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'TERRAFORMED' WITH FANTØMEX


Fantømex is an indie punk, post-harcore band from Western North Carolina. The group started with longtime friends, guitarist Isaac Crouch and drummer Edwin Mericle who jammed together off and on since high school. In 2017, they decided to take it to the next level and form an honest-to-goodness band. Add into the mix vocalist Abigail Taylor writing intense, thought-provoking lyrics and counter rhythmic melodies; and Max Miller rounding out the band with his punchy, fast bass lines and his ever-flowing, imaginative songwriting abilities, and you get Fantømex. Influenced by bands like mewithoutYou, Frodus, At the Drive-In, The Mars Volta, David Bowie, The Blood Brothers and so many more, Fantømex’s music is fast, loud and full of angsty female empowerment. Fantømex’s live shows are a hypnotic and high energy performance that borders on theatrical. They are a performance not to be missed.


Fantømex released their debut album: “Consent Agenda” in April 2020. The eleven song LP was recorded in Morganton, NC at Bombhouse Studios. The band just released their new EP: “Terraformed” in June of 2022.

Thank you for taking this interview! How has the New Year been for you so far as an artist?

Edwin: Hi, I’m Edwin. I play drums in Fantømex. We’ve got Abigail here on vocals, Isaac on guitar and Max on bass. This year has been amazing so far. We’ve had a ton of shows already, one of which was us opening up for the amazing and renowned Canadian rock duo: The Pack A.D.! We just released our new EP: Terraformed and we’re going on a little tour in July with our fellow band from Asheville, NC - Zillicoah. We’re super excited for what is yet to come! Can you tell us how you've transformed from the beginning to now as an artist? Edwin: Fantømex has really made me realize what I want to do in music. How I want to play and how that makes me happy. This band pushes boundaries all the time and we make it a challenge writing new songs. I love it. I keep getting better because of it. I’ve also grown outside my comfort zone of being pretty introverted to someone who needs to be a people person. I want to promote the thing I love and that’s hard to do if you’re quiet about it. Max: Initially playing bass was a minor hobby and something I recorded in my DAW for filling out ideas for rock songs to give it a more real aspect, a song without bass sounds rough! Now I love playing it full time with these folks, I previously focused on intricate guitar parts, so this allows me to pull back and just flail with my bass. Abigail: My confidence in performing, writing and singing has grown so much since first joining Fantomex. I was a third part harmony singer in a Folk/Americana band before and wrote poetry here and there. My freedom to totally experiment with what the band wrote, and them just going along with it freed me and loosened me up. I’m also no longer shy about not always sounding “pretty.” Isaac: We’ve also grown considerably as a band, especially once we got Max on board. He joined the band while we were finishing up recording our first album. Compared to that album, all of our new songs have another level of complexity to them. How did you come up with your latest project? Edwin: Isaac and I have been good friends since we were in high school and we’ve played in a bunch of bands together in the past. After years of not playing with each other, we decided to start writing music together again, partly out of a desire to play a style that we had been unable to find in other projects we had been a part of. Thus, we formed the basis of what Fantømex is now. Abigail was singing in a bluegrass/folk band at the time. We got her to come in and test the waters on vocals. Lo and behold it turned out to be a fantastic mix. Max joined the band when our last bassist had to move town for work. He fit in like a glove! And here we are, still going at it. Where are you from originally? Isaac: Edwin and I are from Morganton, NC. Abigail: I was an Air Force Brat and moved around the South, eventually landing in Hickory, NC by high school. I’ve been in WNC ever since. Max: White Plains, NY Where do you live now? Isaac: Abby and I live in Morganton, NC. Edwin and Max live an hour west of us in Asheville, NC. Do you think where you live impacts how your music is made? Max: Personally no, I create music that feels natural and something I’d enjoy listening to but, having a demographic of fans who enjoy it is a perk! Abigail: It certainly does for me. The bluegrass, blues and folk/americana music and storytelling traditions which are historically rich in this area have influenced my performing style and how/what I write about. There’s also no denying that growing up in the bible belt has also had a specific impact on our lyrics and themes. Edwin: I think where we live has a lot of different effects on the outcome of our music. For me, the whole origin of the band started because I wanted to play with someone I knew, and more importantly, trusted would be on the same wavelength as far as what type of music we wrote. So why not do it with my best buddy who I’ve played music with for over a decade. Even though there is an hour's distance between us, it's worth it to make the trek and write the music that we do together. Isaac: There also really isn’t a scene for heavier, more experimental rock music in the foothills of NC. It’s mostly bluegrass, country, singer-songwriters, etc. Of course there is nothing wrong with any of that, but growing up in the 2000’s listening to the explosion of emo/hardcore had me missing the heavier stuff. So in a way part of my desire is a bit of a reaction to that lack. What was the inspiration to make music your career? Max: It never was a set choice, I was intrinsically drawn to instruments at 10 years old and that led to writing multiple parts of a song including percussion, melodies, and more. You quickly realize it’s hard to play 5 instruments at once and that’s where friends come in. Abigail: I grew up around musicians, performers, dancers and actors. Performing as a vocation was just bound to happen eventually and in some capacity. Edwin: Music is definitely not our career…yet at least. I also grew up around musicians and have been playing music since I was 5. I treat it like a career…it just doesn’t pay any bills haha. Right now we do it because we love it and because we have fun playing and writing together. If it one day becomes a real job, then fantastic! Until then, we’ll keep doing like we do. Isaac: Same. I’ve never looked at it as a career, we’re just here to have fun and push ourselves creatively. If anything else comes from that, great! How do you want to shape your career? Abigail: I know we have