PHANTOM-X: Metal Warriors

When we first listened to the debut CD of PHANTOM-X, we knew that we were dealing with something very special. The entire album, from the beginning until the very end, held the magic that we are searching for in a heavy metal band. This is actually no big surprise, considering the fact that almost every band member has got his roots from other great metal bands like ASKA and OMEN, for example. All the more reason to do an interview with this band about their past, the new CD, their previous European promotion tour/shows with ANVIL and of course their future plans. Read on about this exciting new Texas metal band PHANTOM-X, and let them rock your world, too.

When did PHANTOM-X get together as a band, and who came up with the name of the band?
Kevin: “The band was formed two years ago and after discussing several different names, I came up with Phantom-X and everyone agreed upon it.”

Please introduce the band members to us, and tell us in which other bands these members played before they joined PHANTOM-X?
Kevin: “On guitar we have Eric Knudson, who was with DÉJÀ VU, on bass we have Glenn Malicki who was with STRANGERS, on drums we have Danny White who was with ASKA, and I also sing with OMEN.”

How did you get in contact with Mausoleum, who released your debut CD last week (November 5th)?
Kevin: “I had experience with Mausoleum with OMEN, so we decided this would be the best place for us at this time.”

Who wrote the lyrics for “Rise Of The Phantom” and please tell us what they are about?
Kevin: “I wrote the lyrics to “Rise Of The Phantom”, which is a part of a concept story about a demon (PHANTOM-X), who rises to power in the depths of hell.”

Kevin, you also worked on the concept of the cover art for the CD. What do we see on this front cover?
Kevin: “Yes, we worked on the concept of the album cover with our web designer and graphic artist, Marc Gelacio. The album cover printed wasn’t exactly what we were wanting, but it does convey our concept for the most part. It’s the demon before he finds the mask, which gives him the power that he is searching for in our story of the Phantom’s Rise.”

Can we see “Rise Of The Phantom” as a concept CD, or is there a connection between the different songs, because some of the songs are mentioned as different chapters?
Glenn: “Rise of the Phantom is the beginning of a musical trilogy. The first four chapters are included in this disc.”

How many more chapters will there be on the next album, and will the story be complete then?
Kevin: “We are going to add three or four chapters over the next few CDs and then the story will be finished.”
Eric: “The story will keeping going as long as people keep buying it! Haha!”

Will there be a single released from the album, and if yes for which song?
Danny: “Yes, the single will be “Enchanted”.”

And how about a video clip, or is this not done in 2005 anymore?
Eric: “We have just shot the videos to “Enchanted” and “Pain Machine” with Steve Jones from Multi Media Jones, who also works with MTV USA. The videos are to be released on all the music stations in November, so call or email to request them to be played!”

What happened with Russel D. Contreras, who is mentioned in the bio as the original guitarplayer of the band? Why did he leave the band so soon?
Glenn: “Russell is a great friend, but decided to leave the band at the beginning of the recording process of “Rise Of The Phantom”. He felt that his work at home would hold us back and keep us from touring.”

Is it true that PHANTOM-X started as a RONNIE JAMES DIO tribute band, and why did you actually decide to continue as a ‘normal’ band instead of continuing as a tribute band?
Danny: “Yes, it is true that we started as a Ronnie James Dio tribute band. We just started messing around with original music and decided it was sounding pretty good and wanted to continue that direction.”

Why did you form a DIO tribute band, and did you also play many gigs in this formation?
Kevin: “First off, Ronnie James Dio is my hero. Originally, it was kind of joke. A local DJ in Dallas, kind of put us together and said that we should be a DIO tribute band, so we played for about nine months this way, before we actually started writing some music together.”

Of course we can hear influences of DIO and OMEN in the sound of PHANTOM-X, but maybe you can mention some more bands that we can see as an influence to the sound of PHANTOM-X?
Glenn: “Obviously, JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN are big influences."
Danny: “I think, there is some doom metal influence in songs like “Rise Of The Phantom”.”
Kevin: “I hear some BLACK SABBATH, KING DIAMOND, and SAVATAGE.”
Eric: “ I hear BARRY MANILOW - hahah.”

I’d like to take a closer look at your live shows now. What can people expect, when they come to see PHANTOM-X live on stage?
Eric: “High energy, crowd participation, and a display of pure enjoyment for what we do.”

Do you also play any covers live, or do you stick to your own penned material? I can imagine that a DIO or an OMEN cover would be possible?
Kevin: “We try to stick with our own material, but occasional we will throw in an OMEN song or maybe an old RAINBOW song.”

How did you get on the tour with ANVIL, and where does this tour bring you. I believe you are even playing in Russia, for example?
Kevin: “Well, the Russia show fell through, but we have hit Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, England and The Netherlands so far with many others still to come. The rest of our tour dates are posted on the website. We got the tour through a booking contact, even though I have done shows with ANVIL before.”

