The Phantom Tones was a pop rock band I played in 1997-2001. We released a couple of ep’s and an album and played around 50 shows. Here’s some stuff about the band I found on my computer. It’s all in English, even the Finnish reviews, because we translated them for promotional use and I don’t have the originals anymore. But it’ll give you an idea of what we were about. There’s even a complete gig list at the bottom of the page.
Press release, 2000
Ever wondered what happened to the Songs? You know the ones that just wouldn’t let you go after listening to a record or seeing a good show? The ones that actually felt like being written from the heart? No worries. As far as Finnish powerpoprockers The Phantom Tones are concerned some things, such as diamonds and catchy tunes, are forever.
Formed in 1996, The Phantom released their debut MCD Just Fine on Grandma Records label in August 1997. Receiving good reviews and lots of air play in both local and nation wide radio channels, Just Fine worked as a stylish introduction at the same time paving the way for the band to get signed. The next year came and brought several new songs and two brilliant studio demos with it, and in the late 1998 it was time for a warm handshake with Hiljaiset Levyt label. The Tones’ first effort on the label, Phantastico, was released in May 1999. The video of the song You Didn’t Know Me was shown several times in Finnish cable music channel and Phantastico was praised by music zines all around.
The Phantom Tones started working on their long-awaited debut album Entitled Nameless in the spring of the year 2000. This melodic and energetic rocker painted with all the colours in the palette, starting from the classic power pop of Tell Me and Falling Down, wandering through the dreamy neighbourhood of Running just to end it all in the darkened spheres of Sapphire & Steel (hats off to the classic TV series!).
The Phantom Tones flirts with guitar rock and punk with a good sense of pop sensibility. The band has enough songwriting skills for three your-average-popsters to share, and after four years of work the whole is beginning to look pretty seamless. The Phantoms have their target locked: they’re here to play rock’n’roll with big guitars and catchy hooks for you to bite. So here’s the declaration: Pop with buzzing guitars is what you really need.
Record and demo reviews
Skrutt (Sweden): Phantom Tones: Entitled Nameless
This Finnish group I associated to Phantom Surfers which I don´t think are so funny. But Tones plays a poppy style of punk and I think of groups like Undertones and Buzzcocks in a way. Grown up with the same parts of pop and punk I think they are. It´s good melodies and good songs and many of the songs is going to be on my mixed records/cassettes to my car. Phantom Tones is one of the more interesting bands in Finland right now.
Snowbound 4 (USA): Phantom Tones: Entitled Nameless
”’Should I Stay or Should I Go,’ I had it on the radio.” This nod to the Clash in the lyrics of Time Goes On acknowledges just one of the late ’70s punk and new wave influences that permeate the sound and spirit of the Phantom Tones’ promising debut full-length CD, Entitled Nameless.
Guitarist and lead vocalist Pasi Kaukonen, who does most of the quartet’s songwriting, has fully assimilated the power pop ethos epitomized by such seminal bands of that era as the Buzzcocks (listen to No Angels) and Cheap Trick (listen to Driving Song). The hook has usually been firmly implanted and the final chord struck in less than three and a half minutes. Kaukonen, the dominant personality in the band, writes with a keen bitterness. His vocal style seems to be constrained by a reluctance to let go and actually sing, which is ironic given his knack for hooks.
Bassist Jarno Sakki displays a decidedly more romantic sensibility on the songs he contributes and on which he also takes the lead vocal, sounding somewhat reminiscent of Tom Verlaine in Television (the late ’70s, again). Although these are only 2 of 12 tracks, they broaden the range of the music and add interest to what is an already strong set.
The straightforward quality of the recording itself suits the band well; they sound fresh and relaxed, in full command of their material. A couple of the songs on Entitled Nameless, Tell Me and You Didn’t Know Me, appeared previously, in slightly different versions, on the 1999 Phantastico EP.
