From Concept to Creation

With numerous critically acclaimed albums already under their belts, Mukilteo, Wash. progressive rock trio The Fall of Troy are gearing up for their next release on Nov. 28. Phantom on the Horizon is a 37-minute-long collection of work divided into five chapters. Previously known to fans as Ghostship EP or Ghostship Demos, this album is a new take on old material.

“The songs that were on the demo are quite spruced up and the way they were supposed to be initially,” recalls lead singer and guitarist Thomas Erak. “We were a little too young to pull off some of the shit we were trying to pull off.”

This highly anticipated conceptual album will not see a traditional release, however. The band is only pressing 3,000 copies and will take them on a two-week-long West Coast tour that will bring them to the Boardwalk in Orangevale on Dec. 10. There are rumors of an East Coast record release tour to follow; but other than attending live shows, the only way to get it will be to download it.

“It was just very spur-of-the-moment,” remembers Erak of the decision to re-record and release the songs in such a manner. “We were trying to figure out a way to go on tour and have something new to play instead of just going out and playing the same songs.”

Every night the band will play Phantom on the Horizon in its entirety. Erak hopes this will help the experience feel like “more of a show than a concert.” He elaborates by saying, “You don’t stop a movie or a Broadway musical and ask them to do another one. This isn’t karaoke hour.”

Submerge recently caught up with Erak as he prepped for the tour from his home and talked about everything from the concept behind Phantom…, to message board trolls and his love for certain Sacramento bands.

How do you guys prepare yourselves for a tour like this?
Our bass player gets back in town from San Diego today and we’re going to start practicing. This tour is a lot different from the other tours we normally do, because the other tours we normally do are a mix of songs that span three or four records’ worth of material and on this one we’re going to be playing the new record front to back.

Tell me about the story behind Phantom on the Horizon.
It’s a fantasy story that has a lot of parallels; it’s very open to interpretation, though. I’ve been working on it for the last four-and-a-half years, as long as we’ve been working on the songs. It’s about a sailor that is on a ship with a crew of guys and they encounter a ship from another dimension, and he kind of gets trapped on that ship and encounters a lot of things in all these other dimensions that he passes through. I’m thinking about writing the whole short story out like maybe in a couple months and maybe try to put that out in one way or another.

How did an idea like that come about? Are you guys into comic books or sci-fi or what?
Our drummer is a sci-fi nerd, but I’m just a writer, you know? I play music and I write songs, but I used to write a lot of short stories and poetry and stuff like that. I guess it just kind of came from the love of writing and art; you know what I mean?

Yeah, it makes perfect sense for you at this point in your career to put the two together: the story and the music finally together to create a “concept record.”
Right. It’s also not your run-of-the-mill concept record, either. It’s very open to interpretation and you can kind of take whatever you want from it, and that’s kind of the way I like things. I don’t think anything with music should be too black and white; there should be some color in there. That’s what art is; it’s what it is to you. It shouldn’t be just straight up like, “This is what it is, and this is how it is!”

Are there any new tracks included that weren’t on Ghostship EP?
Well, in between every song there is a segue that we actually took from a long session of improv that we just rolled tape on. Everything totally flows together. There has never really been a good recording of “Part II” and there’s never been a recording of “Part III.” It’s just very mature, and the songs are in their entirety now as opposed to being demos of them.

I read some message boards online where kids were getting kind of pissed at you guys and saying things like, “They shouldn’t re-record those songs, they will fuck them up!” How would you respond to them?
Um, “Fuck you!” [Laughs] Quite honestly, fuck them, and they don’t know what they’re talking about because those demos were never even made to be heavily in syndication in any way, shape or form. They were demos we did when I was 19 years old that were supposed to just be for us and they got out. I mean, this record crushes those demos.

If you’re going to sit on the Internet and bash anything, go outside or go read a book or go to a concert or listen to a record. Do something other than sitting on a message board or Myspace all day.

I guess they’ll find out, won’t they? There’s always going to be haters, man. The haters are going to hate.

You’ve toured with two of Sacramento’s more notable acts, Tera Melos and Deftones, on different occasions. What’s your take on Sac? Have you spent a lot of time here?
Oh yeah! The whole Northern California area we are pretty familiar with and have a lot of friends. There is a lot of good music going on in Sacramento. You know, Hella and stuff like that; there is a ton of good shit. Yeah, I love the Deftones, and I love Tera Melos.

    Jonathan Carabba

    View Articles

    Find me at the bowling alley. Co-founder + Advertising Director + Marketing at Submerge. Contact: