This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Please consider supporting this website by disabling your ad-blocker. This website does not use audio ads, pop-ups, or other annoyances. And please support Terra Relicta by giving a little donation if you can! Thank you!!!

Random album

Phantasmagoria - Interview

Interview with: Tomi Phantasma
Conducted by: T.V. 

Can you imagine a band that's around for more than 25 years, with a cult status within goth scene, playing gigs with great bands, from Paradise Lost to Iggy Pop, making appearances on some of the biggest festivals, but being without an album...? No? Croatian legends Phantasmagoria are that kind of band, but it seems that the time for their debut is finally here and I can only hope that's the truth. We talked with their charismatic leader, founder and vocalist Tomi Phantasma about that, but not only that, he has a lot of experiences in alternative music industry and he shared with Terra Relicta his critical point of view on music of today, society, we talked about ex-Yugoslavia, his homeland Croatia and Slovenia. But the most interesting thing is what he revealed about his work and bands past. Tomi also exposed some future plans. Read this profound and deep interview below...

T.R.: Hi Tomi! Recently you played as a support act to Paradise Lost in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and in Zagreb (Croatia), tell me how were you satisfied with each show?
Tomi: We were really satisfied with the performance in Ljubljana. We had an excellent sound engineer, so the sound was fantastic and also the crowd appreciated this. We were positively surprised by the reaction from the crowd, we even heard a comment that we were the best band on the stage that evening. This was a huge compliment for us, because we played in front of two excellent bands like Paradise Lost and Soen are. Paradise Lost are also one of the biggest influences for us. In Zagreb it was also ok, but still not that good as in Ljubljana, the most because of the sound engineer.
T.R.: You played on many big festivals and with many well known bands. Is there any show that has a special place in your memory?
Tomi: Every show is special, because each one is some kind of a ritual for us. Yes, of course there are some that deserve to be put in a special place, like our tour in 1992 through, that day still not separated Czechoslovakia. Ten concerts in ten days. Back then our drummer was Korozija, the former member of back then very popular Croatian alternative rock band Majke. Also both of our appearances on the worlds biggest gothic festival Wave Gothic Treffen were such a great experiences. There we played with Clan Of Xymox and Diva Destruction. I can't forget to mention our performance on Dark Days Festival, where we shared the stage with Sex Gang Children. A show with Finnish band Charon in Belgrade (Serbia) was amazing, we had also great time sharing the stage with Christian Death, The Mission, The 69 Eyes, Mizar, yeah, there's a lot of this. We even had the opportunity to share the stage with Satan Panonski in 1991 at some sort of festival in Zagreb.
T.R.: Playing on festival like Wave Gothic Treffen in Leipzig means a lot to each goth/wave/dark band out there. How much do you think that such an appearance helps on the overall recognizability of the band and how were you experiencing all this?
Tomi: We played twice on WGT festival, it was in 2000 and 2002. Back then we were totally in goth scene and playing there meant really a lot for us, simply because WGT is the biggest goth festival in the world, people from all over the world come there, even from Japan... It was such a honour to share the stage with bands like Clan Of Xymox and Diva Destruction. The only problem was that we didn't had an album released to make a step forward. Many journalists who made interviews with us couldn't believe that fact.
T.R.: Do you have any contacts with bands that you shared the stage with?
Tomi: Not hat much. Usually is like this, you hang out with people, exchange the contacts and tell each other that you will be in touch, but more often that doesn't come true. On the other hand I made some good friends and I'm in contact with them even today.
T.R.: Phantasmagoria is active for more than twentyfive years and reached a status of a cult band, but it's really unbeliveable that untill now you don't have a real studio album released. Is the time to make this step finally here?
Tomi: Yes, of course... We are trying to make an album for all this time, but unfortunately each time something unpredictable happened. I really hope that this year we will make it. First we are going to record just a pair of songs, including the cover version of song "Ne" from legendary band Ekatarina Velika. We are also going to make a video clip for this song. Later this year we plan to record the whole album. Right now we are busy on preparing the material for our 25th anniversary tour and because we have a new drummer this takes a little bit longer than it should. We are also trying to include some songs that haven't been played live for a very long time.
T.R.: Are you planning to make an album with new songs or will you include into it old songs from all your long career?