Snowbound 3 (USA): Phantom Tones: Phantastico
Blue-collar pop with more than just a nod to their ’80s influences. A rendition of Blondie’s Hanging on the Telephone (written by Jack Lee) completes the snapshot, 4-song EP by the Phantom Tones, where throwing hooks comes as natural to the guitarists as to a Greek fisherman eager to land the catch of the day. This CD-EP is the follow-up to the Finnish band’s first release – a mini-CD in 1997. The band attacks with aggressive power pop on the opening track and then backs into a rigid song-writing formula that short-changes the creativity of some obviously talented musicians. Pop is meant to be simple and fun, and, for the most part, The Phantom Tones nail it, but Blondie was all about breaking new ground. If the band has plans to release anything more substantial than a tribute CD, they should certainly take this into consideration.
THE BIG TAKE OVER (USA): Phantom Tones: Phantastico
Big surprise is… The Phantom Tones’ Phantastico (Hiljaiset Levyt). It really is staggering how many fine Finnish releases there seem to have been in the 90s. Here’s another band I’d never heard before with a four track CD boasting two stone killers. You Didn’t Know Me has one of those soaring choruses that lifts the entire song along with half your apartment right off its foundations & if there was any justice this sort of thing would be top 40 radio material worldwide. And the opening track Tell Me isn’t far behind. Their cover of Hanging On The Telephone made me laugh out loud when the phone at the beginning was one of those really cheesy cellular ringers. Unfortunately, the singing is a little stiff compared to the original, and it says something about the Phantom Tones’ songwriting that this is the weakest of the four tracks.
TROLL ZINE #7 (UK): Phantom Tones: Phantastico
Finland seems to have an abundance of great sounding rock n roll bands, well you can add The Phantom Tones to that list. Three originals and Hanging on the Telephone (Which sounds exactly like a certain Mr. Monroe singing) all in all a brilliant disc. This months most recommended: THE PHANTOM TONES and THE THREE 4 TENS.
THE ORIGINAL SIN #26 (Belgium): Phantom Tones: Phantastico
First it was Canada über alles and now it’s Finland über alles… It just makes me wonder when I’m going to say Argentina über alles? Anyway, just like the above mentioned Yell, The Phantom Tones can mislead you by their image! Their name suggested a sort of Cramps-garage type of rock, but hell no!!! This is pop! Powerpop to be exact. And according to Ari from The Phantom Tones that is only a natural thing if you mix pop and guitar rock! You want comparisons? Well, lets give all those well-known American bands like The Replacements, Fountains of Wayne, Ben Folds Five (but without the piano) or Autopulver and you have an idea how they sound like! Irresistable pop melodies with rawky guitars. Nothing original, that much is true but was it ever your intention to see music as art only? Good pop deserves its existence as well. Their tunes could convince the leading label of the Finnish indie scene (Hiljaiset Levyt) as this is their debut on this label. And to make it all complete, there’s even a cover from Blondie’s Hanging on the Telephone!
SKRUTT #36 (Sverige): Phantom Tones: Phantastico
En grupp som gör Blondies Hanging on the Telephone kan inte vara annat än bra. Ganska snäll indiepop är det annars det handlar om I det stora hela. Men deras version av Hanging on the Telephone är mycket bra. Lite gott punking sådär. Jag gillar att de har fått till sådant sound som de har på sen låten.
KARJALAINEN, June ’99: The Phantom Tones: Phantastico (Hiljaiset levyt)
The Phantom Tones from Turku is the latest signing of Hiljaiset Levyt label. The band sounds like a well-behaved version of Lowdown Shakin’ Chills. Phantastico is all about bangin’ catchy melodies with guitars that jingle and rattle. It’s quite obvious that the Phantom Tones’ frontman Pasi Kaukonen is a talented songwriter, but as a singer he could use some improvement, pronunciationwise. It can be heard that English is not his primary language, but if someone should get irritated by this or not, is a totally different story. The Phantom Tones’ cover version of made-famous-by-Blondie hit Hanging on the Telephone is a dance floor filler all right. (S. Kononen)
MUUSIKKO, June/July ’99: The Phantom Tones: Phantastico (Hiljaiset Levyt)
Lisää komeaa kitarapoprockia tarjoaa turkulainen The Phantom Tones, joka soittaa äskeistä (Cartoon Tree) hieman raskaammalla ja melankolisemmalla soundilla. Neljän biisin EP on vahva esitys, ja eritoten avausraita Tell Me jyrää! Levyn päättää harvinaisen ajankohtainen Hanging on the Telephone, tuleehan kappaleen alunperin esittänyt, vasta comebackin tehnyt Blondie Ruisrockiin. The Phantom Tones lähtee muuten edustamaan Suomea Los Angelesissa järjestettäville International Pop Overthrow -festareille.
