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Nobody Has Loved Anything As Much As Jason Schwartzman Loved Being in Phantom Planet

"California! Here we come!!"
Emma Garland
London, GB

Have you ever loved something so much you completely lose the ability to regulate your emotions and instead end up just, like, screaming uncontrollably in public? This happens to me very rarely and when it does it usually has something to do with food I am about to eat or words that have come out of Charlotte's mouth during the first three seasons of Geordie Shore. I thought I was living my best life, getting excited at such basic and commonplace pleasures. Then I decided to revisit the video for "California" by Phantom Planet and realised very quickly that it might be possible I have never experienced true joy at all.


Best known for providing the soundtrack to the GOAT teen drama The OC – which, in this Year of Our Lord 2017, is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its final episode – and least known for having Wes Anderson's favourite sad boy Jason Schwartzman as their drummer for NINE YEARS, Phantom Planet are lowkey one of the most successful bands to come out of that era of wholesome American indie when everyone wore ill-fitting jeans, Converse All Stars and two polo shirts. For some reason Jason Schwartzman's near decade long career as Phantom Planet's drummer is not a widely celebrated fact.

There is no special sticker on the box set of The OC stating "Jason woz ere". There is no Jason Schwartzman Was In Phantom Planet For Fucking Ages Day. We just don't really talk about it, which is both a curse in that such a perfectly weird factoid should be an integral and celebrated part of the zeitgeist, and a gift in that every six months or so you get to stop and remember: holy shit, Jason Schwartzman was in Phantom Planet. I have personally broken the news to at least a dozen people and, upon watching the video for "California", each of them burst out with a variation on "wtf," "how did I not…" and, most succinctly, "OMFG". The thing is, Jason Schwartzman's performance in the video for "California" is his finest performance of all time. Fuck Rushmore, forget The Darjeeling Limited, step aside please Bored To Death – "California" is his peak, his Mona Lisa, his Ted Cruz tweet about the cow made of butter. What's more, he's not even acting. When all's said and done the fact remains: nobody has ever loved anything as much as Jason Schwartzman loved being in Phantom Planet. Every single frame he appears in is an individual masterpiece. To fully appreciate how and why, I have turned them all into gifs for your pleasure and together we are going to take a good hard look at how one man got the absolute most out of hitting some metal alloys and skins with sticks.


"Sorry is that…" "Mhmm." "That looks an awful lot like…" "It is." "But it can't be…" No, that definitely is Jason Schwartzman playing the rock drums live in a fully unbuttoned salmon pink shirt layered over a white T-shirt with a tie drawn on it. We're barely into the first verse and already he is losing his absolute mind, earnestly pointing his little stick at one of the guitarists as if to say, "Yes! Play that shit! I fucking love to perform the song 'California' live with my friends in the rock band Phantom Planet!" At which point let's stop and remind ourselves that this song is hinged on a keyboard line made up of four notes.

Four. Keyboard. Notes.

At this point in the video we are introduced to new side of Jason Schwartzman – the true Jason Schwartzman, perhaps. We have seen him on stage trying desperately to Rock Out as hard as possible while also not giving a single shit how it looks to other people, but what about behind the scenes? What is indie drummer Jason Schwartzman like there? It's hard to know for sure, but somewhere within these few seconds in which he is smacked in the eye with a guitar head – while dressed like everybody I ever dumped between the ages of 13 and 17 – there is a flash of his true self, never before seen. This is the closest you will get to seeing Jason Schwartzman's soul, probably.

You would think, judging by the wild and totally oblivious determination of this over-the-kit dive, that Jason Schwartzman used to drum for a band signed to Sub Pop in the early 90s. This is the sort of thing you see less at actual gigs these days and more at a wedding at 1AM when the Pearl Jam covers band reaches full mid-life crisis mode. All of which is to say this is an unprecedented and impressively strong emotional reaction to a song that goes: "We've been on the run / Driving in the sun / Looking out for number one / California here we come!"


You can tell he practised this for ages. You just know that, before he even hit a single snare, Jason Schwartzman sat in his bedroom for hours at a time teaching himself to twirl a drumstick. You can pretty much see him nailing it and triumphantly punching the air in silence. You can feel his eagerness running excitedly into school the next morning to perform this newfound skill in front of his friends with an extra large pencil and, time and time again, dropping it on the floor. "Guys!!!", he says, eventually getting it, but they've all walked off.

Fan theory: Kesha wrote the lyrics to "Tick Tock" after seeing this, the most Hello Yes I Am a Young Person on Tour with My Rock Band and Know I'm Being Filmed action that has ever existed in the public domain.

It's not entirely clear what's going on here but I think it's safe to assume someone in Phantom Planet has performed a "sick burn" on Jason Schwartzman and his response arrives in the form of that semi-flirty play fighting physical contact that boys at the start of high school do when they fancy someone. This is essentially what I imagine 90 percent of being on tour was like before it turned into wandering up and down European high streets looking for wi-fi.

I know what you're thinking. It looks like I've edited the footage to make a gif of Jason Schwartzman's wide variety of drum faces as a succinct and climactic end to this piece of content. This can't possibly be the video to Phantom Planet's "California" because it looks too much like Adam Sandler parodying Metallica. But I swear on Justin Bieber's topless Instagram stories this is genuinely how the video has been cut. This is Jason Schwartzman in his true form, displaying precisely the range of emotions he is famous as an actor for glossing over with a doe-eyed and unnerving neutrality, like a cow with a side parting. Notice how he stands out from the rest of the band – not because we're subconsciously isolating him as an entity because he is a Famous Person but because he is going completely and consistently ballistic, even when the emotional range of the song warrant a gentle sway at best. Have you ever seen someone get more life than Jason Schwartzman in his role as "guy who gets to hit the crash cymbals a bit during the chorus of a short and straightforward indie pop song"? Just look at him, loving the celestial hell out of music in a way that only someone who doesn't do it to scrape by a living can. "OMFG," indeed. Now let's watch the whole thing and relive all of this again in context.

You can find Emma trying to come to terms with the realities of this video on Twitter.