Childhood & Early Life
Alex Greenwald was born Alexander Greenwald, on October 9, 1979, in Los Angeles, California, to a Jewish family. He inherited his artistic instinct from his mother, who was an abstract painter. She also worked as a part-time guitar teacher. She taught Alex to play the instrument when he was a child.
When his mother noticed that Alex had developed a keen interest in music, she built him a harpsichord from a kit. Alex gives all the credit for his interest in music to his mother.
When he stepped into his teenage years, Alex started looking out for ways to start a career in music. He and Jason Schwartzman, his classmate, were good friends. They lost contact after they changed schools. However, they got in touch again when Alex was 14 years old.
Jason remembered that Alex could sing and thus told Alex that they needed a lead singer for their band, ‘Phantom Planet.’ Alex joined the band soon. They started jamming and performing at small events.
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The band ‘Phantom Planet’ was formed in 1994 and started performing soon after. Initially, it had four members. The band’s name was taken from a 1961 B-movie named ‘The Phantom Planet.’ The band had their first show in Hollywood in 1994. The show was attended by a handful of people.
‘Phantom Planet’ continued to play music in Hollywood and nearby areas. A ‘Geffen Records’ executive who loved their talent and energy got in touch with them and offered them a contract with the label in 1997.
The next year, the band released their debut album, ‘Phantom Planet Is Missing.’ They received average reviews. The band was said to be inspired by artists such as ‘Weezer’ and ‘The Beach Boys.’ Their first album was a big failure and could not impress their listeners or create a stir in the market.
However, the members of the band continued to perform at different venues. This led to a slight increase in their popularity. In the early 2000s, ‘Geffen Records’ was acquired by ‘Universal Music.’ Soon, ‘Phantom Planet’ signed a contract with ‘Epic Records.’
In 2002, the band released their second album, ‘The Guest,’ which had an indie feel. Having learned a few lessons from their debut debacle, the band members produced music that was similar to the music that was liked by the youth. The album turned out to be a critical and commercial success, and the band members spent the next 18 months touring around with the album.
A single from the album, ‘California,’ became a youth anthem. It became so popular that the creators of the series ‘The O.C’ chose it as the theme song of the series. The album was re-released with a few bonus tracks in 2003. The song ‘California’ had become extremely popular by then, and the re-release boosted the sales of the album.
In 2004, the band released their third album, ‘Phantom Planet,’ which was a huge departure from the kind of music they featured in their previous albums. The third album featured much more aggressive “garage rock” sounds. The album received mixed reviews from critics and was a moderate success.
After their contract with ‘Epic Records’ expired, the band signed with another label, ‘Fueled by Ramen.’ The band’s fourth album, ‘Raise the Dead’, was released in 2008 and received mixed reviews. Failing to find significant success, the band members decided that they must go on a hiatus.
Alex has also been working as a solo musician. In 2006, he collaborated with DJ Mark Ronson for a cover of the song ‘Just,’ originally created by the band ‘Radiohead.’ Alex and Mark continued the collaboration for some time and performed together at the 2007 ‘Glastonbury Festival,’ where Alex climbed up a lighting rig and sang ‘Just’ and ‘California.’
Mark and Alex came together yet again, for the album ‘Record Collection’ in 2010. The album had 11 songs, with Alex sharing the writing credits for six of the songs. Alex also performed as part of Mark’s band, ‘The Business Intl.’
Alex was also part of another band, ‘Blackblack,’ until 2007. He is known to be highly energetic while on stage and performs dance steps from the 1980s to entertain his fans.
In 2009, after ‘Phantom Planet’ went on a hiatus, Alex started working full-time with the band ‘JJAMZ.’ The indie pop band was founded in a Hollywood club. Its name had the first letters of all its members’ names.
In July 2012, the band released their debut album, ‘Suicide Pact.’ While the album could not attain major success, one of its songs, ‘Heartbeat,’ became widely popular, especially in the Philippines, where the song aced many local charts. A few songs from the album were also featured in TV series such as ‘Awkward’ and ‘Pretty Little Liars.’
The band changed its name to ‘Phases,’ following the departure of one of its original members. In 2015, the band had a major breakthrough when they were offered a contract by ‘Warner Bros. Records.’ The same year, the band released their second album, ‘For Life.’
Alex has also ventured into acting and has played small parts in films such as ‘Donnie Darko,’ ‘Bad News Bears,’ and ‘A Pig’s Tale.’ In 1999, he also appeared in a campaign for ‘Gap.’