Face to face with Observing The Ghost
Portsmouth-based Observing The Ghost have recently made this very important for each band step: they’ve released their debut album ‘Burn The Tsunami’. Being absolutely alien to anything boring and predictable, on this album Observing The Ghost present a harmonious blend of various influences in a story of their own. The Ghost’s vocalist and guitarist Brad Dorey tells Rock Britain about the album, as well as other interesting things.
- Observing The Ghost’s debut album ‘Burn The Tsunami’ is out now. How could you introduce this record to music listeners?
- It’s an alternative rock record made by a band who are bored of alternative rock basically. We all grew up on loud guitar music but now we tend to find most of it has grown stale & repetitive, it’s starting to all get a bit too boring & predictable so we wanted to try & make it fun again for ourselves. There’s a lot on there as we don’t want to fall in the trap of being pinned down to a specific scene\genre or to be restricted in anyway, there’s everything from prog to atmospheric to math rock to pop elements, we’re quite open-minded & we have a very broad range of influences so hopefully we’ve managed to make an album where that come across without it sounding inconsistent. A lot of people try to make albums like that & it kind of just becomes a mess of genres & sounds that don’t fit, I hope we’ve managed to avoid that. I’d say it’s for people who want something a little different, something that wouldn’t necessarily of heard before.
- What were the main inspirations for ‘Burn The Tsunami’?
- At the time musically we were listening to a lot of Incubus, Mars Volta, Radiohead & stuff like that. The lyrics were either based on personal experiences or just stream of conscience. I’d say musically & lyrically it’s a pretty dark record but it definitely has an undertone of light in there too, there are a few positive\more uplifting moments, it just reflects wherever I was at emotionally at that time. Most of the bands we listen too & take inspiration from are the ones that as I said earlier don’t really fit into a genre as such but have crafted their own unique blend, you can’t put them in a box. Although you could loosely\lazily label them this or that they still stand on their own two feet. Also artists like Radiohead who re-invent themselves with every album & do something different each time. We don’t have any interest in repeating ourselves, we want to keep pushing ourselves & putting ourselves out of our comfort zone, otherwise how else are you going to grow\learn as a musician & a song writer? A lot of people are content with putting out album after album of power chords & mediocre predictable songs but that’s not for us. We don’t make music just for entertainment, we appreciate it for the art form that it is & art is meant to be challenging, it’s not about comfortability, that’s how things get boring. It would be ignorant of us not to realise there are a million musical avenues & ideas we haven’t explored yet… we don’t have time to repeat ourselves! There’s too much out there we’re yet to try.
- How did the recording process of the album go?
- The recording process was very long. It took a lot longer to get it out than we’d hoped however we’re very happy with the end result so it was worth it. The majority of the songs were written before the process started but we threw a couple of newer ones in at the very end of the process, as well as some acoustic\alternative takes on some of our older material with new arrangements & instrumentation. In terms of production it was pretty standard, we tracked all the instruments separately. The majority of it was actually recorded in our houses, in fact pretty much all of it apart from the drums. We originally planned to have 8 songs & we were going to release it last October however our label failed to meet the release date & get it all mixed\mastered in time. We kept pushing to get it out asap however a few more months passed & then we just thought fuck it, lets just go back in the studio & try & make it a full length. It was a pretty negative time for us so we tried to put a positive on it by seeing at as an opportunity to release more music than we had originally planned. We finished the new songs up in February this year, we then opted to mix it ourselves in fear of missing another release date as we were already extremely frustrated with the fact it had been delayed so long already. It finally dropped on 4th April & even though it was a struggle record & get it out we’re glad we have a record that we’re proud of & we learned a lot from the whole experience.
- How have you evolved musically since the release of your EP ‘We Will Find The Sun’?
- Well, A lot of things have changed since then. We had a different line up & a different approach to what we wanted. When we started we were a standard four-piece and I was the co-vocalist with our friend James who also played guitar & contributed to the song writing too so it definitely had a different personality to ‘Burn The Tsunami’. For the EP we wanted to do something that had a big emotional impact & was very atmospheric & also something that sounded huge. At the time we were listening to a lot of Placebo and Angels & Airwaves so it does have a very atmospheric feel. We also played around with some electronic elements which is something we want to explore again on our next release; where as on the album we wanted to do something more raw, direct & urgent as well as more progressive.
– How did the process of work at the EP differ from that of at the album?
- There wasn’t too much of a drastic change to the process however on the first EP Jimmy would come up with ideas for songs too & we’d work on them together where as on the album there wasn’t a partnership as we’d parted ways with Jimmy by that point so I did all the writing this time around. When we were gigging to promote We Will Find The Sun we asked a friend of ours, Ben Brockway to play live with us on 3rd guitar\keys\backing vocals so naturally when Jimmy left we promoted him to our full-time rhythm guitarist & new co vocalist so he’s the other voice you can hear on the new record.
- Recently there have been some line-up changes and Observing The Ghost are now a three-piece. What inspired that decision to become a three-piece and how is it going to influence the band in the future?
- Well, unfortunately Ben has recently become to busy to commit to the band to the extent we’d like him too so we mutually parted ways & although we’re still planning to play live as a four piece it made sense to keep the core members who have always been around & been the most dedicated as the only official members. That way we can go into the studio as the strongest unit possible & then come out & put together a live band together around the three of us so we’re not loosing anything musically if the line up has to change again. It’s also inspired us to start writing together properly, before I was writing almost everything where as now I want everyone to leave their mark as the three of us have such a strong connection musically. We’re all multi-instrumentalists too so it’ll be fun going into the studio & seeing everyone playing different roles.
- Observing The Ghost have performed with Steve Forrest’s project Planes. How did you enjoy the experience?
- Getting to share the stage with someone who plays in one of your favourite bands is certainly surreal. Placebo have always had a huge influence on me as a song writer ever since I was young so to get to play a show with one of them was amazing. His new project planes were awesome too, they’re all really cool people & Steve’s a really good song writer in his own right. They seemed to enjoy what we were doing too which is always encouraging. All in all it was a very memorable experience.
– What is the best thing about your live shows?
- That’s quite a hard one to answer as every show is different & it’s impossible for me to experience one of our live shows properly as an audience member however one thing I will say is we always play with energy & passion. You’ll never catch us looking bored on stage.
- As the festival season is here, what’s the best festival you’ve ever been to? Which festival would you like to play most of all?
– I have to admit I haven’t been to many festivals but we’d love to play Reading & Leeds one day, like the introducing stage or something. That would be amazing. We’re playing a festival called Victorious this summer in our hometown of Portsmouth. It’s the first proper music festival we’ve had in the area so it was an honour to be asked to be a part of it.
- What are your plans for the nearest future?
– We want to start writing some new material soon & move away from being just another ‘guitar’ band. As I said, we have a lot of influences & listen to a lot of other types of music so we want to see what we can do with the other instruments & sounds at our disposal. Hopefully we’ll get a few more shows booked for over the summer. We’re also planning to film a live acoustic session & hopefully we’ll do another music video for one of the album tracks. There’s always the possibility of a tour at some point this year too!