New Yorkers Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel AKA Phantogram are known for their extravagant live shows and catchy electro-rock tunes. However, what they’re less commonly known for is who they are, what they listen to, and how they ease nerves before big shows. To get a closer understanding of Carter and Barthel, we met up with them before their gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
Notion: Tell us how you’re feeling about tonight’s show?
Josh Carter: I’m excited, super excited. It’s been a gradual build organically, both overseas and in the States. The shows are getting bigger and bigger in London and globally, so we’re excited to take it up a notch. Jesus and Mary Chain are playing tomorrow at the same venue, so it’s cool for me.
How’s tour been so far?
Carter: It’s been great, we’ve played all over Europe and the UK. We played Bucharest, Romania for the first time. We’ve never been to Romania before, and there was a lot of people there, it was great. We also played Athens, Greece for the first time, it was an awesome turn out. Our last show was in Amsterdam and it was a lot of fun. We fly to Riga tomorrow.
So you’ve not had long in London at all then?
Sarah Barthel: No, not this time.
How have you liked London overall?
Barthel: We love it. And we’re used to the drabby weather from living in up-state New York, it’s so cold in the winter so it’s not so bad here. But yeah it’s awesome. The culture is incredible. We got to spend a full week up here when we supported Muse, so we actually got to see more stuff and enjoyed it then.
So, tell us about your set list – what are you starting with and you finishing on?
Carter: We’re starting with ‘You’re Mine’, which is one of my favourites off the album. We’re ending with a three-song encore, but that’s if the crowd claps (laughs).
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Carter: Goof off, usually keep it lighthearted or get in the right mental space, depending on our nerves. We don’t really get nervous anymore though, not today at least.
Barthel: Well, it depends if my Dad’s in the audience.
Carter: Yeah, I get nervous if my parents are in the crowd. You wanna make your parents proud, you know. Also, right before we go on stage we have this little prayer that we do, thanking the universe for giving us the opportunity to do what we do.
As summer’s approaching, what festivals have you got lined up?
Carter: Reading and Leeds, Coachella, Lalapalooza, Osheaga, and Sasquatch.
Sounds like you’ve got a good summer ahead of you. What’s the best crowd you’ve ever played to?
Carter: ACL Music festival in Austin. It was just a sea of people, and apparently a record high of people in the crowd at the festival.
Barthel: Yeah, Madison Square Garden was cool, too.
Have you got a favourite performance that you’ve seen?
Carter: Nine Inch Nails. Radiohead too, they’re always great.
Barthel: Yeah Nine Inch Nails at the Hollywood Bowl was probably the coolest show.
Carter: Massive attack too. I took acid at a Massive Attack gig, it was great. Oh, and Tame Impala.
One word to describe your show…
Barthel: Life changing. Wait that’s two. Dope, yo. That’s two again isn’t it.
We caught up with Phantogram before the release of their album Three last year, read the article here.
All photography and interview by Marcel Le Bachelet @mkjlb
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