Dan Hartman and Charles Ingram began making music together at age 15 united by a bold desire to explore the outer limits of alternately tuned guitars. The pair had an immediate intuitive connection, and hunkered down in a storage shed to home in on its avant-garde aesthetic. They emerged as Phantom Zell, a weird indie-punk band that specialized in curious guitar tunings and abstract and abrasive musicality. “We played punk shows, but we were the only band in the scene that broke the punk rules by not playing that typically fast and aggressive sound,” says Charles. By age 17, Dan and Charles’s songs were earning placements on compilations alongside diversely popular acts such as Of Montreal, Fugazi, Jawbreaker, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Converge.
Eventually, the band drifted apart, the scene changed, and Dan and Charles began to also go their separate ways. Though not actively creating together, the guys set out on parallel artistic paths finding inspiration in the synergy with films and soundtracks. And there were other uncanny connections. Over the years, they were bonded by unique correlating circumstances, including near death experiences such as near fatal car accidents, dying in a house fire, being struck by lightning, and escaping armed robberies.
“I had a 10-year relationship end, and, out of the blue, after a few years of not being in touch, Charles called me and said his marriage had ended at the same time,” Dan recalls. “At the time, I had completely stopped playing and creating music.”
The eerily similar life circumstances, the guys’ parallel creative paths, and the telepathic musicality they once shared made a powerful case to continue the musical dialogue. Inevitably, Dan envisioned a cohesive project and sent Charles that fateful text to start the impliers.
They just released their 3rd single, “Lightning,” which features their iconic experimental music with atonal sensibilities and playful nature. Their vocals provide a Beach Boys harmonic quality to it while their music provides a David Bowie meets Pink Floyd sound.
“Lightning” is chaotic in nature, with an ever changing tempo and a melody that’s just out of grasp. The music shares a story of the chaotic mind. They share yet another story with this song as they both were diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. The song is a beautiful reflection of that experience through their atonal music and gripping lyrics. “While ‘Lightning’ constantly shape-shifts in mood and genre, it has its roots in a part of a song Charles made in 2005,” shares Dan. “While writing the concept for our upcoming record ‘cocoon,’ the lyric from that old riff came to mind and surprisingly; the entire idea for the rest of the song came as if it was always there. In about an hour, the bones of the song were written and recorded (the verses recorded that day are in the final version). By sending recordings back and forth, we traded disarming forks in the creative road, sending the song down a meandering but distinct path and arriving at the final version in the following weeks.”