Tomi: This is a difficult question. We have enough material for almost four albums. There are old songs, cover songs, the ones with lyrics in Croatian and those in English language. I think that in the end there will be a compilation of everything, of course everything re-recorded. We are also working on new material.
T.R.: How would you compare your new songs with the older ones?
Tomi: We had many different phases, mostly because of many different band members who played in the band through those years. So, we have very diverse repertory and I like this. The new phase is more raw than ever before, drums, one guitar, bass and vocals without any special phylosophy,... "less is more", maybe typical rock'n'roll phylosophy. It's more dark rock or goth rock. I like to say that we play rock music of modern time.
T.R.: I've heard you playing the cover of The Sisters Of Mercy's song "Anaconda". Which cover songs are also on your set list?
Tomi: Yes, we played that one... We had a period when we wanted to make an album just of cover songs and there are many of them that we still play live like, "She's Lost Control" - Joy Division, "White Wedding" - Billy Idol, "Never Let Me Down" - Depeche Mode, "Gimme Gimme Gimme" - Abba, we played also "Gimme Shelter" - Rolling Stones, but in The Sisters Of Mercy version, "She's In Parties" - Bauhaus, "Pet Sematary" - Ramones, "Model" - Kraftwerk, "Tower Of Strenght" - The Mission, "Lucretia My Reflection" - The Sisters Of Mercy, plus some covers of The Cure, The Stooges, David Bowie, T-Rex,...
T.R.: Regarding the fact that you are making a cover from Ekatarina Velika, I must ask you how much influenced you the music from ex- Yugoslavia, especially alternative rock from that era?
Tomi: I think that the music made in the former Yugoslavia was one of the most original and quality one, right after UK's. If I start with Buldožer and Bijelo Dugme,... then the new wave and punk movement. Bands like Paraf, Termiti, Pankrti, Prljavo Kazalište, Kaos, Pekinška Patka, Šarlo Akrobata, Električni Orgazam, Idoli, Disciplina Kičme, EKV,... made some really superb work. Then there were Laibach, Borghesia and Mizar who belong into the top of worlds alternative scene. Phantasmagoria was also born in ex-Yugoslavia, so the influence of those bands is obvious. Before Phantasmagoria I even played in punk rock band Eksodus who were formed in 1983, and we are reformed now. But, to tell the truth, music of Phantasmagoria was mostly influenced by British dark and alter scene, then also goth and gothic metal, though my personal biggest inspiration comes from punk and post punk like Iggy Pop & The Stooges, Sex Pistols, The Damned, Killing Joke,... and also from bands like Paradise Lost, Moonspell, Type O Negative and Tiamat that had a huge impact on me.
T.R.: You are deeply involved into music, beside being the vocalist, you work like a dj, run a website, organise concerts, etc. Do you earn enough money out of this or you must also have a regular job?
Tomi: I work only this and live out of it. There is a lot of work with this things, probably more than in some firm, but I have my freedom and I couldn't do this job if I wouldn't like it, because it's very stressful and hard.
T.R.: What do you spin mostly like a dj and where have you performed so far?
Tomi: Like a dj I rotated music for the first time in student settlement Cvjetno in Zagreb, it was 1984. At that time I just returned from Germany where I was for staying for a couple of months and bought a lot of LP's. I made the Killing Joke and The Sisters Of Mercy night, even though here nobody heard about The Sisters Of Mercy before. Reaction from the crowd was amazing and everything went smooth, until I've played "Der Mussolini" from DAF. At that point one of the guards came to me and said that is over with my dj-ing and what kind of music is this which talks about Hitler and Mussolini (we lived in socialistic Yugoslavia at that time). Quickly I've played "Bandiera Rosa" by Pankrti, but it didn't help. In the next years I was dj-ing on various parties, untill I started to spin the music in club called Omladinski Centar. The setlist was comprised with songs from Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Sisters Of Mercy, The Cure, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, a lot of punk, even U2. Since then I was dj-ing in most of the clubs in Zagreb.
The first bigger success I've had was in a club called Lapidarij with my Twilight Zone program, then also in a club Jabuka with Twilight and Halloween party. I've had more than 2000 people on some Halloween parties, especially in the club Boogaloo. Right now I'm making parties in a club Jabuka under the name Dark Side. I'm also a guest on many obscure parties in Ljubljana, Maribor and even in Belgrade.
