Phantom Blue Interview
Formed in 1988, Phantom Blue is already onto their second label deal. Originally
signed to Mike Varney's Shrapnel Records, Phantom Blue will soon be making
their major label debut on Geffen Records.
Bassist Kim Nielsen fills us in on all the details.
Q. Kim, this is a pretty big jump for Phantom Blue to go from
Shrapnel to Geffen Records, isn't it?
A. Yes it is.
Q. How did you come to the attention of the people at Geffen?
A. A friend of ours, Byron Hontas, who works for Capitol (Records) had a large part to play in this. He had succeeded in creating a 'buzz' in the industry about us. He has been behind us one-hundred percent since the beginning. We came really close to signing with Capitol Records, but due to some political problems within the company, the deal fell through. Through that whole situation with Capitol and with the help of
Byron, people started hearing about us. Byron brought us to the attention of Don Dokken, who was our 'in' at Geffen. Don played our tape for Tom Zutant, and the rest sort of flew into place. We did a showcase for about ten companies, but we knew Geffen was already interested. We listened to what the other companies had to say and decided Geffen was the best for us. And, we really wanted to work with Tom Zutant.
Q. When do you anticipate Geffen will release your record?
A. If all goes well and is on time, we plan to start recording in January. And, hopefully, the album will be in the stores around May or June.
Q. How did you get everyone in the group to pull together
and work for the common good of Phantom Blue?
A. We really have been very lucky, but we all have paid our dues, and are still paying them. Everyone in this band has gone through the experience of being with several other bands that didn't work, and we've learned from our mistakes. By the time we all got to this band, we knew we didn't have time to fool around. We had to get it together, or we'd be working day jobs the rest of our lives and going nowhere.
Q. What interested you in being a musician and why the bass?
A. I've been a musician my whole life practically, since I was 4 years old. I've played various instruments, most of them I taught myself to play. I always went to private schools where they taught music theory. My dad was a jazz trumpet player, but never pursued it professionally after he graduated high school. And, although my mom is not a musician, the rest of that side of my family had always been interested in music. At four, I was influenced by my cousins who were musicians. But, at 13, I discovered Kiss, and stopped listening to classical music and got into heavy metal. I don't know what it was about bass that attracted me to it. I wasn't really that interested in guitar, and knew my parents wouldn't put up with drums, so I picked bass. I liked Gene Simmons, and I thought bass players didn't have to be in the background. I couldn't think of any reason why bass players couldn't be in the limelight too.
Q. Is there any one band member getting singled out for the
most attention, and if so, how are the other members handling it?
A. We all get a pretty even amount of attention. It goes in waves. At first, it was Nicki and Michelle that got most of the attention because we were considered a guitar-oriented band, being that we were on Shrapnel. Lately, Gigi has been getting a lot of attention, probably because she's the front person. But, it's starting to even out. Linda and I have been getting our fair share. We all handle it pretty well. We don't really care who gets most of the attention. It's a stupid thing to fight about anyway.
Q. Is there any significance to the name Phantom Blue?
A. There is absolutely no significance to it. Nicki and Michelle came up with it. I think that Phantom sounded cool, and blue is their favorite color.
Q. You studied with "Racer X" bassist John Alderete. How did
that help your playing ability?
A. When 1 studied with John I had already been playing for eleven years. I've studied with a few other people in the past couple years, but, I'm primarily self taught. With John, I mostly concentrated on technique and a few tricks to update any playing technique, to do things more efficiently. John is a great teacher. I've learned a great deal from studying with him, and listening to him play. The funny thing is, I didn't even know who he was when I answered his ad for lessons. I had heard his name, and knew he was supposed to be a really 'hot' player. When I first got in the band, our music was quite a bit more progressive, something I wasn't used to. So, John helped me adapt to that. Our music has changed quite a bit since then.
Q. For someone who's looking at a picture of Phantom Blue
and thinking of buying your record, give them a reason why they should give
you a listen.
A. Unfortunately, in this business, you have to have an image that appeals to the record buying public. That's what sells the record before someone hears it. We try to look good without looking plastic kind of image. But, we like to look like what we consider is good. I think we appeal to most guys who look at the picture, and hopefully the girls can relate when they see us. But, I think they will be surprised when they listen. A lot of female bands have gotten a bad rap. Everyone thinks if you're a female band you must be terrible. This band contains competent musicians and songwriters. Music has always been the main emphasis with us, and always will be. We've all been in bands with guys in the past. This is the very first female band for me.