ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA The Phantoms, an a cappella group on campus, performs one of their various musical numbers at Georgetown Day 2013. They recently released on album on iTunes.
The Phantoms perform on Georgetown Day 2013. The a capella group recently released an album on iTunes.

Six years after their last recording, the Phantoms returned to the music scene this summer with a new album, And the Livin’ Is Easy.

On And the Livin’ Is Easy, released on iTunes on May 30, listeners will find tracks that showcase the Phantoms’ vocal strengths during their twists on popular hits ranging from Kings of Leon to Lady Gaga.

“We focused less on balancing genres and tempos of songs and instead picked songs that the group enjoyed performing. We went about picking songs in the same way we make most of our decisions in the group. We operate on consensus, so we discuss and deliberate until we come up with something that everyone is proud of,” said John Roach (COL ’13), who served as the group’s music director last year.

The album is representative of the Phantoms’ favorite songs to perform and features mostly studio-recorded tracks, with one special live performance.  “In terms of specifics, the group definitely wanted to include ‘Summertime.’ It has become a Phantoms staple over the past few years. The version included on the album is particularly cool because it is a recording of the first time we ever performed it live back in 2009,” Roach said.

The Phantoms released their last album, Phive, in fall 2007 — well before most current students arrived at Georgetown. “For everyone currently at Georgetown, [And the Livin’ Is Easy] is probably the only Phantoms album they have seen or knew existed,” Roach said. “The production quality of the tracks is superior to the older albums.”

Listeners will find that the album features a mix of genres — with everything from Cee Lo Green to The Dixie Chicks — that blend together to create a dynamic but cohesive final product. “In terms of style, And The Livin’ Is Easy has a more chill vibe.

“We included a lot of slower songs on this album, so it’s nice for hanging back and listening. It creates an intimate feel. Of course, there are a few up-tempo tunes to keep the whole project interesting throughout,” Roach said.

However, the process of becoming recording artists was not always smooth sailing. The group must gain the approval and funding of Georgetown’s Performing Arts Advisory Committee before pursuing a partnership with a recording studio and coordinating studio time with Phantoms members.  Of the Phantoms’ 14 current members, only nine can be heard on the album, which the group finished recording in spring 2012.  All profits from the album will return to the university to fund performing arts programs.

“It was sometimes frustrating getting everything in order. Although we had finished essentially all of the recording by my freshman year, there has been a lot of red tape put in place by both the university and the recording studio that has taken a long time to work through,” Roach said. “The delays piled up to the point that a majority of the Phantoms featured on the album have graduated.”

“One of the reasons it took so long to release was because we wanted it to be released online, which is something a performing arts group at Georgetown has not done yet,” Phantoms Business Manager Nick Oki (COL ’14) said.

With this more recent album under their belt, the Phantoms plan to produce another on a shorter timeline. “We’re working on recording a new album that we hope will be out in a two-year timeframe. The seniors in the group who [didn’t perform solo pieces] on this album would definitely love to have the new one that we’re beginning to record out by the end of this year,” Oki said.

Along with their recording ventures, the Phantoms are looking ahead to the 25th anniversary of the D.C. A Cappella Festival, which the group holds in conjunction with the GraceNotes each year. Performances will be held Nov. 2 and 9 in Gaston Hall.

After their winter tour in Vail, Colo. last year, the Phantoms are also beginning to explore the possibly of more performances outside of the D.C. area.

“I have a huge goal the week after graduation. I’m hoping to take the Phantoms on an international tour, which would be the first time we’ve done that,” Oki said. “We’re looking at London and Paris, but the plans are still in the works.”

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