T.R.: What's your experience with the audience, do they prefer to hear new songs or old hits?
Tomi: Mostly they want to hear known music, but I try to spin also new things. I was the first dj who started rotating bands like Marilyn Manson, Heroes Del Silencio, Paradise Lost, Moonspell, Tiamat, The 69 Eyes, Rammstein,... in our country. 
T.R.: How much do you follow what's going on the musical scene right now and who enthraled you most in the last time?
Tomi: I don't follow that much what's going on right now. I don't listen to radio, because there is no good music. What I've heard lately I didn't like. I think that since 80's nothing enthusiastic happened in music, there was some good stuff also in 90's, but since then it's only some kind of mixing and copying, nothing new is made. Music ended in some kind of moulds and is mostly soulless, computers made a lot of shit here and globalisation took its part also in music industry. Here and there a good album comes out, but those are things made by old bands and artists, for example Nitzer Ebb did a solid album Industrial Complex, Gary Numans last album Dead Son Rising is excellent, also Killing Jokes MMXII is great. Those albums are masterpieces, but younger fans don't understand them, because that music is too complex for them. I like also Audacity Of Hope from Jello Biaffra. I listen mostly to old stuff from 70's and 80's, not because I'm kind of nostalgic person or too old, simply because I find new music silly, soulless, uninspired and uninteresting. Accidentally I was on a concert of French band Catholic Spray, they blew me away with their garage rock. Punk band The Restarts are also amazing. Gothic scene on the other hand turned into quasi electro scene and I think this is total garbage. Music done on computers, with catastrophic production, distorted vocals, and the most important thing is to be dressed in uniforms made of latex with masks on the the mounth and of course, there must be blood, I'll rather don't say anything about the lyrics. The worst example is the band Alien Vampires, i don't know when I hear or see them if I should laugh or throw up. But on the other side I like Combichrist very much, but they are not a part of groupation I mentioned before.
T.R.: But, have you heard the latest gothic rock releases from bands like Red Sun Revival, Merciful Nuns, Aeon Sable, Brotherhood and the likes?
Tomi: No, I have not. Can you record them for me, that I'll check them out?
T.R.: I will... It's difficult to find out something about Phantasmagoria on the web, how so that you don't have your own website, neither you are on facebook or on other social websites?
Tomi: We had our website and we were on facebook, but everything falled apart. Currently we are working to fix this. I think that the MySpace page is still alive.
T.R.: You live in Zagreb, but also spend a lot of time here in Slovenia. How would you compare the scene here and there?
Tomi: Unfortunately the golden age of dark music is far away,... where are those times when The Cure filled up the biggest hall Tivoli in Ljubljana, or when The Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission or Laibach played in front of 4000 people in Zagreb, Ramones and Iggy Pop in front of 10000. Before I forgot to mention that we played as a supporters to Iggy Pop in Zagreb, I think that was in the year 1994. It was amazing! Today is crisis with dark music here in Croatia, of course, it's not crisis only in dark music, but in the whole alternative and rock scene. I don't know why, there is no special reason, just people suddenly became uninterested and stupid. Majority of people listen just to simple and stupid music. I think the problem is of no new bands who would make some kind of a revolution on the market, everybody does just copy+paste, nothing original or interesting. I hope that the alternative, punk and dark scene will return in its full glory! What concerns your question about comparison between two countries, I must say that Croatia always had more audience and Slovenia more bands. Recent situation in Croatia is catastrophic, people are lost in space and time, it's very difficult to live or work in this kind of atmosphere that is going on right now, where you must be careful about what you say, how you wear and what you do to not have any problems. I think that in Slovenia the situation is much better, although Slovenians don't think so.
T.R.: I find it strange that Slovenians listen more to Croatian folk "Dalmatian" music and Serbian "turbo folk" than to their homeland music...
Tomi: Yeah, that's an interesting phenomenon. I've never really understood this, because a lot of this music is pure shit and even in Croatia is not that popular as someone could think. But I believe that this music is more relaxed and made for the "soul" ("čašelomom, ruke mi krvave"), on the other hand Slovenian music is much colder. It's the same in rock music... Croatian language is half melodic, it's easier to sing in Croatian language and in Serbian even more. And we can't forget the fact that in Slovenia lives a lot of people from ex-Yugoslavian countries and is normal that they listen to music from their native countries. On the other hand I listen to Slovenian band Laibach here in Croatia.
