April 5th, 2011 by Darin
One night, when I was still living in Asheville, my wife and I joined a buddy of ours at our neighborhood pub. It was this great little place called The Admiral. At the time, it was barely the size of a traditional diner, decorated with kitschy vintage naval art and situated at the ass-end of Asheville’s very popular Haywood Street. (Its neighbors were a couple of under-attended venues, a halfway house, and a busted up convenience store.) For a brief while, The Admiral was really something. It was a total dive-bar, complete with cabinet-top vintage video games; dimly-lit, curtained booths; and freely distributed ashtrays (you could still smoke indoors in N.C. at the time). Get this: it was also, like, a four-star restaurant. The tattooed rocker-chefs (who cooked on what must be one of the smallest lines for a kitchen that became as wildly popular as it did) served everything from steak tartare to homemade marshmallows in a jar of smoke. Really progressive gastronomy stuff. Eventually, of course, the interest in the restaurant outpaced the interest in the bar, and it became the go-to destination for retirees and scensters, whose interests eventually pushed out the video games, removed the juke box, and otherwise turned it into just another restaurant in Asheville (even if it does still have a bar).
So, this one night, we’re sitting in the still-cool Admiral, and our bartender pal starts playing the acid-jazziest, riff-distortedest prog rock I’d heard in years. LOUD. This stuff was so underground, we really weren’t cool enough to be listening to it. The bartender tells me it’s Blue Phantom—namely, their album Distortions, which was formed as a side project to score B horror/thriller flicks. (Sort of like Gremlin, if you’re geek enough to know what I’m talking about.) Of course, I looked for it, but it was unavailable or very rare.