In the year 2013, I worked for a German Heavy Metal online magazine. A lot of bands out there have made great music, but unfortunately never get the attention that they truly deserve. "Phantom" is one of those mentioned bands. That's a shame! They should be much appreciated for their high quality music. For all these legendary songs. Someone had to bring them back into the memory of the Heavy Metal fans! So I decided to get in touch with singer "Falcon Eddie" to make an interview. It was a very detailed and stunning interview. Even after that, we were still in regular contact. I wanted to continue to do something for him and his incredible band because this outstanding and powerful music means so much to me. With the passionate help of my friend Andreas we succeeded to release "The Violence Of Twilight" on vinyl in 2016. As a further step in my enthusiasm I have created this fanpage. Because of that, I now have the possibility to share with you this excellent interview that can be read here for the first time in full length and in English:
Dirk - Hello Mr. Falcon Eddie.. First I want to know why do you call yourself a „falcon“? Who had the idea and from where it comes?
Eddie - Hi Dirk. It’s a pleasure to speak with you.
Well… while I think my given name is a perfectly good one, the name “Falcon Eddie” arises from my having grown up in Brooklyn, NY where my friends and I would greet one another using our names in all manner of what may now seem horrible ways. I was often greeted with widespread arms and a cheerful shout of “Fuckin’ Eddie!” I later misheard the name of a villain in “Rich Man, Poor Man” called Falconetti and thought, “That’s a great stage name!”
You could say we were like a mixture of musician and warrior culture. While it’s true we weren’t killing each other, let’s just say we weren’t exactly gentle with one another. (laughing)
Dirk - Okay, let us talk about Phantom´s beginning. How did it all start before you got a record-deal?
Eddie - Before “Dead Or Alive” Phantom didn’t exist. The band actually had it’s genesis as a demo for our original drummer Mike Gandia. He wanted to record a demo that included original work to better represent himself as a musician, so he got together with guitarist Neil Santell and keyboardist Andre Pasquarelli and wrote a couple instrumentals, which they recorded in the studio.
Dirk - How difficult was it to find a record label that wanted to release the debut album and how did you got in contact with labels?
Eddie - The demo I mentioned was recorded at Homegrown Studios in Roselle Park, New Jersey. The owner of the studio really loved the tracks and asked the guys if it would be okay to send a copy out to some record people he knew. They said yes thinking nothing
could possibly come of it since they were just instrumental tracks.
New Renaissance Records got in touch with the guys telling them that if they could find a singer as good as the tracks they’d sent they’d like to use them on a compilation record being put together.
After a few calls back and forth from Andre – whom I’d known from having worked together in the studio - I decided to give it a shot. It took a few calls because I was working on a solo project at the time that I really didn’t want to abandon.
In the meantime they’d tried working with another singer, but I was told it took him two weeks to write only a couple lines of lyrics, so they got rid of him. Lucky for me, huh?
As I’d said earlier, no band existed until the record company wanted to release the tracks. Phantom was basically born at the dining room table during a meeting with Andre, Neil, Mike and myself. The name was a play on the idea of a “ghost writer”, someone who usually writes a biography but leaves their name out of the authorship. Based on the fact that we were four musicians from four different bands who’d written a song to be released on a compilation record the idea worked. We thought it was extra amusing when that was coupled with the fact that the guys lived in a house that sat all by itself next to a cemetery!
Ultimately, after months of waiting the compilation record never happened.
We were subsequently offered the opportunity to do an album of our own. This is the moment musicians wait for all their lives.
When I got the call I laughed and said something about the fact that there were exactly two songs; one of the demo tracks which became the title track for our first album, “Dead Or Alive” and “Straitjacket”, an instrumental that was later included on the self titled CD. But, we’re musicians, so, no problem.
We wrote and rehearsed all the songs on “Dead Or Alive” in about a month and recorded it at Homegrown Studio in about 11 days with our own money.
Dirk - What has happened after the release of the debut album on New Renaissance Records? Did you got good reviews and any tour support?
Eddie – What happened? From the record company’s end – not a whole Hell of a lot. DOA came out and got a lot of really good reviews despite the admittedly poor production values on it. It looked as though people were hearing past the poor sound and noticing something they really loved. It was available everywhere in the U.S. We even had our own place card at Tower Records. (laughing)
We did a bunch of gigs around NY and were well received. It looked as though things were beginning to work out for what all intents and purposes was a band that didn’t exist just a few months before.
I’d accompanied a friend of mine, Steve Kantscheidt, who had an all hard rock and heavy metal radio show, to a lot of events and heard a great deal of high praise for the album. One DJ from Michigan even told me he was using “Punish the Sinners” as the theme song on his radio show “Punish Your Neighbors”! It was all very exciting that we were being so lauded.
Beyond that, we got no real support of any worth.
Dirk - Your second (self-titled) album got released through Shark Records in Germany 1991. You have changed the rhythm section (bass player and drummer). Guitarist Neil Santell has also played the drums on a few titles that were recorded already in 1988. Strange.. What was the reason for changing musicians?
Eddie - This ties into what I said before about getting no support. Bands – no matter how well regarded – cannot survive without some support from the record company. It was a real tragedy that our music was able to overcome bad production and create a lot of buzz in the industry only to have it all wasted because of that lack. It may sound bitter, but I’m actually rather philosophical about it. Ours is by no means a singular story. When you talk about artists of all kinds this is a story that remains the same with different names plugged in. Shit happens. You just never plan for it to happen to you.
Over time there were disagreements between band members that resulted in personnel changes. After the initial achievement of making so many inroads with a hastily written and recorded album there was no forward movement. There’s still a lot of anger between members of the original lineup. It was painful then and it still is. It sucks, but what can you do?
During that time New Renaissance Records made a couple very flaccid attempts at support. One was a New Renaissance Night at a club in New Jersey. If memory serves me there where about 4 bands from the label on the bill. It was a disaster. No one showed up. The owner was livid. He usually promoted all the shows at the venue, but was told not to as the record company would do a huge promotion for the event. They never did, so no one knew anything was going on beyond the club owner and the bands.
We all played to one another and made the best of it. At the end of the night the club owner apologized to all of us and gave us gas money to get home.
Whenever we had a full contingent we kept gigging. We opened for Skid Row on one of them, but they never showed up! We headlined by default! Hah, hah…
We were then invited to perform at another such NRR Night; this time in Detroit. Neil and I were more than willing to do it, but we’d already had a booking in NYC that would likely need to be cancelled as we’d never be back in time. The choice was – drive 18 hours to Detroit and possibly cut our own necks by cancelling a previously booked gig on such short notice, or make the record company people happy even though we were an afterthought. We chose to remain in NYC and honor our commitment.
The payback was 2 years of being jerked around; being given the “okay” to book studio time to record the next record only to be told to cancel it a day before we were going in. Luckily I knew the owners well enough that they didn’t charge us for the time, but things like that have a way of straining even the best relationships.
The final time it got done to us I gave them the phone number to the studio and told them to cancel it themselves. I was done. That was the end of our “relationship” with New Renaissance Records and the beginning of a long time spent out in the cold.
Around the time we’d worked in a new bass player and drummer I was introduced to Ken Kriete, an east coast promoter and booking agent who was really good at getting new bands on small tours that would lead up to opening slots for national acts. He loved the album and was ready right there and then to set us up on small two to three week tours to start.
Okay… now we’re getting somewhere after all. Neil and I were ecstatic. At a meeting with Neil, myself and our new bassist and drummer I related the details. Our new members were less than enthusiastic They felt the money wasn’t enough. I had to go back to Mr. Kriete with the news. He was not happy.
Shortly afterward Neil and I were searching for a rhythm section yet again. This time it was a surgical decision. Bands only survive when they play live. We were being held back from within. We secured replacements, but unfortunately Ken no longer was interested in us. I can’t blame him. I’d have done the same.
Over four years passed between the release of DOA and the next time we set foot in a studio to record with the band. The recordings you mentioned that feature Neil on bass and drums are a direct result of our continuing to work hard writing songs because of our dogged insistence that we could salvage something from the wreckage.
We’d sit in the kitchen drinking Guinness and eating M&M’s while tapping out drum beats on the table as we wrote and arranged songs like “Technicolor Nightmare”, “Bonecrusher” and “Metal Heart”.
We were the embodiment of the Never Say Die attitude. Or maybe we were just too stupid to lay down and die already. (laughing)
We’d gotten to a point where we either had to go into the studio just we two and record or perish. Go hard or go home. We went hard. We enlisted the help of a friend of Neil’s, Don Peterkovsky, who worked at Sigma Sound Studio or Pyramid – I don’t recall at the moment
– in NYC. I’ve been in so many studios they all start to bleed into one another. (Laughing) We did basic tracks at Waterfront Studio in Hoboken, New Jersey and finished up at Don’s studio in New York.
Shortly after, Charley Buckland and John Bellon came on board. Neil knew them both from other projects. We were complete… for a little while at least.
In retrospect, we should have changed the name of the band. For all intents and purposes Phantom was essentially dead. No one in the U.S. would do anything with us. We’d not released anything in too long a time and had basically disappeared after such a promising start.
Dirk - Musically you haven´t changed a lot. You are never followed any trends (for example Grunge..)
Eddie - I was never one to follow trends. I like what I like and never really cared very much what others were doing with regard to my personal approach to music. I’ve always written songs I wanted to hear. It may sound awful, but I write for myself. The fact that anyone else has enjoyed my work has always been a very humbling experience, because music needs to be shared. It’s in the DNA of musicians to share our music. That anyone else actually ever wants to hear it is a bonus. (laughs)
I’ve always loved music that shook me to my core, or spoke to me in some integral way no matter what the style. It has to move me somehow. Music is never just background sound for me.
Dirk - Phantom continued in writing powerful, high-class heavy metal songs. What is so special with this music?
I love the thunderous quality of hard rock and heavy metal when it’s done right. It’s something you experience on both an
aural and physical level. It’s like an earthquake during a thunderstorm once the music starts.
My favorite songs and bands were always those that intertwined heavy music with strong melodies. There’s something about that
mixture that gets the blood going.
Dirk - The debut album was already a big highlight, but in my opinion the songwriting for the second album has done a big step forward. What do you think ? Have you made this big step forward with the new record-label, too ?
Eddie - The music did make a leap forward from DOA to “Phantom” primarily because as musicians Neil and I got to know one another and actually had some time to write, but also because the departure of members distilled the song writing to just the two of us. Less cooks, better broth if you will.
Signing with Shark records didn’t have much impact on our writing for the second album. Neil and I had written more songs than we
chose what to present and went from there. The input from the record company was the excising of a great song “Lost In
to be replaced by “Straitjacket”, the instrumental that didn’t make the cut for the first release, but made little sense on the
Also featured were some rather fucked up edits on both “Bonecrusher” and the thunderous opening we had on “Metal
Heart” that got
edited down to a couple voices and guitars. Never did understand that decision at all; someone felt the need to have
a thumbprint on the music, I suppose, but there was nothing to be done for it.
The biggest step we made in moving from New Renaissance Records to Shark was that we had two new members with Charley Buckland on bass and John Bellon on the drums and were finally able to get back into the studio to record. That was huge for us. We felt as though just maybe we had a second chance.
We knew it would be a tough slog gaining back the momentum we’d had and subsequently lost, but we were glad to have the chance.
When “Phantom” was released we got good reviews. The 4 year absence had been noted in a few of them, but the CD was generally well accepted.
Dirk - Had Shark Records sent you "on tour" or otherwise done something good for you?
Eddie - In May of 91 -92 we were told we’d be playing at a huge festival in Holland, possibly opening for Metallica. Neil and I thought we were once again on the right track after having been through so much adversity.
We soon learned otherwise. The gig wouldn’t happen. We were told Metallica didn’t want us opening. I was highly skeptical about the reasoning then as I am today. I highly doubt Metallica had anything to fear from us, but that was the story we were told.
Beyond that, there was never a move made to bring us to Europe on a tour, or even a couple gigs while we wert her recording. It wasn’t because of our lack of desire to do so. We’d released a CD. Why not follow with a tour, however small?