some small goals as we go, together as a band, but I really have no plan for what the future looks like. I’m enjoying each opportunity as it comes, enjoying the creative process, and growing as an artist, performer, writer. Edwin: Agreed. I’m going to try my hardest. I want to get better, all while making the music I want to make. Max: I just want to continue to evolve as a songwriter. I really try to reflect on my bandmates strengths and latest musical inspirations and create based on our evolving tastes. Do you work on a tight timeline always or do you go with the flow when it comes to your music? Max: For me its flow, but with 3 songs simultaneously generally as I hit a “wall” and bouncing between two to three songs allows you to alleviate those blocks and come back with fresh ears versus grinding at one idea. Abigail: Edwin keeps us on track, especially my easily distracted self; bless his heart. We want things to flow naturally but we don’t want them to get boring or stale. Edwin: Haha yeah…I’ve got a giant spider web of a timeline in my head. I do our best to keep us on schedule, while not being an A-hole about it. At the end of the day music has a mind of its own. Whether it's what we’re writing, recording or planning a show, a lot of times it just falls into place how it wants to. How did your latest title of your music come to be? Edwin: I had this idea while reading an article I came across about tetragametic chimerism, which is a kind of crazy thing. Basically forming what was supposed to be twins into one person. The person might have parts of them that have different sets of chromosomes than other parts. Different colored eyes. Parts of the skin can have a different melanin count. They can even have one organ that should be from one person and another from the other person. I thought it was very interesting. So it gave me an idea of how to release our new album. Release it as 2 eps instead of a full length album. Four songs on each. We take our time as song writers sometimes and this would allow us to put out some content as we go. I also think it might be a better idea to release EPs than full length albums nowadays, with the ever expanding and exponential decrease of humanity’s attention span. The album art would also reflect the idea of having 2 different sides to the album. One EP would be the left side of a face and the other EP would be the right. Still the same face, but slightly different. When we get it all finished, then we’ll put it together to release physical copies. Originally I had it titled Tetragametic Chimera, but the first part didn’t really work on its own. Tetragametic means 4 eggs - it just seemed a little out of context. So we delved into Abby’s lyrics and found the use of “terraformed” in our song, Fantomcatz. We liked the sound of it, so we decided on the Terraformed EP and the Chimera EP, eventually “Voltroning” them into Terraformed Chimera. Is it hard to let go of the music when it is done? Max: Not at all, I’m always excited for the next idea. Edwin: Yeah, I agree.. We still play the first song Isaac and I ever wrote together and it’s still a whole lot of fun to play! There are a few older songs that we’ve realized aren’t really in rotation anymore, because we’ve just drifted away from them as we’ve evolved as a band…but I don’t have an issue with not playing them. Abigail: Same for me.…it’s more of a relief…or a release. Since I usually write the lyrics after the song has been formed, I am usually excited to give it words and not overthink it or else it will not get written. It’s usually a pleasant release to get the pieces all put together. Writing lyrics for these tunes can be an interesting puzzle sometimes so once it comes together it’s like, “Boom! Now let’s get it out there!” Isaac: It's always hard to decide when a song is "finished" but once the decision is made it's easy to move on. Do you feel an emotional attachment to your music? Max: Very much, certain songs resonate harder and I think reflect in my flailing on stage. Abigail: The act of creating it is definitely therapeutic and emotional. Then the music eventually becomes part of our history; what we were thinking and feeling at the time each song was written. But then you kind of let go of it a little, because it also feels like it belongs to everyone else who enjoys it. Edwin: All the emotions. All the time. Music is definitely therapy…but cooler and less awkward chair talk. Isaac: Absolutely, especially all the memories of creating with these amazing folks. How would you describe your music in one word to someone who hasn't listened to it yet? Edwin: Crazy Max: Punk Abigail: Meeoow! Isaac: Energetic Where do they go to listen NOW? Edwin: We’re on Spotify and Apple music and all that jazz. BUT our new EP, Terraformed, that just came out, is only on Bandcamp right now. It will be on the others a little later, but for now Bandcamp is your best bet. What has been the best fan reaction to your music? Edwin: It's having people and friends in our music community, who I respect and admire, come up and tell me that they love our stuff! Like, if I know if we can impress, “that guy over there in that band”, then I know we’re doing it right. Max: Fans coming out of town you’ve never met and sharing their love is the best feeling. Your friends and family support you but, strangers can validate potential for me Abigail: Our show at the Grey Eagle in Asheville, NC opening for The Pack AD is memorable because we played a handful of new songs and I was able to witness some faces being absolutely melted before our eyes in the front row, by friends and a few new fans alike. That was especially gratifying. Isaac: I always appreciate and remember feedback from "fans" that are friends or musicians I know and respect. Whether it be positive or negative. Is there anything exciting coming up for you? Edwin: Everything coming up is exciting. We’ve got lots of shows on the books, a good amount outside of where we normally play. We’re going on a little tour around North Carolina in July. We’re already working on the next EP. Everything's coming up Fantømex! Are you performing the song anywhere LIVE? Isaac: We perform all the songs we’ve put out, live. We switch it up usually per show, and we have a few covers we can throw out there if needed. Give us all your socials and links so fans can link up with you! Website: https://www.fantomex.band/ Bandcamp: https://fantomex.bandcamp.com/ Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5pqXk5Xb0Sj55mhd6cyeRA?si=_ZLUbutLTam6cnboQG-JIg Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fantomex_the_band_duh/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fantomexband/ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClb1GD-cAuGjy8M7u35oAZA