On Deck: Steel Phantoms


Brooklyn-based indie duo Steel Phantoms was formed in 2009 by Aaron Harris, formerly the drummer of the Nick Thorburn(nee Nick Diamonds)-fronted Islands. But shortly after moving to Brooklyn, he met musician Jesse Newkirk, and the two found that they had quite a lot in common. And so Newkirk become the other half of the Steel Phantom coin. Incorporating aspects of proto punk, classic alternative, and more recent indie music tendencies, the band set out to carve their own unique niche in an over-saturated musical market. With Harris’ fevered vocals slamming up against Newkirk’s antagonistic guitar work, the duo soon began to attract a loyal fanbase—and not just because of their work in previous bands. Their alternately ethereal and aggressive sound allows them the room to explore drastic shifts in rhythm and tone.

Recently, Harris sat down with Beats Per Minute to talk about some records which have been making the rounds in his own collection. Looking back at the genres which he and his musical cohort(s) have traversed over numerous albums and monikers, it should come as no surprise that his list spans multiple genres and digs deep into Brooklyn’s local music scene. From the hardcore churn of locals Violent Bullshit and the garage rock simplicity of Wild Yaks to the neo-R&B crooning of The Dream, no genre is off limits. He also takes time to talk about musician Pat Jordache, with an aside about how they used to play in Islands together. Check out Harris’ full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.

Violent Bullshit
Violent Bullshit – Age Of Quarrel II by Amon Düül III

My favorite local band (and one of my favorite bands in general). Lead singer Jay Green is one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever seen on stage. Their live shows are a mix of Jay’s incredibly funny and poignant banter and insanely tight two minute hardcore songs – and any band that has figured out how to seamlessly pull THAT off deserves your attention.

Wild Yaks
Wild Yaks – Million Years

Another local favorite, Wild Yaks was the first band I saw live after moving to Brooklyn (in a gross warehouse thats now a hair salon….or a vintage clothing store…or a vegan bakery or something). This record is pure, poetic, stripped-down garage rock and totally makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the crowd at one of their shows, drunkenly singing along to every word.

The Dream - IV Play
The Dream – IV Play

Being gay is super awesome, but when I listen to this record I can’t help but feel like having sex with a beautiful woman is the most incredible thing in the entire world.

Suuns - Images Du Futur
Suuns – Images Du Futur

The only band in recent memory whose sound perfectly matches my daily anxiety. This is a beautiful record full of paranoid meditations and jittery sonic shifts, and I constantly go back to it as a reminder of how to include personal neuroses into music without being too mellow-dramatic or guarded.

Pat Jordache
Pat Jordache – “Fields Laying Fallow (b/w Feel It Coming)”

I am absolutely in love with everything that Pat has been putting out recently. He and I played in Islands together and even had a band of our own for about six months (I’m not going to tell you what the name of it was but if you dig deep you can probably find out, and then find our god-awful myspace profile). His new music sounds like Steely Dan meets Bowie meets the Walker Brothers, and his live shows are face-meltingly good. He is a huge inspiration to the band.

Steel Phantoms latest release, a self-titled EP, will be available on July 16th.