By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
This split vinyl was inevitable. Fort Wilson Riot and Phantom Tails have been fans of each others' bands, performed for each others' shows and releases, and toured together at bars and festivals across the country such as at CMJ, for at least five years. They've been friends for much longer.
Voted City Pages' Best New Band of 2011, Phantom Tails' Orion Treon, Logan Kerkhof, Sergio Hernandez, and Dave Dorman naturally came together out of their previous projects, most notably Plastic Chord. The high energy, critically acclaimed Fort Wilson Riot, which began seven years ago as a four-piece, is now a duo consisting of Amy Hager and Jacob Mullis. Gathered around a bonfire at Palmer's on a chilly autumn night, these six friends and bandmates shared stories about the evolution of their music from their earliest shows together. They gave insights into their split EP, Generation Complex and The Armageddon Experience, and revealed teasers about their release party.
"The first time I saw [Fort Wilson Riot] when they were putting the rock opera [Idigaragua] together, I had a musician's crush on them. They blew my mind. Then we started playing together," remembers Phantom Tails' keyboardist Hernandez. "And becoming really good friends!" Hager adds.
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While touring most of this past year, FWR told bands they met about Phantom Tails. "We're in like Greensboro, North Carolina, or Harrisonburg, Virginia, having this incredible time with bands we met and always talking about Phantom Tails," says Mullis. A musician friend in Cincinnati planted the seed for the split vinyl, telling Hager they should find a friend for the other side of their EP. Mullis and Hager made a call from the road: "We should do this now!" It was perfect timing, as Phantom Tails were finishing their EP. "And now you have our music with you," concludes Treon. "Now we can share our music with people together in the same package," says Mullis. "And it's like, 'You know that band I was telling you about? You have our EP? [Ominous voice] You. Have. No. Choice," jokes Hernandez.
Their EPs complement each other thematically. Both are darker in tone and lyrics than before. "Fort Wilson Riot are talking about subject matter that can lead into the apocalypse, and on our side of the record we create stories about what happens after the apocalypse," Hernandez wryly observes. "We didn't plan that, it just happened," Treon adds.
Phantom Tails' The Armageddon Experience is a grittier-sounding record, featuring five songs they've performed for the past half-year. While their songs still feature heavy primal percussion and drum samples, spacy sci-fi keys, and irresistibly catchy hooks, Phantom Tails explore their "deep space doom funk" sound further via vintage equipment, such as a Gem organ. "We run most of our stuff, vocals especially, but also keyboards and things, through vintage amps. We're using my first guitar amp I bought when I was 16. It makes everything sound dirtier, and has a really great spring reverb in it," says Treon.
Fort Wilson Riot's Generation Complex EP features Hager's beautiful soprano floating over Mullis's growl and yelp. Layers of instrumentation including Hager's trumpet and harmonica, guitars, keys, and eerie dance beats interweave on six decidedly more ominous songs. "It's the creepy EP," laughs Hager.
Fort Wilson Riot honed these and other songs while touring extensively over the past six months. "The songs explore how we communicate in the world we live in via the computer and the internet. I think a lot of that has to do with we've been living on the road for about a year," observes Mullis. "Our way of communication has changed because we've been away from our really good friends and making other friends. It's about communication and lack of communication."
"You become so attached to everything else, you lose connection with your own self," adds Hager.
For their "Phantom Riot" post-apocalyptic dance party, there will be sets by both bands shifting back and forth throughout the night and performing a mashup. There will also be special guests, magicians, and visual elements—LEDs, lasers, projections, and, Mullis hinted, technology that will help "usher in the new negative afterworld. It will be a beautiful thing to behold. I guarantee it. The Armageddon Experience," he laughs.
"The question we will have for you, is: 'Are-you-mageddon-experienced?'" quips Kerkhoff.
"We're going to reconstruct your face," adds Mullis.
Kerkhoff nods in agreement. "You will wear our sound."
PHANTOM TAILS and FORT WILSON RIOT play a vinyl-release show with Sexbotz and special guests on SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3, at the TRIPLE ROCK SOCIAL CLUB; 612.333.7399