INTERVIEW: PHNTMS discuss their wild tour stories, support for the LGBTQ+ community and more!

LGBTQ+ alt rock outfit PHNTMS create hard-hitting releases erupting with driving percussion, jangly guitars and raw fiery vocals.  The Philadelphia based project composed of Alyssa Gambino, Adam Jessamine, Mikal Smith, and Gene Murphy, have supported some of the biggest names in music. Building a loyal fan base through their unique stadium rock sound, PHNTMS hone in on a distinct style that’s nostalgic yet contemporary.

Their latest single “Honesty” possesses all the same passion and force listeners have come to expect from the group. The emotive track focuses on the struggle to open up to your partner for fear that your problems are too much for one person to take on. Influenced by movie soundtracks as well as bands like U2 and Deaf Havana, PHNTMS are unapologetically themselves staying close to their rock roots. Culture Collide had the pleasure of speaking with PHNTMS discussing their creative inspirations, powerful alt sound and more.

First off, how did you all form as a band and what drew you to a more alternative style of music?

Frustrated from being in previous bands, guitarist Adam Jessamine and Mikal Smith found singer Alyssa Gambino and drummer Gene Murphy. The Philadelphia based band PHNTMS was born. The band is all about creating music we are emotionally connected to. We are inspired by everyday situations, relationships, and growing up. As songwriters, we try to capture these moments and make them as detailed as possible. We’ll always be fascinated by the fact we can freeze these moments in a song.


Your latest track “Honesty” is a poignant narrative of a partner taking on baggage that may be too heavy of a weight for them to carry. What experiences have you had with this in your life and how were you able to deal with it?

We can all relate to this song in some way or another. Life is full of difficult choices, problems, and paths. Some times what you want and what is best for you in your life, isn’t necessarily the best thing for your partner. All you can ever ask of anyone or any situation is just for Honesty, be honest to yourself, and you can never fail.


Many of your releases deal with topics such as relationships and navigating life as you get older. What is your creative process like when writing a song and how do you find your inspiration?

When writing the music we are inspired by movies, moments in time, and even events that happen to us in our everyday life. Alyssa writes lyrics based on all these things especially relationships and events that happen in her everyday life no matter how big or how small. We try to get people to feel how we feel through melody.


I understand that half the band identifies as queer, how have the LGBTQ+ community supported your music and how have you provided support in return?

We have been featured in many LGBTQ+ Magazines, articles, and playlists.

As a band we openly talk about lesbian relationships in our music and we want to bring hope to anyone who is in the closet and doesn’t feel safe coming out. Whether you are out as queer or not, your identity is valid and if our music helps you escape heteronormativity for a brief moment.  We want you to feel that you are not alone, because you aren’t.


PHNTMS has performed alongside prominent acts like Kings Of Leon and The 1975. Tell me a crazy tour story?

We have! Such amazing moments playing with those bands, they are heroes of ours. This is always a great question and hard to answer. I think as crazy as it is playing with massive bands, the thing that really blows our minds is when it’s our headline show and its completely packed out, the first time that happened to us was truly an amazing experience. Then of course there’s moments like when we have to be at a show on time for load in and the van’s battery dies… talk about stressful. We always find a way and pull it off though haha.


Who are some artists on your current playlist that inspire you the most?

Currently what’s hitting us hard and inspiring us right now are bands like The Night Game, At 1980, The Band CAMINO, The Midnight, Sam Fender, MUNA, Nightly, Biffy Clyro, and Catfish & The Bottlemen.


Finally, during quarantine, it has been hard on many bands and artists as they are not able to tour. Where do you see yourselves going in the future and what are you doing now to stay close to your fans?

It’s been a struggle that’s for sure. We played our last show at the Fillmore in Philadelphia, it was sold out and then a week later everything was shut down. I think we put out the music video for our song Back Burner the day quarantine was announced. Talk about bad timing! We are currently hitting the studio in a few weeks to finish up a new song as well as locking down dates to record with an amazing producer that we have always wanted to work with out in LA. We are really active on Instagram and Twitter, so seriously give us a follow and hit us up!




photo by: Adam Jessamine