We were repeatedly told it was too expensive to bring the band over for a tour. My thought has always been, then by that logic why
invest even a pfennig to bring us over to record?
And it’s supposed to be musicians that are difficult and make no sense.
Dirk - Again something has happened inside the band because for the 3rd album Cyberchrist (1993) you replaced original guitarist Neil Santell and the drummer John Bellon. Why?
Eddie – Why indeed, Dirk? That is the age-old question I keep asking myself. It seemed after each release someone was leaving the band. Some went off to do solo projects thinking that with their name on a record it would possibly push their solo careers. I don’t really know, but it was really tiresome. The changes in personnel were beginning to get to me.
To this day I still don’t understand why Neil left. We were in the middle of writing for our third release. We had a half dozen or so songs in various stages of completion when, right in the middle of rehearsing a new song, Neil strode across the stage and turned off the cassette we used to record saying, ”Not another note do they get!” After a couple days silence Neil told me he was quitting.
I was devastated. Neil and I were like brothers. We’d been through hell and back together, wrote songs at his kitchen table when any sane person would have packed up and gone home thinking the situation hopeless.
I’d thought all that shite we’d gone through had made us better musicians because we were the last ones standing when everyone else had either fallen away, left or been dismissed for gross incompetence. Neil and I had our differences, but we’d survived them.
At least that was that I’d thought.
It was a real kick in the bollocks to hear years later that Neil released a CD on the very label he swore to never give another note.
I don’t try to figure out the reasons behind people’s actions anymore.
I was beginning to think it was me. Maybe it is… I don’t know, and at this point I really don’t care. (Laughing) Unless people communicate there’s no way to know what they’re thinking or feeling.
The psychology of it all aside… After Neil left, John followed suit. Heavy metal wasn’t in his heart. He felt he was more of an Industrial drummer, more at home with the styles of the Cult and such. I have a lot of respect for him for being that honest. He was a great guy – very funny – an excellent drummer in that John Bonham style. I was sorry to see him go.
This all occurred in February 93 and we were due to go to Germany and into the studio in May. I called Axel and told him of our situation. He took it in stride and rescheduled us for November.
So, now it was left to Charley and I to decide on where to go and what to do. Luckily, in the time we’d spent together Charley and I became very close, so it wasn’t hard to stick it out through the tough times… yet again.
We sat at the Cedar Tavern or at Charley’s and sorted through piles of demo tapes from prospective guitarists. It was tedious slogging through so much half- baked musical masturbation that passes for guitar playing. We needed someone capable of writing powerful riffs and frameworks for songs, not speed of light leads all the time.
I don’t recall exactly how Fate’s name came up, but we went to meet him at a studio where he was working on his solo project. My initial thought was, “O, no… not another fucking solo project”. We talked, heard his playing and thought he was a good fit for us.
And he was until we returned to the states after recording.
Our new drummer Tony Borsellega, came to us through an ad, I think. I met him on the front steps of my house and knew he was the right guy for the job. He’s a great guy and a monster drummer. I absolutely love his playing. While we were working with Wolfgang Stach at T&T Tonstudio in Gelsenkirchen-Buer someone from the press heard his playing and was astonished. He called him a machine! Indeed he was, and one that could make you laugh until you pissed yourself as easily as he could shake the walls.
With the addition of our new comrades we set out to begin writing what was to become “Cyberchrist”.
Dirk - The production of “Cyberchrist” is 20 years old now (HAPPY BIRTHDAY GUYS)! The album sounds still fresh and powerful. The songs are maybe the best tracks you´ve ever written. Unbelievable!
Eddie - Wow… 20 years. I’m well aware it was that long, but hearing someone else say it… (Laughs)
I agree. After all this time I can still put that CD on and be amazed at the sound of it.
I agree with you. I am so very proud of that CD. There was a great deal of disagreement between Shark and Phantom on a great many aspects of the project - including the song selection. We were moving into much darker spaces. They wanted “Painkiller”.
My argument was that “Painkiller” already existed and I never wanted us to be seen as the poor man’s Judas Priest in the way that Uriah Heep was to Deep Purple. That´s how the press here in the U.S. viewed Uriah Heep. But I personally loved them.
