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Tune-In Tuesdays #82: PHNTMS Guitarist on Their Latest Single, “Honesty”

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By: burgundy bug

Group photo of Philadelphia-based rock band PHNTMS

Source: PHNTMS

Having played with the likes of Kings of Leon and The 1975, local rock band PHNTMS is loud and proud of their sound — and their unique flare is especially apparent in their latest track, “Honesty.”

Recently, we spoke to PHNTMS guitarist Adam Jessamine to learn more about “Honesty,” the band’s core values, and their upcoming EP.

PHNTMS Band Members

  • Adam Jessamine – guitarist
  • Alyssa Gambino – vocalist
  • Mikal Smith – guitarist
  • Gene Murphy – drummer

How would you summarize your sound in just three words?

We’re “arena-rock ready.” We’re ready to play big places and I think we have that U2/Kings of Leon type of sound.

We’ve also played with Kings of Leon. We hit that arena and it went extremely well, so I think we’re just ready to do that.

Do you guys get stage fright before arena shows, or is that the type of thrill you live for?

Oh, yeah! I have our walk-on as film as we were basically super scared.

It was like, we’re back stage, The 1975 and Kings of Leon show up. The 1975’s trying to walk passed us as we’re walking on, and security’s trying to hold The 1975 back.

We were like, “But that’s The 1975. How are you gonna hold them back!?”

It was nuts! It was a wild, wild thing. It made us go, “Wow, we could actually do this.”

But we definitely get nervous before every show.

How did you get the opportunity to play at an arena with Kings of Leon and The 1975? Tell us the story!

It was just a 104.5 thing for us to open up the show. I’m kind of out of the loop now with radio, but I know they used to do really good local shows where they would give hot local bands the chance to play.

We were it one year and it was great! It really helped us out a lot.

What are some of your core values, both personally and musically?

Kind of what we’ve always strived for: to be honest and really true to ourselves. Always be yourself and don’t chase trends.


It’s so apparent when bands chase trends. I feel like you could tell and it just comes off as really corporate and really stale. We try not to do that. We just write music that we want to put out.

We’ve had things before where managers were like, “You need to do this!” and “You need to write a song about this!” And it’s like… Naahhh.

I really value that and it shows in your work, too. So, what unique element does each band member bring to the group?

Right off the bat, Alyssa’s voice is incredible. We all think it’s just so, so good. It’s undeniable, especially live. If you’re in the room with her singing, you feel it whether you’re in the front or the back. It’s really apparent.

Mikal, our guitar player, he knows like EVERY chord imaginable. He’s really into music theory. You could be like, “Play in F# major,” and he just does it in one second.

Where me, on the other hand, I feel like I think outside the box with leads and effects. I kind of have the vision for the whole band. I arrange everything and set it all together.

Gene, our drummer, is such a fantastic drummer and has a great sense of humor.

What have you learned from playing with the band?

It’s kinda more of a family than a band. We always try to be there for eachother and support one another no matter what. We’ve all had relationship problems and been there for each other.

Or we’ve had people trying to be like, “You need to do this with your music and you need to do that.”

And all of us were like, “What they’re offering could be really great, but at what cost? We need to stick together and be there for eachother,” y’know what I mean?

As a Philadelphian myself I’ve got to ask, where are some of your favorite local venues to play at?

Right before the shutdown happened, we played at The Fillmore. That was super awesome. We had so many great shows lined up, we couldn’t wait. And now it’s like… Nothin’.

But we really like Union Transfer a lot, TLA [Theatre of The Living Arts] is super cool.

I guess BB&T Pavilion kind of counts…? Maybe? Perhaps? That’s a great one.

We always do these small shows at this place called Ortliebs. It’s the greatest ’cause it’s like 100 people all crammed into this room. It always sells out and it’s just a lot of fun.

But we never did Electric Factory and I’ve always wanted to do that. Voltage Lounge is really cool, too! That’s right next to the Electric Factory.

Those are some really great venues. So, tell us a little about your writing and recording process

We’ll come up with a little Logic Pro X demo, then the song’s basically done, we’ll record vocals.

I usually come up with the idea for the song or Alyssa will have some lyrics and we’ll make a song around them.

Then we’ll play it together and take it to a studio. We did this EP with Mike Watts in Long Island at this place called Vu Du, which was really cool. They did like Glassjaw and The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Deer Hunter.

We just did this demo and we sent it to my buddy. He does stuff in New York, too. We recorded that and we’re going to do live drums for it soon.

