From the primordial slime of the independent music scene in the muddy gloom of a long Melbourne winter, the Phosphenes have emerged with their unique pop ’n’ roll sound.
Delving shallowly into the world of relationships, longings, and cultural imperialism, armed with poignant and quirky humour and dripping in vocal harmonies, the Phosphenes create imperfect four-minute pop songs from a standard dysfunctional rock line-up with added harmonica for your convenience.
Describing your life or the one you almost had, there's no teen angst here, only the slow ache caused by trying to gnaw away at the limb stuck in the trap of the world.
In early 2000, ex-busker Dean Lombard teamed up with a few old friends — retired sax player Joe Saitta, prolific bassist Isabelle Kenny, and emerging singer-songwriter Victoria Brammall — to form a folk-rock-pop combo to develop Dean and Victoria’s original songs. Accomplished Tasmanian drummer Grant Watkins was soon added and Separation Street had an erratic but successful string of gigs — with well-travelled bass guitarist and songwriter Jason Cutler replacing the emigrating Isabelle along the way — before the reluctant departures of Victoria and Grant toward the end of 2001 (just after recording a five-track demo CD).
In hiatus for a time, the boys recruited multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Damaris Baker the following year, changed their name to Dogma’s Breakfast, and developed a new drummerless but percussionistic style, playing occasionally in cafés, folk clubs, school fêtes, bars, and other disreputable places. Time passed… searching for the perfect fit, they tried on new names Half and Chapter 11… wrote heaps of new songs… but actually didn’t really get their shit together until, longing to reconnect with the rhythmic energy of their rapidly departing youth, they added emphatic drummer John Watson to the lineup at the end of 2004. Astounded by their disorganisation and inertia, John quickly whipped them into shape.
Changing their name to The Phosphenes, expanding their repertoire, refining their diverse influences into a unique rock-pop sound, recording a mini-album, making a website, playing in a number of music festivals and a collection of inner northern pubs… The Phosphenes had finally arrived. Damaris’ amicable departure (to chart new musical territory with Destination Moon) led to the disovery of lead guitarist and songwriter Simon W Stockdale in 2007; while Joe’s departure the following year heralded a new era of a sparser, more guitar-driven sound. After a time spent closeted in various grungy rehearsal studios (their favourite being Soundpark in Northcote) reworking and refining the repertoire, The Phosphenes launched themselves back into the pubs and bars of inner Melbourne in a series of double, triple and quadruple-header gigs, pleasing audiences and annoying neighbours all over the place.
The explosion of new material catalysed by this burst of activity soon sent them back to the recording studio, where their first full-length album emerged from a chaotic extravagance of synthesizers, piano accordions, iPads, Wurlitzers, Farfisas, glockenspiels, harmonicas, Stylophones, and other more conventional instruments. Halflight made a small splash on its release in late 2013 and ushered in a new era of activity as the band followed its launch with a string of gigs around Melbourne over the next twelve months.
Then came another quiet period as band members went off and did other things for a while. Over that time, songwriters Dean, Jason, and Simon continued generating new material and in mid-2016, after getting back together for a few gigs, the band decided to bring the new material to life and get it down on tape. So they headed back to Soundpark and Finally, a friendly shore was born: a new album for a new age. Coming soon to an internet near you.
Finally, a friendly shore
Somewhere in the inner north
The new album is done, but we're still finishing off the artwork so we can make some CDs and set up the online product. Coming really soon! Watch this space, like our Facebook page, or join our email list to get the news first.
There are more bands called the Phosphenes than you might think. Check them all out! Us Phosphenes gotta stick together.