Don’t misunderstand me – many of the songs on “Cyberchrist” were going to be there regardless. There were songs like “Psycho Zoo” and “Violence of Twilight” that were in danger of being left out because they “Didn’t make sense” in German. I was writing songs in English – or what passes for it. (Laughing) I was also told even if “Violence” made it onto the CD it would be the dead last song because it was so hated. Last song? Close out the CD with it? Excellent. That’s where I would want it.
Unfortunately “Violence of Twilight” never made it onto “Cyberchrist”. For Charley and myself, that song was to be the crown jewel of the CD. We were more proud of that song than any other we’d written.
There was serious talk from Shark about having us re-record “Under the Gun” and a couple others from our debut. I was adamant that was never going to happen. We either moved forward or not at all.
“Cyberchrist” was born of every heartache, misfortune… everything that can and does go wrong during a journey. It was the most difficult recording I’d ever done in my career.
To answer the obvious question now forming in your mind – when we left for Germany that November my father was gravely ill. It meant daily calls back to the States to check on his status. My mind was never completely at ease at any moment.
I’ve always comported myself in a very professional manner, but my Da’s illness took its toll on me. Where I was well known for walking into the studio and getting everything down in one take, it was taking two or three passes. My voice always felt ragged. I fought for every note that issued from my throat. Despite months of preparation and years of experience and training I felt utterly unprepared.
I was about halfway through recording the vocals when I sat down with Wolfie and explained what was going on. From there on out at least he understood that it was something serious and not just my being unprepared – or worse – not nearly as good a vocalist as everyone was telling him.
Despite all that, I’d say we made a pretty good effort that was well received by everyone.
Dirk - What was going wrong that you never made the big breakthrough ? Do you have any explanation? What are your feelings?
Eddie – I think I owe all our fans – past and present – some explanation of why I seemed to disappear from the universe, and thank you Dirk, for the opportunity to allow me to do so now. This is not so easily answered in a short way, so please bear with me
My darkest moment was when I got the phone call that my father had died while we were out on tour. I was finally on the road with my band after years of hard work and constant setbacks when I got that call. Everybody from the other bands and the road crew were amazing. They all gathered around and stayed with me. As I was going nowhere right that moment we decided to do our set in his honor. I was told it was a frightening spectacle to behold as people were almost expecting lightning to fly from the stage.
By that time we’d added my old friend Anthony Bramante to our lineup. Nuclear Assault had very unceremoniously kicked him out of the band at the time. As bad as things were for me personally, they were looking up again for the band. The addition of Anthony brought a renewed energy to the band. He and I grew up in the same neighborhood. His band actually opened up for mine a couple times back in the dinosaur days. (Chuckling)
It was an easy fit since we knew each other so long. His joining us opened up new avenues both musically and professionally. It gave us back the respect we’d lost. Shortly after his joining we put together a small tour with Dead Serios and Fatal Opera. It was during that tour my father died signaling the unraveling of a lifetime’s worth of work for me.
After the funeral I got back to work with the band. We were beginning to write new songs for the next CD and added another second guitarist, Eddie Campbell. He was a nice addition to Phantom. Where Anthony had a thrashier, more aggressive approach, Eddie’s was more in the vein of Gary Moore. The musical tension made for a very interesting sound. Our music was getting darker and more dangerous sounding. We were exploring musical signatures beyond the usual 4/4.
Phantom was becoming something quite new and different that fans would’ve liked very much. It would still be accessible to old fans. They’d easily recognize the band as we hadn’t completely abandoned everything, but we’d grown beyond the confines of “Cyberchrist” as should be expected. That last CD was just the shadow of what was to come.
We went to L.A. in 94 to play at the Concrete Foundations. We were one of what seemed like 200 bands on the bill opening for Scorpions that day. It was amazing watching people start to file out of the auditorium between bands only to do an abrupt about face once we launched into “Well of Souls” and that first long, wailing note sailed out over the crowd.
We were always a very unassuming bunch. We never walked around with rockstar attitudes, but once we hit the stage people noticed. There was some serious note being taken that evening.