More magnificent guitar-pop-rock from the Phantom Tones, hailing from Turku, Finland. Their sound’s a bit heavier and a bit more melancholic than for example Cartoon Tree’s. This four-track EP is a good and strong release, especially the opening track Tell Me really runs you over! The final song on this CD is a cover version of the Blondie classic Hanging on the Telephone, which has become quite up-to-date since Blondie’s back together and touring. By the way, The Phantom Tones are on their way to represent Finland in International Pop Overthrow festival (No kidding? – band), Los Angeles. (J. Raittinen)
SUE 3/99: Phantom Tones: Phantastico (Hiljaiset Levyt)
Phantom tones’ first release for an actual record company makes clear that the band plays melodic punk-pop-rock. This is guitar-oriented rock music suitable for radio stations. Above all the Phantoms will be remembered by their melodies; the three originals on this CD have really catchy choruses. While writing this review I’m still humming the songs by myself. On this record the song to get stuck in your head is You Didn’t Know Me. There’s also a cover version of Blondie’s Hanging on the Telephone. Phantastico is absolutely not all about being mellow, but I’d prefer a bit more edgy rawness to it.
SOUNDI 11/98: (demo) A two-track tape from the ’Tones. First one of the tunes is a dark pop song. The song itself is a good one, but according to my personal experience the live version I heard and saw was better than the one on the tape. The demo version lacks the anger and the power that the live version had. There’s loads of pop sensibility in this song (You Didn’t Know Me) anyway. A Black Cat is from the powerpop end of the PT. The second song doesn’t quite approach the wild and reckless mood of their previous demo Tell Me but the band’s professional and relaxed touch to their music makes the song move with such smooth easiness that it is hard to comprehend. The tape sure is worth the demo of the month award – the previous one was a bit better, but then again the previous tape was the best of the year! The Phantom Tones is still a brilliant band. (J. Junttila)
RUMBA 18/98: (demo) Mr. Pasi Kaukonen wrote this fabulous phantom tune, which was later turned into a fine piece of pop at Barker Studio, Turku/Finland. There definitely is some air play potential on this tape. Well, not actually in this demo form but with better production the radio stations’ answers should be yes and yeah indeed. ”Catchy pop sensibility” is something that this group claims they represent, and it must be said that they manage to do it very well. You Didn’t Know Me is such a great performance that one could easily predict quick farewells to the demo jungle from The Phantom Tones’ behalf. The Phantom Tones is also participating on the new Finnish Hit Challenge. The song mentioned earlier sounds very suitable for that kind of concept and I think the Phantoms could do very well in this kind of competition. Then again it is possible that english-singing bands will be practically neglected. (J. Sundholm)
SOUNDI 3/98: (demo) ”Nobody said it’s going to be easy, nobody said it’s going to be fair…” What is wrong with this world? How come the Phantom Tones are not signed yet? A year ago I gave them the ”Demo of the Month” prize and this time they deserve it even more obviously. They sent me a tape with two great songs again. Tell Me is a great REAL guitar rock song with traditional and familiar sounding power pop elements. It rocks & rolls like hell and swings like a rollercoaster! I listened it twice and already on the second hearing I found myself singing the chorus with the band: ”Hey tell me where do we go…” The second song is slower and easier and puts the tape in a good balance. The Last Words is also a great tune, the bongo drum/percussion intro takes into the song and there we go again… There was a time when I wasn’t sure about Pasi’s accent, but now the slight problem is gone. The Tones hit the bull’s eye once again! (J. Junttila)
ELYSIUM #6: (Just Fine EP) I had gotten the impression that these guys are from the Lemonator/Posies school of guitarpop, but the music that meets me when I put this in the player is pretty punky, ’77-influenced melodic rock – within the Finnish framework, I think they have much more in common with, say, Hundred Million Martians than Lemonator or the likes. The best comparison I could come up with, though, is actually another Turku group (and now defunct?) Peppermint Lunch, who also
sounded like a mix of early Mega City Four and ’77 melodic punk a’la Stiff Little Fingers.
