adds.
Asked about other bands and new music worth our time, Matt suggests the collected work of the Swedish rock group, The Open Up and Bleeds.
“I worked with their singer in my Red Kitchen days when I was horribly self-aware about my singing voice. He did the heavy-lifting on two Red Kitchen songs that were out of my range at the time. I really dig these guys and they’ve just released a new album, Exit Lights and Holy Death that is worth a listen.” – he recommends.
Top 10 Lockdown Comforts
1. Boredom and Lots of It: For me, it gets the brain thinking about dumb stuff that may lead to the good stuff. It also seems to really feed the subconscious where all the good work is being done while we live our lives. Personally, I’ve found it hard to get “bad bored” (usually involving some sort of anxiety) when acoustic guitars are around.
2. Beastie Boys’ “Paul’s Boutique”: Good lord, I forgot how HUGE this album is to me and the EPs that they released to support this album are on Spotify now. I listen to it at least once a day when I’m working. It reminds me how desperately I want to know someone who can rock the turntables. When I was a kid and this album came out, they released a video for “Shake Your Rump” that included one of the Producer’s (EZ Mike Simpson) phone number at the end. I called him every day for months and ran up an enormous long-distance phone bill that I had to get a job to pay off. It was worth it, he was the sweetest thing and talked to me for hours about his life, being a DJ, being a Producer, working on the album, supermarkets in LA, you name it. At one point, I traded a picture disc album of a Beastie Boys’ interview for a cassette of alternate mixes from Paul’s Boutique that I somehow lost.
3. True Crime Television: There are good ones out there, but I like the kind of bad ones with the reenactments, for some reason. I don’t watch much TV, but when I do, murder is usually involved. I do root for the detectives, so I know I still have some humanity left.
4. Paper Mario: The Origami King: I’ve commandeered my son’s Nintendo Switch and I’ve been playing this game near constantly.
5. No Commute: As a COVID-dodging, day-job having songwriter with an active family, I struggle to find time to do the loud stuff associated with music making. The COVID crisis has made me have to work from home for the past several months and getting those 2 commute hours back has been as boon!
6. Meditation/EFT Tapping: I’ve been meditating off and on for years now but the addition of tapping to the mix has been wildly satisfying and helpful. I struggle pretty bad with staying in the moment when I meditate. I’m not terribly good at it, but I sure do like it.
7. Drinking Water: Since this COVID crisis hit, I’ve been drinking more water than before. The only life advice I think I’d ever share is “drink more water, a lot more water” and “learn how to meditate”. Drinking water is great for anxiety, as well.
8. James Tate: I don’t get into a whole ton of poetry, but anything by James Tate is worth your time and investment. He’s simply the best and rumor has it that he was David Berman’s (Silver Jews) mentor back in the day.
9. Online Estate Sales: I love going to estate sales and was pleased to find that during the crisis, they just moved them all online which saves me travel-time to know that I can’t afford what I want.
10. Amateur Photography / Vintage Slides: I’ve become obsessed with buying and then digitally converting collections of 35mm slides I buy on eBay. I currently have over 20,000 images of people’s vacations, picnics, gardens and such on my phone and growing. I photoshop the good ones into collages and lyric videos that I make for our Instagram.
“Phantom Twin” lyrics:
She had a phantom twin, all the way in Berlin
They shared each other’s thoughts which was confusing as sin
They couldn’t tell what was real, it was part of the deal
Their parents worried day and night about their ordeal
If she can’t see it all at once
Then show her the other half after lunch
We’ll never again have this level of trust:
It’s not subliminal if it cries
If we can’t show them two at a time
Then one of the two of us loses his mind
We’re doing our best to be thoughtful and kind
But some people don’t want the help
But then her twin had died, apparent suicide
She dove off a water tower and bounced into the tide
She had fallen in love, with the other’s brother
But couldn’t find him anywhere, yet wanted no other