With time, Anthony got lured back into Nuclear Assault, but my insistence on two guitarists paid off. Anthony’s departure did not stop us in our tracks. We went into the studio with Eddie and began preproduction recordings for the next CD “Apocalypse Café”.
That is where the end truly began. Shark absolutely hated the new direction demanding more “Painkiller” style songs, but we’d already played in that yard and had moved on. We were not turning back.
What finally spelled the end for Phantom was the winter of 94/95. Things had gotten completely out of hand. I found myself fighting with Shark Records with regard to material, fighting with my band mates about the same thing – all while trying to work out the hole in my chest that was left by my father’s death. I’d finally had enough and walked away from everything.
Some months later I made a couple attempts at something new. The first was a solo project that included songs I was writing for the next Phantom CD as well as others that I never even brought to the band. The second was an offshoot of the first. We were rehearsing at an old band mate’s studio. He and I got to talking and wrote some tracks. We recorded one and did a cover of Deep Purple’s “Child In Time". I was now working on two projects at once.
Unfortunately, no one was willing to stand with me and take up the fight. It was up to me to do the heavy lifting and I was I just didn’t have it in my heart to fight on. I had connections willing to release what I wrote, but I had nothing left in me, so I lay down my arms and walked away.
Dirk - Do you feel injustice ?
Eddie - No, I have no feelings of injustice because I don’t have the sense of entitlement that so many buy into nowadays.
The world owes me nothing. I brought my gifts to the world as best I could. There were – and still are – people who – like yourself – genuinely love what we did. There is some sense of satisfaction in knowing that.
Ultimately, I was the one who walked away. Do I regret it? Of course I do, but I also make myself remember exactly how empty I felt then. In doing so, it all comes into proper perspective. I can’t undo the past. I can only look forward to the future.
Beyond that, success in music is as much about timing, promotion and nurturing by the record company as it is about actual talent and drive from the musicians. We seemed to have had enough talent at what we did to have our music survive all this time – 20 years! We now have a new generation of fans cropping up who are discovering and enjoying music we wrote before many of them were born. That says something.
Like I said before – musicians exist to share their music –if sometimes only with each other. That’s the reason real musicians outlive our initial careers, continuing to play and seeking to improve our skills long after the hopes of fame, fortune and all its trappings fade away into memory. We reinvent ourselves along the way, constantly evolving and challenging ourselves. We’re Phoenixes with instruments.
What I have is a feeling of having let down the fans who were awaiting the next CD.
Dirk - Well, let’s talk about the cover artworks of your albums now. All 3 albums show us.. let me say.. a kind of..
“modern-future-monster”. Is there a story behind the album covers (like Eddie for Iron Maiden) and how much you were included into the selection of the artworks?
Eddie – Well, the first release we were offered a few different paintings by Drew Elliott – all of which were great, but we loved that big blue beasty with all the guns firing. It seemed to capture the feeling of the record, plus it was a really cool big blue beasty with guns firing all around it. (Laughing)
Belgian artist, Eric Phillipe, did the later album covers. We met him when we were recording in Germany and he was a really great guy. We were less than thrilled by the “Cyberchrist” cover. When we’d met with Eric we discussed our ideas with him, which he liked. When we got the draft for the cover we were basically told, “This is the cover.” No discussion. I think our idea of a crucified cybernetic being for the cover was too dark and frightened the record company.
I still look at that cover and wonder what the hell that cartoon image has to do with such a dark title. I think it may have hurt the band since the image took away from what was inside. In my mind, the cover of a record reflects the music in some way. If I didn’t know the music was making a purchasing decision based on the cover, I’d pass and pick something else up. I wouldn’t even look for song titles or band photos.
Yes, there was obviously an attempt on the part of the record company to establish an “Eddie”-like persona, but since Iron Maiden had done it so successfully why would anyone want to imitate it when it would be such an obvious ploy?
We liked the “Phantom” cyber-wolf, as it tied in nicely to “Wolves At the Door”. It made sense, but the next attempt was rather cartoonish doing no service to either Eric’s ability or the music we’d recorded. That cover is shite, but it is what it is.
