INTERVIEW: Pharrah Phosphate
Drawing inspiration from punk, Goth, electronic, classic rock, 60's psychedelic, and Britpop (Pharrah Phosphate's Web Page)
By: Sonya Brown
Photo By: Susan Curll
Early February, 2003, I head out to Mt. Tabor Pub to see what Mr. David Battrick is up to these days. I first met Mr. Battrick back when he was the percussionist for Portland, Oregon's Written In Ashes. He is now happily pounding the skins for his new band, Pharrah Phosphate.
Pharrah Phosphate was formed in 1995, but split in 1997, only to find their way back together again in the fall of 2002, thus bringing Pharrah Phospate into a new light, with new fans and a new dedication to their music.
Drawing inspiration from punk, Goth, electronic, classic rock, 60's psychedelic, and Britpop, Pharrah Phosphate has released EP's on Candlethief Records, with a full length soon on the way.
Pharrah Phosphate is: Mr. Battrick - Drums; Josh Curll (Guitar/vocals); Jordan Kincaid (Bass/backing voals); and Nathan Kincaid (Keyboards/backing vocals).
In Music We Trust now chats with Pharrah Phosphate:
Please describe briefly how each band-mate contributes to Pharrah Phosphate
Josh: Nate & I usually bring a rough draft of the song (lyrics and chords) and then all of us work on it till we got a final draft... at least that's the theory.
Mr Battrick: This band is a complete Democracy. It is even written into our contracts that way. Songs are brought into the rehearsal, played, picked apart and then reassembled into what everybody thinks is a good song. Egos are dealt with by being respectful of others' opinions, and by realizing that not all things are going to go your way all the time.
Please describe the meaning and purpose behind Pharrah Phosphate. What aspects of the music do you find most compelling and appealing? Why does it exist for you?
Josh: I'm not sure I follow you on that one... the purpose and meaning that it has to me really isn't that important. I hope that people can connect to these songs and find them compelling for their own reasons, and I would never want to take that away from them. Like this one time, I wrote a song a year or so ago. I played it for my mom and it brought tears to her eyes. She said "That was such a wonderful song to write about your sister", and it wasn't about my sister at all. I then let my mom know this and she looked a little shocked and a touch disappointed. I then felt bad because I had stolen that meaning from her. I should have just let her feel that way about the song, and really I hope with my new songs that people can relate to it and find it compelling in their own way. To me, the coolest thing that could happen would be to know that people are listening to our music in their rooms, with the candles lit, and feeling good about what they are hearing. Feeling like they can now make it one more day. It exists for me to be heard by others, enjoyed by others, and to be loved by others. That's why I want to be on top of the world. I want as many people as possible to hear the music, even if I have to go door to door with a disk man and headphones, I want as many people as possible to hear it.
Mr. Battrick: When you take beauty and mix it with the chemical volatility of the four of us, you are bound to hear beautiful music, that's Pharrah. Our purpose is to write and play what we like, no matter what the scene is like here in Portland or what is popular on the radio. We do what we want.
Nate: We wanted the Power Puff girls but it was already taken.
What recordings and artists have influenced the music of Pharrah Phosphate?
Josh: Dang, where do I begin... The Beatles, The Church, The Jam, The Cure... One of the main reasons I picked up a guitar was when I was about 13 I saw the movie "Hard Days Night" by The Beatles and just thought John Lennon was the coolest man alive. I wasn't that cool but I wanted to be, so I learned to play guitar. Really, they are probably the greatest band ever of all time, even if you don't like them, they really did make the biggest impact on music ever. I also loved Guns & Roses, Soundgarden, and Nirvana... Smashing Pumpkins... I really just try to soak it all in.
Mr. Battrick: Queen, The Who, Neb's Atomic Dustbin, Bauhaus, The Cult, The Church, and of course, Written in Ashes...and not least Mr Roger Meadows Taylor.
Nate: The Cure, Depech Mode, Doves, Radiohead...
When will a full length album be available?
Josh: Hopefully soon. Should be out sometime in the fall. If it takes longer though, that's fine. I don't want to release anything that's not up to our top potential. Why do it below our ability? Give the people something good, not some piece of crap. I guarantee you that this album will be one hard worked album. I love indie as much as the next person does, but I'm not going to jump on the lo-fi band wagon. Plus, the first 12 songs I write are probably the least likely ones to be on the album. We're writing some unbelievable stuff. When we write the songs together, they are 10 times better then when we write on our own.
