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Escape Velocity

The Ghost Of A Thousand: A Grand Racket
Toby Cook , August 27th, 2009 08:54

Rookie mistakes, Hardcore violence and day-to-day admin. Tom Lacey guides Toby Cook through the rise and rise of The Ghost Of A Thousand.

TGOAT

Hands up if you remember – or for that matter have even heard of – The Abominable Iron Sloth?

No?

Several years ago, around 2006 if memory serves, TAIS – a band that fed on only the very sludgiest bottom of the sludge-metal sub-genre, with horrifically down-tuned riffs that created the musical equivalent of wading neck deep in school canteen gravy – embarked on an ill fated European tour.

Sometime before the band even reached our green and pleasant land they imploded spectacularly, and half of the members quit. Then, somewhere between the Dartford tunnel and Dover, two of the remaining three received their P45s and (if rumours are to be believed) founder member Justin Godfrey was forced to sell most of his equipment in order to return home – at which point he gave up making music, and whiled away his days posting bizarre MySpace comments about burning tires in his back garden and wanting to live in a post-apocalyptic war zone.

If there was but one faint ray of light, permeating what was otherwise a comically catastrophic tour, it materialised in the shape of the support band TAIS brought along: Brighton’s The Ghost Of A Thousand.

Still months away from releasing there debut LP, TGOAT went off each nigh like a cluster bomb; indiscriminately spewing out chaotic, acerbic hardcore punk – to often no more that 10 or 15 people – with a wanton disregard for mic stands, audience members and, on occasion, the generally accepted practice that all members should be playing in time.

Older, and very much wiser, TGOAT recently signed to Epitaph and released their follow-up LP, New Hopes, New Demonstrations ,to a dinghy of critical acclaim and are currently preparing for a UK headline tour. Vocalist Tom Lacey took some time out to talk to The Quietus, and fill in a few of the gaps...

Hello Tom, how are things?

Tom Lacey: Very good, thanks! Right now we’re slowly sorting out bits and bobs and putting things together for the tour so, basically, right now I’m stuck at home sorting out the merch’!

So, things have been fairly busy for Ghost the last couple of days?

TL: Yeah! Not really things that are in the public eye, but we’ve been pretty busy doing admin and all the stuff that goes on behind closed doors – it’s shitty, but is got to be done!

For the uninitiated, can you give us a potted history of TGOAT?

TL: Well we all met in Brighton, although only one of us is actually from here – our bass player Gaz. We were all studying at various colleges or working in bars and through that we met up and just started practicing together – this was around 2004. Then in February 2007 we put a record out - This Is Where The Fight Begins, on Undergroove Records – and just toured our arses off! Because of that we got signed to Epitaph, who have just released our new record; we’re just a little, black-hearted rock & roll band basically!

Can you tell us some of the musical influences that have shaped TGOATS sound?

TL: I guess when we first came together we all really bonded over old Fat Records and Epitaph skate punk bands. Me and Andy though, I guess were listening to the more hardcore side of things; bands like Converge, Bad Religion, At The Drive In, The Bronx – they really influenced our sound. With the new record though, there’s a lot more 60s Rock & Roll; a lot of the sonics from that are there – I mean, it’s still fucking heavy but we’re gradually introducing more classic rock elements in to the band because that’s the sort of music our parents were playing as we grew up. So, yeah, we’re slowly starting to push all of those influences through.

Now, I remember seeing TGOAT in about 2007, at the Leicester charlotte supporting The Abominable Iron Sloth, and the difference, compared to the TGOAT I saw at the Forum supporting Gallows, was palpable. Do you feel like a different band from the one that released ...Fight...?

TL: Oh yeah, that was our very first tour so we were very short in the tooth – we were still figuring things out and growing-up on the road, which is a scary thing to do. I think that that’s something which a lot of bands do too readily – especially with things like MySpace and all that, they’re too quick to try and get there name out there, whereas we learnt the hard way that really you just have to go away and be a anonymous support band for a few years. The only way you’re going to improve as a band is to tour, and a lot of bands don’t get that opportunity. A lot of the time you only get one chance with people, and you don’t want to fuck it up – which I think we could potentially have done, especially in the early days as we were such a young band. But I think we have grown because on that tour... God, we learnt a lot on that tour. Made a lot of mistakes too!

