It all started at the Toronto Film Festival. The Festival was showing the feature length documentary Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King. Jad Fair, Mr. Half Japanese, was about to play in Toronto during the Film Festival. At a friends advice, he called Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet to play with him on stage. Favorite songs were pulled together, and a set emerged, sounding quite fabulous. On the success of that show, they gathered in a garage, played every idea that came into their heads, and put it to tape.
Jad went back home to sift through the rubble and started to shape the best bits into songs. The Shadowy Men began a planned one year hiatus. Brian of Shadowy Men decided he didn’t want to work on the Jad album during his time off, so drummer Don Pyle and bassist Reid Diamond recruited guitar playing buddy Dallas Good (The Sadies) to work with them. Out of some kind of irrational sense of tradition, the trio was given a name; that name being Phonocomb
Right before their first live appearance, opening for Yo La Tengo in November 1995, Reid put his bass under the bed and began to wield a six-stringer. Beverly Breckenridge (Fifth Column) helped fill in the low end and the tro was now a quartet! Then, with the arrival of a new year, Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet decided to attach the rather glamorous prefix “the now defunct…” to their name, bringing a ten year chapter to an amicable close.
The Jad Fair and Phono-Comb album came out in March of 1996. Titled Monsters, Lullabies… and the occasional flying saucer, it is out on Canada’s Shake The Record Label. A massive North American tour followed soon after the release of that record. Their first single as simply Phono-Comb, “The Crass and the Switchblade” was recorded in Don’s apartment. The sound is fuller than one would expect. Two guitars carrying intricate surf-country inspired melodies, light, up-beat drums that keep your feet tapping and wandering bass lines that make your head swim. Phono-Comb find no need for vocals. They do suggest that you make up your own. They take the instrumental sounds that Shadowy Men… were known for, throw them against the wall, mix in the off-kilter pop of Jad Fair, add their own flair for style and create a new sound. Once heard, it will stick with your brain longer than the smile on your face.