Which of the tracks now appearing on your demo will be appearing on your full length?
Josh: Probably all of them, but the demo is hardly a finished product. We're still writing. I still think our best stuff is yet to come. Our chemistry is really strong, it's amazing what we do together, getting stronger all the time. Each show we have done has been 100% better then the last one. We're continuing to write so we'll decide from the batch of songs we get. We're really getting some good songs going on, and the songs we did on the demo are from a different time.
How did a relationship between Pharrah Phosphate and Studio 111/Wyth Media begin and develop?
Josh: That's Dave's gig, it is a really cool studio, very big, laid back. I feel like we've stumbled onto something really new and really cool. Like we're at the right place and the right time.
Mr. Battrick: That came about because of the privilege that I had of playing with Marshall on some different gigs in the past. We have known each other for a few years, you might say. I have done many a show with Marshall in a band that he played in called Sumerland, and I in the other, WIA. Ironically, Marshall has the studio and the kind of tools that we were looking for to do this project. Instead of going old school like everybody these days seems to be doing, we decided fairly early that we wanted to embrace any new technology that is out there, and Marshall has some of the newest. And, incredible room combinations for miking. Everything that we needed and wanted he had, a very relaxing place to work, wide open rooms. We could have actually played a game of floor hockey if we had wanted to, Big very big.
Songs released undergo what type of trials? (What does your writing process entail?)
Josh: Blood, sweat, and tears. We all feel a certain connection to the songs, so we all have a vision about how it should come out. This can cause some tension, but the songs save us. Ultimately, when we have finished and perform the song and people respond well to it, it all comes together. I don't really think I could ever tell the guys what they should do for their own parts. Nate is an amazing Keyboard player, so why should I ever tell him what he should and shouldn't do. I'll offer suggestions, but he's the keyboard player and knows it better then I ever could.
Mr Battrick: I like to play them a few times live to see how they come off and to see how they change through that creative process. Somebody always seem to rewrite something in a live setting and if it works we keep it if not... somebody better remember their part next time.
Mr. Battrick, please describe how you and the other band-mates communicate during a live performance to maintain the cohesion of the music.
Mr. Battrick: Communication is done in rehearsal. If I had it my way, we would rehearse 7 day a week, but of course that is not possible. During a live show, it's kind of a mind reading game after a while. Consistent rehearsal and talented musicians helps too. We have been very observant of how the shows have been going, and arranging the sets to flow in such a way as to come to a real climax. We want people to come away from the show thinking that they saw a band who laid it all out, not just going through the motions.
Josh, please tell us a bit more about why Mr. Battrick is considered "the glue that holds the band together".
Josh: We all are really. Dave does push us to do better. It was a lot of his determination and will that got this band going and accomplishing the things that it has and has yet done. His wife Lisa is also integral. She takes care of us and does so much for us, she really is the fifth member. I don't know what we would do without her.
What is Pharrah Phosphates relationship with other artists in the Portland, Oregon music community?
Josh: Well, were working on that. Hope to meet more people and play with people who fit well with us.
Mr. Battrick: Well, because we are new in the Portland music community, we have been trying to do a lot of networking and letting bands know that we are willing and ready to play, and that we will be cool to work with. There are no real rock stars here.
What do you plan to accomplish by the end of the year? What's on your agenda?
Josh: Well, I hope to have a record out and have the first tour under our belt. Maybe even do a movie. I think I would make the perfect action star. Either that or maybe even a romantic comedy.
Mr. Battrick: Our Cd will be done and out, and have our first west coast tour under our belt. We also want to work on our own videos and have them on our web site for people to check out. Be they come from live shows or are make in our own studio, stop animation, puppets, and things like that. We think it will be a cool feature on our web site, something that will set us apart from the average band.
What more would you like to share with our readers?
Josh: Catch us while you can. Our shows are about entertaining you... let us entertain you. I guarantee you'll leave feeling glad you came.
Mr. Battrick: We are a different kind of band, it's hard to put your finger on it. We know what it is, it's for you to find out. We will rock! We will shock! And, maybe you'll learn something in the process.