T.R.: Let's talk again about Phantasmagoria... Who are the current members?
Tomi: The latest line up is: I'm the singer, bass guitar is handled by our long time member Alan, guitar is played by another old member Robi, Branimira re-joined the band to play keyboards and our new member is drummer John, he's from Dallas (Texas - USA), but he got married with the girl from Zagreb and he lives here now.
T.R.: For quite some time you were without a drummer. How that you've decided to have again a real drummer and not a machine?
Tomi: This is the result of some circumstances that were going on in last couple of years. We don't have anybody who could manage the samplers and drum machine. Second guitarist left the band, actually I've had a dispute with him, and then we decided to have more rough "less is more", real rock'n'roll line up. Still that doesn't mean that in the future we won't be using samplers again. We plan to do some remixes, which will sound more electro oriented.
T.R.: Do you already have a title for your upcoming, very long awaited album?
Tomi: Unfortunately not. Nothing is good enough for me and that's one of the reasons that we are still without an album, but I believe that sooner or later I'll come out with a good and noticeable album title. One of ideas was to do makeover of cover of The Damned album Phantasmagoria, to make opposite, so name of the band is Phantasmagoria and album title The Damned, and turn white colour on cover into black. That's because I found inspiration for bands name in that The Damned album.
T.R.: And what can you tell me about the lyrics of yours?
Tomi: I'm the one who writes all the lyrics and are the result of my journey through life. Everything that enthuse me or makes me angry, my discoveries, spiritual experiences and magick, takes its part. Lyrics are very important for me and I sing only those lines that I could stand behind them. For example when we make cover songs, if I don't like the lyrics, then even if the music is really good we don't play that song, some lyrics I even change if I don't like it. All my musical path is based on this, that's my politics, my philosopy, my standings, my art, that's me and there are no compromises. I'm the one who divides the music into what's good or bad. I don't support the music which is done just to be played and sangt well, it must have its background and meaning. Music must be more than just fun, sound is energy, frequency, every human beign has its own frequency, so we don't experience the music just with our ears, but also like an energy which has different effect on each one. There is music done just for fun, kind of craftwork, and the music which is called art.
T.R.: Have you ever played any instrument beside singing?
Tomi: I've played guitar in my first band Eksodus. Actually I always wanted to be a guitarist... But when we split up with our former singer we couldn't find a substitute, some sangt well, but looked terribly, and vice versa, so I've decided to handle with vocals untill we could find a good one. I know that I'm not a good singer, I never was, singing is not a craftwork for me, but an overflow of emotions, but of course you must have an ear for music.
T.R.: Do you plan any live performances in the near future?
Tomi: Right now we don't have any live performances in plans. We are busy with the preparations to enter the studio. We will play on some festivals this summer and I hope to go on tour for our 25th anniversary in May or in Autumn, because our first live performance was on 18th May 1989 in Zagrebs club Gjuro.
T.R.: What do you think about the current political and economical crisis in your country as well as in the other parts of the world?
Tomi: I have a very bad opinion about politics and politicians. I think they are parasites of society and they should be abolished. We don't need any politicians, we need economists, scientists, artists, we don't need mafia! Economical crisis? I believe that this is under the control of new world order who has a huge benefit from all bad things that are happening in the world, from wars, illness and all other deceptions that are going on. They don't care about the people, they just care for their wealth and power. We are all slaves of the system which has reached the level of indestructibility. This system made knuckleheads out of people and they do what's being said and ordered, if not in an easy way then with a bloody regime. We are all their property and they do whatever they want with us, there is no escape, because everything is theirs. They've imposed us their own rules and life system. And what's most terrible they've made slaves out of us, made us believe that we've chosen this and that this is our right and freedom. This is bullshit and I simply don't understand how stupid people can be to accept all this shit. When the aliens will come they are going to sell us like a live stock!
T.R.: Thank you for all those answers! It's there anything else that you would like to add?
Tomi: I only hope that we will finally record our debut album and function like a normal band. I wish that we will play also in Ljubljana on our 25th anniversary tour! Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law, love under will!

Myspace, Tomi Phantasma Facebook