Isaac Rother is an imposing figure. On stage, he commands a unique and mystifying attention from the audience as the Phantom and his band revive the sounds of rock n roll’s nativity in a majestic and awe-inspiring sonic assault. With all the intensity of punk rock and the heart and soul of what first made rock n roll such an exciting movement, Issac Rother & The Phantoms are here to frighten mere mortals with a formidable groove and terrifying ferocity, reminding us all that rock will never die – like the host of the undead, The Phantoms won’t stop until they’ve conquered the world.
I picked up a tape at one of your shows, Rockin’ With The Phantom, which was a recording of one of your playlists from Phantom Radio. What came first, the love of classic rock n roll which compelled you to spread it to the masses, or your interest in radio, which guided you towards the forgotten sounds of yesterday?
The love of rock n roll came first. The sound has always moved me. When i was a little kid, too young to be consciously listening to “old” music, my favorite songs were Wipeout, Chantilly Lace, Great Balls Of Fire, Johnny B. Goode and stuff like that. I thought that was what everyone was into.
Radio is cool but it’s hard to find radio stations that are consistently playing groovy stuff. In Olympia, there is an AM station called K-BIRD that only plays music from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. They play everything; jazz, pop, country, blues and anything else. You see, that’s interesting. I wish there was more radio like that.
Apparently I was the first person to buy that particular tape. Have you moved any more of those since then?
I sold one to you and one online. As you can see it’s a pretty hot item…
Is your on-stage persona an extension of your on-air personality?
It’s one and the same. Both are The Phantom.
Why is it important to resurrect the sounds of rock n roll’s formative era? Are the Phantoms merely here to haunt us, or is there unfinished business they have here on Earth?
I’m not sure if it is important. To me, listening to a forgotten rock n roller like Screamin’ Joe Neal is infinitely more interesting and exciting than listening to anything I’ve seen or heard in modern music. Early rock n roll is a big influence on my life so thats why that sound is so strongly reflected in my music.
The Phantoms are here to haunt the world with our music and live shows. The unfinished business is rising to the top. We’re just starting to get recognition and its a long way to the top if you wanna rock n roll. And i’ve got a whole lotta rockin to do before I’m through.
How have kids reacted to your particularly primal strain of rock music?
Kids dig it because its raw and fun and we dont sound like anyone else around. We’ve gotten everything from dancing to slam-dancing.
Do you think Los Angeles is particularly susceptible to the sounds of The Phantoms?
Yeah LA is a good city because its a huge frustrating mess. You can let loose when we play.
You finished The Unspeakable Horror of… late last year and put it up on Bandcamp earlier this year, but so far it hasn’t seen an official release here in the States. Still shopping around for labels?
Yeah we’re waiting for a label that can do it justice.
You have a fondness for rock n roll’s past, but are there any current bands you think are carrying the torch alongside you?
I think any band playing rock n roll music in any form is carrying the torch. But nobody does what we do.
How do you think the band’s sound has evolved from The Wild Sounds of… to The Unspeakable Horror of…?
We had only been a band for a few months when we recorded The Wild Sounds (which has been released by Slop Bop records on cassette). Our sound wasn’t fully formed yet. I think of that as demo quality. The Unspeakable Horror is a much more thought out and deliberate statement. It’s more representative of what we’re about.
This being for Burger Radio U, who’s your favorite Burger band?
There’s a lot of cool stuff on Burger. So much that I haven’t had the time to check out a lot of it. Of the stuff I’ve heard I really like the first NoBunny album, Love Visions. I’ve been into that for awhile. Glitz from San Fransico has a cassette on burger called Itz Glitz. Thats amazing. I recently heard some stuff by Habibi and Gravy Drop that I liked. Is Shannon and The Clams on Burger? Their new album is pretty on point.
Is there any future collaboration with Burger in the works?
Not that I know of. Maybe you can put in a good word for us?
If there’s any one episode of Scooby Doo that you would say is most influential on your persona, what would it be? Follow-up: are you more Scooby, or Shaggy?
The original Scooby Doo Where Are You? series, which only aired from 1969-1970, is flawless. However, Don’t Fool With A Phantom is a standout episode.
Like zoinks I guess im more of a Shaggy.
Frankenberry, Boo-Berry, or Count Chocula?
All are impeccable ways to start a day. But nothing will ever beat Count Chocula.
Support Isaac Rother & The Phantoms by heading to their bandcamp and downloading The Unspeakable Horror of Isaac Rother & The Phantoms.