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PHANTOM PLANET IN INTERVIEW (March 2002)

PHANTOM PLANET BY CHRISTOPHER WILCHA
NEW ROCK THAT'S SINCERELY IRONIC AND SERIOUS FUN

Phantom Planet is a sincere band. Well, sort of. "Everything we do is sincere, even if it's ironic," insists guitarist Jacques Brautbar. The Guest (Epic), Phantom Planet treat artists like Elvis Costello, Weezer and Guided by Voices like pop heirlooms, to be un-ironically studied and emulated. And songs like "Anthem" only deepen the group's irony/sincerity paradox. "It's a song about a guy writing a song and feeling desperate," observes drummer Jason Schwartzman. What first sounds like a cloying exercise in metamalaise turns out to be a poignant narrative about ironic ambition. And the chorus is downright anthemic: "Cause this whole world needs an anthem, and I'm trying bout put the words where they belong / Yeah this whole world needs an anthem and I'm hoping everyone will sing along."
     "If a song isn't sincere, I can't have any sentimental attachment to it," says lead vocalist and guitarist Alex Greenwald, explaining how "Anthem" is sincere in spite of its self-referential self.
     Greenwald is also an actor (having appeared in the unironically existential indie drama Donnie Darko), as is Schwartzman, who starred in fellow irony scientist Wes Anderson's Rushmore (1998). "There's a really fine line between taking yourself too seriously and not taking yourself seriously enough," says Schwartzman. "I mean, rock 'n' roll saves our lives every single day--but, at the same time, we want to have fun doing it."

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Christopher Wilcha is a documentary filmmaker living in Brooklyn. Above (clockwise from left): Jacques Brautbar, Darren Robinson, Jason Schwartzman, Sam Farrar and Alex Greenwald. Styling: KELLE KUTSUGERAS and MELISSA ORNDORFF. Grooming: GINA BROOKE for Klehl's. Special thanks: AXIS STUDIOS. Photographer: DAVID JAKLE.