Phantastic Ferniture is the garage rock/guitar pop side project (of sorts) of acclaimed singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin and the band features some of her closest friends, Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan K. Brennan can trace their origins to a birthday gathering in a Sydney, Australia-based bar to celebrate Jacklin’s 24th birthday. At some point a group hug manifested itself amid pinball participants with all ten of the group hug’s participants drunkenly promising to form a band together. “Only four of us remembered,” Hughes recalls. The band’s core and founding members bonded over a mutual love and appreciation for fern-related puns and leisurewear, and they would meet up whenever their individual schedules would allow, writing songs and playing smatterings of live dates to an increasingly devoted audience.
Eventually, Jacklin, Hughes and Brennan decided that Phantastic Ferniture wasn’t a side project, and they should focus on writing and recording an album together, centered around the fact that the band would be a lot more spontaneous and less technical than their individual. “That was the fun part,” Jacklin says in press notes. “Ryan never played drums in bands, Liz had never been a lead guitarist, Tom didn’t play bass and I’d never just sung before.” Hughes adds “We wanted a low level of expertise, because a lot of good music comes from people whose passion exceeds their skill.”
Slated for a July 27, 2018 release through Transgressive Records, Phantastic Ferniture’s self-titled debut finds the band adopting a mantra of not overthinking — of focusing on the urgency of the moment, while being whimsical. “Gap Year,” the second single off the band’s full-length debut is a 90s alt rock-like track that to my ears reminds me a little bit of early PJ Harvey as the rollicking and expansive track is centered around buzzing power chords, a propulsive rhythm section and a soaring hook — and in some way, the track may inspire some listeners to loosen up and venture off someplace to experience and see things, and to discover themselves. But as the band’s Elizabeth Hughes says about the song, “This song is about just doing what you need to do, with no expectation of any kind of return. It’s about trusting your instincts and not seeking validation …Julia and I are performing our hearts out to absolutely no one at one …The lack of audience doesn’t dull our enthusiasm, and we know our companionship and community will be enough of a reward. It’s poignant because we grew up in the mountains, both desperate for a stage.”
Directed by Nick Mckk and Phantastic Ferniture, the recently released and incredibly cinematic visuals for the song features the band’s Jacklin and Hughes performing an dancing and while not seeming desperate for an audience and for a stage, the viewer will immediately pick up on the isolation of their surroundings, and the companionship that the duo has.