Early Ghost – Interview – 2015

Early Ghost have long been one of BringhtonsFinest’s favourites. We first saw them perform at the Drill Festival 2014 and we were very impressed. The Psych-Folk 6 piece came onto our radar after they released the glorious sounding ‘Everything Goes With It’. The Brighton / London band of five interchanged instruments between themselves, creating a mix of neo-psych rock and anti-folk more. I spoke to keyboardist Sam to find more about Early Ghost.

Where did you grow up?
We all grew up in Eastbourne, the only one who didn't was Hugh the drummer who's from Lewes. I wouldn't say where we lived has influenced our music in any way, Eastbourne isn't the most inspiring of places musically and we all grew up with quite different music tastes.

What music were you brought up on?
Personally I grew up with lots of pop music from the 70s and 80s which my mum used to have on around the house constantly. When I finally discovered music for myself it was around the same time as picking up the guitar. Everything I wanted to listen to was very guitar heavy so lots of classic rock music most of which would be considered “Dad rock”.

What drives you to write music?
I like the building of a song, seeing a spark of an idea form into something more complex and more than the sum of its parts. It’s a great tool for self-expression, even if you aren’t channelling some deep powerful emotion into your music, your personality hopefully should come across in some way, even with the smallest of parts. Bouncing these idea off of other people is also a really good feeling and playing them live is also more than enough to keep me making music. At the end of all things songs to me are incredibly satisfying to complete, as if we've all just built a house together, but also they satisfy the need for emotional expression as all artists have.

How did the band meet and how was Early Ghost formed?
Karl, Mike, Sam and I all went to the same secondary school but we never played music all together. Mike and Karl had played together a bit as did Sam and I, but nothing serious. Early Ghost was formed in the first year of college which is where we met Hugh. I joined the band on keyboard which I didn't technically know how to play at the time.

Is there a story behind the name?
Well… that's a highly guarded Early Ghosts secret. Not even I know. Only the highest ranking Ghost members hold that nugget of information.

How would you briefly describe the Early Ghost ethos?
I feel we always try to create some sort of atmosphere with the music we make, at least that's always the idea. Early on we were very inspired by the soundtracks of spaghetti western films particularly Ennio Morricone's scores. So that cinematic quality is always in the back of our minds even now we've moved on from that sort of sound.

Has the bands style of music stayed the same?
Early on we were quite folky I suppose and had way too many instruments. At one point I think we had 11 instruments on stage including a marxophone. We had the backbone of the spaghetti western sound mixed with whatever was on our minds at the time, it was sometimes quite inconsistent. Nowadays we've stripped back a lot and focused our sound into something we are all a lot more comfortable with. All of the folky instruments have been retired for the meantime and we are lot more focused on refining the songs we write. We are using a lot more synths and not holding back with a heavier sound. It’s a really exciting time and I feel we are coming into our prime musically. We have all matured as musicians in the last four or so years that we've been together and I hope that comes across.

What are the bands main influences?
The Doors, Kate Bush, Jefferson Airplane, Broadcast, David Bowie, Timber Timbre, The Flaming Lips, Vangelis, Ennio Morricone to name a few. We have quite an eclectic combined musical taste but we always come back to the same artists for inspiration.

How do Early Ghost approach the writing and recording process?
Writing wise, someone will have a seed of an idea usually a riff or something and share it with other members of the band and it will get added on by everyone in some way until it resembles something playable. Someone will then usually make a demo of the general sound, probably shamelessly ripping off another song, and then we start working on it all together in practice until its starts to sound suitably Early Ghosty. When we finally come round to recording its usually quite a quick process physically getting the tracks down as we have hopefully played it to death already on stage. Then Mike will mix it which probably takes the longest amount of time and after that the track is born. It’s quite efficient really.

Do you prefer writing music or recording music?
I really do enjoy both equally. Writing is fun throwing around an idea until it starts to form into something we are excited by and recording is great finally cementing the finished soundscape of what we were trying to achieve.

Are there any new releases in the pipe line?
At the moment we are going to release singles for a bit while we continue to gig as much as possible. I'm sure at some point this year we will start a new ep. It’s a really exciting time at the moment and we are really enjoying crafting a new sort of sound for ourselves which should be nicely realised by the time we commit to something more substantial.

What has been a musical eye-opener?
One enormous event in my musical world was when I first discovered Nirvana. My mum brought home a Nirvana “best of” cd and I remember it being the first time in my life where I was excited by music. Before that I think I was only interested in Star Wars. I think I was about 11 and it was just before I started playing the guitar. It kicked of an obsession with music which I still have to this day. Also when I discovered Kate Bush that was pretty monumental.

What would be your perfect line-up of any 3 acts for a concert and were would it be put on?
I would love to see The Doors, The Flaming Lips and Kate Bush in some order. Preferably somewhere with seating. I hate standing up.

If you could work with any artist, who would it be and what would they bring to Early Ghost?
Working with The Flaming Lips would be pretty incredible. They have a freedom about them that we could definitely learn from. They seem to have no inhibitions with the music they make which is probably why they've continued to write music with such an energy.

What has been you happiest memory with music?
The best memory has to be playing on stage when we supported Neutral Milk Hotel in Bexhill. It was the first time I properly had a buzz on stage. The venue was pretty much full and the feeling I had was electric. Such a fun gig.

What are your future plans for the summer and after?
Writing, recording and gigging is all we have planned at the moment. Also some video projects to go alongside the single releases. Lots of fun stuff!