Well, far be it for me to open up old wounds, but any real clangers that spring to mind?

TL: Oh no, nothing catastrophic, just standard rookie mistakes that come from inexperience and not being in a touring band. This is the first band that we’ve all been in where we’ve toured properly and back then we didn’t really know how to look after ourselves. We knew each other, but we’d never been in a van for two weeks and suddenly you learn a lot about each other – each others habits and all that shit; you think you can drink every day and wake up the next day and feel fine, whereas these days I don’t drink on tour, Andy’s straight edge, and no one drinks before a show. You have to adopt a work ethic that works for you, and at that point we just a bit ignorant.

How does it feel then, to finally have New Hopes, New Demonstrations released?

TL: To be honest it feels great. It was a long time coming but that’s purely because we took our time writing it – we weren’t really pressurised by anyone to rush it out – although I think people expected it to come out a lot sooner. I think it’s always going to be like that with us: it’ll be a couple of years between each record – that’s just the way we write. New Hopes... wasn’t like the difficult second record either though (mainly because the first one was just really hard!) but it’ll take a little while to settle into peoples minds – I mean ...Fight... has been out for three years and people are still discovering it and still see us as a really new band.

Compared to . . . Fight . . . there seems to be, overall, a much darker tone to New Hopes. Was that the intention when you started writing?

TL: To be honest, it was just that it happened to turn out that way. We had a load of horrible family shit that happened to us around then and it just sort of worked its way in. We didn’t intentionally make the record very personal, but then looking back in on it, it’s way more personal that the first album. We did a lot of projecting with ...Fight..., but around the time we were making New Hopes... so much horrible shit was happening that it inevitably just crept in; so in the end I was just like “Fuck it, I should just let it all come out!” If anything that was certainly the most organic thing about the whole recording process.

So it was a some what cathartic process then?

TL: Not really. It’s not an angsty record, but you can only write about what you know. And that was what I knew at the time!

On a personal level then, what would represent a success for New Hopes...?

TL: Well, keeping us on Epitaph for one! It’d be great if it got released in the states, as so far it’s only been a UK release and some simple things like playing bigger venues – if by the end of the year, we could headline the Underworld that would be cool. But we’ve got fairly modest aspirations. I enjoy the band for what it is now, I’m not thinking that in six months time it’ll be fun, or in a years time it’ll be fun the reward is that we’ve made a record that we’re really proud of.

Being a Brighton based band, you’re in pretty good company with likes of Architects, Jonny Truant et al. What is it about Brighton that pisses kids off enough to form metal bands?

TL: It’s all the hippies, man! No, at the end of the day it’s a big town with a lot of creative people. I don’t think that there’s really a ‘Brighton sound’ per say – Architects and Jonny Truant are both very different, and we’re obviously very different to them, but we all get on really well. Maybe it’s just something in the water? Brighton crowds can also be pretty tough, because they’ve seen it all before, as far as they’re concerned – you have to work hard to get their attention. Even now I feel we’re still building on our Brighton reputation, which is cool, because I think people respect you for sticking to your guns.

Why should we check out TGOAT live in 2009?

TL: I think it was James of Rolo Tomassi who said it - but I guess we never realised - we’re just a good time band live. The new record may be darker but we’re an old school group: we meet the crowd, we sell our own merch’; it’s a good mixture of chaos and fun! We’re trying to dispel that myth that Hardcore shows have to be violent to be good. We just want people to have a good time and high-five each other and shake the shit off, not beat the crap out of each other!

In the past you’ve mentioned your disappointment with the level of violence you’ve witnessed at Hardcore gigs, is that still the case?

TL: Well I don’t think that it’s increasing, which is good. It’s just that for some reason kids seem to think that some level of violence is necessary, and it really isn’t. I could go on about it for hours; I like rowdy shows but it’s got to be done in the right way – you don’t want to see kicks flying back at you. It’s about unity, but some kids get carried away and think it’s all about hurting the guy next to you as much as possible. I think a lot of it’s down to that really misogynistic mosh metal bullshit and that scene has encouraged that sort of attitude - it’s fucking pathetic to be honest.

The Ghost Of A Thousand are appearing on the 'Lock Up' stage at this years Reading and Leeds festivals.

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