Interview with Eddie Falcon

Über zwei Jahrzehnte waren PHANTOM nicht mehr existent. Die Band, die uns zwischen 1987 und 1993 drei Power-Metal-Kracher (‚ Dead Or Alive‘, ‚Phantom‘ und ‚Cyberchrist‘) eingeschenkt hatte, meldete sich vor einigen Wochen mit einem Single-Release zurück. Ein famoses Stück Metall, das sich bald zum Sammler-Objekt entwickeln dürfte.

Für uns war dieser Anlass jedoch eine schöne Gelegenheit, um mit Sänger Eddie Falcon einige Worte über das abrupte Ende der Band und heutige Aktivitäten zu reden. Hier unser Interview im Original-Wortlaut:


Hi Eddie, you just published the new single ‚The Violence Of Twilight‘. Now even more fans will ask for a comeback-album. Are you prepared?

Hi Michael. I guess that depends upon how you wish to define ‘ready’. Haha …

Just kidding. To answer your question – I was ready two years ago when we first embarked on the journey to get the single out there. My thanks go out to Dirk Determann for his tireless efforts and Andreas Lange of ‘Metalloscope’-Records without each of whom we would not even be having this conversation.

It was our (Charley and myself) decision to wait to see what happened with the release before moving forward in any meaningful way. It has been 23 years since anyone gave a shit about what we were up to, so it really didn’t seem terribly smart to get our engines revved and our hopes up if nothing was going to come of it.

Who would have foreseen a resurgence of interest in us after all this time? We certainly didn’t. At any rate, 99% of 2016 festival bookings were already decided before the single was released, so we’re setting our sights on 2017.

We did get invited to the ‘True Metal Fest’ here in the US this May, but personnel became an issue when we discovered Tony would be unable to join us leaving us to find a replacement for both his slot and a guitarist. It doesn’t sound like much, but replacing half the band and having it sound up to our standards would have been impossible. After an absence of two plus decades it would be unacceptable to go on stage with anything less than what we had for ‘Cyberchrist’.

Finding guys or ladies equal to the task can be done, but needs also include proper chemistry because that’s where the magic happens. Anything else would be technically great, but fall flat and I can’t go out and disappoint fans like that.

But – new or old songs – I guess, you might have some in reserve to record them in the future. Or are you waiting for the coming together of a whole new band to write new songs?

At this point the idea of waiting is ludicrous. Charley and I were the core writers on ‘Cyberchrist’, so there would be no real need to wait for anyone else. Sometimes to old adage of ‘too many cooks’ proves quite true.

There are preproduction recordings from the 4th album, but we do have some newer songs in the works for possible future release. Charley and I had been getting together here and there over the years just to write and we have some stuff we’re pretty excited about. Again, it was going to be reliant upon the reception of this single that would determine the next step. We’re keeping a hopeful ‘wait and see’ attitude.

We haven’t heard anything from PHANTOM for over a decade. What have you done all these years?

It’s actually 23 to be precise since PHANTOM went lights out and belly up. There have been quite a few reissues out there that we had nothing to do with and didn’t even know about until friends informed us.

Throughout those years I have kept musically active, as has Charley. I’ve done quite a bit of studio work – singing, playing bass and doing voiceovers – as well as having worked with a number of local bands, doing gigs at pubs and small local festivals.

Charley has been doing pretty much the same. In the meantime we each continued to write on our own and with each other. In fact, Charley won an award for some music he wrote for a Native American project he’d been working with.

So, although to Phantom fans we’d disappeared, we were really quite active.

What were the best times for PHANTOM?

There was no single ‘best’ time I can point to, as there always seemed to be some underlying shite to be dealt with at any time, but there were wonderful moments in each of the band’s incarnations.

That said if I had to choose I would point to the more creative moments as being the best. It was at those times where everything came together. All the bullshit was pushed aside and all that existed was the music. We were all working toward a single goal – that being new music that we found exciting.

Am I right saying, that a musician always likes his first album the most, although the last is perhaps the best?