There must have been some hilarious situations on the road with a band like ANVIL. I hope that you want to share some stories about ‘life on tour’with ANVIL and the funny situations you get involved sometimes?
Eric: “There’s so much to tell.... Where do we begin? We are video taping some of the moments to be released on a live DVD at a later time. We have managed to turn our Italian tour bus driver into a RedNeck speaking Texan. ANVIL has told us that they have had more fun on tour with us, than they ever have before. There is great comradeship between the bands. We have a long standing battle of practical jokes such as hair conditioner on door handles, stickers on the tour bus door…..things like this. All in fun.”

Are there any more interesting show on the calendar for PHANTOM-X?
Danny: “Oh yes, several. We still have half of Europe to hit and we are all excited about the Monsters of Transylvania festival in Romania. We are already booking festivals and dates for next summer as well.”

What’s the metal scene like in Texas nowadays? Are there many clubs where you can play live, and are there a lot of good bands in the underground scene?
Glenn: “It is still alive and it is still hanging in there. There are still some good bands hanging around.”

To me, the best heavy metal bands always came from Texas, like MILITIA, WINTERKAT, RIPPER, S. A. SLAYER, WATCHTOWER, HELLSTAR. Nowadays, the Texas metal scene still has the hottest bands around like IGNITOR, WOLFEBLITZER, PHANTOM-X and ASKA. Is there something in the water, a low concentration of heavy metals maybe, that makes all these Texas metal bands sound so special??
Eric: “Yes, and we will never export the low concentration of heavy metals! Hahaha.”

How the hell (sorry for this expression) did you manage to get Jason McMaster (WATCHTOWER) to sing on “Pain Machine”, which is one of the many highlights on the CD for me, by the way?
Kevin: “Jason is a good friend of mine and he was kind of enough to do a guest spot for us. I think “Blood On The Moon“ (with Robert Lowe) is just as kick ass. They are both great singers.”

What’s your favorite PHANTOM-X song on the CD, and why?
Glenn: “Rise Of The Phantom”, because of the dynamics of the song. It has a lot of feeling and it is a blast to play live.”
Danny: “Yeah, yeah, I agree.”
Kevin: “I also like “Edge Of The Earth” for similar reasons.”
Eric: “Metal Warrior” all the way. It is like the big arena rock song with the adrenaline just pumping.”

Kevin, maybe you can also mention your favorite OMEN song here, please?
Kevin: “My favorite OMEN song is “Battle Cry” and it will always be “Battle Cry”, because it is the first OMEN song I ever heard in my entire life.”

What’s the status of OMEN and ASKA, at this very moment?
Kevin: “OMEN is working on a live CD and Kenny is writing some new material for a new release sometime in the near future.”
Danny: “ASKA is alive and well. They are continuing on with their previous drummer, Jason Sweat and working on their new CD.”

How are the first reactions towards “Rise Of The Phantom”?
Kevin: “Oh man! We have received awesome reviews from mags and ezines world wide. It is great to know that our music is appreciated. It has been amazing being able to walk through a parking lot at Keep It True in Germany and have some fans blasting the CD loudly from their car stereo. Danny asked if they liked it and they said, “No, we love it”. It doesn’t get any better than this!”

Are you confident with the final result of the debut album, and what would you change, if you still had the chance for that?
Kevin: “We could not ask for a better debut CD. The material is extremely strong and Sterling’s production is phenomenal.”
Eric: “The only thing that I wish, is that I had been in the band longer and had played the music live for a couple of months as apposed to the three weeks that I had to work my guitar parts out and record it.”

Were there any songs left that didn’t make it to this album?
Kevin: “We did have some songs that were written, but never rehearsed and recorded for this CD.”

“Metal Warrior” is dedicated to Dimebag. Did this horrible story make you do things differently on stage? After all, this could also happen to you someday, God forbid it will ever happen of course, but it’s reality!
Kevin: “Dimebag is and always will be a great friend of ours and one of the greatest guitar players to walk this earth. What happened to Dime was senseless, but he will always be remembered. “Metal Warrior” being dedicated to him is the least we could do for all the influence he has given to us. We have changed nothing about our touring and our stage shows. It could happen to anyone at any time with all the crazy idiots around and you don’t even have to be in a band for it to happen to you.”

Kevin, it must have been a shock to hear that J.D. Kimball died so suddenly, two years ago. After all, you were singers for the same band for several years?
Kevin: “Yes, it was quite a shock to hear about JD. Kenny had been trying to contact him for many years to no avail. It was a shock to all of us. I just hope that I do his memory proud.”

“Metal Warrior” was written in 1982 already. Did you write this song with anyone else in particular in mind, or was it just another heavy metal song in that time frame?
Kevin: “It was my very first attempt at writing a heavy metal song and everything else prior to that would be considered hard rock, etc. Originally, it was just a tribute to being a true metal head.”

