Friday, September 22, 2006

An interview with Ghostland Observatory

Once upon a time before I started Covert Curiosity I was surfing through a handful of blogs looking to hear new music, and I came upon a track called "Piano Man" by Ghostland Observatory. I listened to it repeatedly over the next few days before doing a search to find out who this band was, where they were from, and where I could purchase their music. Once I discovered that Ghostland Observatory was from Austin I was ecstatic because I knew that meant I would be able to catch them in concert somewhere around town.

Once I had purchased their debut album and their most recent release Paparazzi Lightning I made it out to their performance at Trophy's. I had never seen anything like it before in my life. A wall of noise hit the crowd over and over again like waves, and many of the audience members had a total freak out. Many different groups of people were represented that night in the crowd, the indie kids, the hipsters, hardcore rockers, people who just wanted to dance, all of them from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Once Ghostland Observatory turned up the amps many of the crowd members weren't sure if they wanted to dance to the funky groove that electronic mastermind Thomas Turner lays down, or to bang their heads and mosh to the guitar riffs and frantic vocals that Aaron Behrens adds to the mix. What ended up happening was something that looked like a dance-mosh, with each crowd member moving in their own way. Since this show I have told anyone who will listen about Ghostland Observatory, as well as featuring them here on Covert Curiosity a handful of times.

Recently I sat down with this Austin duo over margaritas and queso at Jaime's Spanish Village to learn what Ghostland Observatory is all about, and to find out what lies ahead...

How did the two of you get started with Ghostland Observatory?

A: We were both living in Austin and wanting to make music, and we actually ended up meeting through an ad in the Austin Chronicle. I was playing in a band with a mutual friend of ours and looking to do something different, and Thomas had been doing his own thing musically but never with a band, and luckily he answered an ad in the Chronicle. Things worked out in a very magical way, a strange journey trickling down the side of a mountain, and luckily we came out together in the end.

How long did it take to find your unique sound once you started making music together ? Was it automatic?

T: No, not at all. Actually at first it was really weird and dark. After that we took some time off and when we worked together again it was real organic. And then we realized that if we where going to do this we wanted to stand out in a crowd. Say you go out to a show and you see some band you've never heard of, you might give them a few songs worth of attention and if it doesn't move you you're going to move on to something else.

A: Our push at first was to really try to create something that sounded unlike anything else, but that's the stuff that ended up sounding at first really dark and then kind of organic. But then our music naturally came to what our strong points were as musicians and artists, and we kind of figured out how to put those in the right places.

So you two really feed off of each other musically?

A: Yeah he totally pushes me. Sometimes he'll play something and it's like Boom! Get down! When he turns it up I turn it up and it really pushes me, and that definitely shows the talent that Thomas has to produce.

What about the song creation process, how do you put a song together?

T: I'm always working on tracks, pretty much all of the time. So I'll show Aaron like 3, 4, 5 different things...

A: 6, 7, 8. Thomas is very prolific in his writing, he writes a whole lot. So I really try to take on a character in every song, based on whatever I feel from it. And if it makes me feel something then we're definitely doing it because really react to that.

You've just played these two huge music festivals (Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits) in consecutive months, what was that experience like for you?

T: I think we were on the road (driving) around 34 hours over a two-day span for Lollapalooza, because our set there was early on Friday and we were scheduled for a gig back here in Austin at Emo's the next day. We left on Thursday and we were driving so fast trying to get up to Chicago because we were running late, and we had to be there at eight in the morning on Friday. The entire states of both Oklahoma and Missouri were like a blur we were driving so fast. We ended up getting there at about ten, set our stuff up on the stage and performed, and then got back on the road.

A: It was definitely worth it, the gig we played at Emo's was totally nuts. We love playing to an Austin crowd.

(photos by Ashley Garmon for The Mohawk)

During the last few songs at the Mohawk and at Trophy's gigs a crowd of people jumped on stage...

A: Yeah man at our shows anything goes, we just want to move people.

T: But remember to mind the equipment...

A: Yeah Thomas keeps a samurai sword under his cape, and if you get too close to the electronics he will pull it out..

What is your favorite track to perform live?

A&T: Heavy Heart

What single album do you think everyone should own?

A&T: The Mars Volta, De-Loused in the Comatorium

So what is next for Ghostland Observatory?

T: Well we put out and Paparazzi Lightning both in less than a year, so now we're going to get out on the road and let the people hear it. We're going to head over to the west coast for a little bit, and after that we're going to do a tour in Europe.

Before embarking on their next tour Ghostland Observatory will be playing again in Austin at Emo's on October 5th. Purchase tickets through Emo's website.

Here's a look at their current tour dates:

Sep 28 2006 - Marfa, TX
Oct 4 2006 - Houston, TX
Oct 5 2006 - Austin, TX
Oct 7 2006 - Dallas, TX
Oct 12 2006 - Tucson, AZ
Oct 13 2006 - Phoenix, AZ
Oct 14 2006 - Los Angeles, CA
Oct 16 2006 - Santa Cruz, CA
Oct 17 2006 - San Francisco, CA
Oct 18 2006 - Eugene, OR
Oct 19 2006 - Seattle, WA
Oct 21 2006 - Rexburg, ID
Oct 22 2006 - Denver, CO
Oct 23 2006 - Minneapolis, MN
Oct 24 2006 - Chicago, IL


Purchase Ghostland Observatory through their official site:
Listen to Ghostland Observatory on MySpace:


ultra8201 said...

Great stuff, I put a link to the interview on mine. Excellent work the last few weeks, I don't know whether to be jealous, threatened, or inspired. Kick ass...

Mr. Curiosity said...

Thanks a lot man, I really appreciate the feedback.

Anonymous said...


sugar momma said...

great interview!

these guys are quickly becoming a favorite of mine. can't wait for their show in atx.

memo57 said...

nicely done. i love Ghostland Obs.

Anonymous said...

Best live band touring....Hands down...saw these guys twice in Minneapolis, and it was the most fun I have had at a show in the last year. The crowd went NUTS, for these guys.

Mary said...