I know you can make awesome music on your computer on home, but there’s something about going to a studio that I really like.


It just makes it seem like… I don’t know. I love the ’70s and going to the studio makes me feel like we’re in some cool band [from that era] [laughs].

What’s the story behind your latest track, “Honesty?”

“Honesty” is the classic story of being yourself no matter what. Even if it’s something that’s going to end your relationship, you can’t lie to yourself and others.

If something’s great for somebody else and it might not be the best choice or path for you, you’ve got to sometimes bite the bullet and tell them that.


We’ve all been there where you’re not really into it. And it could be anything —a relationship or a job where it’s not really working out. You’ve just got to be honest and move along.

What helped you write about those experiences in “Honesty?”

It’s all based on Alyssa’s personal experiences, all the songs. She really wants to make sure people feel her emotions through the song.

Instrumental wise, I usually watch a movie with the sound off and try to create my own soundtrack.

See that’s cool. I’ve never heard of anyone else writing instrumentals that way, that’s awesome! That’s like when artists look at a scene from a movie and try to recreate it. You’re sort of doing the music equivalent to that.

Yeah! We usually watch movies by Nicolas Winding Refn. He’s done movies like “Drive,” “The Neon Demon,” “Only God Forgives.” He’s a really awesome director.

“Drive” movie trailer

Source: Drive – Movie Trailer (2011) HD | Movieclips Trailers

What do you hope listeners take away from “Honesty?”

The main goal with this one was to give people hope that you don’t always have to be stuck in a situation. You can do this.

Overall, how do you hope to impact your listeners through your music?

I guess I keep saying this [laughs], but seriously, be yourself! Don’t try to pretend to be the perfect version of who you are.

If you’re not who you are and you’re not a silly or goofy person, it’s just going to crash and burn later in life.

Especially in relationships. I feel like we all try to be the perfect version of yourself who’s never silly and goofy or whatever and then you get so fed up later on.

Our theme is just be yourself and do what you want. If you can’t be funny and be yourself, then what’s the point?


If you could go back in time and give yourself just one piece of relationship advice, what would it be and why?

I don’t know if everyone else would agree, but there’s always things you could be like, “Aw man, I wish I didn’t do this or that,” but I wouldn’t change anything because that’s why I’m here right now with who I am.

What are your overarching goals as a band?

We just really want to create songs and videos that mean something to us. We can’t wait to play shows again, [too].

Getting back into the studio is really what I’m thirsty for. Same with Mikal.

We just did this video for a song that’s going to come out around September. We worked with the guy who did our craziest video for “Back Burner” and it came out SO insanely beautiful. We can not wait to show people this.

“Back Burner” by PHNTMS music video

Source: PHNTMS – Back Burner (Official Video) | PHNTMS

The EP’s going to be finished once we put out the other songs that come with it, and then we have music for the next EP being worked on. That’s almost out, as well.

Where are you most excited to perform at once the pandemic is over?

Oh God, I think anywhere.

I know The Struts are doing a drive-in show. That would be cool to play, but I just hope shows are shows again, where there’s a crowd.

It might not ever be back to normal, but I hope that it is.

Whether we play Ortliebs or BB&T, we’ll play anywhere [laughs].

What’s next for PHNTMS?

We’re probably going to do more singles and then an EP. We’re finishing one song with my buddy in New York and that’ll be for the new EP.

I know everybody says “Awh, our new stuff’s the best stuff we ever wrote,” but this new stuff is really awesome. We’re really excited and it’s a great progression for the band.

And then we just booked time in LA in November with a producer we’ve always wanted to work with. We’re really excited about that.

Adam, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you and I can’t wait to hear PHNTMS’ new music. But before we wrap things up, do you have any additional comments or final thoughts to share?

Stay true to yourself, be honest, and follow us on Spotify and Instagram [laughs].

Give PHNTMS’ “Honesty” a listen on Spotify now!
Be sure to follow PHNTMS on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with their latest song releases.

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burgundy bug


A cynical optimist and mad scientist undercover, burgundy bug is the editor, graphic designer, webmaster, social media manager, and primary photographer for The Burgundy Zine. Entangled in a web of curiosity, burgundy bug’s work embodies a wide variety of topics including: neuroscience, psychology, ecology, biology, cannabis, reviews, fashion, entertainment, and politics. You can learn more about working with burgundy bug by visiting her portfolio website: burgundybug.com

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