Dirk - I want to talk about your voice now. In some older German magazines I could read that they often compared it with Rob Halford of Judas Priest. Sure you have heard that already so many times. Is Halford a big influence for you? I think your voice stood for his own! You used to sing in so many different ways. It´s a real pleasure to listen to your voice!
Eddie - Thanks, Dirk. I really appreciate the kind words. My influences growing up were actually Ian Gillan and Robert Plant. When I’d first heard them I thought, “ O, my god… I want to be able to do that!”
Throughout my career I’ve been compared to Ronnie Dio, Rob Halford, Glenn Hughes, Robert Plant… to name but a few; all excellent company in which to be counted. In the end, what I take away is that people like my voice and are drawing comparisons to other singers they love and are familiar with.
Dirk - What happened with Phantom after the release of “Cyberchrist” in the 90´s? Have you written any new songs with the band and what was the main reason not to continue?
Eddie – I’ve already given the answer up top without realizing it would be asked. To reiterate, when my Da died while I was on the road something inside me just snapped. When things got progressively more difficult to deal as time went on – between people leaving, fighting at every turn, etc.
I got to the breaking point and walked away. It was not a decision I took lightly. My only regret is that no one grabbed me and said take time off, don’t throw your life’s work away. That didn’t happen, so here we are.
Dirk - There are some “Shark Records” compilations called “Stahlmaster” (released in 1997 & 1999). Each with an already known Phantom song. They used the Cyberchrist cover artwork for that sampler (1997 original cover in red, 1999 the same cover in blue). How could that happen?
Eddie – I’ve never seen any of those. The ‘how’ lies in the fact that the same record company rereleased everything. As long as they manufacture the product they can release it. At least that’s my understanding at present.
Dirk - In the year 2000, “Shark Records” has re-released the 3 Phantom albums in one double CD called „The best of the rest“. For this they used the cover artwork of the second album with different colors. Are you happy with that release and
were you involved in it?
Eddie – So I am continually asked each time this happens. No, we’re never consulted or informed of any of these releases. We only find out through others such as yourself. I’ve never received a copy of any of these releases. The fact that they used the second CD’s art confirms what I’ve already said. It was a great cover whereas the “Cyberchrist” cover wasn’t.
Dirk - On the "spirits-of-metal" website you can read that there is a Phantom demo called “Formations at the battlefront”(released in 2004). They also wrote something about a second guitar player called „Anthony Bramante“ (ex-Nuclear Assault) who joined the band. Can you give us some information about that?
Eddie – Again, I seem to have gotten ahead of you with regard to Anthony, Dirk. (Laughing)
I checked out the website and the 2004 release. It’s not us. At least it’s not me. Looking at it now, Phantom is such a pedestrian name for a band I’m surprised there aren’t more bands by that name.
I was unable listen to the tracks, so I haven’t any idea of who it may actually be. Perhaps they will fare better than I. (Smiling)
Dirk - Greece label „Cult Metal Classics“ has re-released your albums in 2008 with different bonus-tracks. Tell us something about these songs („Many roads“, Shadowland“, "Violence of twilight”), this project and how they got in contact with you, please.
Eddie – While I am happy to know our work still has merit enough to warrant repeated releases, we are never contacted. These releases happen then we hear about them through others.
That Greek release was worked out with Shark Records. I got in touch with them by way of information given to me by guitarist Mark Edwards of Overlorde and was promised a copy, but that was months ago and I’ve heard nothing since.
The “bonus tracks” were culled from preproduction demos we’d sent to Shark. “Many Roads” was one that I really don’t know why we’d sent it as it’s not at all a metal song. I honestly don’t even recall how “Shadowland” goes! It was during a period of membership flux that we’d written and subsequently abandoned those tunes. I’ll have to dig that one up… if I can even find it.
“Violence of Twilight” on the other hand was a miserable preproduction take that we’d done on a crappy 4 track when I was quite ill with a cold, but sent along just for Shark to hear what we were up to. The fact that it appears in that version, rather than the killer version we later did really pisses me off. We regarded that song as a masterpiece, but the record company so hated it, it never saw the light of day until that crap version “bonus track” showed up.
This stuff just keeps showing up in the world without so much as a word to us. I’m quite certain we’ve bought a few cars for someone along the way.
