New "Moon" Over Morgantown: The Phantom Six plays The V Club tonight

photo: Suzanne Reynolds

Together in various incarnations for twenty years as Moon, The Phantom Six (L-R: Woody O'Hara, Clint Sutton, Billy Matheny, Billy Sheeder, Mark Poole) plays its first Huntington show with a new name and new energy.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Whether it’s his band, The Phantom Six, or his studio, Zone 8, Mark Poole is all in when it comes to both.

After twenty years, the mutually reinforcing processes of writing and recording songs have, for Poole, culminated in and with The Phantom Six. But The Phantom Six isn’t a new band; Poole has fronted his Morgantown-based rock band for years under the name Moon.

“For me, it’s pretty much the most exciting time it’s ever been,” Poole said over the phone, describing what it’s like fronting the band he started back in 1990.

The Phantom Six’s 13-song debut effort “Plastic Rain,” released last October, has been getting a warm welcome from fans and critical praise as well.

“So far, it’s been great,” the singer, guitarist and producer said when asked about “Plastic Rain” getting airplay on Chicago radio station WXRT and thumbs up in general from online outlets. The Chicago station named “Corianna,” the opening song on “Plastic Rain” its Big Beat song of the week in late February.

“Getting those accolades on the radio is a thrill for me,” Poole continued, describing the response to what would have been Moon’s fourth record.

“The [powerpopaholic] blog, those guys are pretty well respected. There’s a whole big subgenre of like, power pop geeks,” Poole said with a laugh. “It’s weird, because we’ve always kind of marketed ourselves as a garage band, but we don’t really fit into the garage band genre. I feel like we fit more comfortably in with those power pop fans.”

The Phantom Six plays The V Club Friday night as part of a weekend jaunt that takes them to The Empty Glass in Charleston Saturday.

Evoking something more recent, like Tom Petty jamming with Matthew Sweet, but with nods to and roots in everything great from the 60’s and 70’s, The Phantom Six, not surprisingly, reflect Poole’s own decades-long love of rock and roll.

“Musically, I can’t hide my influences, and it’s basically stuff I heard on the radio as a kid growing up,” he said. “So a lot of British Invasion bands like The Beatles, The Kinks, the Stones, The Who. And 70’s power pop stuff like The Raspberries, Big Star, I liked them a lot. Even if I tried, I don’t think I could hide those influences.”

You could say The Phantom Six are pretty much to Morgantown what AC30 is to Huntington: a local all-star power pop super-group. Poole is joined by twenty-year friend and band mate Billy Sheeder on guitar, Billy Matheny, a prolific rocker in his own right, plays bass, Clint Sutton plays drums and Woody O’Hara rounds out the very rich, hard rocking sound out with percussion. Sheeder moving from drums to guitar gave the band a whole new energy and bigger vocal harmonies, Poole noted.

Despite any lineup or name changes with his band, Poole said not a whole lot has changed; it’s just him writing songs.

“I knew I wanted to lead a band, just for the sole reason I knew it would never break up,” Poole said. “It’s frustrating when you put everything into a band and someone loses interest, and then it’s gone. So having my own band, writing my own songs, has allowed me to have some consistency, even though the lineup would change every couple of years.”

It’s been roughly twenty years since Poole, frustrated with early Moon recordings, decided to clear out his house and take out as big a loan as the bank would give him ($5,000) to start the nascent Zone 8 Recording studio in Granville.

“I think it was a little more of a risk in, I guess it was around 1993 or 1994, that I took out the loan and did all that,” Poole said with a laugh, remembering the days when home recording became financially feasible for musicians.

“I was working at a Phar-Mor store, like stocking shelves, and it was just a [expletive] job and I hated it,” Poole said continuing. “So in my mind it wasn’t a risk, I was trying to plant the seeds for some kind of future where I could get away from that job.

“But part of it was just, every band I’d ever been in, we’d go into a studio, and it would cost a fortune, and I’d come home unsatisfied with it. We couldn’t ever afford to take our time doing a recording.”

The Phantom Six has begun and will likely finish a new record this year, Poole said. So he is looking forward to time in the studio with his band, doing what he’s been doing for so long.

“The two are so closely intertwined for me,” Poole said when asked about the symbiotic relationship between Zone 8 and his band. “I started the studio to record my own band, and as I got better at it I started recording other bands. Having the studio as my job was kind of a byproduct of starting a studio so I could make a record that I thought sounded good.”

Given his passion for his own band and studio in particular, and rock and roll in general, Poole said the more things change, the more they stay the same.

“It’s a cliché to say it, but it’s a huge passion for me to write music,” Poole said almost solemnly. “Basically, since skateboarding wore off, there hasn’t been anything I’ve found as fun as playing music, writing music, and recording music. I think I’m going to be doing that well into my old age.”

AC30, The Muggs, The Phantom Six
When: Friday, April 6, 10 p.m.
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Ave.
Cost: $5
Online: www.reverbnation.com/ac30, http://themuggs.com, http://thephantomsix.com

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