Although ‘Cyberchrist’ is hands down my favorite (no surprise there, I’m sure), but each album has things about it I love and those I dislike.

There are real reasons for any artist to view their early work as their least favorite, but I don’t regard ‘Dead Or Alive’ in that way. It was our first, and despite the painful lack of production value coupled with the fact that we wrote it entirely in less than a month, then recorded it over the course of two weeks with our own money it created quite a buzz for us in the industry. It was our beginning and you really can’t fault that too badly.

Our second effort was our first trip to Germany where we recorded in a repurposed World War II bunker. Our writing began to mature and we were beginning to find our own sound. It stands as the middle child of the lot and gets overlooked when set up against the bombast of ‘Cyberchrist’, but there were some seriously good grooves going on there.

Which PHANTOM-Album ist the best one in your opinion?

Hands down ‘Cyberchrist’ is the best of the 3. I had become a much better writer and it was where Charley and I made the constant member changes inform the music with a bit more energy.

I was becoming thoroughly pissed off by the constant changes and lack of support and the music was starting to reflect that.

Why did PHANTOM never find any continuity?

That’s a loaded question. This could take a while. Haha …

It was a combination of things headed by lack of record company support from the very beginning of the band. The constant member changes were not just a symptom, but a direct result of it. We were fighters to the last man, but the final nail in the coffin was the falloff of interest in the band itself, despite good reviews, and heavy metal in general.

While our CD’s were available in Europe and Japan we were stuck in the US with our dicks in our hands. We begged for any kind of tour, but kept getting the brush-off. We played gigs here where we didn’t get on stage until 2am because we were playing with eight other bands. It didn’t matter to the few drunks who were left that we were playing a song from our latest CD because no one here knew we had one, let alone even buy it. We did everything we could, but the power lay with others to help the band along, and that help never materialized.

While all this was going on grunge was taking over and real metal went way underground getting replaced by hair bands from the west coast posing as the real thing.

You have to put this into historical context. This all happened before everyone had a computer and the internet was in its infancy. There was no iTunes or CD Baby or Cloud where fans could get to hear you.

I know, I can remember ….

It’s hard to imagine now, but bands were at the mercy of record companies and it was difficult at best to get in to see anyone. It all came down to a question of timing for us. ‘New Renaissance’ held us in stasis for four years. That’s like four lifetimes in the music industry. Trends came and ended over and again in that timeframe.

Are the old band-members still in touch?

Charley, Tony and myself have all kept in touch since the demise of the band. We’ve made certain of that. Social media has made that even easier and more immediate as well.

Who is to blame for the split of the band? You or the music scene?

The end came not with a bang, but a heartfelt talk between Charley and myself. I can still recall our standing in the subway after rehearsal in the winter of ‘95, I believe.

We were in the midst of preproduction for the next CD by that point and

I’d been battling with the record company about the direction of the band. We were writing some great heavy, dark tunes that they absolutely hated, but we believed fans would have loved. It was a logical next step. We were willing to find middle ground, but the response we got was fairly obvious that they were well done with us.

Between that, yet more member changes that would never see the light of day and the vast changes in the music scene here in the US we knew we’d taken the band as far as we could without becoming a footnote in ‘The Idiot’s Guide of What Not To Do in Metal’.

It was without question one of the most difficult decisions I had to make. At that point PHANTOM was the culmination of my life’s work and I was faced with either pulling the plug on it, or becoming one of those musicians who push on far past the time to stop; ending up bitter with the remaining band members hating one another.

Are you planning some live-appearances in the near future?

With the resurgence of metal and interest in our music, as well as the single getting good feedback, I think it is time for a return. I’m looking forward to firing up the engines and taking to the stage at some festivals later this year or next with my compatriot, Charley, at my side along with some new faces to help us thunder.

Mike, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you. I look forward to seeing you live at a Metal Fest somewhere in the near future! Cheers!

Thank you, Eddie, hope to see you on metal ground this side of the Atlantic. Cheers!

Pics: s/w by Diane Korach; Hukke Hepke