Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gross Ghost talks Gross Ghost

Serendipity is a great word and it applies a lot to the triangle area. The other day I was browsing the regulator and ran into Heather from Mount Moriah. Later that day, I ran into Duncan from Hammer No More The Fingers at All Day Records. And yesterday, as I was picking up the Gross Ghost LP from Bull City Records, I met Mike from Gross Ghost, which really weirded me out, but was pretty cool. When I got home and spun the record, I relly liked what I was hearing. It's rock n roll base, all right, but it's also got some folk and psychedelia in it. I spun it twice in a row. Then I emailed Mike to say how much I liked it and wondered if we could possibly do an interview. Turns out we could and did.

Gross Ghost's Brer Rabbit LP
These guys just released their first album "Brer Rabbit" on Grip Tapes and it's really awesome. They're playing the pin hook on Tuesday, April 17 with Terry Malts and Spider Bags, two really awesome bands. It's only $7 and is sure to be a great rock n roll night. You can check out the band's release Here

But Mike talks about the band a lot better than I ever could. So without further ado, Mike from Gross Ghost! 

Jordan: Who all is in Gross Ghost and what are their roles in the band? 

Mike: Gross Ghost is mainly Tre and myself on recordings.  Live, Tre is on bass and I play guitar and sing, and we've added Rob DiPatri on lead guitar and we alternate between two drummers, Chris Riddle and TJ Maiani, depending on who can play when needed.  From now on I imagine Tre or I will come to the guys with ideas and see where it goes from there in regards to future recordings.... 

Jordan: How did you all get to know each other? 

Mike: Tre used to come to house parties I threw when I lived in Raleigh...he was really young, like 19.  He would drink all my booze and stay over but he'd rummage around for food and stuff when everyone went to sleep.  I caught him doing this when the sun came up one time and that's how the name "gross ghost" came about. 

 Jordan: What do you all do when you aren't making or playing music? 

Mike: We all work a lot, bartending and waiting tables and stuff.  When we aren't playing shows, we like to check out other bands around the triangle, go thrift store shopping and eat lots of mexican food and hang out with our ladies and pets.  I really want to get back into skateboarding but I need to put the burritos down first. 

Jordan: What's the name Gross Ghost from? 

Mike: Check the story mentioned above!  That explains it all. 

Jordan: When did you all start the band and how did it get started? 

Mike: Tre and I lived together out near Garner for a year after we'd met, three to four years ago and we were bored as fuck.  I had been through a rough year and was drinking a lot and was really down on myself. Tre was there for me through it all and encouraged me to work on his demos with him and from there I started writing songs of my own again after what had been a long break.  At first we were just fucking around and making up little sketches for songs, not taking ourselves seriously.  Then we wrote some things we were really proud of and decided to take things more seriously.  That means we just dropped a lot of the screaming and noise in favor of melodies.  The screaming part was pretty cathartic though! 

Jordan: Would you say that the Triangle Area in terms of culture has impacted your music?  If so, how?

Mike: Yes and No.  Yes in the way that I get a lot of excitement out of what my friends are doing musically and the rich musical history the Triangle has with Merge and Cat's Cradle and other great venues and even now with stuff like Hopscotch Festival and all the musical benefits held to support the community.  It's easy to record here because there are affordable studios and so many talented friends to help you complete your vision.  Need a horn player, oh I know someone who lives right down the street!  Need to get a piano tuned?  Call my cousin, he'll charge you 20$!  No, in the way that when it comes to Gross Ghost's music, it's usually just something that comes from isolation or working stuff out on our own as opposed to outside influences.  It is nice to be able to share our songs with the people in this area when we have them ready though.  The response has impacted us in the way that we want to write the best songs possible because we know that people will hear them where we live. 

Jordan: How would you describe the music that you are making or trying to make? 

Mike: I want to explore how many stories and melodies I can get with a somewhat limited palette.  So far I've had garage, pop, dub and psychedlia as a template.  I'd like to stretch beyond that for future recordings.  I feel like that will have a lot to do with the guys in the band, what they want to add and also to whatever mood the song presents itself in.  At the same time, I'm not gonna change the style up just to do it.  Just trying to make music that we would want to listen to. 

Jordan: What kind of events, people, cultural phenomena, books, art, animals, bands, and music influences what your music becomes? 

Mike: Some of the songs on the record are me writing to my parents.  My father passed away and they'd lived pretty hard for a lot of years.  I felt like whether it was subconscious or not I needed to write about them.  Some of the songs are a complete reactionary response to that of wanting to write something fun and poppy just to give the record some levity.  Some are about being in your twenties, screwing up in relationships and jobs and all that. Tre and I devour books, movies and records but we never talk about what we are into.  We have really different tastes but agree on what counts. 

Jordan: How did you choose the name "Brer Rabbit" for your album? 

Mike: I just remember that Brer Rabbit was a character who could talk his way out of a jam.  I always liked that story and I liked the way it sounded....I feel like the album artwork is a nice compliment to the title as it was kind of natural. 

Jordan:What links the music together on your first album "Brer Rabbit?" 

Mike: There are four new songs and eight culled from two of our previous free eps, which I'm guessing only thirty people heard! 

Jordan: What was the recording process of "Brer Rabbit" like? 

Mike: The bulk of the songs are recorded at Track & Field Recording studio, which is also a place where our friends live, so it was really easy and fun to make. 

Jordan: Who did you work with to record the album? 

Mike: Our good friend, Nick Petersen did the engineering and helped with some aesthetic choices during the sessions.  Track & Field is his place and he's recorded tons of amazing regional bands there, big and small.  Matt Park, Rob Deep, Chris Riddle and Stuart Edwards provided drums and other sounds. 

Jordan: What has it been like working with Grip Tapes in the process of making an album? 

Mike: Hank and Jon (of GripTapes) are friends first, so it's been a lot of hanging out and discussing before we ever did anything.  I think it's good that it took so long to come to fruition because there's been no question about what we wanted to do and how we've done it, in regards to what we wanted the record to look like and what we wanted to do to promote it.  We are only their third release so I feel like the ones before us gave them a handle on what they are doing.  They have a great roster of regional bands, so I'm really proud of them and it's great to be working on the record with my friends. 

Jordan: Have you all played live very often? 

Mike: Yeah...we've played about 30-40 shows.  We just cemented the live lineup in the past year so it's been more frequent as of late.  We've probably gone through 4-5 incarnations of the band!  I'm over it. Keeping it simple now.... 

Jordan: What are your favorite shows to play? 

Mike: Warehouses or any DIY thing that is run like a real club.  I have a lot of respect for that.  Playing bills with our friends is the best feeling and anywhere with a sound guy who isn't a dick is awesome. 

Jordan:  What can you say about the show with Terry Malts and Spider Bags at the Pinhook on April 17?

Mike: Spider Bags are one of my favorite bands, not just NC but anywhere. They killed it at the last show we played with them, I somehow got my hands on a recording of their set and it just confirms they are a great live band.  Terry Malts rules too.  Looking forward to seeing them in 3D. 

Jordan:  What is in the future for the band? 

Mike:  Some more records, more shows, more fun 

Jordan: What else are you psyched about for the year? 

 Mike: I don't know yet.  I go day by day. 

 Jordan : Any last words about music or life or animals or anything? 

 Mike: Buying our record helps you find your spirit animal.  I have a reliable source who says this is a fact.  Nah, I don't know....Life is Short.  Play Hard.

Typical Night at the Pinhook
Gross Ghost are playing with Terry Malts & Spider Bags at the Pinhook April 17: you can get your ticket at the door and learn about the show Here

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