The Tones have strong, melodic moves, some singalong quality, even, and a lot of stern guitars. All is cool. There’s just that they should touch it all up a little bit, at all fronts, be it the vocals (the lead singer Mr. Kaukonen can sing well, but his tone of voice is still pretty unpolished and inexperienced, also his pronunciation needs improvement), the lyrics (I can’t see why they printed them in the first place for there’s nothing to rave about in them in here), the songwriting (I’d prefer more rhythmic groove) on the production (I know they did this hastily and it has it’s effects). However, their guitarist Ari told me that the band had been together for three months(!) when Just fine was recorded – obvious reason for this laser’s unripeness. As the cd was released some good while ago, they must have developed a lot already. Cool to see Finland getting more and more bands with poppy
intentions and strong vocal- and melody orientation. all these new bands and especially their bold, daring self-financed record publishing biz deserve everybody’s support. (M. Lappalainen)
SOUNDI 9/97: (Just Fine EP) The Phantom Tones hail from Kaarina, Finland and I bet there are more than one Hoodoo Gurus records in their collections. Do What You Do, which is the opening track on their Just Fine cd, represents this band at it’s best: I haven’t heard a chorus this catchy for ages! All in all, Just Fine is a fine debut: the songs are good and well arranged and produced. Because there always has to be something to complain about, I must say that the cover of this cd is quite horrible. (J. Tamminen)
RUMBA 16/97: (Just Fine EP) Power pop from Kaarina, Southern Finland. These guys sound like they mean what they’re saying but I can’t help thinking they could use some sense of irony in their lyrics. The band plays very well anyway. In case their average age is under 18, they’re OK. (Reviewer unknown)
CITY 9/97: (Just Fine EP) Powerpoppers The Phantom Tones from Kaarina have released their first cd. The opening song of the 4-song record has been airplayed a lot nationwide. Although there’s a song called Free the World on the cd the guys in the band consider themselves rather ironic than naive… Anyway, the Phantom Tones plays beautiful, melodic and even sensual power pop: sometimes slower, sometimes faster. Just Fine is available in the record stores down town. (Reviewer
SOUNDI 1-2/97: The Phantom Tones are known to write great power pop punk songs. This time they’re moving to a little bit more tender, yet still clearly guitar-oriented direction, and it must be said that they succeed in it very well. The second tune on this two-song tape, Free the World, is very enjoyable sing-along song Although they sound a bit softer than before, The Phantom Tones is guaranteed to be worth checking out. They’re strong, rough and straight-forward guitar group and talented in what they’re doing. Their playing sounds easy and relaxed and even the backing vocals are in tune. The ”demo of the Month” -prize must be handed to the Phantom Tones once again. (J. Junttila)
SOUNDI 9/96: Although this demo is recorded with several different line-ups, it seems like the Phantom Tones are finally about to get their act together. The lead singer-guitarist Pasi Kaukonen is extremely gifted in writing catchy power pop and punk melodies. Especially Devil Is Calling is an absolutely brilliant song. The tape sounds good, although a little more edge on the lead vocals would do no harm. The Phantom Tones as a whole sounds pleasantly BIG. That is why their tape has to be chosen as the ”Demo of the Month.” (J. Junttila)
SOUNDI 4/96: Here’s a band that believes in melodies and that is always good. The first track Devil Is Calling on their two song tape works very well, but the second song You Know What It’s Like remains a bit pale… I know it’s meant to be melancholic, but then again it could roll smoother. The band plays very professionally.
SUE 3/96: This is the first studio tape from a band called the Phantom Tones and it sounds like a work of true perfectionists. As far as their songs, sound and talents are concerned, they should already be working on their second full-lenght album or so. Do What You Do and Free the World are great pop songs played by a band with skills. The first one moves fast and the latter hangs somewhere in between of being sensitive and ambitious. I bet here’s a single about to be released! (J. Helminen)
* * * * *
October 1st: Palatsi, Turku (”Lava vapaa” band contest – won a gig at Kåren!)
October 19th: Kåren, Turku (Don Huonot, Lowely Worm)
November 8th: Auran Panimo, Turku (David’s Daydream, Operaatio PaPu)
November 13th: DownTown, Turku
January 25th: Mosel, Turku
February 15th: Lausteen nuorisotalo, Turku (Anemia)
February 20th: DownTown, Turku
March 19th: DownTown, Turku ( DownTown Open contest – Kaarnalaivuri, Amadeus, Powder Blue)
April 19th: Mosel, Turku
May 1st: Pelimies, Turku
May 5th: Varissuon kenttä, Turku (Varissuopäivät)
June 6th: Rantarock, Kaarina
September 18th: Downtown, Turku
September 25th: Dynamo, Turku (Rock SM 97 – Funkaboa, Grape, Boygunny Paul, Syvä aurinko, Veivi)
September 26th: Bar Fat Mama, Helsinki (Hundred Million Martians)
November 2nd: DownTown, Turku
February 6th: Pelimies, Turku
February 19th: Dynamo, Turku
March 5th: Torvi, Lahti
May 26th: Messukeskus, Turku (Relax-messut)
June 4th: Pelimies, Turku (DBTL Festival – Crystal Extasy)
August 13th: Palatsi, Turku (Taiteiden yö. Plug’n’Play, Kyyhanikyy, no bass player!)
August 16th: Kesärock, Lohja
August 19th: Down Town, Turku
September 11th: Tulliklubi, Tampere (Jyrki Hit Challenge, Jyrki Martian on bass)
November 28th: TVO, Turku
December 4th: Vapari, Kaarina
February 20th: Nikita, Turku
February 25th: DownTown, Turku
March 19th: Palatsi, Turku (Rock ’99 contest: Hilpeä Roger, Köyhät, Seurakuntapuutarhuri, King Drapes, Not Guilty, Muka)
March 24th: DownTown, Turku
May 7th: Torvi, Lahti (Hundred Million Martians)
May 13th: Dynamo, Turku (Hundred Million Martians – Phantastico & Mars Bars record release party)
August 19th: Taiteiden yö, Turku (Pretty Ugly)
September 4th: Tulliklubi, Tampere (Jukka Junttila’s 40th Birthday Party – Jalla Jalla, The Nightingales, Alivaltiosihteeri, Hundred Million Martians)
December 10th: S-Osis, Turku (Sweatmaster, The Devill Overs Bunch, Boomhauer)
January 7th: Pii, Turku (Hundred Million Martians, no drummer!)
February 18th: Räpärällää, Tampere (Hundred Million Martians)
April 8th: Kåren, Turku (Hundred Million Martians, Ben’s Diapers)
May 26th: TVO, Turku (Hundred Million Martians)
June 8th: Emigrant’s Turku (DBTL festival – Hundred Million Martians)
July 29th: Tivoli, Rovaniemi (DBTK Festival – Zen Café, Egotrippi etc.)
September 1st: Suomenlinna, Helsinki (Entitled Nameless promo gig)
September 8th or 9th: Semifinal, Helsinki (Hiljainen ilta: Burning Pipe Harmony, Punk Lurex Ok)
October 6th: DownTown, Turku (Hiljainen ilta: Burning Pipe Harmony, Punk Lurex Ok)
October 18th: Yo-talo, Tampere (Hiljainen ilta: Burning Pipe Harmony, Punk Lurex Ok)