Dirk - Many bands have re-united for smaller underground heavy metal festivals. Some of them with less success because they lost most of their magic and power. Have you ever played such reunion gigs or do you got requests to do so?
Eddie – We’ve never been asked. If the question is, “Would you do it?” then the answer is yes, it would be seriously considered.
Dirk - Unfortunately “Cyberchrist” was never released on vinyl. There are a few record labels now, who re-release albums that never got a vinyl-format. Have you ever been asked to do this? Who owns the rights to the songs now?
Eddie – Unfortunately, because they continue to rerelease the CD’s, Shark still has the rights even after 20 years. That is at least my understanding of it. After a couple initial payments from Warner Chappell we haven’t seen a penny. I keep being told the expenses were
never recouped. I never realized we’d chalked up such a hefty bill. Yes, I’m being sarcastic. There’s a lot of water between us, so there’s little we can do about it.
Dirk - What is the most positive and what is the most negative thing concerning the band?
Eddie – The most positive would be that I got to meet and work with some exceptional people through the years and made some really
good music along the way.
The most negative would be that I walked away from my lifetime’s work, but done is done.
Dirk - Internet has changed the music-scene and the music itself has changed, too. Do you still listen to new music and what do you think about the development of heavy metal music?
Eddie – I was a fan when I first got into music, and I am still a fan. I listen to all kinds of music. I always have. It was well known amongst my friends during the writing process for say… “Cyberchrist” that getting into my car could mean hearing anything from Mozart to Motorhead. It all depends upon my mood.
As it always has been, there is some great music being released and there is some detestable shite that tries to pass as music.
The advent of the internet just means there’s more of it to wade through. The up side to that is you get to hear bands you may never have known existed otherwise.
Ultimately it is for the listener to decide which is what.
Dirk - Give us an introduction of your personal favorite PHANTOM songs, please.
Eddie – Well I think I may have already tipped my hand that “Violence of Twilight” is among my favorites. Another has always been “Alive and Well”. I’ve always jokingly referred to it as the Thesaurus Song.
It began with my having the first lines pop into my head full blown melody and all – Evil mischievers, purveyors of sin/ Metal messiahs… damned to the end!” After that I needed powerful imagery. So I opened my thesaurus and looked up words referring to evil and plagues and so forth. The hardest part was distilling everything I’d written into a 3 minutes plus song!
I’ve always loved “The Pleasure of Pain” from our second CD because it allowed me to use places in my voice I don’t usually get the chance to play with.
There are songs we’d just written and recorded only as far as preproduction demos that are definitely among my very favorites because they were lyrically speaking, a departure for me. They were so honest, and very dark.
There are others, but everyone has their favorites and I don’t want to step on them if mine aren’t the same as yours.
Dirk - Last but not least.. what are you doing now? Have you any plans to return to the music-scene?
Eddie – I’ve never fully left the music scene. I did for a very short time in the mid 90’s until a friend of mine pulled me right back in.
I’ve also done quite a lot of studio work – background vocals and such for various projects. I also have done voiceover work and am currently in the midst of narration for a project involving people who have lost twin siblings.
At present I’m working with a band called Dance Half Done in which I do double duty as singer and bass player doing all of our favorite songs at pubs around NYC – everything from Aretha Franklin to Led Zeppelin (or as our fans like to say – Ed Zeppelin).
I am a man of many colors and am not bound by genre. The only imperative is that it be music I like.
We’re currently writing some songs, but again – I do it for myself. If we are fortunate enough to get the originals out and people respond positively, then who knows. Until that time I am a musician. I play music because it’s who I am.
Dirk - Last words to your loyal fans?
Eddie - To all of you who have enjoyed what we did, you have my deep and enduring gratitude for all the kind words and good wishes throughout the years. I am touched beyond my ability to put into words how it makes me feel to know that our music is still viable after so long.
Perhaps someday someone will pull us (well… mostly) back together for some hard rock/metal fest or other and we will have a chance to
be in the same place at the same moment to experience something magick!
Dirk - Thank you so much, Eddie!
Eddie – Thank you, Dirk. It’s been a privilege to be remembered and thought of so highly. Be well.