Justin Kinkel-Schuster's choice of location could not have suited the evening any better. It was a perfect match to his voice, which was fueled by the remembrance of past pleasant visits. The sounds that loom underneath the South City overpass contributed heavily to the mood and substance of the video.
The newly formed band, Phantom Limb, consists of Justin Kinkel-Schuster (guitar and vocals) and Andrew Bryant (drums). Justin told us of his recent visit to Mississippi where he spent time with Andrew and his family and where Phantom Limb was conceived. The songs, he says, just sort of fell into place. "It just felt right," he explains, "and we've been friends long enough that things just sort of fell into place without us needing to even talk about them."
If you're thinking Kinkel-Schuster looks familiar it's probably because you've seen him playing around town in his other band, Theodore. He comes across as humble, extremely polite, and I'd say even a little timid -- nothing you would expect from the front man of the modestly successful Theodore. The band even made a recent appearance on Daytrotter.
I asked Justin how he approaches his songwriting process. He replied, "I don't approach it so much as let it approach me, kind of like a strange dog. It sounds lazy, but I can only work on things when they ask for it. At least that's when I'm happiest with the result. The basic standard I hold myself to is if I can stand to go back and re-read it or re-play it without hating it, it might be all right. Also time. Time is probably the best standard."
Phantom Limb derives it's meaning from the phenomenon when an amputee can still feel his or her removed limb. This eerie thought fits Kinkel-Schuster's lyrics. Yet there is also a tender side to the words as well, and this is what makes Phantom Limb special: the combination of Justin's sincere voice with some true-to-life lyrics, whether they're creepy or cute. By the way, the dog, whom he is babysitting for a friend, is named Lincoln. How cute, right?
Kinkel-Schuster has long been contributing to the amazing music scene St. Louis has to offer, so I asked him to share his feelings on it. He said "St. Louis is a fine town to live in with a vibrant scene I'm proud to say I'm a small part of. I think St. Louis will always be kind of an underdog, which is why I think most of the people that live here love it and wouldn't have it any other way."
The album will be released under Misra Records by February 2012, but you don't have to wait till then to hear how Phantom Limb sounds with the addition of Andrew Bryant on drums. You can catch them both performing on Saturday, October 15 at 9 p.m. at SLU's Billiken Club, opening for the Felice Brothers.
Video: Jarred Gastreich
Audio: R&R Music Labs
Writer: Jarred Gastreich