Australian band Phantastic Ferniture formed in 2014 in a Sydney bar on band member Julia Jacklin’s 24th birthday. Since then, they have lived by the mission statement “Don’t overthink it.” We spoke to the band, which consists of Jacklin, Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan K. Brennan, about their new music, early days of the band, life in Australia, and more.
TYF: Let’s first talk about your rad wordplay with the band’s name. How did you guys come up with the name?
Elizabeth Hughes (Liz): We were driving along Parramatta road and saw a Fantastic Furniture sign for the Australian furniture store. It was one of those moments where we said “hey that would be a hilarious band name, but obviously we’d have to change it up a bit. So yeah – we changed the spelling and got really excited about merch potential with a band name like Phantastic Ferniture. The name had endless pun potential, which has proved to be highly fruitful.
TYF: How did the band get together?
Julia Jacklin (JJ): We were at a pizza joint called Frankies Pizza on a weeknight. I think our friend’s band was playing. I remember it being one of those loose nights where everyone is really looking forward to the future and making drunken plans that were most likely not going to happen. But at some point, there was a group hug and a promise to start a band called Phantastic Ferniture. And for some reason, we actually remembered the next day and followed through.
Liz: Our first rehearsal was really just a joke. I think we all had dinner together and thought we may as well give rehearsing a crack considering we were all together. It was weird – I remember feeling something change as we played. It went so quickly from just mucking around and laughing to realizing we might be on to something good. I remember it was pretty dark. I’m a big fan of setting the mood in rehearsals. I think it’s so important to have lighting that evokes a mood – not just some IKEA lamp (a fantastic furniture lamp might be ok) blasting LED all over you or crusty rehearsal room lighting.
TYF: How you would you describe the band’s sound? Was it easy for you guys to find your sound?
JJ: Yeah I don’t think we were ever searching for one at all, it just kind of happened in rehearsals and was driven by the practical need for more than 2 songs for a show. We’re all songwriters and I think everyone’s tastes got in there somehow and made something completely unrecognizable to all of us. But something we all loved.
Liz: The sound is probably best described as maybe a clean bedroom that has a bit of superficial mess – clothes thrown around the room, stray shoes, piles of books, and guitars on the bed. It’s not like a dirty hovel, but it’s definitely got some grit. Pretty easy to clean up and pretty easy to mess up again if you can’t decide what outfit to wear on a night out. It was easy to find because we weren’t really looking.
TYF: How do you guys stay on the same page and make sure everyone’s voices are heard, especially when it comes to writing music, etc.?
JJ: I think in the early days when we were writing all these songs, everyone just kind of stuck in their lane. You just write the part for your instrument and because we all trusted each other tastes there wasn’t much conflict there.
Liz: These songs came together pretty easily. We’d just jam and sort of work it out together on the spot. There wasn’t any writing things down and refining or changing things. They just kinda happened.
TYF: You guys are based in Sydney, Australia. Does the city ever inspire any of your music?
JJ: I think where you live always inspires you in ways that you don’t fully understand. I think our passion with the live performances early on felt like a bit of a reaction to the Sydney lock outlaws.
Liz: Yeah, I think so. When Julia and I first started playing music we honestly didn’t know any other musicians, or of any kind of scene. I think that was a strange kind of gift because we had no expectations of ourselves and it was a blank canvas for us to fill in whichever way we wanted. We started out playing nylon string guitars mixed up in crappy bars. I don’t think it sounded particularly good, and I don’t think we cared. We just wanted to get our songs out in some way.
TYF: Switching gears a little – I love to travel and haven’t been to Sydney. What would you say are the top five must-see places and things to do in Sydney?
JJ: I know it’s super touristy but I just love walking over the harbor bridge and looking down over Sydney Harbour. I really love bridges for some reason and that’s a really good one. If you’re a woman going to the women’s pool at Coogee Beach, a pool carved into the rocks, dollar coin entry.
Liz: 1. Blue mountains national park (it’s the only city in the world completely surrounded by the world heritage national park), 2. Gordon’s bay 3. Manly to the spit walk 4. Golden Age underground cinema and bar 5. Wendy Whiteley’s secret garden
TYF: Let’s now talk about your new music. You guys have a debut album coming out on July 27 so first off, early congratulations! And second, anything about the album you can tease?
JJ: Thanks! Yeah, it’s been a long time coming. We’ve been working on it on and off for years so there are some surprises on there even for us.
Liz: Thank you. It’s pretty exciting. Expect some not so poppy numbers. Expect pink and green vinyl, and artwork we are pretty proud of. Julia can be thanked for getting the puzzle made on a tight deadline. Did you know you can order custom puzzles online and have them delivered within 48 hours? If anyone ever needs a last minute puzzle, it’s a great gift idea.
TYF: What was the writing process like when you were putting together the album?
JJ: We wrote the songs over the course of about four years really. Always just motivated by wanting something new to play at a show on the weekend. Always just started by someone bringing in a riff, or a lyric or a drum pattern, and then all of us just adding our bits until something workable appeared.
Liz: It was all pretty pricey, and a very natural process. We wrote a bit, played a lot, recorded a bit, and repeated this until we had an album.
TYF: Will you guys be going on tour once the album is released?
JJ: At the moment we’re just doing a short Australian tour about a month after release.
Liz: Just the Australia tour for now. Our motto is “Don’t overthink it.”
TYF: If you guys could go on tour with any band/artist, who would it be and why?
JJ: Right now it would be Parcels! Just so I can watch them play every night and be filled with unbridled joy.
Liz: Um, Perfume Genius. It would be a totally weird fit but I am entranced by him and his live show. I just think he is so fantastic and original and writes music I could never even dream of creating.
TYF: Do you guys have any dream venues or festivals that you want to perform at?
JJ: Dark Mofo in Tasmania.
Liz: Same! That would be my dream festival to play. I think it’s fascinating and I admire the ethos of it. They are doing something bold and different and they don’t seem to make concessions or compromises to make the audience feel comfortable. I love that.
TYF: With the summer season in full swing, what do you guys have planned for the summer?
JJ: Well, it’s winter here so summer is a distant dream right now.
Liz: As it’s winter here, I’m currently wrapped in a hideous grey Kmart dressing gown that makes me resemble a small bear, typing with fingerless gloves on. My summer plans are to not continue looking like a small, grey bear wearing fingerless gloves.
TYF: Have any fun summer jams our readers should check out?
JJ: Well, it’s absolutely freezing where I am at the moment so a bit hard to get into the summer jam mindset. But I’ve been loving the new Mitski release ‘Nobody’ that’s been keeping me warm. Oh – and ‘Girls on the TV’ by Laura Jean.
Liz: Yeah I heard this song last night called “The Spot” by Your Smith. It’s really feel good. Very summery.
Check out Phantastic Ferniture’s Facebook page for more information on their music.