Phosphorescent | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Phosphorescent

Devastated for You

Apr 25, 2009 Web Exclusive
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Onstage at Club De Ville at this year's SXSW, time finally ran out. "Well, goddamnit, Austin, we have to go," said Matthew Houck, singer/songwriter and organizing Beard Number One of the multibearded monster that is Phosphorescent. His joy was slightly dented by the news, but he recovered quickly ("we're not going to pout. Well, we might pout a little"). Then he brought the show to its slightly premature close with a raucous, freewheeling version of-what else?-"The Party's Over": "Let's call it a night/The party's over/You know that all good things must end."

You couldn't script better lines for the moment, and the crowd hit a rare pitch of grateful delirium. Phosphorescent had run through nothing but songs from their Willie Nelson tribute, To Willie, giving their inimitable party-in-a-cathedral treatment to some of Willie's best-and in some cases his most criminally underappreciated-material. Not underappreciated in Austin, of course, and not underappreciated that night: "We only played the album like that twice-once in NYC for the release, and then at SXSW," says Houck. "Both were huge standouts-doing it in Austin, I think there were people there who...just maybe it touched them a little more. I heard some feedback from that show that was heartwarming."

Their songs are unhurried, but Phosphorescent seems to be chronically short on time. To Willie poured out following a 10-month tour in support of Pride, their most recent set of originals. "Coming home well exhausted and beat up from living like that, it just felt really good to do these Willie Nelson songs," explains Houck. "Without sounding too hokey, it was a really healing and cathartic thing." Then, of course, it was back on the road. Houck's recent move from Athens, GA to Brooklyn was in some ways theoretical-he's really living on tour. And even when he's in Brooklyn, he's not so much in Brooklyn: "I tend to be pretty isolated in the way that I work with Phosphorescent. When we're working, it doesn't really matter where we are, we end up getting pretty insular."

There's a new album in the works already-no word on title, but Houck will say, "I think at the moment it seems a little more...upbeat. It's not as much of a mood piece as Pride, more of a collection of songs. Right now we're just getting back in there, gonna feel it out for the next few weeks. Then, of course, put it down again," he laughs-they're touring Europe come May-"and then come back and hammer it out." Asked if he's happy on the road, he answers in a characteristically Phosphorescent way: carefully, honestly. "I don't know the answer to this question: You just do these things, it's what you find yourself doing. I am happy on the road and touring-but of course it's a devastating way to live."



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