Phantogram goes from barn to charts 

click to enlarge Phantogram
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Phantogram recorded their latest album in a barn.
Ever since they teamed up as Charlie Everywhere in 2007, childhood chums Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel have been steadily trading up toward fame. And their moves have been smart ones, like changing the name of the electro-pop duo to the spookier Phantogram, signing first with hip indie Barsuk Records for their 2009 debut, “Eyelid Movies,” and now with the classy Republic imprint for their just-released sophomore album, “Voices.” Along the way, they were discovered by OutKast’s Big Boi, who heard their early “Mouthful of Diamonds” track and put them to work on three songs for his second album; Phantogram plans to release a collaborative EP with Big Boi later this year. Plus, their show in Oakland tonight is sold out. Barthel paused in the middle of their ascent for a phone call last week.

So you actually record in a barn in upstate New York called Harmony Lodge?

Harmony Lodge is the first barn that we wrote our first record in. It’s on Josh’s parents’ farm, where he grew up, where his dad and grandfather grew up. It’s this super-old Victorian house, with a barn that we turned into a studio/workspace. But we’ve recorded in a couple other barns, as well.

Do you have this thing for barns now?

It’s kind of turned out that way. I mean, it’s not a barn where there were goats and chickens. But we did have the occasional rat every once in a while, and there were some super-gross things. We had to bring some cats in and they would kill the rats, so we’d wake up in the morning and go out to the barn and find these massive dead rats placed nicely on the carpet in there. The cats were so proud of what they’d accomplished the night before — it was like, “Hey! You’re welcome!”

Were you disturbed by other wildlife?

Well, we recorded our latest album in another barn that was turned into a real studio, about 10 miles away from Harmony Lodge. And we had some occasional cows that would get loose and take massive dumps in front of our doorway. But the wildlife outside was awesome — there’s lush forests, deer running by or feeding on grass, and the evenings are so quiet, but at the same time so loud because they’re thick with crickets, tree frogs and pond frogs. We ended up recording some of those sounds.

The barn process works?

Yeah. There’s nothing else there to distract us. We had a little bit of Internet and only three TV channels which had the local news, and that was pretty much it. We tried to write at home in Brooklyn, but we just couldn’t — we were so used to it being quiet all the time!



Where: Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $26.50 (sold out)

Contact: (510) 302-2250;

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