When I listened to the first three songs, that were available on the internet, I reckoned that PHANTOM-X was a very special band indeed. There wasn’t even a trace of newer influences in the sound of the band. And even after listening very well to the debut album, I only hear the sound of the good old traditional heavy metal sound. Which you can see as a very big compliment indeed. What do you think of the metal scene of today, and are there any interesting bands that you like to listen to nowadays?
Danny: “I like RAGE, DREAM EVIL, HAMMERFALL, FALCONER, and DRAGON FORCE, to name a few.”

To what kind of music do you listen to in your spare time, and can you tell us which was the last concert you visited (besides your own shows ofcourse)?
Danny: “FIREBALL MINISTRY.”
Kevin: “JUDAS PRIEST and QUEENSRYCHE.”
Eric: “PRIEST for me too.”
Glenn: “Yes, definately PRIEST.”

Have you set a goal for PHANTOM-X?
Danny: “Well, we want to be entrenched in the traditional metal scene. We would love for this type of music to prevail world-wide again.”

We met each other for the first time at the Keep It True festival in Germany. Kevin had been there with OMEN already, a couple of years ago. But how was this experience for the other band members, to witness this total metal madness over here in Europe?
Eric: “I loved it! I thought it was great. I would definitely go back again. I was standing with Marc and he said, “Fuck Ozzfest, we are coming back here” and I agree!”

What did you think of the Dutch metal fans, when you played at the Baroeg in Rotterdam with ANVIL?
Glenn: “The fans in Holland were mostly high, hahahah! No, really, they were awesome, enthusiastic and we had a great time with them.”

At your K.I.T. ‘meet and greet’ in Germany with ANVIL, you promoted your debut CD for the first time. How did that go and what did you think about the bands playing there?
Kevin: “The promotion was great. K.I.T was cool enough to play our CD on the loud speaker at the festival. The bands that play K.I.T are always awesome! It is the old school stuff, which we love the most.”

I also have a very personal question for Eric, if I may. In the ‘thanks list’ on your CD, you wrote the following phrase: “Thanks to Jesus, for everyhting, especially for allowing me to survive Cancer”. I hope, you will forgive me, but this really asks for a short explanation, if you don’t mind. If you do bother that I ask this question, you don’t have to answer this of course!
Eric: ‘Thank you for asking. I am a cancer survivor of twelve years. Since that time, life has been so much more enjoyable. It made me closer to my family and my faith and has made me appreciate each day of life so much more. Maybe my story will give someone in a similar situation hope.”

What’s the latest gossip about PHANTOM-X?
Danny: “The buzz thus far has been very positive. We are a new band and we hope the gossip stays positive.”

What are the future plans for PHANTOM-X? And what about OMEN?
Glenn: “We are continuing to write and record new music and videos. We are going to tour as often as we can. Our mission is to bring our music to the people.”
Kevin: “As for OMEN, Kenny is writing some new material and I am sure we will be playing some shows soon.”

Have you written any new material already, and what can we expect from the new stuff?
Kevin: “Yes, we have dabbled with some new ideas. As soon as we finish this tour with ANVIL we are going to go full force into writing mode for our follow up CD. I can tell you, we will be staying OLD SCHOOL HEAVY METAL! It is what we do.”

Can you tell us a bit more about the writing process of your new songs? Are they written while being on tour, or in the rehearsal room? How do you guys get to work, when writing new material?
Glenn: “Everybody brings an idea and we yell them in a rehearsal room. It is definitely a collective effort with the four of us.”

Is there anything you’d like to add, which is essential to this interview?
Glenn: “We are just loving the fans and having a great time on tour. We have met some great people. It is a little strange to wake up to people taking pictures of us, while we sleep though! Buy the CD!! It kicks ass and PLAY IT LOUD! Your soul belongs to the PHANTOM!! JOIN US!”

Do you have any personal messages for the readers of this website and all the die hard metalheads out there?
Eric: “Thank you for being true and your continued dedication to old school metal.”

The last words are for you....
Kevin: “People, who like our music are the people we like the best! They are people, that are just like us. It is good to be a part of this heavy metal family.”
Danny: “Looking forward to meeting more fans along the way.”
Eric: “Dad Gum!!!!”
Glenn: “Thanks for your interest and intelligent questions. Keep on rocking. For more information on Phantom-X, please visit: http://www.phantom-x.net.”

Interview by: Toine van Poorten (February 2006)

Official website: http://www.phantom-x.net
or go and visit their site at My Space: http://www.myspace.com/PhantomXMetal

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LATEST NEWS!!! PHANTOM-X guitarist, Eric Knudson, is recording music for comedian, Alex Reymundo (known for his part in the "The Latin Kings Of Comedy"). The music will be used as an intro for Reymundo's new shoot that will air on HBO and Comedy Central.
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