by flaunt

Having been through their fair share of phases together, both in life and music, the entwined fates of four best friends in Los Angeles have culminated in a creative quartet, aptly named PHASES. The members, who’ve known one another for over a decade, were formerly parts of other bands. Z Berg (The Like), Alex Greenwald (Phantom Planet), Jason Boesel (Rilo Kiley), and Michael Runion, have all collaborated throughout the years and evolved alongside their music. Now, they’re creating fun sounds fit for both past and present.

It all started with a serendipitous night out at a karaoke bar years ago when they decided to skip the crowded queue, go home, and start a band. Back then, in 2009, they called themselves JJAMZ—an acronym for the first letter of each of their names. After creating their first record, Suicide Pact, they toured for a bit, only to be left unsure of what to do next, especially with one of their members (a J) leaving the band.

Since then, they’ve realized newfound inspiration, regrouped, and renamed themselves something easier to pronounce. Shifting their style away from JJAMZ, their new music is more along the lines of “future, funky, dance-pop,” as Z Berg, the band’s frontwoman, describes it. “I was listening to what we were working on and thought, it sounded like if Blondie made Thriller.”

I spoke with Z about the band’s current phase, their new album, and being in love with life.

How did you all come up with the name PHASES?

We sat down with the woman who is now our manager. The first thing she said to us was, “Man, I love your record so much. The second I put it on it just transported me back to being a teenager in the mid-eighties and going to this underage dance club in Canoga Park called Phases.” And we were just like, “Aw man, fucking perfect!” I love her remembering us in somewhere we never were—implanting us in her memories of her past, and sort of feeling nostalgic for the future. It’s kind of encapsulated our whole sound.

How would you describe the band’s creative process?

It’s by far the most collaborative thing I’ve ever worked on in my life. I think we realized that there are a million different ways to write songs, particularly when everyone in your band writes and sings and plays. We just got really creative in how we could be creative.

Your debut single, “I’m In Love With My Life,” is the definition of a feel-good song [and video]. What about the rest of your new album, For Life?

I think there’s definitely an overarching feel of positivity and joy on this record. But, at the same time, the songs cover a lot of bases. You know, it’s not all just like, ‘Life is GRAND!’ My favorite songs are ones that sound really happy, and then you listen to them and go, “Wait, this isn’t—what’s underneath this?” That bittersweet feeling—that is my favorite disconnect. So I think the whole record is really fun and really dancey—great getting-ready music and driving music. But then, you really listen to it, and you realize there’s a lot of heartbreak and a lot of pain in it.

How would you like for people to feel when they listen to your music?

One of my favorite things that I’ve gotten as feedback from people is, “It just makes me feel excited about life!” And that is what I want people to feel when they listen to this record. That’s how I feel all the time. I cannot fucking believe how awesome life is. Even when I’m sobbing and heartbroken. I got stung by a bee this morning, and I was like, “You know what, fuck it.” No matter how good or bad things are, you should always be present and be experiencing it as much as possible. I think that is the real underlying theme in this record and how you should feel listening to it.

Written by Alberto Gonzalez